Across the span of the past decade or so we've seen companies who traditionally deal in one line of products expand their offerings so that they offer multiple lines. Doing so is only smart business but sometimes we - the customers - need to adjust our thinking as a result. If we're used to thinking of a company as providing one type of products, say pants for example, when they start offering boots, watches and knives then we need to stop thinking about them as a pants company and start thinking of them as more of a full service equipment company. Such is the case with 5.11 Tactical. Well known for their "Royal Robbin's" pants, they expanded into other product lines to include knives. One of those knives, the Scout Folder, is the subject of this review.
Now as far as I'm concerned a folding knife needs to meet a few requirements if it's going to be worth carrying around.
- It needs to cut (DUH!)
- It needs to be small enough when closed to make it convenient to carry.
- The handle/grips need to offer a secure hold.
- The blade needs to be easy to open, but only when you want it to open.
- The clip needs to be movable so you can carry it however your want.
- The price needs to be reasonable.
- The materials it's made from need to last.
Enter the Scout Folder. It does cut - and does it well. We'll discuss cutting tests momentarily.
The 3.5" flat grind plain edge spear point blade is contained in the 4.75" grips when it's folded shut. The 4.75" grips are ergonomically shaped so as to be narrower near the pivot point (what would be the hilt in a fixed blade design) but deeper as you get closer to the end. That swell works well with the natural shape of the human hand and increases the security of your grip. The grooves for your index finger, middle finger and then the combined "platform" for your ring and pinky finger make it easy to adjust your grip as necessary to get the knife situated in your hand. The handle slabs are made from G-10 and are fairly slip resistant. Inside the knife, there are liners and a liner-lock made from stainless steel. When the you open the blade, it locks out with an authoritative "SNAP".
Opening the blade is accomplished by rotating out the Blade-Tech V-Hole (I tend to think of it as the arrow-head hole) to push the blade all the way out to the fully-open and locked position. It is easy to do with either hand or, if you're accomplished at manipulating a folding lock blade knife, you can "flick" the knife open if you hold it correctly and snap out your wrist.
On the 5.11 Tactical website it's priced at $49.99. A quick Google search led me to find some priced as low as $30 so perform your due diligence before purchasing. As to how it cuts...
The knife performed well in all of my typical cutting tests. Rope (1/2" kern mantle and some of the ugly yellow plastic crap), twine, string, fishing line (120# test), 1" nylon strap and some pieces of an old canvas carpenter's apron all fell under its edge. Without serrations the plain edge pulls more easily through the nylon and canvass; cutting more smoothly and leaving less tear in the material being cut. Wearing work gloves, the opening-hole / notch is a little difficult to use, but this is alleviated by using the tip of your thumb instead of the pad to push open the knife.
As I look back up at the list of requirements I made for a decent folding knife I found that the Scout Folder met them all. At $30 it's one heck of a bargain. At $49.99 it's a good buy / investment. It is NOT overly-aggressive looking so, for those public-opinion sensitive Chiefs of Police, this one should still be okay. It comes from a manufacturer that has a good reputation in the market and a history with law enforcement.
So if you're in the market for a new folder or if you're looking for a good gift, check out the 5.11 Tactical Scout Folder. My test knife became a gift to a Deputy Sheriff who I know will use it day to day.