Cool Cutters

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m the guy, or was, who’s always asking for a knife to borrow. I used to not like toting around a blade, and certainly wasn’t particular about the ones I did manage to carry. Then I started getting spoiled by having a knife on me at all times, and discerning about which models I trusted. Below are just a few knives, new and old, I’ve come to enjoy.

Ruger Hollow Point

Even for a non-knife guy like myself, I can easily spot something I would peg as classic or retro. With so many of today’s knives designed with a heavy bent towards tactical it’s refreshing to see something new, but timeless. In contrast to the ultra-modern Ruger Go N Heavy I reviewed this spring, the Ruger Hollow Point is perhaps more my speed, and not just in appearance. It may harken to the old days, but this is not your grandaddy’s whittler.

As the name implies, the Go N Heavy is not a demure little cutter. As much as I like it, it was designed to be more present in-hand than other models in the growing Ruger lineup. For those like me who want something a bit less burly and easier to carry day to day, the Hollow Point is a perfect option. With a slim handle, low 4.4 ounce weight, and a closed length of just 4.25 inches, it slips into a pocket without too much bulk or heft. When opened, the 3.17 inch blade made of high quality 8Cr13MoV steel gives the knife a reasonable length of 7.5 inches. That makes for an ideal size for most hands and small cutting chores.

At first I wasn’t entirely sure about the unique curvature of the blade. I’m not a hunter so the pronounced arch of the blade tip seemed ill-paired to my usual needs, but I’ve come to really like it. It extends the length of the sharpened edge and in doing so amplifies the efficiency of the cutting stroke. The handle also shares a defined radius along the spine which rests in my hand quite nicely. Designer Ken Onion did a fine job shaping the ergonomics of the total package.

The star of the show, at least in my opinion, is the use of an uber-smooth IKBS ball bearing main pivot. Inside the central hinge, a series of tiny bearings ensure the opening and closing action is smooth and consistent throughout the range of motion. A small but effective blade flipper tab at the back of the handle deploys the blade with a positive click. A small liner lock keeps the blade secure with not so much as a nanometer of wiggle or slop. The liner lock is quite small and requires some practice to master, but it proficiently holds the blade open.

Adding to the versatility of the Hollow Point is a lanyard loop at the butt of the handle and a pocket clip with dual orientation depending on the user’s preference. The plastic handle scales are thin, but have a nice textured surface for a sure grip and the finish quality is precise and clean, as we would expect of Ruger’s knife partner, CRKT.

For $60, I think the Hollow Point is a killer value, particularly when you factor in the IKBS pivot technology and the quality of materials. It’s also a handsome design for those of us who don’t want to look like an off-duty SWAT officer. I may not be skinning bear hides with my Hollow Point, but I carve a mean apple slice.

Spyderco Native 5 Lightweight

The Native 5 Lightweight is relatively new for Spyderco, but its DNA goes back to 1997. As one of the original and most popular knives in the Spyderco lineup, the Native has undergone a number of changes throughout the years. The blade has been made of different steels, and the handle even offered in pink to support breast cancer awareness. The latest iteration is quite impressive considering how refined it is, and the fact that it is offered at such an affordable price.

The full-flat-ground CPM S35VN blade has a distal taper, index finger choil, and mild swedge. I understand what all those terms mean, but how they translate to daily use is what I care about.

I’ve had the Native 5 Lightweight in my kit for over 2 years now. It’s become a trusted pal and the more I use it, the more it feels like it was custom-made for my hand and individual needs. The rather wide blade is stiff, wickedly sharp with minimal maintenance, and although I wasn’t sure I’d like the shape, has proven itself effective whenever I put it to task.

When I bought the Native 5 Lightweight I was unsure if it was worth the $144 asking price. Two years on, I think it was a bargain. I’m a knife user, not a knife enthusiast. Read that as borderline neglectful of my maintenance duties. The Spyderco quality has done well by me and offset my less than perfect love and care.

Not a small knife at 7 inches when open, it seems perfectly sized for most of the things I need it for. The closed size of 4 inches allows it to slip into my pocket nicely without any bulk. I’m a fan, for sure. I can see how people end up with multiple Spyderco knives.

SOG Sync

When I first saw the pre-production SOG Sync at last year’s Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, I admit I thought it was interesting, perhaps borderline unnecessary. Like a lot of things, it’s something you really don’t need—until you do. When that occasion arrises it’ll be right there under your belly button just waiting to save the day. Mounted to a belt buckle retainer, the Sync detaches from its mount with the push of a button. Once in hand the outer edges of the tool give access to four fold-out implements including a file, awl, eyeglass screwdriver, and a small knife. With the two handles extended, the Sync transforms into a compact set of pliers with wire cutters.

With a size of roughly 2.5 by 1.25 inches when mounted on your belt, the Sync is surprisingly discreet and doesn’t look like something you won in a rodeo. It doesn’t even look like a tool, just a unique industrial buckle. When put to use I was quite impressed with how sturdy and substantial it is. It’s not a kitschy novelty, it’s actually a proper tool, albeit a small one. For those not inclined to wear it on a belt, the mount also includes a heavy-duty clip so you can put it on a pack or in the more traditional location at your hip on a belt. At $67 I think it’s a good value.

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.