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Archive | Tactical

Bargain or Just Cheap? – RUIKE Hornet F815

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.


You would think that it would be easier to find bargain fixed blades than it is to find bargain folding knives due to the simplicity of a fixed blade knife. However, that isn’t always the case for one reason – sheaths. Most bargain knives come with terrible sheaths and by the time you replace the lousy included the sheath, the knife isn’t a bargain anymore. It takes a little digging but there are bargains out there beyond the standby Mora.

RUIKE Knives is kind of like the knife division of Fenix Lights though their affiliation with the flashlight maker isn’t always spelled out clearly on their website. They make a number of interesting and value minded knives but there is one in particular, the RUIKE Hornet F815, that drew me in several months ago.

Specs:

Steel: Sandvik 14C28N

Handle: Textured G-10

Blade length: 3.35 in.

Spine Thickness: .14 in.

Overall length: 7.48 in.

Weight: 3.7 oz.

Sheath: Injection molded

Observation from Use

I was initially drawn to the Hornet because I was looking for a full sized fixed blade knife that was both stout and lightweight. I like flat grinds and drop point blade shapes for general use. The Hornet seemed to hit all those points. It has been on several adventures since then, spending a lot of time tucked into a Hill People Gear Runner’s Kit Bag, and has served me well.

The Hornet is relatively lightweight while still offering the durability and comfort of a full tang knife with slab handles. The knife’s most distinctive feature is its skeletonized handle with textured G-10 slabs. This feature is VERY well executed. They slabs are fit to the tang very well and RUIKE even took steps to chamfer the edge of the G-10 inside the lightening cutout. The result is a knife that is lightweight for this type of construction, more comfortable to use than a knife without handle slabs, and that offers great grip even with gloves.

RUIKE uses Sandvik 14C28N at .14″ thick on the Hornet. Sandvik 14C28N is a great steel that takes a fine edge without much fuss. This knife cuts and slices well at .14″ thick and with the relatively tall, flat saber ground blade. It cuts well but is also stout enough to stand up to hard use like batoning.

The sheath is made from injection molded plastic. Like many plastic sheaths, it is bit bulkier than a real kydex sheath would be. However, it is functional. It has adjustable retention (not often seen on injection molded sheaths) and secures the knife well. The included clip works well for belt carry and is adjustable for a number of angles. I removed the clip on mine since I generally carry it in a pack or Kit Bag.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The RUIKE Hornet F815 bumps right up against our $50 limit for this series but it packs a lot of features not commonly found on bargain fixed blades. It is well designed. It offers a great balance of durability and lightweight. It comes with a functional sheath. It’s a good looking knife with very good fit and finish. The steel is not a bargain basement steel. I call it a BARGAIN and like this knife a lot.

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

RUIKE Hornet with Black G-10

RUIKE Hornet with Orange G-10

Note: This design is also be available from Sanrenmu, who may actually be the OEM maker of the Hornet, with lower grade 8Cr14Mov steel for considerably less money. I purchased the Hornet because of the better steel and the backing of RUIKE for any potential warranty issues.


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!

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives 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 been carrying and using a Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K mostly because I was able to purchase it for $15. The ultra-low price was my initial attraction to it. It is one of the lowest priced options in the already very budget friendly line of Emerson designed Kershaw produced knives.

Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock

Pocket Clip: Reversible, Tip up only

Steel: 8Cr14MoV

Handle: Textured G-10 front, 410 steel back

Blade length: 3.25 in.

Closed length: 4.2 in.

Open length: 7.4 in.

Weight: 4.1 oz.

Observations from Use

There is a lot to like here. The size is great for EDC – plenty of blade for most EDC tasks, a long enough handle to support four fingers without crowding, and its very pocketable. The Emerson designed Wave Opening Feature works and is a great feature to have. The spear point blade has some belly, plenty of straight edge, and a useful point. The handle is comfortable in the hand. I find that it is also a good looking knife.

8Cr14MoV steel is a budget steel. It performs similarly to AUS-8. It is a stainless steel that sharpens easily. It lacks the edge holding ability of super steels but I find it completely acceptable. It is a solid, budget friendly steel and Kershaw seems to do well with it.

The lock on my example is very good. It locks up somewhat early so there is room for it to wear in and it does pass a spine whack test. The lock bar doesn’t stick and the detent is fairly strong and positive.

