Today I am taking a look at a new folding knife from Vosteed, the Nightshade LT. I bought the Limited edition Nightshade earlier this year because it was a unique shape in my collection and have really been enjoying it, as a fantastic all-around blade. That version is sold out for now, but don’t fret because the Nightshade LT is available and is a very similar knife. Vosteed reached out and asked if I would be interested in taking a look at it and I said, of course, I would be. They have offered me a coupon to save $5 or a package deal to save $20 with their titanium prybar, both good deals below.
The packaging here like the other Vosteed products I have is top-notch. You have the cardboard sleeve over the steel case, it reminds me kind of the Altoids boxes but the lid just pulls straight off. Unfortunately, I can blame the USPS for the damage here, mine got squished pretty good. Thankfully the nylon zipper pouch inside the tin with the knife inside was unharmed. Inside you also get a nice card giving knife specs, and a card urging you to join the Vosteed community on Facebook.
There are two versions of the Nightshade LT available. There is the black G10 model with the gray center pivot, and a satin blade finish, and the Gray G10 model with the white pivot color and a stonewashed blade which is what I have. The knives are made in a Kizer facility but by Vosteed employees. It’s a Vosteed design.
Overall length is 7.48”, blade length is 3.26” which should be legal in a lot of places, and the blade width is 1.21” so it’s a little wide in the pocket, I measured blade thickness on the rounded crown at 0.1135” and at the tip 0.025”. Handle thickness is 0.531”. The weight came in at 4.16oz and it does have pockets milled in the liners to reduce weight. It’s a liner lock with a flipper too. The body and clip screws are T6, and the pivot is T8.
The blade here is made from 154CM, and on my gray model here it’s a light stonewashed finish. I like 154CM steel, it has good edge retention for the price range, is easy to sharpen, and is made in the USA. The blade shape most closely resembles a traditional Shilin style knife. The Shilin is a traditional all purpose knife blade shape from the Chinese & Taiwanese regions and has a long history of carry by all different professions and demographics. It has a little Kukri in it too with the downward sloping angle too.
This blade shape is pretty unique in my collection, the closest I probably have is some of the leaf-shaped Spyderco’s like the Manix or Sage 2, both are different though. The grind here is full flat grind which is always my favorite, here though it has a crowned spine which isn’t super common in my more modern collection, it makes it comfortable in the hand. Centering here was spot on, and lockup was good.
The blade performance is my favorite feature of the Nightshade. It really can take on a ton of different tasks and excel at that. I did a little food prep with it over my time with it, and it did well here. I tend to do very little food prep with my pocket knives at home because I have kitchen knives, and as a side note, I reviewed the Vosteed Morgan which is from the same designer over at Vosteed. Food prep isn’t all what it is good at, I am in the process of doing some reorganizing at home which involved breaking down a lot of cardboard boxes. This is a lot of draw-cut motions to cut through both cardboard, tape, and an occasional zip tie or plastic strapping. It did that without issue and stayed pretty sharp still. The only thing I have done is to stop this with some Gunny Juice diamond emulsion on leather.
Feel in the hand
The G10 Scales on the Nightshade are simple and rounded, edges are well chamfered so there are no sharp points. The G10 gives some texture but it’s not aggressive, nor is it smooth. One of the more interesting design features of the scales is the different color materials around the pivot of the knife.
To me the scales are comfortable, I can fit for fingers on the body, and my thumb on the jimping up top on the spine. If I am gripping as hard as I possibly can, the clip creates a little bit of a hot spot for me but it’s not a problem with normal grip strength. I like that the lock bar has a little grip milled into it too.
The Nightshade is designed as a flipper but that’s not the only way to deploy it. It runs on ceramic bearings and it closes just as nicely as it opens. The flipper has deep jimping on it. The detent is good but a little stronger than I expected. I had no issues using a light switch motion and it makes a satisfying swack when opening too. The flipper tab it’s too pocky and actually allows the knife to sit on its back very nice and square. On my knife, I am able to press on the side of the blade a little to open it too. I think Vosteed could easily make a thumb stud version or a version with a thumb stud and both would work very well too.
The closure is drop shut smooth. This is how it came from the factory, I haven’t disassembled it, to clean or get the factory oil out, I did put a drop of Gunny Glide on it though. It’s drop shut closed, I think that’s due to the bearings and the size of the blade. It just adds to the fidget factor of the knife here for me.
Retention on the Nightshade LT is accomplished via a deep carry simple stainless steel clip that only mounts on the right-hand side of the knife. For me, I had no issues either with the knife coming loose or the clip snagging on anything. There is also a lanyard hold if that’s your style.
The only pitfall that I have with the knife is really that this isn’t a lefty-friendly knife. Not a big deal for me personally, I transitioned to right-side carry years ago, but I know this will bother some people.
