One to Watch: Microtech Anax
Tony Sculimbrene 08.11.14
If you like knives you know Microtech. They are the brand for automatic knives. Their Halo and Troodon blades are among the finest autos available. Their Ultratech knives are great and come in a variety of sizes. The UDT knives are very solid blades, but nearly all of their knives are autos.
Autos are interesting, but they are not legal everywhere and they aren’t the most people friendly blades. Until now, there were only a handful of non-auto Microtechs, and many of them were… um… “controversial” (compare for example the Microtech Matrix to the Zero Tolerance ZT0777).
Blade Show, however, saw the debut of an amazing, new, and innovative knife from Microtech, and it wasn’t an auto. Instead, the Microtech Anax is an integral knife, something rarely seen in the production world.
Even in the custom world, because of how hard they are to make, integrals are rare. Scott Cook’s Lochsa and Peter Rassenti’s Snafu are among the few custom integrals. Only Lionsteel has successfully pulled off the integral in the production world.
The Anax has thus far been released only as a Marfione custom through Microtech (Anthony Marfione is the owner and lead designer for Microtech), and it comes in two variations–an Elmax blade and a damascus blade. Both knives come with spectacular packaging and authenticity information. Both have a deep fuller that also operates as a deployment method. And both come with an odd aircraft cable lanyard. But the star of the show is clearly the integral design.
Starting with a solid block of titanium, the knife maker carves out the channel for the blade to lay in and in this case they also cut out the lock bar. The Anax takes this a step further and adds a replaceable steel insert in the lockbar. Once all of this carving is finished, the pivot and washers are added in what has to be the knife equivalent of building a ship in the bottle. The main benefit of the integral design is twofold: it reduces the number of parts and chances for problems, and it increases the knife’s structural integrity and rigidity.
The Anax isn’t just a new design from Microtech. It also put Microtech in a different place in the market. The price for the full custom Anax at BLADE was around $700 for the Elmax version, approximately a third the price of typical Marfione custom knives (almost all of which are or become production folders). The signal is clear: when the Anax goes into production it will, undoubtedly, be competitively priced in the market.
Lionsteel’s offerings, especially in aluminum, are quite affordable (in the $150 range), so it will be interesting to see where the production Anax lands. A titanium Anax in the $200-$300 range would match up quite favorably with the Lionsteel integrals and be less than any Microtech manual knife with titanium handles. It might also push some of the other American knife companies to adopt newer higher end construction methods. Thus far on Lionsteel has made production integrals. It would be nice to see Benchmade, ZT, or Spyderco leverage their technology to do the same. Microtech is leading the way, but if the price is right, they might just show other companies there is money to be made in the integral production knife market.