Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sigma


The lithe form of the Sigma exudes a sense of grace and deftness even within the confines of a still shot...

Sigma
The 9th collaboration between Shirogorov and Dmitry Sinkevich.

As usual, I shall dispense with the product specs and some of the general information that are already posted officially on the Shirogorov website.

I'll start right off to say this one is definitely a winner in my book and not just as a rabid fanboy raving because it is another great score of a collaboration piece.

As anticipated from looking at the first few preview pics early this year, it has every quality from ergonomics to great action plus a sweet sharp cutting edge mated to a perfect sizing I wanted in an "ideal" knife...

In many ways, a return to the simplicity of Dmitry's earlier designs can be seen on the Sigma.


The clip is reminiscent of earlier works with spring clips. A few folks probably thought it could have used a more modern looking 3D milled design.

Deceptive!  No, it's certainly not a bent spring. Just milled to look that way. The actual spring, similar to a lock bar, is a cut-out on the underside,  hidden away from view until one peeks through.

Complete with an all round bevel finishing to ensure no hot spots, for a "plain" finish on the outside, just like an old humble spring clip.

On the whole, it imparts a sense of tactile classiness when held, thanks to the combination of uniformly fine media blasted finish.





Good 'simple' titanium surface finishing is one of those traits from the Shirogorov factory that sets them apart from many.

A continuous improvement trait seen by comparing knives old to new. There are no sudden wild changes. Slow but consistent ones, each generation of knife gets a little extra and better added to it. 

Other than hiding parts of itself from plain sight... The clip covers the two screws affixing the nested liner lock tucked into the carbon fiber.

Minimizing the distraction of having one too many hardwares dotting the landscape of the handles. As always... it's all about the little attention to details


To round it off at the butt, a wide contouring that adds to a good grip and hand feel when the knife is open and ready for use.

It's similar to another of SiDi's early design, the Dark with G10... another one of my all time favorite.

If it's not obvious from above pics, the clip follows the general outline of the handle rather closely, resulting in a pleasing flow that draws the eye towards naturally towards the blade. This make sense as to why the clip is simple.. it serves to direct attention rather than try to be a showcase in itself.



What makes a design a success? Of course asking such a question, the answer varies. Something with the simplest and cleanest of lines, where it leaves me thinking it is perfectly great as it is but can sure  take a bit more embellishment without looking overkill or garish.

CF or Ti? : While being a great fan of Shirogorov's fine milling on ti handles like the RDD and RFT, I have to say choosing CF as the material for the Sigma is definitely the right choice bringing about a certain sense of warmth to mellow out those sharp sensual lines.
The new pivot design with the blue anodizing matches up with that sliver of a backspacer almost to the same tone of vibrant blue. Together they give a harmonious flow and just that bit of sufficient contrast to an otherwise 'plain' knife.
The last few knives that came into my possession happened to be designed with tiny flippers relative to the overall size. In a way I was looking to see how various makers can push the envelope on this aspect to make a tiny (but not necessary the tiniest), most unobtrusive flipper tab for a more beautiful flow in the overall design while retaining a good opening action.

The Sigma came in with the smallest yet fires out confident and strong, aided by the momentum on the Persian-ish blade shape.

Rising up ~2mm at its highest point and angled towards the horizontal w.r.t. the CF handles, it opens up to a "flipper-less look. Mated to the raised humpback SiDi signature handles, it's designed to provides maximum clearance when cutting down. Collector item or not-- first and foremost a functional tool.

Bigger blade designs with a tip curving up well above the center-line of the pivot always have great momentum.
Sharp and pointy right out of the box with a gleaming edge, there isn't a reason to doubt it's cutting/ slicing capabilities.
"Is that triangular point sharp?" To an extent, I reckon that will depend on the lock and detent setting of individual knife. Mine happen to be spot-on. Whether light switch or a forward bias trigger pulling, the ribbed apex gives a positive catch on the index finger but doesn't dig in painfully.  Blade flies out almost immediately. Very positive, all the way to full lock up from the momentum. Definitely not a finger breaker despite how it may look and hardly one of those "1/2-fired" instances.