A few quick words on the Vosteed Sharkbomb prybar too. It’s made of titanium, has a heavy stonewash, and has a fish-style backbone laser engraved on both sides. The front features the prybar, and a nail puller, the eye is a hex bit driver, however, my standard-sized bits didn’t quite fit, and smaller ones do though. It has a bottle opener for the mouth, and a deep carry pocket clip on both sides. I like the design and it was an impulse purchase for me. I do actually use a prybar at work sometimes to help depress the lever on an ethernet cable in tight areas. It also came in nice high-quality packaging.
I have quite a few pocket knives, and many are drop points, sheep foot, and other designs. Most have some negatives, like the grind might be too thick and not great at slicing or opening mail, others have a delicate tip, or might not carry in the pocket as well due to a compromised factory clip (Spyderco’s standard clip). The Nightshade for me doesn’t have any of those, it’s a slicing machine and the tip has enough steel where I don’t have to worry about it being too delicate.
For me, the biggest downfall is probably its width in the pocket. It’s not thin and takes up some real estate, but even with thin shorts on the knife isn’t what I would call too big for me personally. I’m not sure I would call it a lightweight in its name since it’s over 4oz, but it does have a pretty large piece of steel for the blade too.
Between my two Nighshades, it’s honestly been in my pocket several times a week, for weeks and weeks. It’s a great pocket knife, it’s fun to flip and play with, and it does very well as a knife. MSRP is $69 with free shipping in the USA, and I think it’s pretty a good value, especially with the coupon codes I have down in the description. That will knock $5 off for the knife only or there is also a code to save $20 off the Titanium Bomb Prybar and the Nightshade LT combo which makes it a pretty good deal to grab both.
What if I told you a flashlight maker, who has some pocket knives is getting into kitchen knives now too? That’s right Olight who’s best known for making Flashlights has a new spinoff brand Oremake which has released a few kitchen knives recently. This is the 8” Kiritsuke model, with a high carbon “Damascus” steel and G10 handles. Thanks to them for sending it to me to take a look at and review.
The packaging here is nice and very similar to Olight’s flashlight. It’s a white box with a descriptive sleeve of the model you have with details. Accessories are limited but they include a plastic blade protector with “felt” on the inside, a manual, and a microfiber cloth.
The only accessory the knife comes with is a plastic sleeve that’s lined with a felt-like material. It’s made for this blade, has a cut-out to fit the handle geometry, and is a nice add-on if you don’t have a knife block or a transporting knife.
Size & Weight
The weight of the Oremake Kiritsuke came in at 8.87oz, compared with my 8” Victorinox fibrox that’s 6.36oz. The blade stock at the top near the heal is 0.0755” and at the edge on the heal at 0.0320”. The tip comes in at the edge at 0.0260”
I measured the cutting edge at 7.98”, the overall length at about 12.81”. The height of the blade is 1.965” at the heel. Fairly similar to my Victorinox Fibrox western-style kitchen knife that’s been my workhorse for years.
Olight’s pocket knife line has recently been rebranded “Oknife” and past models have been from known designers in the industry, and manufactured by Kizer, a well-known pocket knife manufacturer. Kizer is a division of larger company Tuobituo, and one of their specialties is making kitchen cutlery. While I don’t know for sure, I strongly suspect the Oremake series is manufactured by these guys, it would only make sense with an established relationship and a company that knows what they are doing.
The design here is reminiscent of a Japanese Kiritsuke (Kir it suu k) knife. The Kiritsuke is a cross between the Guyto and Yanagi traditionally used to slice fish and reserved for the executive chef due to it being a status symbol and difficulty of use traditionally. It’s a good shape to be a general-purpose knife for most generalized tasks.
Here on the Oremake version, it’s a fairly traditional blade shape, but it has a little notch out of the front for style reasons I assume, and to be different. I can’t say I have found a functional use for it. The handle is fairly fat, fairly smooth, contoured, and made from G10 with brass inserts that are clear coated. It won’t absorb water and should wear well. It’s a full tang construction as well.
I use the traditional pinch grip and it’s ok here. On my hand, the swelling of the handle doesn’t fit the best when you pinch grip, and it’s more comfortable if I move my hand to reward some. It’s more of an ergonomic western handle than I would expect to see on a knife in the Japanese style. The handle tapers back which seems to encourage putting your fingers a tad lower, not what I am used to but it works. The G10 here is smooth and doesn’t add any texture. It’s glossy and looks to be coated in something to seal it. This is kind of unnecessary since G10 doesn’t absorb water on its own usually as it’s mostly resin. The brass accent pieces are purely esthetic, I would probably choose to go without it if I could. The balance point is right where the rivet in the handle is, so the balance here is good.
