If I had to choose my all time favourite type of knives for general use it would be a smooth flipping folder. There is something really pleasing as the blade deploys with a with a graceful SNICK! The design seems simple yet in practice a truly smooth and robust flipper requires careful design and precise engineering.
The Flipper is a term generally used to describe knives which open rapidly via a lever on the spine of the blade. The angle of the lever, retention of the blade and smoothness of the action are all vital to perfect function. Finger pressure on the lever should overcome blade retention generating enough force to open the blade and lock. Too much detent strength and the action becomes uncomfortable or difficult. To little and it will not produce enough momentum to lock the blade out.
In my mind a good flipper should work without any technique or major effort on the users part. I have tested quite a few flipper knives which didn’t meet that expectation. I never bad mouth a specific product here, they just do not make it to an article. Here are two of my favourite flippers from 2017 which definitely are worthy of a write up.
Maserin have been making knives for over 50 years in Maniago, Italy. I own a couple myself and hear nothing but good things from other owners. I keep my eye on Maserins releases and when I saw the Pitbull I just had to try it out. A really beefy looking knife which features stainless thrust bearings. This was a knife that I really hoped would give silky smooth function because I already loved the aesthetics.
It is a nice surprise to knives which comes with unexpected extras. The Pitbull includes a sturdy webbing pouch and a tool for removing the pocket clip. Nicely done Maserin! The frame of the Pitbull is made of thick anodized Aluminium which has some nice chunky grooves machined into it. When you hold the Pitbull it feels wonderfully solid and robust in the hand. The beefy feel and the 5.7oz weight lend confidence to the glass breaker being an effective addition. The breaker tip screws in and holds the deep carry pocket clip securely in place.
I really like the clip, holds firmly and doesn’t catch on clothing. Considering the overall size of the Pitbull it rides happily in the hip pocket (tip up) and can be altered to left or right side carry as desired. The frame is held together with three chunky allen bolts per side. A lanyard hole sits between the two rear bolts which is always a welcome edition. Everything is very nicely machined and feels rock solid. The locking mechanism is a liner lock which also provides the detent. It does a great job of both. Lockout is solid with no movement on the blade at all.
This is where I was really impressed. Straight away the blade oozes quality. The steel is Bohler M390 which is known as a “super steel”. M390 has excellent edge retention and can be sharpened to the type of edge which splits hairs by being near them. It is also incredibly resilient to corrosion. The downside (all blade steels are a trade off), is the price (not cheap) and the hardness which means you need to be a little bit skilled with a blade sharpener or stone.
You will struggle to put a good edge on M390 unless you have the right kit. The drop point blade is no featherweight and measures 0.14″ at the spine. This is a knife capable of some hard use. The blade is 3.75″ in length which for me is just about perfect for EDC. Large knives can seem cool until you have to carry them all the time but the Pitbull seemed to pocket just fine. The Stonewash finish is really nice and gives the blade a very high end look and feel. The blade has a small hole drilled through it and a notch taken out of the spine next to the handle. There is another hole drilled through the flipper itself. I have no official word on what these are for. Maybe to lash the Pitbull to a stick as a makeshift spear?
I have been rotating the Pitbull in my work EDC for the last few months. One thing is for sure the action on this flipper is the smoothest I have ever seen. You can flick it lightly in any orientation and the blade swings open and locks in place. If you push the liner lock across and hold the Pitbull spine up then the blade will close smoothly with just gravity. Most flippers I have used need a bit of finger pressure to close them.
In terms of cutting performance I couldn’t ask for more. The blade was hair shaving sharp upon arrival. It has been used from box cutting through to bushcraft work and processing kindling. I have given it a couple of touch ups with a Lansky Pro and fine stone. As mentioned previously the steel takes a little bit of working to get it back to the superfine edge it started with but is no big deal if you know what your doing.
The Tiburon sits at a much more affordable price point than the Pitbull. Despite the lower price the Tiburon really surprised me with some great features and quality. Tekut are a relatively new name in the knife world. They are actually a division of Nextorch/Nextool who I am sure most of you are aware of.
The Tiburon is another liner lock. Just like the Pitbull the blade is deployed via a flipper. First impressions are that the quality is high. The liner is made from stainless steel and has sand coloured G10 scales. The form factor and feel of the knife in hand are excellent. The front finger sits comfortably in the large choil.
The back of the blade has a very well designed thumb ramp with jimping. The Tiburon feels really secure when you hold it and the scales are really tactile. The blade sits tip up. Some specs I have seen said tip down so not sure if they are wrong or if they have a different version. The clip is well constructed and holds the knife securely in the pocket but it cannot be configured to sit on the opposite side. I carry the Tiburon in my left pocket and have no problems at all.
The blade material is Sandvik 12C27 steel. I did think when I received this knife that Tekut would scrimp on blade material to reduce price. Although it isn’t super high end steel it is very good and will be absolutely satisfactory to all but the pickiest users. The blade length is also 3.75″ but looks to be a fraction slimmer than the Pitbull. The finish is a high polish satin which is very pleasing. Form wise the blade is an aggressive drop point featuring a swedge which further enhances the aesthetics.
The Tiburon is a highly functional knife and can certainly take some abuse. I have carried it at work and used it as a beater knife on range days where the weather has been awful. It has held up really well and still looks brand new after a good clean. Sharpening was nice and easy and although lacks the seemingly impossible sharpness attained by the Maserin it can be bought to hair shaving sharp without much skill or effort. The Tiburon retains the edge very nicely and only required light sharpening after working through a huge pile of cardboard packaging I needed to break down.
Comparison and Price reveal
Ok so there is a pretty big price difference here. Maserin are known for making high end blades while Tekut are made by a company that typically resides in the affordable price range. The Tiburon can be found for around $40 while the Maserin Pitbull is coming in around $160. Is the Maserin worth the extra cash? I would say yes if you enjoy a knife with premium materials and feel. The flipper action is ridiculously smooth on the Pitbull.
If you love knives and quality engineering then the smoothness alone will fill your heart with joy! We shouldn’t dismiss the quality and value for money of Tekuts Tiburon. It is still smooth compared to most knives I have handled and the ergonomics are really comfortable. For the price the Tiburon is an absolute steal. If you want an EDC flipper but you do not want to be worrying about losing or damaging an expensive blade then the Tiburon is just what you need. I carry both knives regularly along with my DPX HEST for work EDC. So far I would not hesitate to recommend either option.