From pictures alone, I was wondering if the sharp edge would dig into the finger when using. Similar thought arise on choking up on its choil-less design. Again no issue on both counts. Heel of the edge is angled well forward so it wouldn't catch on the finger when in proximity. Still I'll exercise caution lest the finger pushes forward onto the edge in some tough cut/ slice.

For folks who home in from the point of using a knife, the ease of sharpening with this clean straight profile on the edge can't be missed.

An edge tool that is designed with actual intention of being used.


The slim zippered-look of the backspacer was one of the highlighted feature when sneak pictures of the Sigma first appeared.

Noticing the bit sticking out, it wasn't apparent why and I thought little of it back then.

Upon closer scrutinizing, it's obvious many things need to come together in very precise fashion. The protrusion of the backspacer acts like a centering indicator. A little off from the centering of the blade, slight difference in thickness from milling of the carbon fiber scales, it would all add to a glaring offset.

...all about precision yet without being loud  at the same time.


Flipping over to see the other side of blade centering. Unlike titanium handles, there's space constraint and any engraving or etched on logo look less sharp. Location and placement for the bearing system and steel type is tastefully done here.
 Big, light and balanced, normally one get to choose two out of the three. I like sizeable knives (ie 3.75" - 4"  blade length) with an emphasis on balance. While wishing at times certain knives doesn't make themselves felt as much when pocketed, I've never been much in the weight weenie camp.

In fact when highlights of a knife is being super light, the first thing that comes to mind is whether it will actually be a compromise. I'll touch on the topic of "light" knives another time.

Balancing point about 1 finger width behind the pivot, weight is a little front bias but nicely counter balance by the excess in the rear when properly gripped.
The Sigma fulfilled all three aspects. A very respectable sizing and balanced. It's hardly noticeably when closed and dropped into the pocket. Most importantly, the lightness does not convey a sense of fragility in any way. I take back my words now "hoping it would be a thinner 3.5mm spine" thinking that it would translate to a thin edge super slicing type.

While unable to pin it exactly, the flat grind on the Sigma starting at 4mm in the spine just felt thinner behind a very sharp factory edge compared to a number of other similar thickness flat-grind blades I have, including a number of other Shirogorov.

As with all the collaborations and higher tier knives recently-- sharpness coupled with a nice gleaming polish on the edge is immediately noticeable out of the box.

It would certainly be an arduous decision holding back not carrying and or using it more often.



Owing to the patterns in carbon fiber it is not always easy to mill and show the work involved at a glance. The milling on the Sigma doen't need to be seen up close.. in fact I find myself staring into something in the vein of a Van Gogh's piece with the criss-crossing vortex-ish swirls. 

Putting it in perspective with other knives, blade wise it is a tad longer. It feels close to a F95 right until the up-swept tip which is more delicate but feels more precise in cutting motion. Weight wise it is the same 88gm (for mine, official spec says 85gm) as the similar length CF Russian Dr Death collaboration, another 100mm blade length knife that felt much slimmer and smaller due to the narrower width of the blade.



The Sigma is a winner for me as stated at the start of this writing. In the truest sense of being a perfect all-rounder even among all my other Shirogorov knives. Yes, this is a big statement to make. I have to admit like most of my collaborations it will be more inclined to sit within the collection to be appreciated rather than becoming a daily user.

My philosophy hasn't changed on what makes one a "favorite" or top few within that list  -- "when push comes to shove, which knife will I take out of the box and use without hesitation". To that end, consideration of ergonomics, ease of use and my comfort level with its overall size etc are various things factored in.

For now-- the clear winner is this latest Sigma flanked by my two Cannabis, the Ice and the Real.

The rest,  I leave it to the video below...
















Thursday, September 28, 2017

Buster


An additional touch.. A little idea that sprang up to contrast the fine stonewash. Surprised at where Snecx actually put the embellishment on my Buster. Mirror front side. Perfect.

...from that "leap of faith" over a year ago...

Landed and Unleashed! Yes folks, Beast Mode Buster.
Uncompressed  >>>

In a nutshell, size wise, Buster is about having the largest blade on the slimmest handle while achieving the best balance possible.

