KA-BAR & ESEE D’Eskabar

This weekend our special is something pretty cool – a neck-knife collaboration between KA-BAR and ESEE. Ethan Becker of KA-BAR and Jeff Randall of ESEE decided to combine the best of two of their most popular designs, resulting in the USA-made Eskabar, manufactured by KA-BAR. The Eskabar, or D’Eskabar in the case of this version, puts the KA-BAR Becker Necker blade on the ESEE IZULA handle, making for a unique fixed blade design that is more than the sum of its parts.

One interesting thing to note is that this is a sterile version so there aren’t any company or model markings anywhere on the knife, just a clean stonewash finish. The handle is skeletonized in IZULA tradition, but you can always purchase zytel handle scales for it, or just paracord wrap it. If you’re not sure how to wrap a handle you can click the annotation here to check out our quick tutorial for paracord wrapping the IZULA.

Even in its skeletonized form, the handle is perfectly comfortable, thanks to its nearly 4″ length and ergonomic shape. The pronounced indent for the index finger gives you a nice guard for really safe handling. As I mentioned earlier, the blade is the Becker Necker blade, which gives you some extra length over both versions of the straight IZULA. It’s a drop point blade with a flat grind and a fair bit of belly, enabling some nice slicing action. The whole knife is manufactured from D2 tool steel, an upgrade from the 1095 steel of both the IZULA and the Becker Necker. The D2 is where the D in D’Eskabar comes from.

The sheath included here is one of the most solid I’ve seen. It’s a friction release that the knife slots into extremely tightly, and then a latch flips over for that extra layer of security. The sheath has a bunch of lanyard holes and the package includes a length of cord so you can carry this one as a neck knife.

All in all, this collaboration between KA-BAR and ESEE has turned out a perfect candidate for an affordable fixed blade EDC, and the sterile stonewash finish and enhanced steel make this one a must have. To learn more about this product, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Kershaw Leek

This time on Steal of the Week we’re responsible for more Leeks than Edward Snowden. The Kershaw Leek is one of Ken Onion’s most famous, best-loved designs, and the wide variety available within the line makes it an enticing option for first-timers.

The most striking thing about this knife initially is its extremely slim profile, which makes it one of the most comfortable folders you can carry. The slender frame and complete lack of hotspots let it virtually disappear in your pocket, and the large pocket clip holds nice and tight. The clip is reversible to allow your choice of tip-up or tip-down carry on the right hand side.

The Leek’s extreme slimness doesn’t stop it from being a comfortable hold, though. The long, narrow handle has an ergonomic shape that feels good in either a forward or reverse grip. The smooth shape means there isn’t much in the way of grip beyond some jimping at the base of the blade, but you never feel like you aren’t in control of this knife.

Blade is deployed one of two ways, using either the dual thumb studs or the flipper. The SpeedSafe assisted opening action ensures a swift, snappy action either way, but I suspect the flipper is going to be the preferred method for most due to the ease-of-use. The blade is a 3″ modified drop point, great for both slicing and piercing tasks. For those with rougher cutting in mind, Kershaw produces a combo blade version as well. On the Leeks with stainless steel handles the blade is locked in place with a frame lock, while the models with aluminum handles, like these colorful anodized ones, have a liner lock instead. There’s also a safety switch at the butt of the handle to keep the blade from being deployed when you don’t want it to be.

The other really cool thing about the Leek is the sheer variety of styles available. Of course you have the classic look with the full bead blast finish, as well as the ever-present tactical black finish. Beyond those more basic variations you have the aforementioned anodized titanium color models, Damascus blades, a really wild rainbow finish, and that’s not even all of it. There’s enough variety to whip serious collectors into a frenzy.

With its sleek design, high functionality, and ease-of-carry, the Kershaw Leek is one of the quintessential EDC blades. To learn more about these knives, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Benchmade Barrage & Mini-Barrage

This week on Spotlight Series we’re taking a look at the new Benchmade Barrage and Mini-Barrage. These Warren Osborne designed assisted-openers have been favorites for quite some time, and now in 2016 Benchmade has heard the demand for full G-10 handle scales.

The standard Barrage comes in at a pretty large 4.8″ closed and sports a 3.6″ inch blade. By comparison, the mini-barrage is only 4″ closed, with a blade just under 3″, which doesn’t sound like a big difference until you see the two side-by-side.

