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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 1:58 pm    Post subject: HIstorical Knife For Daily Carry         Reply with quote

I'm not a connoisseur of what some folks call everyday carry knives (EDCs). "Tactical" knives with hyper-modern designs and materials just don't appeal to me at all (not least because of their often high price tags). Men in my corner of the world do tend to carry knives, but I've never done so because I've never found one that satisfies my picky criteria:

Simple but elegant
Durable but lightweight
Low profile
Carbon steel blade
Secure locking
Historical design
Large but slender
Good quality but inexpensive

What I wanted was a cross between a Chicago Cutlery butcher knife, Leica M6 camera and a feather.

I just haven't seen many knives that meet enough of these criteria to entice me to try them. But, after seeing a particular knife in the Atlanta Cutlery catalog for years, I finally decided to give it a try. A few days after ordering (19.95 + shipping) I got my Mercator k55 lockback knife (a.k.a. "cat knife") in the mail. I've never been so excited about a pocketknife! It meets all my criteria, and I think folks here might appreciate some details of this very old-school design.

This carbon steel knife is made in Solingen, Germany, based on a pattern in use at least as far back as WWII and issued (?) to Wermacht troops. Many of these knives were brought back to the U.S. as war trophies, so WWII-vintage examples are relatively common.

The grip is formed by folding a single sheet of steel, so it's very strong but extremely thin--perfect for a pants pocket. The lock mechanism, rivets and bail are of stainless steel

I love this knife! The only thing that would improve it is a pocket clip instead of the lanyard bail, but a small clip can easily be attached to a short lanyard to suspend the knife in the pocket. It would be a relatively simple matter to replace the bail with a clip, but I'd hate to mess with the historical design.
This is a very solidly built knife, with a strong, crisp lock. I worried that the lock would be too easy to release, given its prominence and position, but it's not a problem at all.
One hand inertia opening is possible by grasping the exposed back of the blade and snapping the handle downward (not the safest way to open a knife, of course).

7.75" overall
3 3/8" blade
4.25" handle
.25" thick
1/8" thick blade
4 oz.



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Russ Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really nice knife there Sean, and some good clean pictures too. I rotate between a SOG Spec Elite II




A Kershaw Junkyard Dog II



A benchmade mini rukus



and a crkt pointguard



Myself... yeah I'm from your part of the country to... I might pick up something else at Blade this year who knows... Happy

I like the pocket clips and being able to open it (and close it) one handed...

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
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Eric Myers




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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

I've had one of those for almost 20 years, and it's still one of my favorite knives. It's not great in the rain or other slippery conditions, and the lanyard ring has dinged the tip of the blade, but it's just always sharp, easy to carry, and a joy to use.

Eric Myers
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D. Austin




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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me it's the Opinel number 8. I also have the smaller, non locking number 5 (great for apples and cheese by a stream in spring).

In my opinion the number 8 (or similar sized model) fits all but one of your criteria Sean. It's not exactly low profile, not a great pants pocket knife, but not bad.

I believe it was designed in 1890 and the carbon steel blade is ridiculously sharp. It also just has a simple elegance to it. Definitely my favourite knife for daily carrying.



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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I like most of the modern production knives by Spyderco, Benchmade, Coldsteel, CKRT etc ...... And many more brands of similar quality ( Good to very good depending on specific models i.e. all these brands have at least some really good knives even if some have some lower end ones in their lines. Avoiding getting into much to much detail about what is good or not within each brand ).

But for the traditional route I would recommend looking at the Laguiole type knives:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laguiole_knife
http://www.lafermedelamer.com/Laguiole/history_of_laguiole.htm
http://www.layole.com/uk/coutellerie/ateliers.php

Sean, the Laguiole is one type of knife that in the better made ones might fit a lot of your selection criteria. Wink Big Grin

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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 3:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like my puukko

Always had a thing for these guys! I originally got this one to whittle, but its become my carrying staple when the situation allows.

Mike J Arledge

The Dude Abides
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J Anstey




PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Arledge wrote:
I like my puukko
Always had a thing for these guys! I originally got this one to whittle, but its become my carrying staple when the situation allows.


nice knife is that roselli or martini?
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J Anstey wrote:
Mike Arledge wrote:
I like my puukko
Always had a thing for these guys! I originally got this one to whittle, but its become my carrying staple when the situation allows.


nice knife is that roselli or martini?


It looks like it says "Kaukavon" on the blade, I will have to look through my records to see if that is the right spelling. It is a nice carbon steel though, with birch and reindeer bone/antler on the grip.

Mike J Arledge

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B. Fulton




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PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote



Yeah, I think I had enough sharp things with me.

The small black Benchmade with the stainless blade is my EDC, the Spyderco is my "bigger knife" if I need it.

the others just tagged along for the ride when I was over there.
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Ken Speed




PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 12:57 pm    Post subject: Re: HIstorical Knife For Daily Carry         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

"What I wanted was a cross between a Chicago Cutlery butcher knife, Leica M6 camera and a feather."

Gee, I hate it when people are too easy to please! Laughing Out Loud

Actually there are a few traditional knives that come close to fulfilling your standards. Jean mentioned the Lagoulle which I think is a good suggestion and often a very elegant knife. I haven't bought one --- yet. The Opinel was also mentioned, I own one and they're good knives, very light for their size and take a keen edge although the steel is softer than I like. A traditional knife I'll buy in the near future is the Sodbuster which dates to the twenties or thirties if not earlier and has many of the characteristics you want in a knife. These is another French knife similar to yours called the Douk Douk, cheap, simple and good steel, I'm told.

