SHOT Show 2003
provided innovations in not only firearms and optics, but in
knives as well. Whereas
some of these innovations are about a year old now, Gunblast.com
doesn’t want to report on “new and better” ideas until
we’ve had the opportunity to truly put them through their
paces. We’ve now
had over 9 months to play with some of these more innovative
knife products, and here’s a real world view of what SHOT 2003
considered some of the most innovative knife products, and our
judgment on these innovations after long-term practical testing.
In this article, we’re featuring the knives of
Kershaw and SOG Specialty Knives.
While other manufacturers also produced some interesting
knife product innovations, we at Gunblast.com felt the knives
tested of Kershaw and SOG most accurately represented some of
the most practical applications of innovation in blade products
of the past year.
of Oregon has been making excellent, practical, and very
innovative knife products for many years.
We’ve had the opportunity to use and abuse several of
their knives over the past 9 months or so, and we’ve been
impressed with the quality and unique features of their
Kershaw’s Rainbow Leek (model 1660VIB)
was Blade Magazine’s 2002 Overall Knife of the Year.
While we didn’t test that particular model, I have
carried its sister in my pocket for 9 months, the 1600BLK.
This little knife (1 15/16 inch blade and a weight of
only 1.9 ounces) was the 2001 Blade Magazine
American-Made Knife of the Year.
That doesn’t impress me as much as having this
convenient little Ken Onion-designed knife in my pocket
and in my hand. The
“Black Chive” as it is known, this knife features the
innovative “speed safe” opening technology which is a very
impressive technical innovation.
Ken Onion is a custom knife maker of excellence that has
designed some of the more popular Kershaw models.
Speed Safe is the patented assisted-opening system found
on many of the Ken Onion-designed Kershaw knives.
The Speed Safe system is effective and easy to use.
By applying a small amount of manual pressure to the
thumb stud, the blade opens quickly and smoothly and locks into
position, ready for use. The
secret to this technology is a torsion bar.
Closed, this torsion bar keeps the knife closed,
preventing gravity opening.
Manual pressure must be applied to the thumb stud to
exceed the pressure of the torsion bar.
Once this occurs, the blade swings effortlessly into
position, then locking itself in place.
To close, one moves the torsion bar out of the way and
closes the blade manually.
This torsion bar system keeps the knife closed when not
in use, and allows rapid opening when needed.
We tested several Kershaw knives with the Speed Safe
system, and found it to be practical, innovative, and just plain
neat. My brother
Jeff carries daily the Onion-designed Kershaw
Boa (S60V stainless blade with ti-nitride coating), a
truly awesome clip pocket knife (4 ¾ inches closed and 4.9
ounces), which also has the Speed Safe assisted-opening
Another innovative Kershaw product is their Amphibian
lightweight (3.2 ounces) fixed-blade knife features 420J2
stainless steel blade and skeleton handle.
The product is very well balanced, and works well hanging
upright or upside down in its innovative sheath system.
Its dagger-type design is not new, but the manner in
which the handle and blade are fashioned together as one
integral unit, and especially when used as an overall underwater
knife system (the diver’s sheath and clip system is really
neat), this product makes an excellent diver’s knife.
There’s a similar landlubber model called the Boot
Knife that features the same knife with a boot sheath.
Specialty Knives (www.sogknives.com)
use the slogan “creators of extraordinary tools and blades”,
and we at Gunblast.com find that to be a true statement.
We’ve yet to find a SOG product that is inferior to
anything in its tactical field for a similar price point.
For over 17 years, SOG has been creating innovative and
award-winning cutlery and tools that are recognized world-wide
for their quality and performance.
SOG originally stood for “Studies and
Observation Group”, which was an elite joint services military
group designed for covert operations in the Vietnam War.
Sanctioned to develop and purchase their own equipment,
SOG created a knife for use in one of earth’s harshest
Specialty Knives was created in the spirit of this special
mil-ops group. SOG’s
Cofounder and Chief Engineer, Spencer Frazer, is
recognized across the globe for his patented innovations in
knife and tool design and engineering.