Unfortunately, there are some things about this knife that I don’t like. It is heavy for its size due to it’s thick 410 steel lock bar side and a full steel liner under the G-10 handle scale. The thumb disk doesn’t line up well with the relief cut in the handle making it difficult to access. Finally, the primary grind on this knife is a short, hollow grind that leaves the edge fairly thick. It cuts reasonably well but not as well as it could with a higher primary grind.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

If you like Emerson Wave Openers like me, you won’t find a cheaper one, especially with real G-10 handle scales. Unfortunately, the strange spacial relationship between the relief cut in the handle and the thumb disk strikes me as an avoidable design flaw with a very noticeable impact on how easy you can open the knife.

This knife might be a bargain when it can be found around $15-$18 but other than that I’ll say… Just Cheap. If you are going to spend over $20, I would pass unless you are drawn to its smaller size in relation to other Kershaw Emerson models. I think there are better, but larger, options in the Kershaw Emerson line like the CQC-6K which I will review at a later date.

All of the knives for this series will be purchased by me on Amazon: Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K


Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

Hard Point Equipment MantiCuda Mountain Man

Hard Point Equipment has introduced a number of new variations of their MantiCuda knife including a new no-frills, budget version called the MantiCuda Mountain Man. This version has all the same dimensions and functionality of the MantiCuda SRT including the G-10 handle slabs and 80CrV2 steel but it lacks the coating. It comes with a more affordable parkerized finish instead.

You can check out the MantiCuda Mountain Man along with the other MantiCuda variants at FistKnife.com.

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Real Steel H6-S1

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 have always been very leery of Chinese knife manufacturers due to their historically poor quality and penchant for knock-off designs. A friend cautioned me about throwing the baby out with the bath water and introduced me to a several Chinese knife manufacturers that are worth a look. One such manufacturer is Real Steel and their H6-S1 is the subject of today’s edition of Bargain or Just Cheap?.

Real Steel offers several variants of the H6 but there is one that I believe really stands out – the H6-S1. This knife floored me with how good it is for the price.

Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock

Pocket Clip: Right pocket, Tip up only

Steel: Sandvik 14C28N

Handle: Textured G-10 front, steel back

Blade length: 3.39 in.

Blade thickness: .12 in.

Open length: 7.76 in.

Weight: 3.8 oz.

Observations from Use

This knife is exceedingly likeable. It is at the upper end of our $50 price limit but it is dripping with great features, hallmarks of quality, and functional design.

The 14C28N is a step up from the blade steel found on many Chinese knives or any budget knife for that matter. This Sandvik steel is easy to sharpen, takes a polished edge VERY well, and holds it well enough for EDC tasks. I was very happy to see a Sandvik steel being used here. The drop point, slightly recurve blade has plenty of spine and features a full flat primary grind. It cuts and slices very well.

The handle is well contoured and comfortable with more than enough room for all your fingers. 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. Speaking of G-10, the thumb studs are actually machined G-10 that matches that handle color. They are large and easy to operate. The knife opens easily and smoothly with a flick of the thumb without even having to use your wrist.

The lock on my example is excellent. It looks up with about 60% engagement so it is very sturdy with room to wear in over time. The lock bar features a very unique and very cool feature. It has a disk that at first glance looks like any Hinderer style lock bar stabilizer (a small stop designed to prevent lock bar over travel). Closer inspection reveals the fact that it can be pushed forward into a second position that actually blocks the lock bar from moving completely! In this position, the knife can not close on your hand without some kind of catastrophic breakage. The disk locks in each position with strong detent action so it is extremely unlikely that you will accidentally activate or deactivate it.

This knife is impressively light for a knife of these dimensions. There is some milling on the inside of the steel handle scale to remove weight. A full height flat grind also reduces weight as does a liner-less G-10 handle scale. It is larger in every dimension than the previously reviewed Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K yet it weighs less!

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.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The fit and finish of this knife is very good. It has better than average steel, better than average materials, clever features, and a very functional design. It also happens to look great! It gives the impression of quality. I’ve seen them as low as $40 but they usually average around $45 for most variants of the H6. Honestly, I would feel good about this knife at twice the price.

There is nothing cheap about this knife other than the price. The Real Steel H6-S1 is most certainly a Bargain.

I will be using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: Real Steel H6-S1

 

Note: There are a number of H6 variants and colors available. The features vary significantly from variant to variant. Be sure you are buying the H6-S1 if want the features shown in this review.


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!

