Friday, 1 October 2010

Unboxing: Boker SubCom F Knife Review

Boker Subcom F [unit of scale .270]

Ahh Subcom. I've been a fan of theses ‘discrete folders’ [AKA ‘small penknives’] for what seems like an age now, but due to the ill thought out BS of UK knife law, locking folders tend to stay in the drawer, so there are always other things to spend the money on.

I needed a dry-bag for a forthcoming trip so I was foraging a forum I frequent for bargains when I noticed I was able to pick this one up, in decent condition, for roughly what I'd have paid in the US of A. Before I knew what was happening it was in the post to me. Opps!

Let the Unboxing commence:
First things first, minimum bid: Any locking folder is judged first on the tolerance of its lock-up. Any play in the blade’s locked position is unacceptable. The Subcom’s lock-up is 100%. Flawless.

Chad Los Banos, the Subcom’s designer, has pulled off the difficult trick of making the ‘littlest big knife’; pocket-able and compact whilst feeling full-sized in the hand. He’s not followed much of the orthodoxy of knife design and as is so often the case the ‘clean sheet’ approach has paid off. The blade is comparatively short, but the cutting edge is comparatively long. The handle is slim but deep, giving the feeling of holding a much bigger shape. Clever stuff.

"either too small or too big, too skinny a blade, and not enough handle to fill the hand." The Subcom series of folders and fixed blades were designed to fill the hand, while remaining small enough to "stay out of your way,"

The Subcom’s blade is AUS8; not the best of the best, but some way up the performance curve from the generic tool steels and lower cost than the super steels. For the price you pay, very good value.

Of all the ways to lock a folding knife, frame-lock is my preferred choice, you get a really solid feeling and the absence of moving parts such as rings or pivots means there is little to wear out or fatigue. Part of the frame is sprung so it locks the blade in the open position. The steel is thinned and heat-treated so it’s flexible enough to be bent out the way letting the blade be folded into the handle. As the blade is opened the sprung section snaps back into the locked position. One of the things that attracted me to the Subcom’s design was the moveable element of the frame is full sized. Quite a few of the production folders use a section of thinner steel as the catch and as a result always seem less satisfying in the hand than the customs, and higher priced production offerings.

Where Boker, the manufacturer, has made a production saving is with the use of Fiber Reinforced Nylon for the ‘scale’ side of the handle, less rigid than G10 or Micarta, it’s had to be stiffened with a thin steel plate, from a manufacturing-to-a-price point of view it’s an intelligent choice and probably a lot of the reason the knife can be such a reasonable price.

In summation: you get about 110% of the design, and about 70% of the build and finish you’d get from a custom folder, for about 10% of the price. Highly recommended. Highly pimpable too… TBC

More soon
Your pal
SBW PS There are more knife reviews in the 'kit' tab at the top of the page, or click HERE for my knife buying guide, you might like it.