Across the span of the past decade I've written knife reviews of knives made by Masters of Defense (which was later bought by BLACKHAWK!) as well as knives from the newly formed (a couple years ago) Blackhawk Knives. As I attended the recent Writers' Conference sponsored by and held at BLACKHAWK! I realized I've never tested or written a review of the Garra II. An evolution of the Garra first made by Masters of Defense, the Garra II is an aggressive hawksbill design that may be overlooked for anything other than serious defense use. After considering what I knew about it I had to wonder why that is.
Let's take a look at the specifications first:
- Blade Length: 3"
- Overall Length: 8.4"
- Blade Material: AUS8A
- Blade Finish: Black Teflon coating
- Edge Type: Plain or partially serrated
- Handle: 420J stainless steel liners nested in textured G-10 scales
- Pocket clip: right side tip down carry only
Now, a few objective commnents:
As you can see from the picture, the blade has an aggressive curve known as a "hawksbill" blade design. That blade shape was why I never really considered this knife for utility work - but I've come to learn that it makes some types of utility work that much easier. When cutting boxes, rope, webbing, etc, the curve of the blade almost acts like a gut hook adding strength to your pull as you cut through whatever material. It also makes it easier to use the stronger muscles of your chest and arms to pull into a cut although you have to be careful doing this: you don't want to pull through and not be able to stop and end up cutting yourself.
Also note the ergonomic shape of the grips that have obvious placement for your index finger, middle finger and then your ringer finger and pinky together. Take a look again where the blade meets the grip and note the finger curve at the base of the blade. If you need to "choke up" on the knife to get more pressure into a cut, you can grip it with your index finger in that groove, your middle finger in the first groove of the grip, your ring finger in the second and your pinky in the last open curve. Additionally, look at the spine of the blade near the pivot and you'll see ridges / notches milled into the blade's spine to serve as a placement point for your thumb to press down into those cuts.
As a utility cutter and defensive tool there's no doubt that this knife will perform. My daughter has been carrying one for about two years now and has thoroughly abused it cutting everything from boxes to rope to string to packing and duct tape. She's also used it to cut foam padding, nylon webbing and an assortment of cloth materials. Although her's looks pretty abused, it has held its edge and still locks open with a secure authoritative CLICK.
All that said, there are two things about this knife I don't care for:
- The profile. I like the curve of the blade and the shape of the handle but when you combine them together by folding the knife shut you get a knife that is wider than is (to me) comfortable for pocket carry.
- The limit on carry position. The knife can only be carried tip down and - so that it's drawn ready to open in your hand - only on the right side. Sure, you can carry it on the left side, but you'll have to adjust your grip after getting it out of your pocket just to open it.
Do those drawbacks kill the utility or value of the knife? Absolutely not. But before you buy and carry one you need to know about them and recognize what you're trading off for the benefits and values of the knife's strengths.
On the BLACKHAWK! website (linked below) the Garra II has an MSRP of $99.99. A quick internet search found me one for as low as $79.99 so look around when you're ready to add one to your collection.