The steel here is officially called T-CO69. They are claiming it’s a new type of Japanese Damascus steel, with a forged structure of 69 layers on the outside, and higher carbon content than AUS-10 or VG-10 and has been hardened to a 60 HRC which is fairly hard for a kitchen knife. With the hardness being as high as it is, it’s best to not try to chop very hard things like bone, ice, etc with this knife at risk of chipping the edge.
I asked them for the chemical composition of the steel and they said it was proprietary. This isn’t common practice in the knife industry with new steels, so this is frustrating. Producing a new type of proprietary steel is extremely expensive so I doubt that’s what has been done here, instead, it’s something more well-known like an AUS-10 or something with a similar composition for example. What I can tell you is that it’s been pretty stainless for me, I deliberately washed the knife and let it air dry overnight to see if I would have any rust and I found none the next morning.
It does appear to be a real folded steel Damascus with a light etch. You can see as well as feel the layers here. The layer lines are not etched on by laser or sandblasting as you see on some Chinese-style knives. So my guess would be a Japanese steel core with a layered/folded stainless steel exterior.
The grind here is asymmetrical 9 degrees on one side, 13 degrees on the other. This makes for an excellent slicer with such a high angle making the blade come to a very fine edge, but it being so high of angle means it’s less tough and may need to be sharpened more often. That asymmetrical grind will also be more challenging for the average owner to sharpen properly unless using a traditional whetstone. Heck, even I am not 100% sure how I will do it on my guided knife sharpening system.
Out of the box, the knife was extremely sharp, easily passing the paper test. Even now after 2 weeks of use by my wife and I. it’s still doing well. I am liking the upward sweep in the blade here, it’s good for up and down chopping as well as a push cut. Not the best knife for rocking cuts but it’s ok. The fine tip on the blade is nice for detail work like mincing garlic etc.
The higher angle here is worth noting, it makes for a great slicer but shouldn’t be used for very hard things, things where you will encounter bone, frozen veggies, etc. You more likely to chip and damage the blade by doing so.
The average home cook usually has a set of pretty inexpensive knives that get the job done but are not anything fancy. In recent years there has been a trend of Chinese-made Chef knives from brands like Dalstrong that have come in with highly marketed knives of decent quality but somewhat higher prices for what you’re getting. They sit somewhere in the middle price and quality-wise between high-end actual Japanese or European brands. A high-end professional chef wouldn’t normally be seen with one, but for the home cook, it’s likely better than they currently have. This is the area that the Oremake Kirituke has been placed and at least from my experience with a “Zelite” and a cheap “Dalstrong” this Oremake Kirituke is far superior.
I would really like to see OreMake/Olight be more transparent here with the steel that is being used and information regarding the construction. A custom blend of steel made just for Olight/Oremake here is very unlikely, and prefer they just tell us what it actually is.
At an MSRP of $99 I feel like this is built well but a bit pricy. Catch it on sale and I think it becomes more attractive. It’s certainly a good looking knife with solid ergonomics and seems to hold an edge fairly well so far.
Let me know your thoughts on the Oremake Kiritsuke is and what you’re currently using for your do-all chef knife at home.
So Olight made a knife, well they released a knife, and no it doesn’t contain a flashlight inside. You might have seen I made a post about this here on my Youtube community and Facebook channel page when it was announced. I have had one now for about a week and have been carrying it pretty much exclusively so here are my quick thoughts. Thanks to Olight for sending this to me to share with you.
A few things you should know, Olight didn’t actually design or manufacture this knife, it’s a collaboration with Kizer knives, a well known Chinese knife manufacturer, and it was designed by Yue Don a Kizer knife designer. This should help ease the concerns of some of the Olight faithful on Facebook who were concerned that Olight should stick to making flashlights, etc.
Full disclosure I know Yue, and he has provided me a bit of inside info to share. Kizer is the only folding knife manufacturer in China to have ISO14001 (Environmental Standard), ISO9000 (Quality Standard) certified. The coatings used on the Drever are FDA certified so it’s safe to use with food.
Packaging & Accessories
Olight does packaging well, and the knife is no different. You have a nice true to size color photo of the light on the front slip cover and a full set of details on the back. Inside you a nice nylon and velcro slip with Oknife embroidered on it and felt inside. Inside you have a sleeve for the copper colored challenge coin. It has heft to it, but I don’t think it’s actual copper. Olight seems to be getting into the challenge coin with a few models recently. The other accessories include a gray microfiber cloth and the manual with some care directions.
Stats & Versions & Size Comparison
The knife itself weights 3.42oz, thanks to skeletonized scales, and comes in at 4.5” in length with a 3.49” blade, so just under my city/states legal limit. I measure it as 0.52” thick so not the thinnest knife in the world but I haven’t had an issue with the smoother contoured G10 scales in my pocket or hand. So it’s a large knife blade wise, but not too bad in the pocket.
