Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's In My Pocket? #3: Heckler & Koch HK34

When deciding which folding knife I'm going to shove into my pocket on a given day — and sometimes, at various times during the day — I have to consider several factors.

If I'm wearing close-fitting slacks (because, you know, the ladies are all about the booty), I'll choose a knife with a narrow profile, thus avoiding an unsightly bulge. (Ahem.) If it's a dressier occasion, I'll pick a knife that looks classy and professional — a "gentleman's knife," in cutlery parlance — should I need to use it in the presence of others. Often, I'll choose a blade profile based on anticipated tasks for the day (lots of mail or packages to open? cutting cardboard for shipping?). Sometimes, I just like the way a certain piece feels in my hand at the moment.

But when I want a knife that I can play with should I get bored — because my attention span is about as long as Nicole Richie's skirt, and as elusive as her appetite — I strap on my HK34.

Although it bears the logo and brand name of the German firearms giant Heckler & Koch, the HK34 is an all-American knife, manufactured in Oregon by Benchmade. Engineered by cutlery designer Mike Snody, the HK34 bears the stylistic hallmarks of its creator, including a drop point blade, a pronounced finger ridge, and a relatively beefy profile. It's built for heavy-duty use. Not that I beat it up much, given my customarily sedate activities, but my HK34 is probably one of the toughest knives I own. It's a masterfully constructed tool.

But that's not why it's so cool.

The HK34 incorporates Benchmade's exclusive AXIS locking mechanism. The blade pivots around a hefty steel axle, which braces and locks the blade into place when the knife is open. An AXIS lock is practically impossible to dislodge in the course of use — you could chip a hole into a brick wall with it, and not compromise the stability of the lock. (You'd trash the blade, of course, but at least the knife wouldn't fold up in your hand.) When locked, an AXIS-equipped Benchmade is the closest thing to a fixed blade that you can find in a folding knife.

When slid back into the open position, however, the AXIS lock allows the blade to pivot freely in a semi-circular motion, almost like the swing of a butterfly knife or balisong (the product that made Benchmade famous). With a little practice — and I've had ample practice — you can flip the blade open as quickly as you could trigger a mechanically assisted knife. (Which, as we all know, is illegal to carry in this jurisdiction if the blade is two inches or more in length. Just so we're clear on that.)

Its quick-draw quality, coupled with its bank-vault lock-up stability, is what makes the HK34 "fun to drive." It's a real workhorse, too — as durable as all get-out. Plus, it's sleek enough in appearance that I can use it almost anywhere without panicking the natives. It's not the most ergonomic knife I own — even with the rubberized scales, it feels ever so slightly less comfortable in hand than some of my other everyday-carry pieces — but its positives far outweigh this one minor quibble.

When in doubt, whip that HK34 out.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Scott Roche offered these pearls of wisdom...

Oooooh pretty.

6:20 AM  
Blogger landileigh offered these pearls of wisdom...

hey michael, i wanna get one of those for chuck for his birthday. where did you get yours? send me an email at my first name at yahoo dot com! thanks! and i need to get to RP to visit you someday and have lunch. much love and prayers for KJ!

11:09 PM  

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