Neo-Slippies: Not Your Granddad’s Slip Joint Knives

Neo-Slippies: Not Your Granddad’s Slip Joint Knives
The Forebear’s nail nick follows the spine’s contour to accent the curve of the wharncliffe pattern.

Tradition meshes with modern in today’s new-age factory slip joint knives.

Like all tools, slip-joint pocketknives have seen their own evolutionary journey. In the olden days there were quality tools and then there were ones produced to be a bit more affordable, yet they still had their utility. These days many people buy knives for their utility, and I would say a number buy them for what I call the “Gucci factor.” As times change what’s considered attractive changes too, and, of course, makers leave their marks with their own innovations.

This time we’re not only going to test the latest in factory slip joints but also examine how companies and designers are innovating the age-old design to ensure it’s useful enough for the user and pretty enough for the collector. I took them all for a spin by shoehorning them into my everyday carry (EDC) rotation. The results are revealing.

CRKT Forebear

Forebarer's nail nick
CRKT Forebear

A couple of things update the CRKT Forebear. The first is the modified wharncliffe blades of 12C27 stainless steel. They’re not too big of a departure from the traditional style but still enough to make you notice. They are streamlined with an aggressive tip. Second is the use of a streaked-red-and-black G-10 handle. Unlike using texture to add dimension like, say, in a jigged material such as bone, the handle has two contrasting colors instead.

The knife is in a two-blade configuration—small and large wharncliffes—designed by custom maker Darriel Caston. The blades remind me of those on German chip-carving knives. Such blades are excellent for detail work and chores at which utility-style blades excel. They are flat ground and have long nail nicks that follow the spine.

I must say I was disappointed with the out-of-the-box finished edges on the blades. They were very uneven. One side had a larger micro bevel than the other. Machines do the great majority of the work creating the parts of a factory knife. In the end, though, the final edge is most often applied by hand. Before getting full use out of the knife I had to even out the bevels.

CRKT Forebarer slip joint
A handle closeup gives you a good idea of the depth the two-colored G-10 scales bring to the Forebear. At 3.43 inches closed, it’s a nice size for the watch pocket on your jeans.

Again, fit and finish was a bit of a disappointment, especially coming from CRKT. I have come to expect great value from the finishes on the company’s knives. Both scales exhibited shaping flaws and were left unpolished in spots, leaving an uneven appearance.

I actually like the design. It has great potential for everyday use with the two wharncliffes. It needs some work as mentioned on the edges. With a user knife it’s easier to overlook some fit-and-finish errors. After all, knives become better looking with familiarity as enthusiasts grow attached to their EDCs. As for the edge, it’s very fixable but it should come ready to use out of the box.

Boker Plus Koteyka

Boker Koteyka
The file-style work on the spine of the Koteyka breaks up the profile and gives the blade some character.

The Boker Plus Koteyka is a stylized clip-point-blade folder. The handle is jigged black G-10. The blade is flat-ground D2 tool steel and opens via a nail nick. Closed length: 3.5 inches. I really like that Boker Plus sends the Koteyka in a box wrapped in wax paper like the old-time knives. On the back of the blade is some machining that resembles filework.

Out of the box it cut very well after I stropped it to bring it to the crazy sharp level. The finish on the G-10 has machining marks for a rustic look. One day I will end up hitting it on a buffing wheel. With a high luster polish I think it would be killer. Granted, the MSRP is only $69, so I’m just expressing my own thoughts on its presentation. Texture wise it can be a little rough on your hand, so that is another reason why I will buff it. The blade action and spring tension are good. It is a great little pocketknife update. I look forward to using it further.

Lionsteel Bestman

Lionsteel Bestman slip joint
Lionsteel Bestman

In the Bestman, Lionsteel offers a pocketknife with all the traditional elements, though it’s the presentation and materials that give it the updated look. The folder has three choices of blade configuration: clip and spear points and a combination two-blade set up of clip point and wharncliffe. I received the clip point for the test. Blade steel: M390 stainless. Closed length: 3.75 inches.

The Bestman features two sets of bolsters with a decorative groove. Handle materials come in an array of natural or synthetic materials, from olive wood to carbon fiber. I chose the canvas Micarta® for the rugged look. Lionsteel kept the design blocky while smoothing over the edges to avoid hot spots. None of the metal on the knife is polished. It has a satin finish, as did some of the older high-end brands in which one side of the blade would be polished and the other side hand rubbed. In place of pins are Torx fasteners. Even the execution of the grind on the clip point departs from the traditional by keeping all the lines crisp.

The blade opens via a nail nick. The blade action is smooth yet has a definite half stop. The spring tension is dead on. I must say I am impressed and like it. It came right out of the box ready for work. The materials and design will last a lifetime of chores.

Heretic Jinn

Heretic JInn
Heretic JInn

At first, adding the Jinn by Heretic Knives to the review was iffy at best for me. I saw it on the company’s website and I somewhat reluctantly included it. To me, a pocketknife design from Heretic is akin to having a thrasher band perform Simon & Garfunkel. Nothing personal, I just thought Heretic couldn’t pull it off. In the end, though, I am the fool standing there clapping after the rest of the audience has stopped.

The sheepsfoot blade of CPM MagnaCut stainless with a combination serrated/plain edge has great application for EDC use. It can cut everything from soup to nuts. For style Heretic includes a false grind. The knife opens via a long nail nick at the blade’s back half. If I had one criticism it would be the position of the nail nick. There would be a greater advantage in opening the blade if the nick were farther away from the pivot point. Just pinching the blade closer to the tip allows for a smoother pull-on opening.

Heretic Jinn clip
The Jinn is the only slip joint reviewed with a pocket clip.

A half stop enhances user safety and the knife is finished off in carbon fiber scales with a trim, low-profile pocket clip. The clip is my next issue. It is too tight to easily clip onto floppy and thick pocket rims. The design is such that you really don’t want to bend the clip, either.

All else considered, the Jinn really surprised me. It is a great worker. Overall, its looks fit right in with any modern one-hand-opening pocketknife. Closed length: 3.8 inches.

Slip joints have a certain romance to them. On a base level the designs have tons of utility, and updating their appearances helps keep consumers interested. Of course, there will always be the ongoing love affair with the traditional designs. Many wouldn’t have it any other way.

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