The knife is using Bohler’s N690 with a full flat grind, which is a new steel for me, I have read up on it online and for a conventionally produced steel (Not powered metallurgy) people seem to like it. It will take a very fine edge, and hold it reasonably well, some suggest slightly better then 154CM or VG10, while being very stainless, so it should make a decent food prep steel.
Out of the box it came pretty sharp, and I have no need to sharpen it currently, but I am excited to sharpen and put a mirror edge on it with my TS Prof Kadet sharpening system. For the price range here, I think it’s a solid choice and should be easy to sharpen. It’s a liner lock, made of 3CR13 Stainless with the scales being G10.
There are two versions, available currently, a Blackwash blade, with blue pivot and clip, or the limited edition blue scales, pivot, clip and stonewashed satin blade that I have here. Each knife is serialized on the blade on the show side.
Here are a few photos of how it compares to other knives in this price range/size that I have.
How it feels in my hands and pocket
Ergonomically I like how it fits in my medium sized hands when open and closed. I have no obvious hotspots when gripped firmly. When open you can choke up easily with the large finger choil on the blade, or hold entirely on the handle. I could see if you had large hands, it might be a little small.
In my pocket
As far as how it carries, I really like they went with a deep carry clip, it’s right side, tip up carry only on this model. The flipper tab hasn’t grabbed my hand or other stuff in my pocket. I wouldn’t mind a bit more tension on the clip or texture on the G10 to make it just slightly more secure in my pocket.
The knife is running on bearings, and has 2 main deployment methods, you have the short flipper tab with jimping on the tab or thumb studs on both sides. I found the initial detent to be very positive, and it taking a decent amount of force to get going with the flipper, that said it’s still easy to open, just more force than normal. Hopefully this will break in more.
I am able to deploy the thumb studs easily. Thumb studs are not my favorite way to deploy most knives but it works here very well. It floats nicely when opening, and after some use is easily drops shut without any wrist action, hard to film with the angle I have here. Centering when closed is spot on, and there is no blade play when open. I found the lockbar easy to get to with the G10 contouring as well as the texture on the lock bar.
I think Olight was smart here to partner with Kizer to produce and design a really nice knife from day 1. This allows Olight to keep up their reputation for making quality products and designs. The experience with production and design here are obvious in my opinion. As competitive as the knife world is, especially at this price point, it was a good business decision. Quality is quite good, centering was spot on and the knife is solid when deployed. Hopefully it’s a partnership that will continue and we see other designs in the future.
I won’t lie, I like this knife, this price range has a lot of competition but this is a serious contender. For me it fits well in the hand and pocket, the full flat ground sheepsfoot blade, performs well too. This should be a blade shape that’s easy for anyone to sharpen on any system or stone too.
I don’t have much to say here in terms of negatives for the MSRP price of $69.95 with a sale price of $52.46. The detent is pretty strong when using the flipper tab. The pocket clip is tip up, right hand carry only, which some people may not like. The blue scales make for a lot of blue on the knife, and I wish they were a bit darker in color.
The good news is the Black Drever is in stock currently. Hopefully the success here means we will get some special edition colors (Orange scales?), and maybe other knife designs in the future.
If you do decide to pick one up make sure you use my code LQ20 to save 20% off the regular price. That code is good anytime on regularly priced flashlights and accessories too. https://bit.ly/OlightLQ
What if I told you could get S35VN blade steel for under $50? That’s what I have here with the LA Police Gear TBFK. S35VN is considered a premium powdered USA made blade steel and typically found on knives more than 2X the cost. I am going to call this a version 2 model because some changes have been made over the version that was first released a few years ago. So let’s take a look and see if the rest of the knife holds up. Thanks to LA Police Gear for reaching out and seeing if I was interested in taking a look at some of their gear.
Packaging is very simple, it’s your cardboard tray style box that other manufactures use. The knife was wrapped in plastic inside and had a generous coat of oil. It’s a pretty generic box that looks like it could be used for multiple models, but on the back there is a sticker that has all the details telling you the model name and number, finish style, handle color and SKU.
Size & Weight & Comparison
Unopened length I measured at 4.5”, Opened length at 8”. Cutting edge at 3.4”. Blade stock at 0.13”. Overall thickness at 0.58” give or take with the tapered scales. Weight is 5oz so this is definitely on the heavy side. Here are a few comparisons with other common knives.
Let’s talk about materials here because that’s what caught my eye and really is the big value here. As I mentioned in the intro this knife is using S35VN for the blade steel. Through the years a few youtubers have tested it and it does appear to be genuine S35VN. On my knife it came shaving sharp from the factory and has maintained that edge fairly well although I think the heat treat might be a little soft based on my cardboard cutting performance. That said it stopped up nice and sharp again with just a few passes.