Someone mentioned Puukkos which I think are getting a little out of the every day carry knife for most of us but are certainly traditional depending on the manufacturer. I have a Jarvenpa Aito Puukko which is a pretty small belt knife by American standards but is capable of anything up to and including dressing a deer. I have a Roselli Hunter in ultra high carbon steel which is well on the way to proving itself to be the best belt knife I have ever owned and I have an EKA model 11 from Sweden which is nearly as good as the Roselli. I think it would be stretching a point to call the Roselli or Eka Puukkos they are still Scandinavian knives. While I prefer the Roselli by a hair, all three of these knives are superbly well designed and functional tools.

Regards,


Ken
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These are all very nice knives! They also illustrate the dilemma--those that meet my aesthetic and design criteria are expensive (for me) and non-historical, while the inexpensive traditional ones (Okapi, Laguiole, Opinel, etc.) tend to have fatter bellies. I think those are very attractive and historically interesting knives, though.

The Douk Douk is especially interesting. It's similar to the k55 in terms of construction and profile. In fact, these knives appear to be design contemporaries. The douk douk was made in France for distribution in the old French colonies (in which it became THE knife). It has a clipped point and funky Polynesian god of doom stamped on the grip scales, which more than satisfies my historical interest! It doesn't lock, though, which I think gives the k55 the advantage. Here's a nice site for the Douk Douk:

http://www.covecutlery.com/item.cfm?ItemsID=323



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own 2 Benchmade 3550 Pardue automatic knives. One is standard length and first run numbered and the other is a 4 inch blade issued to my brother when he was in Afghanistan.

http://www.benchmade.com/products/product_detail.aspx?model=3550

James Barker
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Ken Speed




PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

You said, " They also illustrate the dilemma--those that meet my aesthetic and design criteria are expensive (for me) and non-historical, while the inexpensive traditional ones (Okapi, Laguiole, Opinel, etc.) tend to have fatter bellies. I think those are very attractive and historically interesting knives, though."

Well, while the Sodbuster has a fatter profile than the Cat knife or the Douk Douk I don't think its any thicker than a regular pocket knife of the same size. I think Ragweed Forge has the largest Sodbuster for a price very similar to that of the Cat knife.

I don't know if Gerber is still making it and I wouldn't claim its historical but I have an Easy out that I've had for a long time and it is one of the handiest and thinnest pocket knives I've ever carried.

I think I agree that I'd choose the Cat knife over the Douk Douk in terms of efficiency or design although I think the history of the Douk Douk is a little more colorful.

I don't think you were interested in sheathe knives but the Scandinavian knives I mentioned other than the Roselli are still available for under $100.00 I think which is incredible when you think about what the American Dollar is worth now.

Speaking of historical knives there was an actual Tapio Wirkala Puukko for sale on Ebay recently. Truly a beautiful design and I have to admit that I was very tempted to put in a bid but I don't see myself as a knife collector. I don't want to own knives and not use them, I want to use them and see how well they work. Besides I'm not so secretly lusting after an Atrim Legacy line type X and have to exercise at least a modicum of restraint!

Ken
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A sodbuster was another possibility, but also lost to the k55's thinness and lock. There are some other interesting traditional designs to be found here:

http://www.garrettwade.com/sdx/H35767.jsp

I like the look of the two Japanese folders. One has a lock but is fatter than I'd want. The German sodbuster is a nice-looking traditional knife.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Ken Speed




PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,

You commented,

"I like the look of the two Japanese folders. One has a lock but is fatter than I'd want. The German sodbuster is a nice-looking traditional knife."

IMHO you made the right choice. The Japanese knife that locks is, I believe, a marking knife and the blade is beveled on one side only which I know i wouldn't like in a pocket knife. The other one has no spring or lock whatsoever so I'd be hesitant to carry it as a pocket knife.

I just made the plunge and bought a digital camera so I've sort of spoiled myself sufficiently for a while so as I write this I have to keep telling myself, "No more knives, No more knives."

Ken
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
I just made the plunge and bought a digital camera so I've sort of spoiled myself sufficiently for a while so as I write this I have to keep telling myself, "No more knives, No more knives."


You forgot an important step! "Now I'll have to just make my own knives".

Big Grin

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Kelly Powell




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PostPosted: Thu 15 May, 2008 5:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My only criteria for a "pocket" knife is that it is not so expensive that I would feel bad about throwing it into the river if I had to Cool .....As big tony on the simpsons said"I don't get mad....I get stabby."
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Sep, 2009 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally I've come to really like small fixed blade knives. A fixed blade knife with a 6cm long blade fits in your pocket just as easily as a medium/large folder. In most situations, the shorter blade is not a problem for me.
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Jared Smith




PostPosted: Thu 10 Sep, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Re: HIstorical Knife For Daily Carry         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
A few days after ordering (19.95 + shipping) I got my Mercator k55 lockback knife (a.k.a. "cat knife") in the mail. I've never been so excited about a pocketknife!


I have to agree that that seems like a great value and really well thought out knife. I'm tempted to get one just for collecting purposes.

I have had quite a few, and several custom pattern welded pocket knifes costing several hundred dollars. The one I consider indispincible and versatile enough to justify in backpacking and camping, around the shop, and find others (who often have these neat tactical knifes) requesting to borrow the most is the simple Swiss Army knife though. A few more gadgets (Swedish fire steel, fishing kit) and one might not even need a backpack in some short trek situations.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Sep, 2009 11:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, for those looking for a locking traditional folder, do not overlook the Spanish navaja. They are generally a bit slimmer in the pocket compared to German sodbusters too.
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