Mated with precision and his penchant for ultra tight tolerances, it is definitely a work meant to showcase these aspects. More importantly, the design concept focuses on problem solving the usual niggles associated with many folders. While there is much to ogle as the knife is picked up, it was meant as a fully functional workhorse. Thus there is a need to look at it from various angles and starting with the practical.

Parts for all remaining Busters are ready and key features will remain constant but from the point of tuning to different finishes for the next 16 up and coming ones-- consider each to be an experiment in itself. Whatever those differences maybe, there would be no doubt  that each will come with a pristine fit and finish on every knife.

This is the story of #2...
Parking the blade heel to tip. Many knives have this feature shown on the tip.  Here with the heel it adds another interesting visual aspect to the knife. With index finger positioned into the slight recess in front of the flipper there is a natural position where it is operated with minimal effort.

An impossibly small flipper for an incredibly big blade. 
Not being a fan of a big dollop sticking out like a sore thumb on a knife especially a big one like this, the smallest possible tab is certainly an appeal... provided it must function optimally. 

First flip out of the box, blade snaps to lockup with authority albeit a little slow due to weight of such a big knife and what I thought may be a need for the lube to sit in more... The initial consensus was, this is more of a "trigger-pull" rather than "light switching" kind of blade.

It gets better,  but more on the action later...

In closed position, the HDPS doing its job where the pin locks up the blade at close, as opposed to being on the broadside of the tang  surface in a conventional ball detent system. A thick lock-bar with a strong set lock and flush finishing on contacting surfaces ensures everything stay in place with no discernible play.


  Hybrid Detent Pin System, HDPS
 
First up, a radical departure from other knives... "Rod-Detent? Stop-Lock Pin?" what do you call it?

Fancy nomenclatures and acronym alone does nothing and the question is to ask, "Why reinvent the wheel" or in this case, the detent ball and generally the whole lock area? - To address the ease of maintenance, durability, not having to compensate lock strength to detent ball sizing and still having a desired smooth action throughout the range of motion.

The goal was to achieve a state of consistency while ensuring everything is tight, yet smooth with the integration of the detent and locking surface on the pin.

Quite a sackful to fill...  after 12 days of of flipping, I have to say this system indeed work.And it is really something to get excited over in a knife, which doesn't often happen with me.
 
Action from start to finish

On tabbing the flipper.. the massive tang lends it's weight to nudge the lock outward allowing the fillet radius/ chamfer * a gradual transition that eliminates any sudden on/off" feel.

The securing of blade in closed position is liken to that of a spring latch assembly of a door lock.

With the pin disengaged-- the lapped and polished flat end glides on the equally polished blade tang, resistance is imperceptible and accelerates all the way to lock-up.
* for being a machining ignoramus-- that sloping end section on the pin is either a fillet radius or a chamfer-- go Google and decide what the correct term should be.. I'm 50/50 on this ;)
  
Not visible in photos, the stop pin doubles up as the locking interface. It is pressed fit into a front facing C-channel that exposes just only the portion that stops the blade when open while the rest of the lockbar milled mere microns away. Precision right here!
When locked in open position-- it makes partial use of the pin lengthwise to stop the blade from moving further. The lock setting here looks simple enough except for makers who will understand the nuances on this part of a knife and looking at how it all has to be given a new approach and the tolerances with the pin here. The accuracy of where the hole for the pin is pressed fit into has to be spot on.

Secure?

Rock solid. Zero break in time in this area. Flush fit and absolutely stick-free. I honestly cannot ask for better lock up in a knife. Turning over, it can be seen that the ridiculously large over travel pin at the other end is snugly nestled into the hook on the blade. Combined with the thickness of the tang and large pivot, there is no concern over any lateral wiggling/ blade play.


Disengaging to close, unlike traditional ball detent, the HDPS is immediately released just as during opening.

In a normal ball detent there is still quite a way before the the tang's end pushes it's way past the detent ball-- resulting in the familiar 2-step motion in closing.

For knives with weaker lock and or very small detent relative to blade size/ weight, this may not be felt much, like Buster here.

The key difference is that the functionality of the lock is not being compromised for the sake of "smoothness".

This is smoothness in it's truest sense from open to closing motions. Packaged up together, it is another feat pulled off where one doesn't think of it as a washer based knife but I was comparing it very much to the best IKBS or MRBS bearing knives out there.