The modified drop point blade here is flat ground about ¾ up the knife blade. The sharpened edge was symmetrical as well. The knife comes in 2 versions, a satin blade and a blackwash blade that I have here. Scales are all the same black G10. The G10 has a little texture to it and is 3D contoured. It fits the steel liners here fairly well but there are few areas on my knife where they are not perfect. Overall the materials to value ratio is outstanding.
One of the improvements on the version 2 of this knife is that it’s been switched from a tip down carry position to a tip up, The result is a knife thats super deep carry which you know is important to me. The clip here is long and does a good job of being secure in the pocket. It is right hand carry only, sorry lefties.
In my medium sized hands it’s good, the jimping on the back of the blade spine is in the perfect spot, I do get a small amount of a hot spot by where the clip flares out when using it in my right hand but I don’t think many people will be bothered by that. The 3D contoured scales do take up more room in the pocket but fit nicely in hand.
Let’s talk about the action here I would label it ok, keep that price point in mind. This is as it came to me, I have been using the knife for about a month, and carried it a few weeks during that time. It started off a bit stiff but has gotten looser over time. It’s a bit gritty and could benefit from being taken apart and cleaned. I did put a drop of oil on it and this improved things a bit. Even with the I was expecting more given this knife is on bearings. As is I couldn’t tell you if it was washers or bearings.
Even thought it has a strong detent, and the flipper is large it flips pretty well and I have not complaints there. The flipper does have some jimping on it which I like on a blade this size. When I do go ahead and open it up to clean I will probably try to drill out the steel liners and reduce the weight here.
My knife has a bit of an early lockup I would say about 40% engagement of the liner lock or so. That’s room for it to wear in
I don’t care for the thumb studs here. While the tip up carry eliminates the issue the first generation had of having them get snagging in the pocket I still think they are unnecessary since this knife flips pretty well. If you are going to have thumb studs anyway, I think they could be smaller.
I am not a fan of the branding on this knife, the LAPG logo is kind of large and very visible when the knife is closed. The TBFK name is an acronym for “The Best F***ing Knife, and I think that’s a stretch. V1 of this knife had issues, which they have made some changes, so if it was the best and you changed it to make it better was it ever the best? It also doesn’t roll off the tongue very nicely for me.
Since the knife did change, I really do think LA Police gear needs to update the photos on their website to reflect these changers. While they do make note in the description of the relocated pocket clip and removal of the lanyard tube, that relies on people reading. Updated and accurate pictures are a must for ecommerce.
I have mixed feelings on the LA Police Gear TBFK V2 Knife. Admittedly I have become a bit more of a knife snob in recent times but I still see merit and value here. The overall value here is quite good. I can’t think of another knife that offers S35VN blade steel and G10 in this size for under $50. Even if the heat treat here might be a little soft that’s still a fantastic value.
That said the knife has some issues and its action is only ok and it’s fairly heavy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the profit margins here are less than your more typical $50 knife, and I suppose they have room to do that since they are selling it directly not through other dealers. I think the thumb studs are unnecessary and the branding just isn’t for me but those are not deal killers.
The value here is quite high, and the overall knife is decent. Other than being a bit large and heavy there isn’t anything that would prevent me from carrying this knife daily. So if you’re looking to try out a more premium steel or needing a good knife under $50 to try out a super steel, I can recommend this, but don’t expect it to compare to the fit and finish of knives over the $75+ range with lesser steels.
Today I have a knife review for you of the Vero Engineering Axon. This is a knife I preordered, and have been waiting since August 2020 for. I have had it for about 2 weeks now and been carrying it most days during that time. This is going to be a bit of a long review so settle in and enjoy.
Vero Engineering is one of the hot new knife designers of 2020. Joseph Vero has a background as a mechanical engineer and was working in the drone industry in a professional setting. Vero Engineering started as a hobby with some CAD sketches but with it’s growth, it has allowed him and his wife to work on Vero Engineering full time which I think is an accomplishment in itself, especially with everything that happened last year economically. The Axon is his 3rd knife design. All knives are made by Bestech in China, to Vero’s tolerances and standards.
The knife comes in a zippered taco pouch with padding. You get a Vero branded microfiber cloth that the knife is wrapped in, as well as an identification card with the specifications of your specific knife on it too. The case has a cool velcro embroidered patch with the Axon on it. The background is green which is perfect for me.
I had high expectations for this knife as the hype was real and it was the most expensive knife to date, that I have purchased. Fit and finish wise it didn’t let me down. I have the black micarta configuration here that’s unoiled which I am really enjoying so far, and the belt satin grind on the blade. Centering was perfect and there is absolutely no blade play which is saying something with how well the action works here.
