*Note: I don't know why the pics wont load where I want them in the text, nor why one was at the top right here, then disappeared after I loaded a second pic. But I'm done fighting this stupid thing. The pics that would load are at the bottom at this moment, who knows what you're actually seeing?
Anyone who has read a post of mine will know I can't go two paragraphs w/o mentioning the two knife shops in my local area, BladeHQ and BladeOps. I know sometimes I sound like a shill for them (and, ahem, stand by on that). But as I've mentioned before, both places, and esp BladeOps, to whom I'm close enough to walk in fair weather, have treated me like royalty.
Their employees and occasionally even owners have helped me out whenever I've needed it, and I've never been made to feel foolish for my ignorance as on a topic. Indeed, if not for those two shops and the great people in them, and those people's enthusiasm for knives and for knowledge about all knife-related things, I wouldn't be here typing this. Which would make my accountant happy, I'm sure, but...oh wait, never mind. I forgot accountants are incapable of joy or happiness (only kidding! Thank you Don and all the other bean-counters who protect people like me from ourselves).
So with my biases exposed and my unreliability as an objective observer established, I'd like to recommend a cpl knives, very different as you can see, but both better than I expected, and both exclusives. Btw, if you're unfamiliar with the term "exclusive" as it describes a knife, here is the explanation, as quoted from the paperwork included in the box of an exclusive Spyderco model: "an exclusive is a special configuration of a model that is produced for a single wholesale customer or distributor and...commercially available only through them."
First up, the little knife is a Boker Kalishnakov 74 "sub-auto", as they're called [additional pic below]. I'm not sure if other shops have the sub-auto size; BladeOps is the only one I've seen. But in the past theyve just had standard drop-point blades. The "cleaver" style blade, as they call it, is new. And frankly, that blade (I'd call it a sheep's foot, but whatever) converts what was basically a novelty knife into something really useful. The drop-point blade, which was 1 15/16" long, just like the cleaver, was and is too small for the shape--too easy to slip off the material being cut, which is a dangerous lose of control with a short handled knife like that. But the cleaver is much safer and easier to handle: the flat cutting edge, lack of point, and bulge/jumping above the hole in the blade--the hole cannot be used to deploy, btw; it's not a double-action auto--combine to provide a ton of control given the size. I'm frankly amazed how useful I've found this knife over the past cpl weeks, and at $33.00 w/ free shipping to anywhere in the continental US, as w/ any BladeOps order, it's a great deal. Oh, and don't fear the infamous Boker QC--these are converted by a third party, and checked by BladeOps before they ship. I've never heard of any problem with Kalishnikov auto that wasnt fixed with a few adjustments to the pivot screw, and these sub autos are the most tightly built, reliable variety of all the Kalishnikovs.
Hell, if you're really nervous hit me up and I'll go to the shop, look over one on your behalf, then have BladeOps send you that actual knife. Here's the webpage: https://www.bladeops.com/Boker-Sub-Kalashnikov-Cleaver-Auto-Knife-1-95-Sa-p/bokkals405.htm.
And they have a black bladed one, if you prefer.
The big guy is the new BladeHQ exclusive kwaiken [additional pics below]. I wasnt sure if I'd like it when I saw the pics, but then I actually handled one and fell in love. The pics dont do it justice--it's gorgeous. Brass bolsters and backspacer, micarta scales, stonewashed blade; opens and locks up like a dream thanks to its actual, honest-to-god, IKBS system (not just a knock-off, similar system being called "IKBS"). If you've never owned a kwaiken, make this one your first. If you have then I'll give one warning: this model is heavier than any other I've felt, and of course it is because of all that brass. But it's also the sturdiest, and best-looking, I think. And the extra weight is a positive to some people; either way, it's not a huge difference. Cost is $139.99 and gets you free US shipping, as w/ any order > $99. Hurry on this one, it's a limited number, one time run (at least for the immediate future), so when they're gone they're gone. I'll forgo any more details, but I'd you want some, check out the first review entitled "Different is Good" on the knife's info/order page on the BladeaHQ website:
That review pretty much sums up my perspective too. Speaking of reviews, I see that the two most recent said their knives had "gritty action". I hope they contacted BladeHQ about that, because an IKBS deployed blade should never be "gritty", and that tells me something is wrong. And assuming the issue wasnt actually caused by the new owners somehow, BladeHQ will repair, replace, recredit, refund, mail the knife back to the manufacturer, or whatever is most appropriate, considering the circumstances. They have a 60 day refund policy on any knife still in new condition, but as is true of any reputable seller, if you receive a knife that's defective out of the box,they will correct the situation one way or another. But you have to tell them ASAP, and of course, dont use the broken knife.
So that's my sales pitch, which I gave mostly because I have LOVED these knives so far, and partly to supoort two businesses that richly deserve it. So go buy something why don't you, ya cheap bastid.