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Archive | Tactical

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Kershaw CQC-6K and E-Train

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.


The line of collaboration knives by Emerson Knives and Kershaw is extensive and affordable. However, not all of them are bargains (see our CQC-4K review). The CQC-6K is the subject of today’s installment of Bargain or Just Cheap? and it has something impressive that no other folder in this category has.

Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock

Pocket Clip: Reversible, Tip up only

Steel: 8Cr14MoV

Handle: Textured G-10 front, 410 stainless steel back

Blade length: 3.25 in.

Closed length: 4.5 in.

Open length: 7.75 in.

Weight: 5 oz.

Observations from Use

So what does the CQC-6K have that no other knife in this category has? It has the E-Train – a fully functional training drone version of the CQC-6K. That is a huge value added over other knives if you are interested in training but still operating on a budget. Kershaw and Emerson should get major props for creating a budget-minded live blade and drone combo. Even if you aren’t interested in the CQC-6K, you may want to pick up an E-Train to add to your training tools.

The CQC-6K has a lot going for it on its own. It has the Emerson Wave Opening Feature which is a hooked protrusion that can made to catch the edge of your pocket (or other materials), deploying the knife blade as you remove it from your pocket. Once you get used to the Wave Opener, it is hard to live without.

The knife also has a useful clipped point blade shape with plenty of belly and straight edge for a variety of cuts. The knife has a roughly half-height, hollow primary ground and a clipped point. It is relatively thick for a folder at .11″ thick but the hollow grind does a good enough job of thinning the edge that it cuts well. Overall, the blade shape and profile are very useful for a variety of tasks.

The ergonomics are very good. The knife is comfortable in all 4 grips – tip up and down, edge in and out. The G-10 scale offers excellent traction and the deep finger choil serves to lock the hand in place. It feels good in the hand and has a handle heavy balance.

The lock-up the CQC-6K and E-Train that I purchased are both quite good. They lock up early on the lock bar so they should have room to wear in over time. The detent on my CQC-6K is a little light but adequate but the E-Train has an excellent detent.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The CQC-6K does a few things better than the not-so-positively reviewed CQC-4K. First, it has a higher primary grind which improves cutting performance and the ergos are spot on. It is a better knife in every way.

I can’t stress how cool it is to see an affordable knife offered with an affordable and readily available training drone. I don’t know of another knife in this price category that offers a drone. It is especially impressive when you consider that both the CQC-6K and E-Train can be purchased for less than $50 total.

When you consider things like a useful blade shape, G-10 scale, Emerson Wave Opener, and the availability of a training drone, you have to conclude that this knife is a BARGAIN.

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

Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K

Kershaw Emerson E-Train


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!

TOPS Knives I Stick

The latest iPhone may have people talking about its user interface but it has nothing on the simplicity of TOPS Knives’ new I Stick push dagger user interface – just grip it and go. It’s very intuitive.

From TOPS Knives:

The I Stick was designed to do some serious damage. It is perhaps the thickest push knife on the market and will add weight to your punches when the situation calls for it. At 3/8” thick and just over 12 ounces, you won’t forget you’re carrying it, but for those looking for a stout push knife, this is it. The sheath facilitates low profile, close to the body carry to keep it out of sight whether you’re carrying appendix, hip, 4 o’clock, etc. It’s also completely ambidextrous. The handle has thick, rounded scales for comfort and to fill the hand when clenched in a fist, and the double edge blade does the job when stabbing or slashing.

Pick yours up from a TOPS authorized dealer or directly from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/i-stick

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Real Steel H5 Gerfalcon

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.


Real Steel’s H series is full of solid knives at a great price including the knife that is the subject of today’s Bargain or Just Cheap? column – the Real Steel H5 Gerfalcon. We have already reviewed the Real Steel H6-S1 in this series and it didn’t disappoint. The H5 Gerfalcon might be even better.

H5 Gerfalcon Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock, with overtravel stop

Pocket Clip: Right pocket, tip up or tip down

Steel: Sandvik 14C28N

Handle: Textured G-10 front, steel back

Blade length: 3.25 in.

Blade thickness: .12 in.

Open length: 7.75 in.

Weight: 3.95 oz.

Observations from Use

This knife looks great and is packed with features. It is just under the $50 price limit for this series but it does a great job of justifying its price… In fact, it will make you wonder why knives with similar features cost so much.

The blade on the H5 Gerfalcon is similar to that of the H6-S1 but differs in a few key places. It features a great steel in Sandvik 14C28N – a step up from most budget knives. The cutting edge features a mild recurve shape and a full height flat grind like the H6-S1. It differs from the H6-S1 in that is has a clipped point and a flipper stud (which acts as a small guard when the knife is open).

The H5 Gerfalcon’s handle is more squared in shape but still very comfortable. It has jimping on the back of the handle, the spine of the blade, and near the butt of the knife. However, the jumping is shallow, well designed, and doesn’t cause hot spots. Both the G-10 and the steel lock side of the knife are thick and sturdy but overall the knife feels and carries very slim. The thumb studs and lock bar stabilizer are actually made from machined G-10 that matches that handle color.

Opening this knife is a breeze to open thanks ball bearing pivot. The thumb studs are large and easy to operate. The flipper tab is well shaped. The knife opens easily and smoothly with either opening method. I should also mention that the detent on my example is excellent.

The lock on my example is excellent. It looks up with about 70% engagement so it is very sturdy with room to wear in over time. It can be disengaged easily thanks to large scallops on the lock bar that give your thumb purchase.