The grinds on the M390 sheepsfoot blade are all symmetrical and pretty intricate, you have the belt grind on the blade, then the flat is going in a different, contrasting direction, then an upper faeit, again, is ground like the blade. The edges where you’re going to be touching on the spine have a nice chamfer and these get slightly less and less as you go towards the tip. To the point of there are sharp edges on the sheeps foot but no burr. Then the rectangular ‘V-spot” (Which has what the Vero community on Facebook has named it) notches in the blade are bead blasted inside which is a nice touch and some added contrast.
I am a fan of the sheepsfoot blade, it’s slicing machine, everything from opening boxes, breaking down cardboard and more. The blades “belly” is flat in the warrencliff style and gives you a lot of cutting surface and it should be easy to sharpen on a normal stone or other sharpening systems when it’s time to do so, and there is a small sharpening choil to help with that as well. It’s not your best piercing blade shape but the only time I miss that in my EDC use is to open envelopes under the flap and that still works for that task. It’s a nice touch that every knife does have a hidden serial number at the base of blade near where it locks up. There is jimping on the spine of the knife just where you need it to help with deployment and no more.
When I first picked up this knife out of the package the weight was the first thing to hit me. It was lighter than I expected for the size. My scale says 3.67oz and this is thanks to the extensively milled titanium liners, backspacer, and clip. For the size of the blade this is fairly light weight while still feeling solid in your hand. For me it works well.
The knife runs on ceramic bearings inside brass races which makes for a super smooth action. This is the factory action, I haven’t taken it apart, added oil, or messed with the pivot tightness at all. There is no grit or break-in needed here. There are multiple deployment methods which I will talk about in a minute. The knife does have a detent ramp, which makes it feel even smoother, while still having a knife that won’t fall open. That said if I flick it hard with my entire arm or shake it violently in my hand, I can get it to come open on its own. Lockup on my knife is about 40% and there is a steel insert on the titanium nested lockbar, so no lock stick concerns.
The closing action is great too, it’s so close to being drop shut that I think after a bit more use or a cleaning the first time; it will be. All it takes now is a slight jiggle to drop shut in a controlled manner. The sharpening choil is also sized just right so the blade will drop on your thumbnail which is nice considering how free flowing it is.
There are multiple deployment methods with the Vero Axon. It’s designed as a front flipper, with the jimping on the spine allowing you to roll your thumb over it to open if you want. You can also use your index finger to kind of light switch it from the front side. I can’t do this myself one handed, but you might have better luck with larger hands or longer fingers. Other options are using what the Vero Facebook group has called the “V-spot”, which are the rectangular reliefs on each side of the blade as a Spydie hole of sorts, it works well and since they are on each side you can easily middle flick it from the underside too.
Another thing I really like is the wide selection of materials that Vero is offering on most of his knives but especially the Axon. At preorder your you had 3 blade finish options on the M390 Steel (Tumbled, Belt Satin, Hand sanded hand satin), 2 colors of unoiled Micarta, a Red G10, and an end-cut carbon fiber. Since then, he has offered, or teased, that DLC will be an option for the blade, clip and body, brass scales have been offered as well. Bacon Damascus has been talked about for the blade here too. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Timascus back spacers or clips offered eventually as it’s an option on most of his other designs. With that wide selection of options, it feels more like a custom knife then a production model. It’s also been said that Joseph is going to have scales available for purchase after all the preorders ship too so you can swap out colors. I am thinking I may have to pick up end cut Carbon Fiber or the Red G10.
I like that all of the scale materials options ship unoiled too, so you can let the knife either take on your own patina as you use it or oil it if you prefer. The micarta I have ads a nice grip without being too grippy. Blade steel here of M390 is a great choice for this price range.
The Not So Good
One of the areas I think there is room for improvement in future generations of the Axon is access to the nested lockbar when you disengage the blade. It’s a little tight and hard to access, I have to press my thumb pretty hard into the knife and then over to get it to move. If you had larger fingers, I think this would be even more difficult. I think possibly changing the relief angle or even amount on the opposite scale to open that area up ever so slightly would improve the user experience when closing the knife.
One of the reasons the Axon was slightly delayed was the screws. They were changed in the late stages from T6 on the prototype to T8 on the production models to make the design a little more robust for owners who plan on swapping screws. All the screws and the pivot are stainless steel, and the screws are a bright polished finish. On my knife the screws were a little inconsistent in their depth – which is something that isn’t an uncommon problem in the industry on popular designs. I tightened them which helped slightly but I still have one in the rear that sticks up a little higher and isn’t perfectly flush with the scale. This seems to not be a widespread issue based on other owners I have chatted with and it’s pretty minor.
I feel a little bad listing the clip as a not so good on this one because it’s a good clip but let me explain a few small issues I have with it if I am really nitpicking. The clip is mounted internally using hidden hardware and is solid titanium. It is mounted for right hand carry only, and is not reversible. It’s deep carry but not ultra deep carry, about 10mm of the knife will stick out of your pocket. Tension is good, with a few pairs of pants I have tried, my issues comes with the amount of relief that’s in the clip. Depending on the pants you’re wearing you may have to either pry up on the clip slightly or hold your pocket to keep from bunching up when carrying the knife. This is still better than a clip being too loose in my opinion and it’s easy to get used to.
