Petzal: Some Happy Hacking from Hossom

Here is a quartet of cutlery from Spyderco that got completely by me when it came out about a year and a half ago. Designed by Georgia smith Jerry Hossom (You can see his own work at hossom.com.), they are unusual in several respects. First, the shape. Mr. Hossum believes in function following form; i.e., you come up with a good design and let people figure out how to use it, rather than the other way around. All four knives have the same basic silhouette; they differ only in length and proportion. They range from the Dayhiker which has a 4.5-inch blade and is 10.5 inches overall, to the Forester which has a 9-inch blade and is 15.5 inches overall.

The Hossoms are made in Italy of an Austrian steel called N690Co. I had not heard of it before, but it's an intriguing alloy, very high in carbon (1.07 percent), chromium (17 percent; 440C, our most popular stainless, is 14 percent) and cobalt (1.50 percent), which imparts great strength.

Their grind is unusual as well. The Hossums are given what is known as a rolled edge which, if you look at it in cross section, is convex, rather than the usual flat or concave profile.

A rolled edge is extremely strong and long-lasting but it's difficult to form. Japanese swordsmiths grind it by hand on katana blades using a convex water stone, and call it a hamaguri edge. In America it's called a Moran edge, after the late master smith who formed it with a slack grinding belt. The only others who use it are Cold Steel (on their big Bowies) and now Spyderco.

Because of the high-strength alloy and the rolled edge, hell will freeze before these knives need resharpening (Can you imagine Toshiro Mifune stopping in mid-beheading to touch up his katana?) and Spyderco says that the big Hossums are fine for chopping and hacking.

The handles are gray-green Micarta and the sheaths are made of Boltaron, which looks like Kydex to me, and come with a five-position TekLok belt fastener. You can get all the details here, where you will also see the prices. Do not have a seizure; they are a lot lower on the open market. These are terrific knives, and I am sorry I missed them when they came out. Maybe I should be flogged around the fleet.