Tyrant Designs CNC is a Chicago machining company best known for its skeletonized rifle grips, but has decided to enter the knife world with a splash. They have released a pair of American made liner lock EDC folders for the incredible MSRP of just $79.95. The TDC (Tyrant Daily Carry) 001 and 002 knives were designed by the company’s owner.
A familiar name to KNIFE Magazine readers is also with Tyrant Designs. Custom knifemaker and professional knife photographer Cory Martin handles marketing and content creation for Tyrant. He is the one who sent me a TDC-002 for testing and review.
So how does USA made sub-$80 folding knife stand up in a niche dominated by imports? Let’s take a look.
3″ Tanto blade
7″ Open Length
3 3/8 oz
D2 corrosion resistant steel (sourced from Germany)
ball bearing action
chevron textured hard durometer rubber side panels
deep carry reversible pocket clip
thumb stud opening
Made and Assembled in the USA
The TDC-002’s action is extremely smooth, with its blade riding on ball bearing pivots. A well tuned detent provides enough resistance to ensure full deployment when enough pressure is applied to a thumb stud. The blade has generous jimping on the thumb rest of the spine. The chevron-patterned rubber side inserts are useful for providing non-slip friction in either the hand or pocket, and they are embedded seamlessly into the CNC’d handles.
There is the slightest of recurves on the primary edge of the tanto blade, which is less than optimal for stone sharpening, but that was already going to be true regardless due to the tanto profile. A rod style sharpener is going to be best for this knife.
The one area of concern going in was the lock bar. Two different experienced knife people both remarked on its relative thinness within seconds of being handed the knife. It was one of the first things I noticed as well.
I will come back to that in the testing section.
That said, the lockup has remained firm throughout the month I have carried the knife. There is no blade wobble at all in any direction. I never needed to tighten the pivots throughout the entire month I carried the TDC-002
While I was sent the all-black version of the knife, it is available with contrasting gold/yellow backspacer and thumb studs.
It should come as no surprise that a company that makes rifle grips might know a thing or two about ergonomics. The TDC-002 is rock solid with a thumb-on spine grip. One’s thumb locks against the jimping, and the rubberized chevron scale inserts provide a gentle friction which keeps the knife from moving in your palm.
Other grip styles are not quite as dead on as the above. But while not as bomb proof, I didn’t find any particular hotspots throughout.
The TDC-002 carries about as one would expect from a knife its size. Depending on the pocket, the elevated spine may force the knife into a slightly catawampus orientation, as seen in the photo below. This was more likely to happen in khakis and cargo shorts. It rode straight in jeans as a general rule.
As is my usual protocol, I start with newsprint to test the factory edge, followed by a cardboard cutting edge endurance test. There is a saying that D2 steel “takes a moderate edge and holds it forever”. I found this to be the case with the TDC-002. I could never get it to quite shaving sharpness, and it was only ok at slicing newsprint. That said, it will break down cardboard like a champ for an extended period of time.
Crosscutting cardboard yielded the above. It started strong, and was still making fairly clean cuts at 50′. As I approached 70′, the cuts got noticeably rougher. I tapped out at 75′ as I was starting to tear rather than slice the cardboard. It has been, in my experience, a rare knife that makes it to 100′, with most common steels starting to degrade rapidly around the 50-60′ mark.
After touching the edge up on a Spyderco Sharpmaker, I did a few functional cutting tests.
The TDC-002 is hardly going to be one’s first choice for culinary work. That said, it did a nice job of prepping onions and peppers, slicing cleanly rather than wedging, even though the geometry would tend to favor the latter.
While not by any stretch a woods knife, I was able to make a functional if not spectacular fuzz stick. I just could not get the long thin slivers to hang onto the stick, which I attribute to the geometry rather than sharpness of the knife.
I carried the TDC-002 for the better part of this past month. It has done a fantastic job on all of my normal EDC tasks, which include opening packages and trimming labels in the office. One task that the TDC-002 excelled at is opening blister packaging. Even highly regarded EDC knives can find this a challenge, but the pointy tanto tip pierces hard plastic easily. It might well be the best EDC I have used for the task.
My final test was a bit unorthodox. The relatively thin lock bar had been nagging at me, and I needed to come up with something I would never do in the course of standard EDC activity. I decided to test the tip strength, and more importantly the lock bar, by stabbing a No. 10 can bottom.
The tanto tip performed as one would expect, piercing the steel can easily. The wildcard was going to be the lock bar. I am happy to report that there was no deflection at all, and the knife remains as tight and wobble free as it had been at the start. The can barely scratched the blade coating. Having finished this test, I am confident that the TDC-002 will be more than robust enough to stand up to any common EDC task you might find yourself confronted with.
I like the TDC-002. There are things that could use tweaking as Tyrant grows and establishes its place in the knife world. But a solid offering by all objective measure, as I hope I have documented above. Add the fact that it is American made by an American company, along with a price that is comfortably below a C-note, and you are looking at myriad reasons to give this knife a serious look.
If you want to pick one up for yourself, the best way is directly through Tyrant’s website