Ergonomics in my hand are decent, this kind of goes back to the clip which is why I am putting it here, but the bottom of the clip where it flares out is a bit of a hot spot in my hand if I grip the knife really tightly in a normal way. If I choke up, or slide back a bit so the flare of the clip fits between my fingers instead of my palm it feels better. I do like how the body slightly tapers as you reach the clip. It helps the knife feel slimmer.
There isn’t a lot to say here about the Axon, but the availability of any of Vero Engineering designs is a bit of a negative. They sell out in 2 to 3 minutes tops, everything from the various knife designs to the prybars, he just can’t keep them in stock. The result is they are hard to get, and even the secondary market is hot if things do pop up. This isn’t new to other knife manufacturers, or things in the EDC world but just a little frustrating if you’re a fan trying to get one.
The other thing is the time it took to get my Axon. I ordered in August, and it showed up late January. 5 Months is a long time for a preorder for a production knife, I knew it was going to be a while, but I didn’t quite expect it to be this long, and I was even in the first wave. Not everyone who did that preorder the same day I did has their knives just yet.
I am really happy with my purchase of the Vero Axon. I was worried after waiting for months and seeing the continual hype that it wouldn’t live up to what I built up in my head but for me that’s not been the case. I see holding onto this one for quite a while and it being a staple in my EDC rotation.
I think this is about as close as you can come to a “Custom” knife but with high end production level prices. Production location doesn’t matter to me, as long as the quality is there and for me Vero and Bestech achieved that. This is a really nice design that’s been well executed. Should you have the issue Vero Engineering is easy to get a hold of. They have an active social media presence too, with live streams of updates on preorders, upcoming models and more. That’s one thing I always like to see when paying for a higher end EDC item is that the maker is accessible not only for service but I think it helps create a community feel and draws at least me more into the brand.
So, let me know in the comments if you have been able to pick-up any of the Vero Engineering knives and what you think of the Axon.
Today I have a new knife from Kizer on my review table; the Kizer Noble. It was announced at Shotshow 2020 and is a flipper style knife with a 3.5” blade, 3.25” effective cutting edge, titanium scales, urban style EDC knife and it comes in at just 3 ounces. This is a prototype version that Kizer asked if I would be interested in taking a look at and I jumped at the chance. The expected launch date is sometime in July of 2020 but that may be delayed due to the pandemic situation. That said, like all of my other reviews, I will remain impartial and give my true opinions on it, good, not so good, and ugly.
Knives are something I have been wanting to get into on this channel, so if you too want to see some more knife reviews, give this video a Like or leave a comment and smash that bell icon to be notified of the next review.
In case you don’t know who Kizer is, they are a Chinese knife brand making high quality yet affordable knives. They are known for using genuine blade steels and other materials and high quality workmanship at affordable prices. They are one of the origins of high end Chinese knife manufacturing. Kizer is creating new designs and partnering with respected custom knife designers in the knife community too.
The designer of this knife is Indonesian Sebastian Irawan, and if you follow him on social media like I do, this knife is very much in his style. He has worked with Kizer in the past with a few other designs like the Raja, and Kobold for this year. The speed holes not only achieve a reduction in overall weight, but you can tell they are part of the design element and overall aesthetic .
The Noble is a flipper design, and it has a very small tab with some jimping at the top of the tab. Despite it’s small size the blade flips well with a light switch style motion. The small tab also helps comfort in the pocket too. I like how Kizer has chosen to label the steel at the very bottom of the tab too keeping the blade cleaner of markings.
Stats & Comparison
Some official Stats from Kizer.
Overall length came in at 7.875”
Blade length is 3.50”
Cutting length is 3.25”
Blade width is 0.75”
Blade thickness is 0.13”
Steel is CPM-S35VN
Weight is 3.0 oz
MSRP is expected around $155 mark
Screw sizes on this are T6 and T8 Torx
Compared to other knives
The knife is fairly ambidextrous in my left hand. I had no issues flipping it and when closing I was easily able to pull the lock bar back with my thumb to close it. The clip is reverseable to the left side scale. I will add the caveat I am fairly ambidextrous myself so what’s easy for me might not be quite as easy for you.
Packaging for the Kizer Noble is quite nice. It’s a flat black box and once the inner sleeve is removed you get a bifold flat black box. Inside is a small folder containing all the paperwork (Manual, Warranty, etc.) and a cleaning cloth. The knife is then inside a nylon pouch with a Kizer vinyl patch sewn on. It’s a nice presentation.