VZ Daggers

You know VZ Grips but it’s time to get acquainted with VZ Daggers. These non-metallic daggers are made from your choice of G-10 and Carbon Fiber. These are designed to be piercing tools with a wedged point, a heavily textured grip, a flared pommel, and a thumb index divot that is reminiscent of the venerable OSS Thumb Daggers.

The VZ Daggers come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. They are called the Discrete, Don, and Executive respectively. All three sizes are available in Black G-10, Grey G-10, or Carbon Fiber. The Executive and Discrete share the same “argyle” grip pattern while the Don features a heavily grooved grip pattern. All three models are fullered and have lanyard holes.

Keep an eye on VZ’s Dagger product page for new additions coming soon: VZGrips.com

Hard Point Equipment Releases Manticuda Trainer

Hard Point Equipment is now offering training drones for their Manicuda knives. These trainers are machined from steel to replicate the full weight of the Manticuda and are designed to fit your existing Manticuda sheath.

Check out FistKnife.com for more details.

New TapRack Sheath for KA-BAR MSM Knife 001

Mil-Spec Monkey is now offering a sheath upgrade for their Ka-Bar MSM Knife 001. This kydex sheath is made for them by TapRack Holsters. It comes with a Blade-Tech Tek-Lok but it is also compatible with MALICE Clips (sold separately). The sheath is available separately or packaged with the Ka-Bar MSM Knife 001.

TOPS Knives Releases the SXB Knife

Knife people seem to have a love/hate relationship with the Wilderness Survival Knife (WSK) design. Some love it for its ability to perform a wide variety of tasks and potentially replace multiple tools. Some hate it for its large size and brute force approach. All I know is that I have seen some very capable people doing a multitude of survival related tasks with them and doing them very effectively. I also know that the new SXB from TOPS Knives is one of the most radical WSKs I have seen yet.

SXB

Take TOPS Knives’ well known Tom Brown Tracker, stretch it out by nearly 5″, add TOPS Knives’ Rocky Mountain Tread handle treatment, add an extended pommel and guard, and you have something close to the SXB EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder. Interestingly, because the SXB is not quite as tall as the Tracker, it manages to weigh 2 ounces less in spite of all the extra blade length.

SXB Flyer

Overall Length 16.75″
Blade Length 10.38″
Cutting Edge 9.75″
Blade Thickness 0.250″
Blade Steel 1095 RC 56-58
Blade Finish Black Traction Coating
Handle Material Black Linen Micarta
Handle Style Rocky Mountain Tread
Knife Weight 26 oz
Sheath Included Yes
Sheath Material Black Ballistic Nylon
Sheath Clip Molle Backing
Designer EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder

Ek Knives Reborn

The Ek Commando Knife is one of the most important pure fighting knives of all time. Its maple handle slabs, poured lead rivets, and long double edged blade should hold a special place in the heart of anyone who appreciates knives, history, and design. The Ek Knives name has been passed around between various entities over the years and most recently it has settled with an American company who knows a thing or two about classic combat knives…

Ka-Bar is reintroducing the Ek Knives brand under the name Ka-Bar Ek Combat Knife Company and they officially released their first knife, the Model 4, today.

The Model 4 manages to look both very modern and unmistakably like an Ek at the same time. It features a 6.625″ double edge blade that is ground 1095 Cro-Van steel and given a parkerized finish. The handles are made from texture glass filled nylon which is a functional choice for a knife like this. The sheath is a self-locking design that is similar to Ka-Bar’s other hard sheaths.

It warms my heart to see a classic back on the market. Check out the Ek Model 4 at Ka-Bar. You can see more about the history of of Ek Knives at EkKnives.com.

johnek-ek44-productlifestyl

Tahoma Field Knife Kydex from InnerBark Outdoors

The Tahoma Field Knife, a large fixed blade designed by Andy Tran of InnerBark Outdoors and produced by TOPS Knives, is one of the finest large survival knives on the market. It comes from TOPS with functional sheath but there is always room for improvement.

innerbark sheath

InnerBark Outdoors worked with Red Feather Gear to develop is a kydex dangler sheath for the Tahoma Field Knife. The sheath has a welt to add rigidity which is nice for such a heavy knife. It also features a closed dangler loop that can not be accidentally opened and a well formed thumb ramp to aid in removing the knife from the sheath.

Check out the Tahoma Field Knife Kydex Sheath at InnerBark Outdoors. The price is quite reasonable considering the size of the sheath.

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