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Archive | October, 2017

Combative Edge M1 Fixed

The M1 Folder is the knife that put Combative Edge on the map. Combative Edge has gone through some changes recently including bringing all of their manufacturing back into the USA. Once again, they leaning on their flagship knife with the introduction of a new version of the M1 – the M1 Fixed.

The M1 Fixed is a fixed blade version of the original M1 folder. It features the same style clip point, recurve blade but is larger than it’s folding counterpart. The blade is 4.5″ long and ground from 3/16″ D2 steel stock.

The handle is very much like the original folding version with a deep first finger groove, small guard, and a flared pommel. The handle features textured G-10 scales to improve grip.

The M1 Fixed is available with a standard bead blast finish or a dark acid wash finish and comes with a kydex sheath. You can check it out at CombativeEdge.com.

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Bargain or Just Cheap? – ESEE Avispa and Zancudo

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series reviews budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


If you are a manufacturer planning to create a budget knife, pay careful attention to what ESEE has done with the Avispa and Zancudo. They’ve kept cost down by getting the important things right and careful material selection. I’ll let the cat out of the bag right up front. These knives are great.

ESEE Avispa D2

Avispa Specs:

Lock: Steel frame lock

Pocket Clip: Left or right, tip up or down

Steel: AUS 8 or D2

Handle: Textured FRN front, steel back

Blade length: 3.5 in.

Blade thickness: .11 in.

Open length: 8.5 in.

Weight: 4.51 oz.

Zancudo Specs:

Lock: Steel frame lock

Pocket Clip: Right pocket only, tip up or down

Steel: AUS 8 or D2

Handle: Textured FRN front, steel back

Blade length: 2.94 in.

Blade thickness: .09 in.

Open length: 7 in.

Weight: 3.06 oz

Observations from Use

Both of these knives do a great job of getting the important things right which leads to knives with great performance and high perceived quality. It is obvious that care goes into ensuring that things like the frame lock, detent, grinds, and ergonomics are dialed in on these knives.

Both knives flick open with ease. They have positive detents and smooth bronze phosphor washers paired with thumb studs that are well placed and easy to find with your thumb. My examples were smooth right out of the box and became even smoother with some use and the tiniest drop of oil on each washer.

I’ve been able to handle several of these knives over the years and they all have incredibly consistent lock up. The frame lock contacts the blade tang at about 75-80% lock up. There is no blade play and plenty of room left to wear in with use. These are well executed frame locks.

These knives cut extremely well! The blades on both knives feature a similar profile. They are drop points with full height flat grinds. The point drops to the center of the blade so much that this is nearly a spear point shape. They cut aggressively thanks to their thinner blade stock and excellent geometry.

Both knives are offered with two steel options: D2 and AUS 8. Flip a coin. They are both good. The AUS 8 is stainless and very easy to sharpen at the cost of some edge holding performance. D2 is a carbon steel (very rust resistant compared to most carbon steels). It offers great edge holding but can be tricky for some people to sharpen. The knives are a good value with AUS 8 steel and an incredible value with D2. It is hard to find other knives with similarly high performance steels at this price.

The FRN scales offers good texture without being tough on your pockets and they are available in about a million color options. Both knives have full steel liners under the FRN scale. The liner is drilled with a series of holes to reduce weight on the Avispa. I wish the same steps were taken with the Zancudo. It could have been a truly lightweight knife.

The ergonomics on both knives are great. The Avispa feels large and hand filling even though it is actually quite slim. The Zancudo is actually smaller than a Spyderco Delica in nearly every dimension yet it still manages to offer a grip that all four fingers will fit and a longer cutting edge. That is truly incredible as someone who has been carrying a Delica for more than 15 years. They fit your hand, are slim in the pocket, and are large enough to do real work.

They’re good but not perfect. The FRN scales can tend to flex away from the steel liner a bit which is a little annoying. The pocket clips will ride directly on the frame lock bar if you switch them around for right pocket tip up carry which can make one handed closing difficult (though still doable). Those are pretty minor gripes considering that even the D2 version of this knife comes in at well under $40.

ESEE Zancudo D2

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The ESEE Avispa and Zancudo may lack gimmicks, flash, and pretense. However, they more than make up for it with cutting performance, ergonomics, and value. There is no doubt. These knives are BARGAINS.