Size notwithstanding, both knives offer essentially the same handle shape, so the best one is going to be determined by your personal preference. I find I like to have a handle that’s longer than the width of my hand, so the standard Barrage is my favorite of the two. That being said, you can’t go wrong with the Mini either, which nests in the palm really nicely and offers a great cutting angle. The all-new gray G10 handle scales are 3D machined for a comfortable, secure grip. They’re built over skeletonized stainless steel liners and even a steel backspacer, making this one sturdy son of a gun.

The Barrage was the first knife to feature the AXIS assisted opening mechanism, so it’s no surprise to see it still in action here. The dual thumb studs give you an ultra-responsive, satisfyingly fast action. There’s a simple safety slider on the spine of handle, press down and slide up to lock, then back down to unlock.

The blade also finds itself with an upgrade on this version, now manufactured from CPM-S30V stainless steel rather than the previous 154CM of most older models. The drop-point blade is available with or without partial serrations and in either a satin or tactical black finish, meaning between the standard and the mini you’ve got eight options available.

Speaking of options, you’re looking at a reversible pocket clip that allows for either left or right side, tip-up carry. The smooth shape slides into the pocket with no trouble, and the clip gives you a really secure, comfortable ride.

While there may be no real design surprises in store with this new batch, Benchmade has still managed to make a great EDC even better with this suped up Barrage. To learn more about these knives, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Pohl Force

This time on Steal of the Week we’re going to be taking a look at Pohl Force knives. Pohl Force was founded by knifemaker Dietmar Pohl, and specializes in combat, tactical, and outdoor survival knives. They produce a wide array of folders and fixed blades, so we’ve selected a few that exemplify the best qualities of the brand.

Our first model, the Bravo One, is a stout, customizable folding knife that would make an ideal EDC. It shows up in the box as a two handed opener with a deep fingernail nick, but includes the necessary hardware to turn it into a one handed opener with ambidextrous thumb disk. The action is smooth and easy enough that you can get a comfortable one handed open even without the thumb disk, so this is a really fun one to open. The 3.26″ blade is held in place with a lockback mechanism, which features the Boye dent to make it easy to find and disengage.

Handle is a little on the small side, so if you’re looking for something slightly larger you’ll want to move up to this knife’s big brother, the Alpha. That said, it’s still quite a comfortable hold thanks to the overall shape, and there’s a choil and some jimping present for a nice sense of control. The handle material is a coyote brown glass-fiber reinforced plastic with some heavy 3D texture lending an assured grip. Pocket clip on this model is reversible for left or right side, tip-up carry, and it features a nylon lanyard with a stoic little skull bead.

Next up we have the Romeo Two, a vicious mid-size fixed blade. The Romeo Two is the smaller of the Romeo knives, sporting a four point six inch blade in comparison to the Romeo One’s six inch blade. The spear point blade features partial serrations on both sides, and is actually manufactured from titanium rather than stainless steel. This knife was designed for use by mine divers and battlefield clearance technicians, and titanium was chosen for its anti-magnetic properties as it’s less likely to trigger a mine or set off magnetic detonators. A side effect of the titanium blade is a really light, comfortable hand feel.

The handle is also the glass-fiber reinforced plastic, again with 3D texture present to aid with grip. It’s a very good size and shape for even large hands, and the finger guard enables very safe operation. The Romeo Two features a flexcord safety lanyard and comes with a MOLLE compatible Kydex and nylon sheath.

Finally, we’re going to check out one more fixed blade; the Quebec One survival Bowie. Dietmar Pohl puts his own unique spin on the classic design, turning out a fierce fixed blade that was overbuilt to the nines by LionSteel in Italy. The Quebec One has a continuous full tang, with a 7.6″ blade manufactured from Sleipner Tool Steel.

This model has an unbelievably ergonomic handle, with indents for each finger granting you a ridiculously secure hold. To contribute to that sense of security, the Quebec has an even more pronounced double finger guard than the Romeo. Handle scales are a 3D milled G10, and are of course removable to allow for paracord wrapping. Like the Romeo, this model also features a flexcord lanyard.

Sheath on this one is German kydex, with a MultiLock belt loop that is adjustable to multiple different angles. The knife slots into the sheath very securely, with thumb pressure on the back necessary to successfully draw the knife.

These are just a few selections from Pohl Force’s wide array of folders and fixed blades, all of which were carefully constructed with hard use in mind. To see the full range of Pohl Force products, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

SOG 30th Anniversary Series

This week the spotlight falls on a couple of new limited run products from SOG Knives. Founded in 1986, SOG knives began simply as an attempt to replicate the classified Bowie knife carried by US special ops unit MACV-SOG in Vietnam, and quickly transformed into a respected brand of tactical weapons and tools. This year they celebrate their thirtieth anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion they’ve produced celebratory variations on two of their best-loved products.

