Awww geeze, not another blog!

Welcome to A Fine Blade!

This blog will focus one of my lifelong passions and one of man's most basic tools - the knife!

As time and events permit we'll tiptoe into other territory where we can use the knife as a metaphor in discussions about current events and have a little politically incorrect fun.

Because you see, knives rank just below guns as the most politically incorrect subject on the web today.

Guns & Knives = Bad. Gay Marriage & Recreational Drug Use = Good

We'll see if we can't have some fun with that.

So stay tuned, and welcome aboard!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Knife Of The Year

Car Of The Year, Movie Of The Year, Supermodel Of The Year. The whole "[Fill In The Blank] Of The Year" thing is so pretentious it often makes me nauseous. But heck, that doesn't stop me from having my own awards category! What the hell, if Glamour Magazine can name Caitlin Jenner their Woman of the Year can I do any worse? I think not.

But I do have a few shreds of integrity left, and I do take my knives seriously, so before I selected my 2015 Knife Of The Year I made sure it actually lives up to the title.

And why come on a year late? It's 2016, isn't it? Well, the knife proved itself in 2015, not 2016. How can I call it the '2016 Knife Of The Year' when it might just fail some how during this new year. No sir, this is the 2015 Knife Of The Year. I expect it to continue to do well in 2016, but it proved itself in 2015.

So what are the criteria that a Knife Of The Year must meet? Simple - it has to work. It has to be a good design, be well made of good materials that fit the design and intended purpose of the knife, and actually prove itself over the a long period of use. That's it. It doesn't need to be made of fancy steel and exotic handle materials. It doesn't have to be endorsed by a celebrity survivalist or a Seal Team 6 sniper. And it certainly doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

It just has to work, and work well. In other words, it has to be an honest knife.

So without further ado, I present my personal pick for the 2015 Knife Of The Year:

This is the Buck Vantage folder - the large version (model no. 035FAM01). It is a liner lock design that can be easily opened with one hand.

How good is this knife? Well, in my estimation it is better than the venerable Buck Folding Hunter. It is that good.

Buck makes this design in two sizes and in a wide variety of steel choices, edge options and handle material. But the particular knife model I'm talking about is the plain-jane model made with 420HC steel, glass reinforced nylon scales and a stainless steel liner. You can buy this knife all day long for less than $30 from multiple vendors on the internet. I own a number of the fancier versions of the Vantage, with S30V steel, serrated edges, carbon fiber or G10 handle scales, stealthy black finishes, etc. They are all good knives, but the base model I show here is actually the best of the bunch. Unpretentious, hardworking, honest.

Standard Buck Vantage (left), 'upgraded' Vantage (right) with S30V steel,
G10 handle slabs, serrated edge and black finish. The knife
on the right costs twice the one on the left does, but doesn't do anything
better than its cheaper sibling!

Buck's 420HC steel is well proven. Buck figured out long ago (with the assistance of Paul Boss) how to properly temper this steel to get the most out of it. It is also easy to re-sharpen. The handle scales are slim, smooth and well contoured. This makes the knife easy to handle and allows it to slide easily into a pocket and carry comfortably. The pocket clip is reversible and is mounted to the knife frame in such a way that it allows for a deep and discreet carry. The 4.25" blade is an extremely useful drop point design and the blade sports Buck's usual hollow grind.

The knife is light, easy to open and easy to control. The handle scales, while slim, fill the hand nicely and offer a good purchase. The knife is held together by Torx head screws and can be completely disassembled for cleaning and the blade tension can be easily adjusted by tightening or loosening the screw on the pivot pin.

In short, the Vantage is very well designed to fit a wide variety of real-world chores. It's a knife that is there when you need it, ready to get to work, but stays out of your way when you don't need it. It's an honest, hardworking knife.

Need to carve up some ribs? The Vantage gets it done nicely!

I've carried this knife - actually multiple examples of this knife because I keep losing them or giving them away - for years. It is my daily carry locking folder. When I get ready in the morning it is clipped inside my trouser pocket. It's always with me, whether I'm at work, fishing, shooting, hiking walking the dogs, doing chores around the house or, most recently, at a daughter's wedding.

There are not a lot of knives I unhesitatingly recommend based on price, design, materials, quality of construction and value. That list is very short, and the Buck Vantage sits at the top.

What makes it even better is that the Vantage line is made right here in the USA.

Happy New Year, and stay sharp!

- Brian