The Noble is made from Grade 5 TC4 Titanium with a smooth, very tumbled finish. All the edges here are nicely chamfered where they should be, no complaints there. Inside the scales have been milled to reduce weight bringing the overall weight down to 3 ounces on my scale. The lockbar has a steel insert and I didn’t find any lock stick. If you would like to see a takedown and cleaning video, let me know in the comments below.
The blade is running on ceramic bearings, and the blade itself is made from domestic U.S. Crucible Industries’ CPM S35VN. It’s widely regarded as a fantastic price to performance steel for EDC uses and the stone washed finish helps hide any scratches it picks up during use. I have this steel on other knives and have been happy with its edge retention and relative ease of sharpening. The blade’s grind is a great slicer with its full flat grind style, that transitions to a “mild” Tanto.
Personally, I am not a huge Tanto fan but this one is mild, and I have found it to be quite useful, especially when opening packages where I don’t want to dip a tip too deep into the contents. The blade spine is rounded, so may present a bit of a challenge on your guided angle sharpening systems, but it is uniform so I don’t think it will be too large of an issue. Where the Tanto meets the belly the grind isn’t super uniform side to side but that’s nitpicking. Overall, it’s a good blade and one that shouldn’t be too hard to sharpen at home if you are comfortable with multi angle blades.
A few notes about construction here, the screws holding the knife together are all using T6 Torx screws. They do have some blue locktight on them but it’s very weak and they were easy to break free with a quality driver like my Boker Wiha Torx driver set here. The pivot is using a T8 Torx screw.
Blade centering from the factory is perfect to my eyes. There is no side to side or up and down play, and lockup is a consistent 50% on my flips.
Kizer’s warranty is a limited lifetime warranty against parts and defects. They will usually ship replacement parts to consumers at low or no cost for those that want to do their own repairs. Depending on who you buy from the retailers can also help with repairs if needed. Shipping it back to Kizer in China is an option too but that does add significant time and cost. If you are doing you own knife maintenance, I don’t see a problem with this approach.
The Not so Good
Deployment here is quite good, smooth and easy, but like most frame locks it all depends on where your fingers land. This has a narrow width handle that I like when in my pocket, but this also means my fingers sometimes rest on the lock bar, making it harder to deploy. A quick shift of the finger position and all is well. My ZT-0460 has a similar design and problem. Maybe it’s just how I hold a knife. On the Noble at least your fingers have the speed holes to guide your hand for a comfortable deployment. The flipper tab itself is small, but does have jimping, and it stays out of the way; it’s not going to peck at your pocket contents. Overall, it functions well with a light switch style flick.
Balance point on this knife is about an inch behind the pivot, not ideal but it’s not something I don’t notice to be honest. When I hold the knife in my right hand, I get a bit of a hot spot on my pointer index finger on the bottom of the scales if I really grip tightly, not a huge thing but something to mention.
I like deep carry clips. If a knife or flashlight rides up too high in my pocket, I just don’t end up carrying it as much, and I like to conceal my EDC and I usually find it’s more comfortable too. This brings me to the clip on the Noble. It’s deep carry, and personally I like the design, but at least on this prototype it feels thin and kind of flimsy and it doesn’t make great contact with the scale (*took out “body” because it sounds like “your body” not the knife body) squarely. This hurt pocket retention, it never fell out of my pocket or came close, but it also doesn’t feel quite as secure as I would like. On thinner pants like dress slacks, it could be more of an issue than jeans. The clip is 3D milled clip out of titanium and it feels like it’s just one snag away from snapping.
I spoke to Kizer about this and they are taking it seriously and plan to make some revisions before the knife goes to production. To be fair, I have not had a problem with the clip snagging or anything during daily carry for several weeks.
My use for this knife is an urban EDC and in the office. There isn’t a ton of texture here for rough or tactical use but for me that’s not the market this knife is designed for. For urban EDC it works well. It’s lightweight overall, and the blade is slicy. It’s an excellent package and letter opener, and has stood up to a bit more rigorous use with some cardboard breakdown duty and thick plastic strap cutting with ease. Despite the smaller flipper tab, the knife opens well as long as you don’t have your fingers on the lock bar. (Duh)
Personally, I like the look of it, and I feel like this is one of those designs that is going to be; love it or hate it. The speed holes save weight and the milling around them adds some style. I like that you can see through it as well as the flow-through construction. It’s more second factor cool and that works for me.
Overall I am a fan of the Kizer Noble, it ticks my boxes for an urban EDC knife, with good materials, good value, and an interesting but functional design. Kizer has said they expect the production version of this knife to ship out to retailers in July of 2020, but production and shipping are difficult right now so that is subject to change. MSRP is expected around the $155 mark according to Kizer. Some of the well-known knife retailers like BladeHQ have it listed already and have an email notification that you can sign up for if you’re interested. If you like what you have seen here, go check it out!