For these collectible sets they’ve chosen both a folder and a fixed blade, the Trident and the Tech Bowie, respectively. These are fully functional versions of the knives, manufactured to the same standard of quality as the normal versions of each model. The only difference is on the blades, both of which feature a unique tiger stripe pattern with raised textured and are emblazoned with a large “30 Years” logo.

But if you’re buying one of these sets, you’re probably not intending to use the knives in your day-to-day life, though you certainly could. These were produced as collectibles, so let’s see what’s special about this set. First off, this is a limited production run of only 300 pieces per knife and they’re not going to be around long. They come in a really attractive wooden presentation case, with everything included in the kit on proud display. For knife collectors this is a beautiful piece to keep with the rest of your collection.

In addition to the knife, there are a few other nifty extras thrown in that make this one worth your time. Probably the coolest is the custom SOG commemorative challenge coin, which has an elegant, understated design. Also included is a SOG patch, which like the knives is fully functional if you want to take it out of the display and actually put it on something. Rounding out the package is a certificate of authenticity so you can rest easy knowing you’re one of the lucky few.

Overall, both of these are handsome presentation pieces with a bunch of fun features, and serve as a suitable tribute to one of the most popular brands in tactical knives. To learn more about these sets, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Leatherman Sidekick

This weekend our special is Leatherman’s USA-made Sidekick multi-tool. Boasting 15 tools and a couple of nice extras, the Sidekick is a terrific value, so let’s dive right in and see what’s inside.

Drawing inspiration from Leatherman’s pioneering Wave, the Sidekick’s two blades are outside accessible, with some thumb holes making for a pretty easy one-handed opening action. Both blades are 2.5″ long, one with a basic drop point and the other a wood saw. Each one is held in place with a sturdy liner lock, so you get a very secure user experience.

When you open the tool you reveal the requisite pair of pliers with wire cutter and wire stripper. The really cool thing about the Sidekick is that the pliers are spring-loaded, which makes them much easier to use. Historically Leatherman tools haven’t had this feature, leaving you to work the pliers in some awkward fashion, which makes this a much appreciated addition.

The rest of the tools are accessible from the inside of the handles, and it’s a pretty standard set of Leatherman features. On one side you have flathead and Philips screwdrivers. On the other side is a bottle/can opener combo, a file/ruler, and a small serrated knife.

There are carry options aplenty here, with Leatherman making it really easy to carry the Sidekick exactly how you want to. There’s a pocket clip present for easy pocket carry, as well as a nylon pouch for belt carry. There’s even a carabiner included, which you can clip to a ring inside the tool and hang from your belt loop or pack. Given Tim Leatherman’s seeming obsession with high functionality, it won’t come as a shock that even the carabiner manages to pack in a couple of tools of its own, namely a hex socket and bottle opener.

All in all, the Sidekick is a really solid package that offers some excellent functionality at an affordable price. To learn more about this multi-tool, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Leatherman Tread

Anytime, anywhere. The Leatherman Tread brings you the functionality of a Leatherman tool, with you everywhere. Their engineers designed multiple tools in each 17-4 stainless steel bracelet link, making usable tools like Allen wrenches, screwdrivers and box wrenches available at a moment’s notice. Adjustable to 1/4″ to accommodate any wrist size and fully customizable with the links you need most, the Leatherman Tread is as stylish as it is functional. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Kershaw Blur

This week our steal is a folding knife that needs no introduction, the Ken Onion Blur from Kershaw Knives. The stout, tactical Blur has been a Kershaw best-seller for years and somehow we’ve never done an overview on it, which it’s high time we remedied.

Right off the bat, what you notice first about the Blur are the Trac-Tec grip-tape inserts that adorn the aircraft aluminum handles. These areas provide a heavily textured soft grip that enables a ridiculously assured hold, even in wet conditions. The flared handle shape nests nicely in the palm, making this one of the more comfortable tactical knives you’re going to get your hands on. There’s a small patch of jimping here on the back to give your thumb the grip it needs, too. The open spine reduces weight and makes the handle much easier to clean out.

The Blur features a reversible pocket clip that allows for a right hand, tip-up or tip-down carry. Given the tightness of the clip and the extreme texture on the handle it can be a little tricky to slide this one into the pocket, but the hold is super secure and it still manages to draw quickly and easily.