If one thing is still not apparent by now, it's how the entire detent is fully exposed. The open design  does not leave much place to trap dirt and grit. All that is needed is a wipe without a full disassembly on most days.

Top Left: HDPS locking in at closed position. Location of the detent is far forward of usual ball detents and works more like a spring latch with greater contact surface than a  ball, making it much harder to shake loose.
Top Right: Blade is just very slightly displacing the depth of the fillet radius. Approx  ~ 1:1 ratio as I eyeball that the blade  tip has been raised roughly the distance of ~1.5mm from the horizontal; about the same as the depth of the fillet radius itself. Bottom Left-Right: Lock is now disengaged with blade at start of travel in contact with the flat end of pin. Blade locked out and pin works in the same manner as in closed to hold the blade in place with the additional surface from the front of the pin acting as the lock surface.



Cutting Edge


A knife that cannot cut well is essentially a useless knife.

Having said, the edge has been approached with an almost religious fervor. Entirely hand sharpened with Wicked Edge and an array of modded jigs. 62rc M390 with a 15dps starting off wide at 5mm thick at the spine (although the multi top grinds and chamfer makes it out to be visually slimmer).

To make cutting straight down smooth, it was "de-shouldered" at the top end of the edge for mine (other Busters may differ). Here an additional tiny beveling was ground to 1200 grit, making it stand out in the light. Apex and this are both arrow straight, adding on to the no-nonsense look of the Buster lines.

Put to a comparative test with my best sharpened knives, the cuts and slicing are precise thanks to the well razor straight edge. Put to real task in the kitchen, it again cuts cleanly with everything coming out crisp from contact with the blade. For those who takes pride in food prep and presentation, you know what I'm talking about here .

Just like my trusty cleaver but spotting top notch edge aesthetics!

Specification
  • Cutting edge: 101.7mm / 4"
  • Overall length 240mm / 9.47"
  • Blade thickness: 5mm / 0.20"
  • Handle thickness: 16" / 0,63"
  • Estimated Weight: 185g / 6.53oz 
#2 came out at? >>>> 184g and the rest of the specs were spot on.


Everything is massive on the Buster, yet the illusion of being smaller is another of those things tastefully fitted into the overall design by the maker to make a visual difference when holding.

Small to medium-ish? ? An illusion as the longer end of the handle is tucked underneath the palm, with only the short side sticking out,  making it look smaller than it actually is.  By the way these 2 pics are showing the best way to hold the knife to flip as effortlessly as possible by not touching the lock.

 and "Honey I Blew Up the Knife"...
Once opened, like a practical fixed blade with an ample sized handle, it leaves enough at the rear, to balance out the beefy blade up front during use. Balance!

GTC Plasma, Buster, Shirogorov/ Southard collab RFT - all over 4" blade length. Bottom right: Comparison to a smaller knife the Shirogorov Neon at 3.25" for the blade. Note the handle length sculpted to tuck away by far the largest blade in both thickness and lengthwise among all 4 compared here. The overall thickness is again another point of balancing, making it feel adequate with a full grip snugged against the whole palm.

Choking: While making sure it doesn't hit the finger, the choil is calculated to angle forward at the heel sufficiently without sacrificing the cutting edge more than necessary,

Photographing the colors right is harder than thought due to the distinct contrast of the blade and the handle. Between the choice of satin and stonewash, I took the choice of the stonewash after practical consideration of putting the knife in use. Stonewash might be considered mundane compared to many other finishing out there but Snecx has elevated his methods to an art that needs to be seen in real to appreciate.

This shot is as close to the tones in real. Entire hue on the ti handle is a uniform light gun grey under natural lighting. Almost as if painted on. Texturing of stonewash can only be seen when magnified and looks to be pretty durable from my handling so far.  Exotic materials to spice up with color and look has their place but a good piece worked with simple material casting attention to details on finishes like this truly marks the skill and dedication of a maker.
Almost Mirror. Tilted in the right angle to catch the natural light reveals a reflective surface beyond the stonewash.

Lines are so defined, actual pics takes on an almost computer generated "3D look"


Weight and Milling
The first unfinished Buster #1 back in Oct 2016
Weight shaving in knives is all the rage these days with  materials milled out to the max.

