2021 ISN’T ALL BAD. TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THIS YEAR’S GREAT NEW BLADES
Just when you thought you were quite content with the knives and blades you own, the major companies introduced their latest models to pique your interest. Some are new designs, while others are updated versions of old favorites with better steel or different handle options.
In Part 1 of our roundup, we look at the new offerings from four manufacturers. We’ll present more in the next part along with some in-depth reviews of select models.
Last year, Gerber introduced its Reserve Program that will feature small-batch American-made knives that the buyer can customize on the Gerber website. The first introduction was the Terracraft fixed blade. Now, Gerber has added the Sedulo, a folding knife with pivot lock and S30V steel. Prices start at $100.
With the hunter in mind, Gerber is now offering its Downwind series. Initial models will include drop-point, caper, and ulu fixed blades. Prices will be $42, $37, and $52, respectively.
For the outdoorsman, there’s the new Bushcraft Hatchet, 15 ¼ inches overall, and the Bushcraft Axe, 26 ¼ inches overall. Both feature hollow handles with a removable, water-resistant storage compartment for small survival gear. These will be $63 and $84, respectively.
The unique Doubledown unveiled last year should finally be available. This is a folding machete that opens in a similar fashion as a butterfly knife. It is priced at $129.
If you’re a fan of narrow blades, you’ll like Gerber’s new affordable EDC folders, including the Affinity, Fuse, and Zilch. The Affinity features a frame lock and is available with either a gray aluminum ($37) or very attractive copper ($50) handle.
The Fuse ($32) with liner lock features glass-filled nylon scales, while the lightweight Zilch ($21) has a liner lock and plastic scales.
The Gerber Hyperflip ($62) is an assisted opener with flipper deployment. It offers a somewhat thicker grip and Micarta scales.
You can’t mention Gerber without thinking about multitools too. There’s the new Armbar Slim-Cut with knife, scissors, and bottle opener; and the Armbar Slim-Drive, with knife, bit driver, and bottle opener. Each is $32. A
lso new are the pocket-sized Lockdown Drive and Lockdown Pry, each featuring several useful tools and selling for $51.
There are lots of new knife introductions from Benchmade, including several excellent autos. Heading the list is the Claymore, a robust auto with 3.6-inch drop-point blade of CPM-D2 steel. It tops all Benchmade folders in closed breaking strength.
The Adamas series has been updated and features a manual folder ($280) and an auto ($360), each with a 3.78-inch blade, a mini ($250) with 3.25-inch blade, and a nice-looking fixed blade (250) with 4.2-inch blade.
These knives now are made with CPM Cru-Wear steel for enhanced corrosion resistance and toughness.
The Tengu Flipper ($550) has a striking appearance and is Benchmade’s addition to its Gold Class line this year. It was designed by custom knifemaker Jared Oeser and features white and black marbled carbon fiber handle scales and a BiFrost Damasteel blade.
The Om ($320-$340) is an OTF (out-the-front) auto that features the release button on the spine for quick deployment. But Benchmade is not all about the tactical this year.
The Meatcrafter ($160) is a food prep knife with 6.08-inch blade and a Boltaron sheath that can take you from the field to the kitchen.
The Bugout has been one of Benchmade’s consistently popular models. New this year is a version with S90V steel and milled carbon fiber handle. It has an MSRP of $300. There’s also a Mini Bugout ($160) with a 2.82-inch blade of CPM-S30V and a handle of CF-Elite, a carbon fiber-reinforced nylon polymer.
To keep them all sharp, Benchmade is offering two Guided Hone Tools, one with a 14-degree angle and the other with a 20-degree angle. Both feature a ceramic rod and a leather strop.
Several of Spyderco’s perennial favorites are now available in upgraded versions. The Dragonfly 2, Delica 4, Endela, Endura 4, Stretch 2, and Police 4 are among the models that are now available with Böhler-Uddeholm’s K390 Microclean steel.
K390 Microclean was developed for industrial applications where extreme wear resistance and high compressive strength were needed. It also makes an exceptional blade steel and is especially welcome when used for very thin, serrated edges.
In special, limited sprint run, Spyderco is issuing a new Para Military 2 ($245) with CPM Cru-Wear steel and brown canvas Micarta scales. In another sprint run, Spyderco is bringing back the Viele Phoenix, in honor of the late custom knifemaker Howard Viele.
The Viele Phoenix ($450) features a hollow-ground VG-10 blade with Viele’s signature three-hole pattern near the spine. It comes with full titanium liners and contoured G10 scales.
A new version of the Salt 2 ($166), the super corrosion-resistance relative of the Delica 4, now comes with LC200N steel and a green fiberglass-reinforced handle.
The YoJumbo, the larger version of the highly regarded Michael Janich designed Yojimbo 2, will now be available in all black. Its hollow-ground CPM S30V Wharncliffe blade is finished with a low-profile Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating.
Spyderco has updated its Slipit knives for those who prefer non-locking blades or are limited by local laws. There’s a non-locking LiL Native ($180) with CPM-S30V steel and the distinctive Roadie ($80) with double round indentations on the blade instead of a nail nick. The UK Penknife Salt ($127), with LC200N steel, is the first non-locking model in the company’s Salt series.
SOG, the Studies and Observations Group (yes, that’s what it stands for) has some impressive new offerings as well. Additions to the Pentagon lineup are the Pentagon FX fixed blades in two sizes; and the Pentagon OTF, SOG’s first out-the-front knife.
The larger Pentagon FX ($221.95) will feature a 4.8-inch blade of Cryo S35VN and removable, single-fastener G10 scales. The smaller Pentagon FX Covert ($166.95) features a 3.4-inch blade.
Both have full tangs. The Pentagon OTF ($388.95) features a double-edged Cryo S35VN blade and an anodized aluminum handle. Its Dynamic Locking System is touted as eliminating blade wobble.
The SOG-TAC AU line of automatic openers has been redesigned. These feature SOG’s strong XR locking mechanism and they’re ambidextrous—they can be opened from either side of the handle. They feature Cryo D2 steel.
The full-size model has a 3.43-inch blade, while the Compact has a 2.94-inch blade. There’s a Compact CA Special model too with 1.96-inch blade for those in California. Prices range from $138.95 to $166.95.
SOG’s new Kiku XR LTE and Terminus XR LTE are the company’s latest lightweight models with carbon fiber liners. These have the XR locking system. The Kiku XR LTE ($249.95) has a blade of Cryo CTS XHP that’s just longer than 3 inches.
It’s available with either an orange G10 or black linen Micarta redesigned handle. The Terminus XR LTE ($139.95) has a carbon fiber and G10 carbon-colored handle with either a gold or graphite-colored blade.
For those who might forget their knives but never their phones, SOG has partnered with PopSockets to offer the PopGrip Multitool ($24.95) that attaches magnetically to the back of your smart phone. The tool includes a pry bar, slotted screwdriver, ¼-inch and 4mm hex bit drivers, and a bottle opener.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May/June 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.