Blade is deployed via the ambidextrous thumb studs, which feature an ergonomic slanted shape that ensures great traction. These are some of, if not the best in the business and it’s a wonder why more companies aren’t using this design. Sometimes with assisted -opening thumb stud folders it can be hard to know whether to push up or push out, but in this case it’s quite simple because you just follow the angle on the studs and push straight up. The Speedsafe assisted action is as snappy and swift as you’ve come to expect, with the responsive thumb studs requiring little exertion on the user’s part.

Across all Blur models you get the same 3.38″ blade length in the same basic modified drop point shape with slight recurve. There’s still some solid variation throughout the line though, as you can get the blade with scallop serrations, a plain edge, or with a tanto tip, each of which is available with either a stonewash or black DLC finish.

All-in-all, the Blur is another top-notch Ken Onion design with a capable Kershaw USA-made build making it a great pick for a hard-use EDC folder. It’s also one of the most collectible Kershaw models ever made. To learn more about this knife, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

CRKT Shenanigan

This weekend we’ve got some crazy Shenanigans in store for you all. That’s right, our weekend special is the Ken Onion Shenanigan line from Columbia River Knife and Tool. The name is something of a playful juxtaposition, because this workhorse flipper is Ken’s take on a no-frills work and sport knife.

The appearance is quintessentially Ken Onion, with a modified drop point blade and classically Ken shaped handle. This style is tremendously ergonomic, lending itself to extended periods of fatigue-free use. The pronounced index-finger indent and aggressive jimping on the top of the handle contribute to a confident sense of control with your cutting.

There are a few handle varieties on this line, the entry level being a full glass-reinforced nylon build. This version is available in either black or camouflage, with some diamond texture contributing to the overall sense of grip. My personal favorite though is the model with the aluminum handles. This offers a much sturdier frame, and it still has textured, injection-molded inset scales to maintain the model’s no-slip grip. The aluminum is available in either a matte black or a pretty slick bead blast grey.

The pocket clip here is affixed in the right-hand, tip-down position. It’s a wide clip that enables a pretty deep carry, and the smooth lines of the knife keep it feeling comfortable in the pocket.

The flipper on the Shenanigan is small but responsive, making for a snappy, assured action. Each model has the same 3.25″ blade length, but there’s some really nice variety to be had in this line. This particular one here is a modified drop-point with partial serrations. There’s also a version of the modified drop-point with a plain edge and healthy recurve for some solid slicing action. Both of these blade styles come in either a matte black or a bead blast finish. The third style is a modified tanto with partial serrations, which is only available in a tactical black.

At this point it’s almost unnecessarily obvious to praise Ken Onion for his design work, and the Shenanigan is another solid collaboration with CRKT. It’s an affordable, well-built knife that is tailor-made for everyday carry. To learn more about these knives, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com

Böker Plus Exskelibur I & II

This time on Steal of the Week we’ve got the Exskelibur folding knife from Böker Plus. The Exskelibur design, from Fred Burger and Mike Skellern, proved to be a big success for Böker, which prompted them to begin releasing versions with different handle materials and blade steels.

The particular version we’re looking at today is a simple and elegant iteration with olive wood handle scales over attractive blue anodized stainless steel liners. Besides looking gorgeous, this combination of materials makes for an almost unbelievably light feeling in the hand. The overall hand feel is comfortable thanks to a solidly ergonomic shape, though you’re not going to get much grip beyond this jimping on the spine of the blade.

The pocket clip is also the blue anodized stainless steel, which nicely offsets the otherwise sparse appearance. The clip can be positioned for right side tip-up or tip-down carry, and holds confidently in the pocket. The smooth wood scales make for an extremely easy draw, enabling a lightning fast deployment.

This olive wood model is available in both the Exskelibur 1 or Exskelibur 2, which are functionally identical with the notable exception of their size. The blade on the Exskelibur 1 is a solid 3.5″ long, while the blade on the Exskelibur 2 is only 2.75″. Both are hollow-ground spear-points made from 440-C stainless steel, equally suited for slicing or piercing tasks.

Deployment is handled like a front flipper, with the thumb using the jimping on the spine to catch and open the blade. This action works smoothly on both models, but is easier to do quickly on the Exskelibur 1 thanks to the greater protrusion of the blade heel. The 1 can also be opened with just a quick flick of the wrist, which is not the case for its little brother. Both versions employ a liner lock to hold the blade securely in place.

All-in-all, these rustic olive wood variations on the classic Exskelibur design make for a smooth, streamlined gentleman’s folder with some serious class. To learn more about these knives, click here. To see our entire inventory, visit knifecenter.com