There's  however a big difference between knocking off the grams/ ounces and having a  knife that still feel balanced at the end of the day. It takes a lot more in the thought process to carefully balance the weight with where to cut out from the design to retain the practical aspects and comfort when actually using it

I'll let the maker's own words on Instagram says little more on this aspect     >>>

I was half expecting a bias with the blade's weight pulling it down when gripped. But the balance was well built into design of the handle as well giving it a truly neutral feel.



No shortcut into areas that can't be seen. Every bit taken out resulting in ever more lines and steps are just as meticulously finished on the outside. The same even tone of the stonewash on every facet on the entire handle inside out.
Subtle signatures. Various makers have unsaid elements within their designs that waits to be noticed. Symmetry and balance are constant features in Snecx's designs. Top left, note the geometric shape of the blade's front and both sides of the handle.
Right: Milling on the inners are not just merely maximizing materials that can be removed but stepped in different heights to maintain a balance for strength where needed. Not obvious is actually how much on each side is removed to keep the weight balanced on both sides after accounting for the clip and cut out on lock as well. There's more on these  but I'll leave those discovery for other owners of other Busters to find out.

Wrapping up...

This review was supposed to be up last weekend but I felt the need to pocket it afew more days to be objective. One of the first thing noticed initially were the sharp lines found everywhere. What Snecx calls a "prismatic" finish, where things are milled and lines forming the various angles meet results in a crisp clean finish. It is an attestation to the meticulous way of putting forth the kind of intended precision and the theme in Buster. However a couple of things were a little too sharp to me.


  • Tip of clip
  • The apex at the handle's rear
  • Flipper tab
While the objective is clear on such sharp lines, the angular pointy-ness presented makes for handling and carrying (not having the sharp points catching in the pocket etc) something to think about.

Particularly the 2 forward facing corners at the flipper tab. One concern in having it slightly rounded was it may not give sufficient grip purchase when flipping due to the smaller flipper.

A week passed since those initial thoughts above. Metal is no match for my callus laden fingers.. the sharp points actually just worn themselves down a smidge from the flipping and poses no discomfort by now.  It can "light-switch" as easily as "trigger-pull" as seen in the video above. 

All said, the sharpness of the 3 areas can easily be toned down without significant changes or impairment to the aesthetics or functionality of the knife. I believe it will boil down to individual preferences for each Buster's owner to come.

The floating pivot is something I like. Not just here but in other knives with similar pivot constructions. For one, no Loctite is needed, something absolutely disliked in a knife. Being adjustable on both sides, there really isn't an issue of over-tightening and having  things stuck. With the ease of just 2 screws and on washers and a detent that can be cleaned without disassembly there really isn't anything simpler.

The smoothness generated from the generous sized washers and HDPS makes me forget it is actually  a knife on washers speaks volume.
...


While it may not appeal with a sense of sensual flowing aesthetics due to a lack of things curvy, the polished crispness and clean lines are packaged up beautifully in its own way and not make you afraid to use it.

Combined that with a salute to the HDPS feature, something which I can only hope to see on more knives in the future, the Buster has achieved what it was intended to be.

A true big and sharp working brute cleverly hidden and tucked among its classy lines to impart an air of quality at the same time. An unmistakable industrial chic look without a need to conform to prevailing trends.



Personally, Buster will be something to pack with my field gears and of course around the kitchen







In the field?...

... Did someone say "Zombies"











Monday, May 8, 2017

RFT: Russian Flipping Tanto- a Southard / Shirogorov Collaboration

Beyond the usual procrastination for writing less these days, it has partially been a matter of settling in with edged things by now. Hold enough knives and there are very few that really kick up that sense of excitement anymore. Since I am not into art knives or blades normally decked out with embellishments and exotic materials, things that catches my interest got rather pared down.

Yet, every once in a while, something fascinating will pique my interest....

For one I have been a fan of Brad's work, just never having luck in scoring any. The design elements in many of his work falls in line with my rather acute parameters towards knives. Of course that penchant for anything Shirogorov needs no introduction by now. Hence with the announcement of this collaboration, it was only natural to gravitate into an all-out attempt in securing one.


