Gear Test: Four New Pocket Knives

foldingknives

Odds are a pocket folder was your first knife, and you used it for everything, from whittling sticks to cleaning fish and skinning squirrels. The newest folders boast the latest materials and a bold, contemporary look. We asked four readers to spend an entire summer with these modern knives to determine which ones are a cut above.

foldingknivestester

The Test Panel 1 - Dan DellaPietro
Age: 21
Hunting Area: New Jersey
Days Hunted Per Year: 5 2 - Matt George
Age: 31
Hunting Area: Pennsylvania
Days Hunted Per Year: 60 3 - Tyler Sanders
Age: 17
Hunting Area: Michigan
Days Hunted Per Year: 10 4 - Richard York
Age: 29
Hunting Area: Kentucky
Days Hunted Per Year: 60
#1 - Benchmade 556 Mini Griptilion
$95 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Lowdown: The 2.91-inch modified drop-point blade is made of 154CM stainless steel to deliver a corrosion-resistant product that can retain an edge. All four testers said the blade was razor sharp and did not dull appreciably during heavy use, including cutting wire. "The knife held its edge over the others," George said. Sanders, who liked the patented ambidextrous locking mechanism and pocket clip, said, "The whole knife is solid, and the blade doesn't wiggle." George and York appreciated being able to open the blade with one hand. Said York, "You can use the stud on the blade and open with your thumb or pull back the locking mechanism and flip your wrist to open it." Three testers wished for a slightly longer blade. But that was the only criticism. "Big things come in small packages," said York. "It's reliable, durable, comfortable, and effective." Hits: "Definitely state-of-the-art construction," said George.
Misses: "The high price," said Sanders.
#2 - Gerber DMF
$69 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Lowdown: Coming in only 3 points behind the Benchmade, Gerber's DMF knife has a partially serrated clip-style 31⁄2-inch blade and includes a pointed pommel for striking and a reversible pocket clip. The testers liked its feel and heft and noted that the knife was very durable. "You could run it over with a truck and not put a scratch on it," said George. All agreed the fiberglass G-10 handle was "virtually indestructible," but testers split over the quality of the blade. York said his chipped in two spots, and Sanders said it didn't keep an edge as well as the others. George disagreed, saying it kept an edge after heavy use and that "you could shave with it right out of the box." Although York didn't care for the pointed pommel, DellaPietro said he found it useful, especially when he needed to crack open a bunch of steamed crabs. Hits: "The price is right," said DellaPietro.
Misses: "Requires two hands to close," said Sanders.
#3 - SOG Specialty Knives Flash II
$75 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Lowdown: Praise was unanimous for the Flash II's S.A.T. (SOG Assisted Technology) piston lock, which makes for ultrafast one-handed opening of the knife. "Very cool," Sanders called it. George said, "For performance and ease of use, it's at the top of the game." There is a safety switch to prevent inadvertent opening, but the testers gave this mixed reviews. DellaPietro called it the model's best feature, but York noted, "It is a pain. It often engages on its own." All felt the glass--reinforced nylon handle was durable, but two believed there was too much play between the 31⁄2-inch blade and the handle. York and Sanders didn't care for the positioning of the clip and felt it moved from side to side too much. Everyone agreed the edge was sharp out of the box and worked well cutting through a variety of materials, but George felt the Flash II lost its edge faster than the others. Hits: "Wicked quick blade," said George.
Misses: "The handle feels cheap," said York.
#4 - Buck Flashpoint
$52.50 Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The Lowdown: There's a bottle opener-carabiner clip on the FlashPoint's handle--a unique and useful feature, said George. York, however, felt the combo "was hard on my hand" and gave him a blister. The drop-point blade (just under 3 inches) is partially serrated, and the testers agreed that it came with a very sharp edge. "It cut everything that it touched," said York, "including my finger." Two testers complained that the blade lost its edge too quickly, and some felt that there was a lot of play between the handle and the blade. Our team was split over Buck's SafeSpin system, designed for opening and closing the knife quickly. Sanders liked the concept but said the slide-lock safety didn't always work. Overall, said George, "I think Buck is headed in the right direction with this knife. But they have to work on the durability." Hits: "The least expensive, but performed as well as the others," said York.
Misses: "Pocket clip cannot be switched to the other side," said DellaPietro.

Odds are a pocket folder was your first knife, and you used it for everything, from whittling sticks to cleaning fish and skinning squirrels. The newest folders boast the latest materials and a bold, contemporary look. We asked four readers to spend an entire summer with these modern knives to determine which ones are a cut above.