Sunday, September 20, 2009

Boker/Los Banos G4 Review

Chad Los Banos. If you're into knives, and you don't know that name, then you've obviously been living under a rock for the last 3 years or so.
I believe he started out with a little number for Spyderco called the Lava. It did fairly well, but for some reason, he and Spyderco parted ways. Fortunately for the rest of us knife enthusiasts, some enterprising soul at Boker saw potential in Mr. Los Banos' next project.
A little number called the Sub-Com. To say that this design took off would be a major understatement. Numerous variations later of that model, along with about a half a dozen other designs (assorted folders and fixed blades), bring us to the point of this exercise in Cutlery Evaluations.
The G4!
I received my copy of this hot little number a little over a week ago, and I've been carrying it ever since.
First things first. For a folder, this is fairly large knife. The official specifications indicate that the handle is a full 5", and the blade is 3 7/8". Put it together and yes, the knife has an official OAL of 8 7/8". However, being the obsessive sort, not to mention the fact that I do engineering work and technical drafting for a living, I broke out the old ruler and checked for myself.
Boker was a tad off, but not by much. The handle length was spot on, but the blade was a whole 1/16" of an inch short!
I did mention that I was the obsessive sort didn't I?
I can assure you that the missing 1/16" has absolutely no negative effect on the knifes' cutting ability. The blade is made of 440C ( my personal favorite) and has a black coating on it as what I can only assume is an additional rust inhibitor. The blade shape is probably the most eye-catching fact about this knife from an aesthetic point of view. It is a modified Wharncliff. I say modified because on a typical wharncliff, the back, or spine if you will, of the blade normally drops downward to the point in a gentle arc.
Not so with the G4.
The spine on the G4 drops downward from the handle in a straight line for a distance of 2 3/4" at an angle of about (?) degrees, and then drops very abruptly downwards from a point 3/4" from the tip at about 45 degrees. The blade edge comes straight out from the handle in typical Wharncliff style, and where the edge and the spine drops down to meet it forms an acute angle that produces an amazingly sharp, strong point. It's sort of like an offset dagger point.
OK, now it's fun stuff and testing time.
I've carried and used this knife for just over a week now, and to be blunt, I'm very happy with it. I've used it around the office to open boxes, trim newspaper articles, open packaging, that sort of thing. Around the house, I've used it for yardwork, opening mail, and in the kitchen for cutting meat, and slicing and dicing assorted vegetables and potatoes. About the only thing it didn't do well was slice tomatoes. The blade was just a wee bit too thick.
For social work, I tested it on my "usual suspects". Wood, my old training dummy, through heavy rope and synthetic cord, and on my favorite testing device, my faithful old army surplus heavy canvas duffel bag that I keep filled with old carpet and assorted remnants of clothing such as jeans, shirts, and the odd leather vest or two.
Let me tell you, for slashing/slicing and hacking, the wharncliff style blade is very underrated. The potential damage you can do with this type of blade has to be seen to be believed.
As for thrusts/stabs, I drove this knife into 2" thick pressue-treated lumber, and got almost a full 1" penetration without damaging the blade. The lock held up like a champ. On the duffel bag test, I got full penetration to the hilt though the canvas and a section of rolled up rug that was inside.
The odddly offset point that I mentioned above goes right in with no effort.
When I first saw the knife, I was little disappointed to see a liner lock. It's not my favorite style of lock on a folder. I was also concerned at how much it protruded from the top of the handle. However, as I examined it I wound up deciding that my concerns were unfounded. The liner that seves as the lock, sits directly on the center line of the back of the blade and locks ups tight and solid. I also tried to to twist the blade with one hand while gripping the handle and twisting it in the opposite direction with my other hand. I wanted to see if rotational stress with my finger on the protruding portion of the lock would cause it to slide out of p[osition and allow the blade to close. I have seen this happen on other knives.
I'm very happy to report that it did not happen with this Boker. The lock remained in position and the blade stayed where it belonged. I even broke down and did a test that I normally don't do because I think that it's excessive, and not reflective of a real world situation, but I decided to try it anyway.
I gave the G4 a spinewhack test. I did it several times, and the lock hel d with no adverse effects at all.
I was impressed!
Now, they call this knife the G4 because the clip can be positioned for tip-up, tip-down, left or right side carry.
In other words, G4, 4 Grips. The knife comes with a small L- shaped tool that allows you to back out the three screws that secure the pocket clip to the handle. It also allows you to adjust the tension on the pivot pin so that you determine how much effort you want to use to deploy the blade.
The handle is flat, and made up of two slabs of G10 synthetic over a two stainless steel liners. At first glance I thought that the handle would be a little slippery. However I was pleasantly surprised when I wrapped my grubby little hands around the handle and found that the stippling that was molded into the G10 slabs, in conjunction with the three elliptical shaped grooves that were cut into each side of the handle provided a secure grip that left me little short of amazed. Even when I was test the knife for it's thrusting abilities, I felt little or no slippage, even on the pressure treated lumber.
At 5.4 ozs. this is a moderately heavy folder. However despite ithe weight, the flat shape allows it to ride quite comfortably in the pocket of a pair of jeans, even when sitting or bending. The weight distribution is handle heavy which allows the knife to move quickly in the hand. The knife is opened by way of a dual thumbstud that projects out from the blade more than adequately to allow for a positive contact with your thumb.
As amatter of fact, if there is one thing about the knife that I would change, it would be to actually eithe make the studs a litle smaller, or else just put in a single thumbstud with a torxscrew that would allow you to place the stud on whichever side of the blade you prefer depending on whether you are left or right handed.
In closing this review, I would just like to say that Chad Los Banos has once again shown that he knows how to design a knife that is meant to be used, and not just looked at and admired in the comfort of your home. I would also like to say Boker Knives has succeeded in executing this design for sale and distribution. The continuing improvements in their products over the last few years has been phenomonal.
I look forward to many more collaborations between Boker and Mr Los Banos.
The Boker/Los Banos G4 has an MSRP of $39.95. However if you shop around on the internet, youshould be able to pick it up for somewhere between $27.00 and $30.00.
Take my word for it, whether for EDC, camping, general use, or for defending yourself, the G4 is worth every penny.

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