Amazingly, the D2 version of these knives tends to cost only $4-5 more than the AUS 8 version and they are still less than $40. If you are feeling flushed with cash, there are D2 and Carbon Fiber options that still come in under $50!

I am using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon:

ESEE Avispa on Amazon

ESEE Zancudo on Amazon


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

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What’s Next from TOPS Knives?

TOPS Knives has pulled back the curtain to give us a sneak peek at what knives are coming next and where you can catch up with the TOPS crew.

Partizan Knife Sale at Bastion – Save 50% Today Only

Bastion is offering their Partizan knives at 50% off today only. The Partizan is one of my favorite every day carry knives. It is extremely slim and light with classic lines but also very stout so it blurs the line between gentleman’s knife and tactical folder.

All three variations are on sale. Each one features a slightly recurve, drop point blade ground from D2 steel. The handle options include G10 with a liner lock, sculplted carbon fiber with a titanium frame lock, and a full titanium frame lock.

Check out the Partizan at Bastion Gear.

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Victorinox Paring Knives

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


I’ve written about Victorinox Paring Knives before so its no secret that I love them. They are marketed as kitchen knives but these dirt cheap knives are useful for everything from everyday tasks, to hunting, and even self-defense.

Specs:

Handle: Polypropylene (shape and texture varies)

Blade Length: Varies

Overall Length: Varies

Weight: .9 ounce

Sheath: Not provided

Observations from Use

I own a stack of these. At around $6-8 a piece, I don’t mind keeping a stash of them on hand. I’ve been using and abusing the same 8 or 9 for at least 5 years and I have yet to break one.

I use them in the kitchen, for processing meat animals and game up to white tail deer size, for general utility tasks, for fishing, every day carry, and just about any other way you can use a knife. Are they good for batoning fire wood? No, but that doesn’t mean they are weak. You just need to be realistic with their use. At less than an ounce a piece, you can manage to carry one with a hatchet.

They are surprisingly good hunting knives and I people are often surprised to find out we use them to dress deer. Instead of worrying about sharpening your knife in the field, you just carry a handful of them. If one gets dull part way through field dressing (it probably won’t), just grab the next one. That saves time, money, and weight in your pack because a handful of these knives still weigh less than most field knives.

The biggest snag with keeping these knives as general purpose knives is finding a sheath but that is becoming easier now with the proliferation of kydex benders. Victorinox also offers a couple of cheap options that can be purchased separately. I use their BladeSafes which are are plastic blade covers that open like a clam shell and have small rubber pads inside that grip the blade when closed. They are secure enough to allow you to carry the knives in your pack safely, very affordable, and best of all… dishwasher safe. That makes cleaning blood, fur, and animal fat out of them a breeze. I also use a KSF Pocket Sheath to carry one almost every day.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

These knives are most certainly BARGAINS. They are dirt cheap but perform far beyond the low price would lead you to believe. As far as I am concerned, everyone should have a stash of them.

I will be using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: Victorinox Paring Knives on Amazon


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

The Latest from TOPS Knives: Wind Runners Snake River Edition

TOPS Knives just rolled out two new knives in their Windrunner series.

From TOPS Knives:

Most hunters in TOPS’ neck of the woods don’t hunt only one type of animal. They hunt several, and fish, and camp, and just generally like spending time outdoors. The Wind Runners were designed with them in mind. The regular Wind Runner is just right for fish, fowl, and small game. The XL is great for larger animals and general use around the campsite. The recurved blades slice easily with tips that are subdued to avoid puncturing hides and organs while processing game. Comfortable Micarta handles provide a solid purchase that makes using the knives as fun as they are functional.

The Wind Runner and Wind Runner XL can be purchased separately or as a combo with a piggyback sheath from www.topsknives.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=wdr

Wind Runner (WDR-01)

Overall Length: 6.25”

Blade Length: 3.5”

Cutting Edge: 2.75”

Blade Thickness: 0.13”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Black River Wash

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 2.5oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 4.0oz

Sheath Material: Kydex

Sheath Clip: Neck Chain

Designer: Leo Espinoza

MSRP: $140

Wind Runner XL (WDR-XL)

Overall Length: 9.69”

Blade Length: 5.25”

Cutting Edge: 4.38”

Blade Thickness: 0.19”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Black River Wash

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 9.5oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 12.3oz

Sheath Material: Kydex

Sheath Clip: Injection Molded Nylon

Designer: Leo Espinoza

MSRP: $180

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