The pocket clip isn’t a true deep carry clip but it does place the knife very low in the pocket which is nice for professional settings. It is very stout and holds the knife securely.

This knife isn’t exactly a lightweight but it does come in under 4 ounces so it isn’t that bad for a knife of this size. Real Steel did take steps to keep the weight down including using pillars instead of a larger back spacer and machining flutes into the inside of the steel lock bar side of the knife.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

When you use this knife, you can’t help but wonder why other knife makers can’t offer this many well executed features and cutting performance for less money. It certainly benefits, in terms of cost, by being manufactured in China but the fact remains that this is an excellent knife.

The H5 Gerfalcon is a smooth flipping, tight locking, laser-like cutting, bull-strong knife and it is most certainly a BARGAIN.

I am using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: Real Steel H5 Gerfalcon 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 above article may contain affiliate links.

RMJ Tactical Little Bird 2017

It’s Little Bird season! If you follow the work of RMJ Tactical, you know what I am talking about.

Photo Credit: Rob Orlando

RMJ Tactical’s Little Bird Tomahawk is their way of saying thank you to their customers. It is basically a one-off design that they sell at dealer cost. They are made in limited numbers and often sell out quickly. They have released a Little Bird in 3 of the last 4 years (2014, 2015, and now 2017).

The Little Bird 2017 was just released today and it is limited to about 90 pieces. It sells at $320 including free shipping. This is a considerable discount versus something like an RMJ Jenny Wren which is very similar is size and construction to this latest Little Bird.

This tomahawk is basically an ourdoorsy version of the Jenny Wren. It is nearly identical in size to the venerable Jenny Wren, features a hammer pole, and a false edge on top specifically designed for scraping. It is laser cut and machined from 1/4″ thick 80CRV2 steel and has machined G-10 scales. Like all RMJ Tactical tomahawks, it comes with one of their excellent sheaths with MOC Straps (Low).

These were released at Noon, Eastern time so the clock is ticking. Act fast if you want one.

Little Bird 2017 at RMJ Tactical

Model

Little Bird 2017

Length:

11.75”

Head:

Forward edge: 3.8”

Forward edge to hammer: 4.9”

Steel:

1/4” oversized thickness 80CRV2

Finish:

Tungsten Cerakote

Handle:

Full tang handle design.

G-10 3D machined handle scales.

Handle Color(s):

Black

Hardness:

56-58 HRC

Weight:

24 oz w/o scabbard

30 oz w/ scabbard

Sheath:

Bottom-eject Kydex scabbard with Low Ride MOC Straps (Belt carry) included.

Sneak Peek: RMJ Tactical Utsidihi Trainer

RMJ Tactical announced that they will produce a training drone version of their Utsidihi compact fixed blade defensive knife. The trainer is machined from aluminum and given a blue finish to easily identify it as a training drone. It is designed to fit in the Utsidihi sheath without modification. The Utsidihi trainers will likely begin shipping in the next week.

RMJ Tactical

Bastion GAMUT Folder

The new GAMUT Folder is a collaboration piece between GAMUT Resolutions and Bastion. It features a very unique tanto-ish blade shape with a blunt, chisel-like tip. The 4″ blade is ground from S35VN steel. It opens via a flipper and the blade rides on ceramic bearings. The GAMUT’s frame is machined from titanium and the frame lock features a replaceable steel insert.

This knife was designed based on the experience of Bob Keller of GAMUT Resoltions. 10% of each knife sold goes to the Special Operations Care Fund, a 501(c)3 charity supporting the families of wounded and killed Special Operations Forces.

Check out the GAMUT Folder at Bastion.

TOPS Knives Steel Eagle Delta Class

Way back in 1998, TOPS Knives introduced a knife called the Steel Eagle. That survival knife became the knife that I (and probably many others) pictured in my head when I thought of TOPS Knives. The Steel Eagle is still available today and, with the introduction of the Steel Eagle Delta Class, it’s better than ever.

From TOPS Knives:

Since 1998, TOPS Knives has been making hardcore knives for hardcore individuals. The first model TOPS introduced was the Steel Eagle 107D (tanto). After that, came the Steel Eagle 107C (hunter’s point). These knives epitomize TOPS. As the 20th anniversary of TOPS approaches, they thought it fit to re-release those models with some upgrades. The Delta Class version of the 107C and 107D includes TOPS’ newest finish, Acid Rain. They also come with sandwiched Micarta handles that are thick and rounded to give the user a solid grip, and TOPS has developed a tan Kydex sheath to finish up the package.

Steel Eagle 107C Delta Class Specs

Overall Length: 13.0”

Blade Length: 7.63”

Cutting Edge: 7.00”

Blade Thickness: 0.25”

Blade Shape: Hunter’s point

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Acid Rain

Handle Material: Black Canvas Micarta / Red Liner / Tan Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 18.2 oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 22.6 oz

Sheath Material: Tan Kydex

Sheath Clip: Rotating Spring Steel

Designer: TOPS Team

Steel Eagle 107D Delta Class Specs:

Overall Length: 13.0”

Blade Length: 7.63”

Cutting Edge: 7.00”

Blade Thickness: 0.25”

Blade Shape: Tanto point

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Acid Rain

Handle Material: Black Canvas Micarta / Red Liner / Tan Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 18.3

Weight w/ Sheath: 22.7oz

Sheath Material: Tan Kydex

Sheath Clip: Rotating Spring Steel

Designer: TOPS Team

Find the new Steel Eagle Delta Class knives at TOPS Knives:

Steel Eagle 107D Delta Class (tanto point)

Steel Eagle 107C Delta Class (hunters point)

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.

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!

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.

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