When Boker decided that they needed a knife designed for them, instead of contacting any one of the many "knife experts" in the world, they pursued Jim Wagner. What could Jim bring to the design table? Jim's bio shows that he has numerous years of experience training police and military units how to survive knife attacks, as well as how to effectively use knives as primary offensive weapons. Jim's even trained Germany's counterterrorist unit, GSG9. Knowing that, Boker asked him to design "the ultimate tactical folding knife for police, military, security personnel, and civilians alike." I received my Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade from Boker a few weeks back and have enjoyed putting it through its paces. I have few criticisms and will share them here along with all the positive features about this lockblade folder.
So, let's take a look at the knife characteristics. The 4" long 440C blade has just under 4" of cutting surface. The blade shown at right is serrated in the underbelly while my T&E model is plain edge. The serrated edge provides a much more aggressive cutting profile while the plain edge is easier to maintain, and cuts just fine. The design and shape of the blade makes it look small (to me) when looking at the 5" long grips. The blade, at its tallest point (not thickness here, but height from edge to spine), is one inch at its most. The grips are never less than an inch and are 1.5 inches at the max.
The blade edge is chisel ground and on the flat side of the blade there is a unique U-shaped blood groove that is longer on one end than the other. The shape of the blood groove is balanced to maximize the utility of the groove in relation to the shape of the blade. On the spine of the blade is a thumb stud that allows for easy opening with either hand. I can't find any documentation on what material the grips are made out of, but they seem like one of the common types of plastic used in the folding knife industry today. The grips are ergonomically shaped and do fit in the hand well. There are four finger grooves formed into the grips, and three of them are stippled to increase friction and enhance a secure hold. The fourth--closest to the pivot point--also serves as a "felt guide" if you're opening the knife with either hand. It serves as an instinctive reference point for reaching the thumb stud to open the blade.
Directly behind the thumb stud, milled into the shape of the blade, is what serves as part of a hilt with a "secure hole" inside. Using that and the lanyard hole located at the back of the grip, the knife can be lashed to a pole for use as a spear if necessary. Milled grooves in the back of the grip serve to increase friction in the palm and/or as press points for pushing into cuts with your thumb on the back of the grip.
The clip attaches to the knife at the back end; is reversible; and is held in place by a glass breaking tip. Provided with the knife is the tool necessary to:
- Remove the glass breaker tip to switch the clip to either side, or
- Tighten (or loosen) the pivot point to make the knife open as you deem necessary.
The grip material and the placement of the clip are the two things I would prefer to be different. It's important that I note that these are personal preferences and many folks will disagree with me for a variety of reasons. While the stippling in the grips does provide an extra level of friction and therefore some added security to the hold, when I got the grips wet they were still slippery. The ergonomic shape and finger grooves save them some loss in this area, but I still felt like I was having a hard time holding onto the knife when wet. Perhaps increasing the friction level through the use of inserts or the use of a different grip material might help. The second preference I have is for carrying a knife not quite so deep in my pocket. While many do prefer a "deep pocket" carry, I don't. The clip placement on this blade provides that deep pocket carry and I just like my knives a little easier to grab and draw from my pocket than this type of carry provides.
Now, on to performance. As with all knives I test I took this one "out back" and started cutting away at whatever I could find. As I mentioned above, the edge on my test knife is a plain edge (no serrations) so cutting some materials was more difficult. Still, I cut my full range of string, twince, paracord, 1/4" nylon rope, 1/2" hemp, etc and had no issues. I lever-cut several plastic zip-ties by wrapping them around a dowel, slipping the knife tip in between the tie and the dowel and then turning the knife to cut the zip-tie. No issues. Another test I like is a puncture test…and I managed to punch this knife through ¼-inch plywood with no issues, and then wiggle it back out. The pivot point showed no signs of loosening--I saw no side to side wiggle in the blade afterward.
Finally, I left the knife sit, opened, in a bucket of rain water on my back patio for a week. Leaves are already falling here, and by the end of the week the bucket was about six inches full of rain water and had a healthy layer of yuck on top comprised of acorns, leaves, and the assorted other stuff that blows around outside. Taking the knife out, I shook it off and closed it--and then opened it--and repeated. I heard and felt no signs of rust or any less firmness in the lock. No signs of rust appeared on the blade. The edge was still clean. The grips felt slightly slimy, but what would I expect? To get them feeling secure in my hand again--with no slip or slime feel--I actually had to wash them with soap and fresh water and let them dry.
I should mention that the knife (as I received it) comes with an instructional DVD, both about the knife and about some knife defense techniques as taught by the knife designer, Jim Wagner. The inclusion of instructional material is a good idea, and I commend Boker for doing it. Online, I've found this knife retailing for as little as $55 and it's a damned fine knife at that price. For more information about this or other Boker Knives, check them out online.