So, here comes a little knife that is about as perfect an embodiment of “the modern gentleman folder” as possible. It’s based on the celebrated and famed LionSteel TRE (for Three Rapid Exchanges, as there are three ways to open it: flipper, thumbdisc and two handed).
The first thing you’ll see is the box. A small rectangular cardboard sleeve with no markings whatsoever, which you’ll slide to reveal a nice block of highly figured wood. In this block of wood two slots are carved. One for the knife (it fits in very well but it’s not easy to get it out without turning the block upside down) and one for the key ring with the two torx bits provided to take the knife apart and reassemble it or adjust certain aspects. These two bits can unscrew all the screws of the knife.
The knife in question is 10cm long when closed, open it measures 17,25cm and it sports a 7.25cm blade. Said blade is a very nice drop point “almost full flat ground”(there is a sort of swedge on the top of it) very nicely stonewashed/polished, in the premium M390 “super-steel” that almost all knife-makers rave about. Its spine is nicely crowned (rounded like on the Sebenza). On this titanium frame-lock, the handles are 3D milled, textured and contoured and held in place by a semi-floating titanium backspacer, anodised blue, and a pivot which is a rounded triangle on the lock side to help adjustment with only one torx bit. The pocket clip is also 3D milled titanium anodised blue.
The whole affair weights a very pocket friendly 81.5 grams as the titanium scales are milled on the inside for weight reduction. The lock bar (which is 3D contoured to allow easy deployment should you be a lefty) has a hardened steel insert and has the inside part, where the thumb goes to disengage the lock, textured and rounded nicely for traction and comfort.
The high point on the knife, other than its exquisite look, fit and finish and ease of use is that you have three ways of deploying the blade, and that you can adjust your knife to match your preferred method.You might call the knife a modular piece since both flipper and thumbdisc can be detached!
Out of the box, the knife comes with a flipper and a thumbdisc. However, both can be removed using the torx bits included in the package (or better yet, a nice dedicated torx screwdriver giving you more traction). So you could easily transform the knife into a thumbdisc knife. Or a flipper, or a “two hands only” piece (that would then be legal in lots of countries, since the blade is short… if the whole thing wasn’t a frame-lock ;-)). Whatever the method you choose -I’ve decided to keep thumbdisc and flipper as I tend to prefer flipping but also enjoy the thumb-flicks, which the flipper only hinder marginally- you’ll be in for a nice deployment thanks to the caged ball bearing on the pivot.
Generally, it’s very well made, the blade centring is about perfect, the action super smooth (understand that this is a push-button flipper, and doesn’t work that well when “light switching”) and the lock an almost perfect 40%. Now, the lock was my main problem when I got the knife. Sure, it was a bit dirty, but nothing major. But the lock first was rather sticky and sometimes would not engage at all. After a few dozens flips and thumb-flicks and a bit of cleaning (without full disassembly), all is solved and the blade locks every time, at the same position, doesn’t have any sort of play in any direction and then unlocks smoothly, without sticking.
The second (very very minor) defect on my number was that the pocket clip had way too much tension. It was nigh impossible to put it in the pocket. However, I twisted it backward a little bit with a well protected pry-bar and now the tension is about perfect: goes in and out almost easily when I want it, but won’t budge involuntarily. A last detail, not really perceivable and due to the conception/geometry of the knife, the detent ball in white ceramic does not glide on a flat surface but goes down then up along its travel as the path it follows get in and out of the well rounded ricasso. You only feel that when deploying slowly the blade, though.
Sure, it’s one of the most expensive Chinese clones around, but given the amount of detail, the fit and finish, and the premium blade still, I feel like it still is very much of a steal! Insane value for anyone looking for a rather original, modern looking, flipping/flicking yet very elegant gentleman folder. It feels a bit small in my hands at first, but when cutting with it (no heavy tasks, food prep and box opening) it “vanished in the hand”. I very much enjoy it and can only recommend you get one… if you see them.