An Alan Folts design, the Columbia River Knife & Tool Minimalist Tanto features a 2.125-inch blade of 5Cr15MoV stainless with a Rockwell hardness of 55-57 HRC. Weight: 1.6 ounces. Overall length: 5.13 inches. MSRP: $34.99 (includes A glass-filled nylon sheath, neck paracord and braided fob). (CRKT photo)
The latest factory neck knives are a smorgasbord of designs and carry options
“When neck knives are designed and made properly, they will be minimal in size, yet easy and comfortable to use. They will be light enough around the neck to not be bothersome or noticeable [and] will be held safely and securely upside down in their sheath, but can be drawn and put into action with a minimum of effort.”
The preceding words by ABS master smith Murray Carter accurately and succinctly capture the finer qualities of neck knives, a subject Carter knows a thing or two about since he forges nearly 40 varieties. Along with the growing popularity of knives specifically designed for this carry system, the offerings by knife manufacturers are also expanding to meet the demand, and like many factory-produced blades today, the quality of the finished product is increasingly excellent.
If you happen to be in the market for a small, multi-use utility neck knife, then the Boker Plus Gnome fits the bill. The full-tang design is 4 inches overall, which is somewhat smaller than most neck knives, and the 2 1/8-inch blade of 12C27 stainless steel is relatively thin to enhance cutting ability. The Micarta® handle is equipped with a hole for a lanyard.
“On a knife this small, weight is generally not an issue, and the lanyard hole does help the knife’s balance,” noted Terry Trahan, Boker USA product specialist. “The Micarta with the unique handle design’s deep choil-like area and lanyard all work together to provide a good grip.”
The design is a collaboration between Boker Plus and Danish maker Jesper Voxnaes. The knife also is available in a stag handle, and comes with a leather belt sheath.
Female LEO Feedback
5.11 Tactical (see April 2011 BLADE®*) has introduced a new necker to its growing family of knives. Consistent with the company’s approach to knife designs, this one also grew out of feedback from customers.
“We had a meeting of all female law enforcement officers, which was the first time we had women only at one of these meetings,” said Mike McCourt, business leader for 5.11’s knife program. “The female officers requested a personal defense, last-ditch knife that could be worn around the neck or behind a belt.”
The resulting effort is the “SidePick Spearpoint,” which has a 2-inch blade of AUS-8 stainless steel and choices of a plain or 50-50 plain/serrated edge. The textured FRN scales are removable. The back edge can be sharpened (though be sure to check the laws in your area for double-edged knives). MSRP: $59.99.
“The composite sheath comes with an adjustable boot/belt clip and adapter that allow for a total of 12 carry angles,” McCourt noted. “There’s also an ankle strap for extra security during boot carry, and for neck carry it has a black beaded breakaway chain.” A breakaway chain prevents injury and even strangulation should it be grasped in a struggle or catch on something.
“A Pure Necker”
Nemesis Knives offers four different neck knives, including the new “Afterburner.”
“The Afterburner’s 2.25-inch blade fills a gap between our 1 5/8- and 2-inch models and, unlike our other neck knives which can be carried numerous ways, the Afterburner is a pure necker in the sense that there are no other carry options,” noted Nemesis headman and the knife’s designer, Jeff Hall. “I’ve been thinking about the design for a long time, so it has been two or three years in the making.”
The knife is 5.25 inches overall with a blade of 9Cr13 stainless in a satin or black finish. A bead chain and Kydex® sheath are included.
“Our customers wanted a beefier small fixed blade, so unlike many other neck knives, which are only 1/8 inch thick, the Afterburner is 3/16 inch thick,” Hall said. “It’s also full machined inside and out, and all the holes and corners are CNC-machine countersunk and chamfered.” The knife features skeleton construction to reduce weight, and thumb ramp ridges for added traction in various grips. Tentative MSRP: $49.95.
To hear Mike Manrose of Meyerco tell it, the company’s “Besh Wedge Bottle Rocket” designed by Brent Beshara seems to be a multi-collaboration of sorts.
“It started off as Dirk Pinkerton’s Variable Broadhead neck knife and Brent added the BESH Wedge geometry, while also lengthening the knife out,” Manrose said. (Author’s note: The BESH Wedge is two diagonally opposed bevels converging to create a third edge [see October 2010 BLADE*]). In other words, what you have is a bottle opener and a handy box cutter. “The knife is a great utility piece as well as a very usable backup weapon,” Manrose said. “It is based on an age-old church key design.”
The origin of church key is unknown to me, but the term brings to mind various bottle/can openers worn around the neck on youthful trips to the beach with a hoard of guys toting coolers full of beer. Apparently that memory is not far off the mark, as I discovered when I asked Beshara what the knife is designed to do.
“It is a beer-drinking tool which opens bottles and cans,” he grinned. “The handle is the bottle opener, and the front has a BESH Wedge, which is unsharpened due to the nature of the tool, and the reinforced tip easily opens can tabs.”
The Bottle Rocket’s 2.5-inch blade is 7Cr17 stainless (according to Manrose, an equivalent of 440A). Overall length: 5 inches. It comes with a sheath and neck chain. “The sheath is glass-filled nylon, which is tough as nails,” Manrose said. “We put a detent ball in it so you can spin it on a smooth surface for who buys the next round. It will serve you well for a long time as a utility piece, bottle opener, backup—and it’s just cool!”
While nodding my head in mute admiration, I asked Manrose to expand on the “spin” feature.
“Another age-old tool from the Roman era,” he chuckled. “An old sailor’s game I picked up along the way,” added Beshara. The MSRP is $29.99 and the piece comes with the words “Cheers! Besh” aptly engraved on the reverse side.
Given today’s available neck knife choices, opting to wear one involves making decisions that include purpose, size, materials, design, or just about anything else you would consider when choosing a fixed blade, with the provision that the overall length will be naturally limited.
I have worn a necker regularly for some time in perhaps the most common form—handle down in a Kydex sheath. It is easy enough to access under a shirt with the button closest to the handle open, though I exercise great care returning the blade to the sheath for reasons equally divided between my intense dislike of pain and a deep fear of embarrassment were I to stab myself in the chest. Along with using caution in re-sheathing, it is also important to remember a general rule of thumb: Any fixed blade may be considered “concealed” for legal purposes, so it is good to be familiar with pertinent state and local regulations.—by Stephen Garger
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