You know, there was a time when I felt that having a manual safety on a knife meant that the knife was obviously over-designed. Then, in 1999 I was asked to review an assortment of folding lockblade knives for law enforcement duty use. Two of them had secondary locks that prevented an unintentional unlock of the blade. It wasn't until 2003 that I actually saw a folding lockblade knife that had a manual safety which had to be deactivated to open the blade. Now, it seems that such items are becoming almost fashionable. When I received the two Heckler & Koch knives that are the subject of this week's review, the first thing I noticed was that both had a manual safety. Both are automatic, though, and that manual safety is a very nice feature to have when you consider the possible alternative of the thing accidentally opening in your pocket. There are things down there you don't want a sharp knife opening at or into!
Let's take a look at the bigger knife first: the Model #14700 HK Auto. I measure the cutting edge--plain edge on my sample; serrated edge available as an option--at just over 3.5". The grip length, at its longest point, is 4.75". Total overall length is 8.875". The handle is 1/2" thick. The blade material is 440C stainless steel, while the grips are manufactured from hard anodized aluminum.
The published weight on this knife is just a smidge over four ounces--or about a quarter pound. The blade release and lock is a push-button plunger lock. On the spine is the manual safety I mentioned, which also serves as a secondary locking mechanism. The ratchet sliding lock, when moved toward the pivot end, locks the plunger button so that the weapon can't be opened. That same ratchet sliding lock, if the blade is already open, can be engaged to keep the plunger button from being pushed so as to keep the blade locked out.
The push-button plunger lock (shown at right and circled in red) is set into a recess that is milled into the grip slab. The top of the button is no higher than the side of the grip and feels like it's inset just a touch. This prevents, to some extent, the unintentional activation of the blade opening. In the second picture, below right--also circled in red--is the ratchet sliding lock. It stands out noticeably from the spine of the grips--almost 2mm--and has ridges for ease of movement. If your thumb is wet or slick, your thumbnail will move it easily. Just forward of the ratchet sliding lock are some grooves on the spine of the grip that serve as a thumb rest for pressing into cuts. Properly placed beneath that is a finger groove for your index finger. The rest of the grips fill my palm acceptably but might be a tad small for guys with monster hands.
Moving on to the "little brother" of the 14700, we get the 14750 Pardue Auto. This knife is the identical twin of the 14700 with only two differences:
- Size. This knife sports a blade just under 3" and grips just under 4". Overall open length is under 7".
- Serrated option: not available on the smaller model.
The locking mechanisms, ergonomics, etc. are all the same. Blade material...same. Grip material and finish...same. I should note that the pocket clip on both is secured by two screws and set for a tip-up carry. It is not reversible.
The "Care and Maintenance" paperwork accompanying the knife recommends the use of Militec-1 as a lubricant for the pivot point. Further, it advises against using the knife as a pry bar, screwdriver, wedge, etc. In other words, don't ever use it like almost all of us will if the circumstances get ugly enough.
I limited my testing of these knives to what they would cut. String, twine, 550 cord, and rope were no issue. Shaving wood was easy. I didn't hack anything with them. Neither was up to cutting any thick plastic--but plain edges suck at that anyway. Cloth was no issue: denim, burlap, etc. Carry in the pocket was comfortable, provided you're right handed. All in all, they're not bad knives. I think my preference would be for the large model with a serrated edge...