Let's start at the tip...

Tantō blades or should I say the modern edition, the "American Tanto" has not been my choice of blade design in choosing a carry.

There are other Japanese edged weapons with 2 edges, not curved but known by different names which eludes me now. Anyway this genre of blade shape is very different from the traditional Japanese tantō (短刀) aka "short blade". Barring those oddballs under the tanto family like saw-blades and pistol tanto etc... technically, in the most basic form it is a short sword which normally spots less lines, simpler grinds and definitions overall. Many things done on new age tanto actually would be found in others like a wakizashi or katana especially around the tip (kissaki) area.

It would be really unfair to compare everything to a traditional tanto and desiring to only see things that follow those to the hilt. In any case I view the whole category as a borrowed name. Ultimately it comes down to the creativity of the designer by integrating the aesthetics with functionality.

Many a time it is the abrupt angle of the two edges on the design of many that makes me look away. Generally, I'm more partial to knives with a continuous flow. Therefore another feature normally shunned are compound grinds.

How much the front edge angles inwards has a significant visual impact, tip strength etc, but most have either a dead-on straight edge or in totally opposite fashion with a rather exaggerated curve. The latter is sometimes seen with a more complex "compound" edge too. Just my opinion here.. having too many things that should not have been there in the first place, is like adding legs while drawing a snake.


Sharpness. By far the sharpest Shirogorov received straight from factory. I notice a trend of increased sharpness starting with my Neon3D followed by the RDD and Jeans but this one edge out even the the Vanax37 used in  the cf RDD and Jeans.

Alright, enough rants...  here are the things I find with the RFT from tip to end. This final execution after endless design refinements, no doubt, still puts it in a very odd place within my mind initially...


Note the subtle curve of the leading edge geometry, bordered nicely on the insides with a grind line meeting the "yokote" (dividing line) of the two edges. While not traditional, the execution in the overall design with those resulting lines certainly allude to edged weapons of the country where the modern tanto was inspired from. It is a mixture of seemingly different things found in various Japanese knives, yet it is not.

A modern twist melded with those lines in the background of the mind during the designing process is evident. A case of functionality meets art, nicely accomplished in the RFT.

Sure didn't take long for me to overlook my bias against the 2 edges from here on...  or about 5 minutes after I stared at the blade straight out of the box.



Width. Tapering from 28mm down to 18mm where the edges meet, there is just an ever so slight belly, adding back a sense of gradualness in the overall shape when viewing the entire blade. Together with the straight back and proportionate thickness, it gives a sense of speedy thrusting precision when employed in that manner.

Moving back from the tip, the thicker spine, not often found in traditional tanto does well with the shape of the RFT, imparting a sense of rigidity.

Clockwise from top: Neon 3D, Jeans, RDD and RFT
The edge feels to be convex but I can't be 100%  sure owing to the almost mirror finish and bad eyesight.  Edge width is between that of the Jeans and Dr Death collaborations.

If based on a common sense logic of overall width, then all three seems to be following a descending pattern of width with the Jeans being the broadest, RDD the narrowest and RFT taking an intermediate spot.

Logos are back on the insides of the handles on this collaboration, which is how I like them too. Leaving the external a clean unmarked look.  Of course, by now all special editions comes with milled inner sides to keep weight down.

Serial no. checked,
Symbol for the SRRBS with steel washer, checked.
But where is the the make of the steel on this one, which would be M390.


Double sided pac man screws! No wait... looking again, only one side can be worked on. But this is most certainly a trickle down trait seen in the Shirogorov full customs. There might be some in Custom Division knives but I really don't recall now. However, another obvious can't be missed trait would be the sunken pivot collar. Already seen on a few Custom Divisions but definitely a first in collaboration editions, excluding the Dark which I consider to be something else.

Excuse the specks... the "joys" of dusty city living
The milling in the center 1/3 of the handles is a refreshing touch. 'Spiraling waves'. Personally I reckon this milling pattern has something to do with the imagery to be associated with this knife. Anyway on the 2 sides sandwiching it, is a series of really fine horizontal milling, almost not visible and not captured well on my camera.

