GEAR UP WITH THESE 5 AMAZINGLY SLEEK AND STRONG TOOLS
1. Benchmade Claymore Auto
With 44 states allowing the ownership and carry of at least some form of automatic knife, auto knives are becoming more popular than ever. Benchmade has long been a top tier producer of automatics, and its new Claymore shows that history and experience with autos in its refined gear design.
Benchmade manages to pack power and strength into a slim, lightweight design with the Claymore. Featuring a 3.6-inch drop-point, combo-edge blade of CPM-D2 tool steel, the Claymore opens via a vigorous spring that’s activated by a left side push button firing mechanism. A sliding safety just below the firing button is there if you need it.
The handle is of textured Grivory in either always fashionable black or Ranger Green, and an adjustable carry clip allows for either left or right side, tip-up carry. According to Benchmade, the Claymore has set a new bar for closed break strength, making it its toughest folder to date as well.
With great looking ergonomics and a compact size at only 5 inches closed, and just over a half inch thick and a weight of just 3.5 ounces, the Claymore is big on performance without the bulk and weight of a big tactical blade.
I have an old Benchmade Stryker gear that I’ve carried for years at work, but I might need an upgrade to a Claymore in the near future.
Benchmade Claymore Auto
- Overall Length: 8.60 inches
- Closed Length: 5.00 inches
- Blade Length: 3.60 inches
- Blade Thickness: 0.114 inch
- Handle Thickness: 0.60 inch
- Blade Material: CPM-D2 tool steel
- Blade Hardness: 60-62HRC
- Blade Style: Drop point
- Blade Finish: Cobalt black
- Weight: 3.50 ounces
- Pocket Clip: Deep carry, tip up, right or left
- Handle Material: Black or Ranger Green Grivory
- Lock Mechanism: Push button
- Origin: USA
- MSRP: $230
2. Cold Steel Chinese 6-Inch Flange Mace
Knives are one of man’s oldest tools, but the club is even older gear. Despite the club’s ancient origins, man continued to evolve them to be more efficient at bashing folks they didn’t like. The mace is basically just a weighted club with a metal head on it. Cold Steel has done a number of variations over the years, both modern and historical. Its 2021 offering is the Chinese Flange Mace.
The flange mace is a simple design consisting of a 21-inch hardwood shaft and a socketed six flange carbon steel head. Weight is a respectable 35.6 ounces, which should be a nice mix of sufficient mass for crushing blows without being too heavy to effectively swing.
The flanged style mace was designed to concentrate the force of the blow on the individual flanges to deliver crushing force that could bash armor, crush bones, and incapacitate limbs. If you like historical arms or want something a little more serious than a baseball bat for your bedside, then this may be just the thing for you.
Cold Steel Chinese 6-Inch Flange Mace
- Head Diameter: 3.5 inches
- Overall Length: 21 inches
- Steel: High carbon steel
- Weight: 35.6 ounces
- MSRP: $84.99
3. Kershaw Taskmaster 2 Folding Saw
While many folks prefer an axe or a hatchet, I’m a big fan of folding saws for woods use. They’re compact and light, and work well for gathering firewood, clearing braches around your tree stand or blind, and for building shelter.
Kershaw’s new Taskmaster 2 Folding Saw looks like a great addition to available models. It has a respectable 7-inch blade of high carbon steel with a nickel coating for rust resistance, mated to a 9-inch glass-filled nylon handle with rubber grip inserts. The blade locks open with a button lock for safety during use. There’s also a large lanyard slot in the handle.
The color scheme is tan and black, which matches Kershaw’s Deschutes axe and Camp 10 machete if you’re into having matching gear. At 9.125 inches closed and under 9 ounces in weight, it’ll easily stash in a day pack or a game pocket of a hunting jacket.
Kershaw Taskmaster 2
- Blade Length: 7.00 inches
- Closed Length: 9.125 inches
- Overall Length: 15.90 inches
- Blade Material: High carbon steel
- Blade Finish: Nickel plated
- Handle Material: Tan glass-filled nylon with rubber grip
- Locking Mechanism: Button lock
- Weight: 8.7 ounces
- Origin: China
- MSRP: $49.99
4. CRKT Dually
When I first saw the CRKT Dually, the words elegant and refined popped into my head. It really did fit the category of a gentleman’s folder, and I was guessing the price would be at least $50 or $60 bucks. Imagine my surprise when I found out the MSRP is only $29.99 with street prices even lower.
The Dually is a compact, slip-joint design, but it’s a far cry from your grandad’s slip-joint. A sleek and modern design, the Dually consists of a petite 1.7-inch drop-point blade of 5Cr15MoV mated to a 3.5-inch handle of glass-reinforced nylon with stainless steel liners. When the knife is closed a handy bottle opener is exposed. A deep carry pocket clip and a lanyard hole give you a variety of options for carry.
The handle has a carbon fiber pattern to it, and that’s what I thought it was until I looked at the specs. While there’s no lock, being a slip-joint design, the blade detent keeps the blade open until you put some deliberate force on the blade to close it.
This is a great knife for use in places that might not be knife friendly as its unintimidating size and clean modern lines make it obviously a tool or gear rather than a weapon. It’s also a great EDC blade for places that have blade length limits or prohibit locking knives.
- Blade Length: 1.717 inches
- Handle Length: 3.506 inches
- Overall Length: 4.813 inches
- Blade Material: 5Cr15MoV stainless steel
- Blade Thickness: 0.089 inch
- Blade Style: Drop point
- Blade Finish: Bead blast
- Handle Material: Glass-reinforced nylon
- Locking Mechanism: Slip-joint
- Pocket Clip: Tip-up, right side
- Weight: 1.70 ounces
- Designer: Richard Rogers
- Origin: China
- MSRP: $29.99
5. Work Sharp Mk.2 Knife & Tool Sharpener
If you’ve been following the Gear Up articles for any length of time, you know I’m always looking for things to make sharpening easier. I’ve used a number of Work Sharp products over the years and have been impressed with their function and ease of use.
Considering that the company has sold millions of sharpeners out of its Southern Oregon based company since 1973, I’m not alone. The Mk.2 Knife & Tool Sharpener brings things to a new level. Work Sharp brought a number of improvements in the new Mk.2 model. It now features a two-speed motor that will let you sharpen at high or low speeds for better control on knives or scissors, while still allowing the power needed to sharpen axes and garden tools and gear.
A new edge guide helps you sharpen the blade of your knife evenly all the way to the tip but can flip out of the way if needed. It also has two settings that can be easily changed from 25 degrees for outdoor knives to 20 degrees for kitchen knives. Sharpening is by means of a flexible abrasive belt like what most custom knifemakers use to sharpen their knives.
The Mk.2 can work as a bench or tabletop sharpener, but can also be used by hand to sharpen larger tools or gear like axes, hedge trimmers or even shovels.
Work Sharp Mk.2 Knife & Tool Sharpener
- 20- and 25-degree sharpening guides
- 65-degree scissor guide
- Two P80 coarse abrasive belts
- Two P220 medium abrasive belts
- Two 6000 fine abrasive belts
- User’s guide, quick start guide
- 3-year warranty
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Sep-Oct 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.