The SOG X-Ray Vision is a great carry
folding tactical. This
combo-edged folder features the same award-winning blade design
of the SOG Vision (with Titanium handles), ATS-34 custom
steel and performance capabilities, but retails at half the
price (around $99.00). The
X-Ray vision has a changeable clip for ambidextrous use.
The neatest thing about the X-Ray Vision is the
“Arc-Lock” locking system.
This opening and lock system features unsurpassed
standard holding capacity, fast and smooth opening action, a
positive-close safety feature, a self-adjusting locking
mechanism for long life, and the lock lever is on the exterior
of the handle, not inside it.
The X-Ray Vision has a bead blasted finish and a
glass-reinforced Zytel handle for light weight and a comfortable
feel. I’d still
be carrying my X-Ray Vision as my “serious duty” folder if I
hadn’t let a pastor friend of mine talk me out of it.
SOG’s Duo is a fixed-blade,
interchangeable-blade knife that can be rapidly changed from
serrated-edge to smooth-edge.
The Duo has a special locking safety frame that surrounds
the blade and folds into the handle. Not really a sheath, it functions as one.
The Duo has two different blade edges in one knife.
A coin or screwdriver can remove the bolt holding the
blade and allow it rapidly to be turned from serrated to smooth,
or vice-versa. It
has a removable clip and a lanyard hole, providing a variety of
carry options. It
is very light and easy to carry.
The Duo is certainly innovative.
While I didn’t find it extremely impressive from a
utilization standpoint (I prefer a lock-blade to be just that,
and for a fixed-blade knife, I want something more substantial),
no one can deny the innovation that went into the design of this
One of my favorite SOG knives is the fixed-blade
S37 Navy Seal. This
knife was designed for use by the elite Navy SEAL unit for which
it was named. Developed
under a competitive government bid process, the SOG Seal Knife
surpassed all competitors to receive the highest performance
honors and become the blade chosen by the US Navy SEALs.
To win the bid to produce this product for the
SEALs, SOG’s Seal Knife won the best overall performer in the
following tests: tip
breaking strength, blade toughness, sharpness and edge
retention, handle twist-off limits, two-week salt water
immersions, gasoline and acetylene torch resistance, chopping,
hammering, prying, penetration performance, cutting ability for
six different types of rope and nylon line, low noise and low
reflection factors, and intense field hands-on training
we at Gunblast.com didn’t put this $135 knife through all this
torture, we were pretty tough on it.
It has become one of my favorite fixed-blade tactical
knives. If I’m
gonna possibly be in a dangerous and hostile situation, I want
an AR-15 in my hand, my Springfield TRP or Glock
21 on my side, and the SOG S37 Seal Knife strapped to my belt.
The products of SOG and Kershaw as mentioned
show technical innovation and attention to quality that should
be expected in a good tactical knife.
Of the knives tested from 7 quality manufacturers, these
featured in this article exhibit innovations that set them apart
in various ways.
It should be noted, however, that all the knife
products tested by Gunblast.com over the past 9 months, from
manufacturers such as Cold Steel, SOG, Kershaw, Ka-Bar,
Spyderco, Ontario, and Buck, are all very solid
products that’ll do the job in a tactical situation. And, each company in their own way shows innovation by
continually challenging the norm and introducing new blade
shows innovation with their Technocut side locks and Maserin
Ronin, ATR, Gunting, and C76 Anniversary Delica are innovative
knife products. Ontario
has some innovative fixed-blade tactical knives, notably the
SPAX, LSA, and USN models.
Cold Steel continually pushes the envelope in knife
design and quality; many of what we now call traditional knife
design once started as innovations from Cold Steel. Who else
sells a quality spearhead?
And even Buck’s Strider collection shows innovation in
design and execution. Unfortunately, Gunblast.com didn’t have the opportunity to
review these models. So,
from products tested, SOG and Kershaw gets Gunblast’s most
innovative knife products award for 2003.
Be watching Gunblast.com for new blade
innovations coming from SHOT 2004.
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