One key feature that attracted me early on was the flipper tab. Minimalist. Not some in-your-face giant dollop sticking sorely out of the knife. The concern is always wondering if it is sufficiently big to give the necessary leverage when flipping out the blade... but more on this at the end.

Aesthetics wise-- this scores big points for me on the RFT.


Butt-sthetics. The imagery that comes to mind  "dimples and curves" complementing the milled "spiraling waves" ... much like ogling the bikini tribes at the beach. Only here, it doesn't mind being touched.

Having a screw for the clip which is the same size as that used at the lock insert -- that seem to be the only thing holding up the whole assembly together with the front pivot. Minimalism at work.
This seems to be another trickle down from the full customs, take a look at the presentation side of the F7, like the RFT here there is only 1 main pivot showing. No other screws visible in the rear.

Strength? No discernible weakness or warbling/ play so far after a few hundred flips. The screw clip seems to be a through piece assembly threading both handles and the back-spacer. Yet there is nothing showing on the presentation side. Tip shape naturally allows for a wider back-spacer end for such a design/construction. Maybe part of the back-spacer is interfacing with the handles like Lego bricks? Wouldn't be able to tell unless the knife gets disassembled which I am not inclined to - at least not now, given the smoothness of the action right out of the box. For the moment, how this 1 tiny screw keeps everything together in the rear is a mystery.

Quite pleasantly surprised by the size at first sight. Big, yet didn't feel as big as the 111. A little more like the F95 in thickness but with a little added length to the blade making it feel just right-- The "missing in between-er Shirogorov" that has existed only in my mind before...

Technical specs:
OAL length: 233mm (9.17in)
Blade length: 100mm (3.94in)
Blade thickness at spine: 3.5mm (0.08in)
Cutting edge length: 110mm (4.33in)
Blade steel: M390
Handle length: 133mm (5.24in)
Handle thickness: 13.6mm (0.34in)
Handle material: titanium
Pivot: SRRBS (single-row roller bearing system), on a hardened steel washer
Locking mechanism: frame lock
Weight: 145gr

 

Giving a +/- 1mm or gram tolerance, numbers as per the above official specifications are spot on, right down to the weight.

Top: Looking bigger on the 111, blade wise, the actual difference in hand is less than what the pic would suggest.
Bottom left: the big difference is in the width together with the  overall thickness. For folks with smaller hands, the 111 has often been said to be "too big" While that is not a problem for me, the RFT do make it a more snug feel when held. The additional closed length on the 111 really stems from the 2 bulging ends and being relatively thicker. Thus the RFT in comparison gets a more "aero" profile and less bulge when pocketed (not clipped).
Left to Right: RDD, RFT and 111, a closed length and width perspective.

Slim seems to be the trademark these days... 3.5mm thick instead of 4mm for a knife this size. I was squaring away mentally whether there is enough steel in the RFT during it's announcement. Turns out to be a case of unnecessary worrying. While slim, the 3.5mm runs the bulk of the blade length and a good 20-30% of the width before tapering off into the flat grind down to the edge. Even with milled handle pockets, the knife still weighs 145gm. Much of that does come from the blade which lends itself nicely to the momentum when flipping open.

The other thing is the tolerance to the handle when closed. It would be a step closer to the Shirogorov full customs and a few other good custom knife makers work I have. Knives like these really leaves very little room for alignment error.


Tip Parking- yet another seemingly new trend to showcase precision these days.

The other attribute that added to the reduced profile on this rather big knife is the flushed spine of Brad's design with the handle. Blade only peeks out from the tiny cut-outs on the handle

...





Coming to the "default" action clip...

I saw a few videos where there seems to be some fumbling during opening. My first guess was the reduced profile of the flipper tab. Apparently not. The tuning, lock and detent strength is really one of the best for a big 4" blade I came across. The trick lies in not touching the lock bar when opening. To that I would say--this is really a right-hander frame lock that has been optimized for us lefties. The video should be telling :)


Summing up, I never thought a tanto would make it to the collection and entertain even lesser thought of carrying one. This one has tossed things up quite literally for me-- if the stars align as nicely as the blade in closed position here.. I would spring for a second one as a use-and-carry workpiece. In particular that pre-production "unobtanium" prototype with zirconium pivot ring and backspacer would be really nice to have... ;)