I obviously knew that Anthony Sculimbrene had a YouTube channel, since I had already subscribed. That said, I hadn’t watched one of his reviews as far as a know. Well done and well informed, it is like a low-energy version of Nick Shabazz. Without the voice.
When you first get into knives, it’s a major shock to the system to see just how much they can cost. We often joke about this by comparing them to what our videographer Thomas paid for his truck, but sometimes the cost is no laughing matter. A single custom handmade knife can fetch thousands of dollars; tens of thousands for something handcrafted by one of the true legends in the industry. But if that doesn’t scare you away and you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of ‘best knife for the money,’ you’ll find one name—and one knife—mentioned more than any other. That would be Chris Reeve Knives, and the Sebenza original frame lock folder.
We could write a whole blog article about the history of this knife dating back over 30 years and the constant improvements to the design that have continued until today. But that’s not what we’re here for: this is an ode to the best folding knife money can buy and why it’s worth every penny.
I do not really want a newly produced one, but I also don’t want to pay what it will take to get a “like new” one that is 10 years old or more. Especially since I would want to use it.
| EDC, Industry News / New Products, Production Knives
James Brand has just released the Barnes, a new folding knife design that marks the new high end point of their catalog. The Barnes is the first integral knife design from James, and also marks a few other firsts for the company.
James has been working with titanium since the very beginning, but this is the first time they’ve tried their hand an integral. The Barnes’s entire handle is made from a single, seamless piece of titanium; and with no need to hold two separate scales together, there is a major reduction in necessary hardware and visual clutter here, even by James’s minimalist standards. But style is a key part of the James Brand ethos, so they stepped up the knife’s aesthetic in another way, with a triangular pattern reminiscent of the James clovis logo milled into the scales.
If James Brand wants to be taken seriously beyond its core fanbase, making an integral is one way to do that. It is a much more complicated manufacturing process, and beyond necessary in a purely functional sense.
| EDC, Industry News / New Products, Production Knives
Andrew Demko, custom maker and longtime collaborator with Cold Steel, has taken his leave of the company and is focusing on custom and production lines in his own shop. The first full production release in this lineup, the AD20.5, is getting ready to release and features Demko’s Shark Lock mechanism.
Towards the end of 2020 Cold Steel founder and CEO Lynn C. Thompson announced the sale of the company to GSM Outdoors. When we spoke with GSM in December, they told us that both Thompson and Demko would remain aboard; but Demko says that multiple considerations ultimately led him to leave the company. “At this time I am not working with Cold Steel, but wish them the very best success. With the huge success of the AD20 model and the timing of the sale of Cold Steel, I decided it was time for Demko Knives to expand,” he tells us. “I hope to increase both my in-house made knives and this new Taiwan-made product.”
| Bushcraft, Hunting, & Survival, Industry News / New Products, Production Knives
Artisan Cutlery has announced that the Silax, a mid-sized fixed blade designed by Dylan Mallery, is being transitioned from Artisan’s main line into its CJRB label. The decision follows in the wake of the extremely positive response a prototype batch of the knife received last month.
Even for those only used to Mallery’s folding knife work, the family heritage on the Silax is plain to see. In terms of proportions and blade shape, there’s almost something kitchen knife-esque about it: it’s 5.11 inch wharncliffe blade almost be called a santoku. And while the Silax would certainly perform admirably in the kitchen, it also looks ready for work in the outdoors. Its final role will, of course, come down to the preferences and predilections of the user; the simple, universal handle shape below the Silax’s blade also plays into the “Choose Your Own Adventure” nature of the knife.
I liked this one when I first saw it researching 2021 new releases. The decision to relegate it to CJRB is an interesting one.
| EDC, Knife & Accessory Review, Production Knives
When I first got into knives, in the early nineties, I did my best to find the coolest ‘baddest’ ninja-spec-ops folding & fixed blade knives I could find. Naturally, I picked up plenty of knives with black coated blades. After a while, I moved away from that completely. Now, after more than 20 years, I got my first folder with a black blade again: the DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix with a cruwear blade and purple G10.
What got me was this amazing cool color combination of the purple G10 and black DLC coated blade. I really like that color combination. The liners are coated as well, inside and out. In fact, the only part of this knife that is not coated are the edge and the part of the tang that interacts with the ball bearing lock. I also like the aesthetics of the laser engraving that comes out white on the DLC coated blade.
For the first time in a long time, the flashlight market has been pretty disappointing.
The division between the gee whiz gadgets powered by Anduril, what I think of as gizmo lights (yes, I purposely chose the word “gizmo” to make me sound older…after all the Anduril Army contends that I am dinosaur for liking the HDS Rotary at all) and the tactical market has grown a bit.
The positively silly array of “features” and cratering output after seconds of headlight highs makes me think that the budget overseas lights just aren’t getting better. They are getting brighter and more complex, but not better. Light after light that comes out from these companies gets a heaping helping of “more” but nothing in this array of “more” makes the lights more reliable, easier to use, or longer running. The trend of moving away from 18650s to 21700s is proof of this. There is no real reason to drop an already too large battery for an even bigger one, unless you buy lights on specs alone. Flashlights only became worthwhile as an EDC item when they shrank to finger-sized tubes that could be pocketed or put into a bag with ease. A paper towel roll-sized light, regardless of output, just can’t be useful enough to carry. Once you pass around 1,000 lumens, the utility of additional lumens, especially without a throw head drops quickly to zero. Remember the old saying from Quick Beam (which I am paraphrasing)—like with lights and lumens, the highest proof bourbon isn’t necessarily the best.
Tactical lights, on the other hand, are bad for another reason—there is no innovation. Surefire’s last EDC light, the Titan Plus, is now 6 years old. It is a good light still, but 6 years is a long time. Where is the clicky version already? That can’t be all that much of a challenge to make. I would love to see a higher output HDS, something in the 500 lumens range. Similarly Malkoff would do well to bump up the output on his otherwise stellar lights. Strangely, it is Streamlight that is innovating. The Wedge is one of the most exciting new lights out there and as soon as they are more widely available, one will be in the review queue for sure.
This was interesting. I know about individual flashlights, but I haven’t given much thought to the “state of the industry”.