EDC Recommendations 2014: Price No Object
Tony Sculimbrene 10.01.14
This installment is purely for fun, with no upper limit, so you can get whatever you want. And let me be clear: if you want to spend an insane amount of money on a knife and a flashlight, there are many makers willing to accommodate your financial imprudence. The other thing to bear in mind is that while some knives can be investments, it’s too hard to predict which ones. You’d be better off putting money into real investments: mutual funds, CDs, and the like. But they aren’t fun to carry.
Here are my choices for this category:
Knife: Triple Aught Design Fellhoelter Compact Dauntless
Light: SPY 007
Unlike so many customs out there, the Dauntless line has tasteful lines and materials. These aren’t blingy or showy. They actually work. And because of the Dauntless idea, they are made by only the very best custom makers working in the modern style. Also, given the wide range of makers, there is probably a custom Dauntless for everyone. If you like the stubby and chunky look of a Burch, there is a flipping Burch Dauntless. If you like the tacticool look of a Hinderer or Strider, both made Dauntlesses.
These knives are exceptionally expensive and very hard to find (only the Striders and Hinderers seem to be made in large numbers), but the muted colors, solid ergonomics, and confident appearance make the hunt worth the effort.
As for the light, the SPY 007 is my grail of grails. This is a light I have pined after since I first saw in on CPF. Perhaps it was because it came out right around the time I got bit by the flashlight bug, but whatever the reason it has been the piece of gear I craved the most.
But at $1,000 new and even more for gunner grip models, it was excessively expensive. Then I got the chance to pick one up in trade. It was worth the wait and lived up to every expectation. It’s never going to be a good value, but what you get is incredible. The form factor is unique, the performance is great, and the UI is perfect. The fact that you can program the entire thing without the need for a computer is pretty sweet too. Mine just happened to have a Nichia 219 emitter in it, making it the perfectest of perfect lights for me.
If you want to buy a knife as an investment, it seems to be there are a few that stand out, but only one that is really a good idea to purchase: a Bob Loveless knife. He didn’t make anything I’d EDC, but his knives seem to not just keep their value but appreciate consistently over time.
I have handled a few Loveless knives and they are all wonderful. Pick one up and you will instantly know why they are so expensive. They are, simply put, perfect. Balanced, ergonomic, and wonderfully finished, Lovelesses are the creme de la creme of the knife world.
Folders are more my speed, though, and Ron Lake and Michael Walker make pieces that can hang with a Loveless, price wise. I have seen but never handled a Lake.
The asking price was $14,000 so the only person handling it was the person buying it. But it looked quite nice.
I have never seen a Michael Walker in person, but I have talked to folks that own them, including one person in particular that probably has one of the largest collections in the world. When people offer you cars in exchange for your knife, you know you have a prize. Some of the more ostentatious Lakes and Walkers don’t appeal to me, but their more basic models are just lovely.
I’d also never refuse a Bose folder, made by either man. I have seen and handled a Reese Bose, which was something of a Texas Toothpick, and it was magnificent. It was also the only knife in this article that was being hard used at the time. The smooth action and perfect grind were something of a marvel. If I had a choice, I’d love a single bladed Lanny’s Clip or a dual bladed Peanut.
Alas, they are not for us mere mortals. Tony Bose, the elder of the Bose men, has long stopped taking orders. His book is closed permanently.
If I were forced to buy a modern knife, price no object, there would be a few contenders. I really like the work of Filipe De Coene. He does primarily friction folders, but his locking folders carry over that purity and elegance and add the convenience of a locking blade.
Jens Anso’s work has always fascinated me. His ability to completely rethink how a knife should work is impressive, as are the original lines he includes. I’d really like a custom Zulu, as the Spyderco production collab was damn good. I also wouldn’t say no to a Millenium flipper of his.
Tom Mayo’s TnT series is appealing, and I’d really like a small version with a few stately holes in the handle. Brad Southard’s Downing folder, the one with a full belly and not a hawk bill, is a great custom knife. It looks a lot like the Dragonfly, but runs a framelock and includes some awesome detail work like texturing inside the thumb hole.
Finally, if I were forced to buy a knife just for its flipping ability, I’d buy a Tim Gaylean custom. Tim now works in-house at KAI USA, but the custom stuff of his that is out there is just superb. Nothing I have handled has the same flipping action–nothing. More than any other blade, a Gaylean custom reminds me of why customs are still something set apart, even in a world of increasing technical skill in production blades.
One last knife–I’ll probably eventually get a Rockstead.
There aren’t too many $1,000 production knives, but these are blades that leverage the very best of the production process and marry it with the time and attention of a custom build. The immaculate polish on the blade speaks of high tech processes not available to custom makers, and the individual Rockwell testing on each knife speaks to the attention to detail of a custom. For my money, the Hizen is where it’s at. The gleaming convex ground 3 inch blade looks too good to pass up.
Flashlights are a different story. There aren’t too many folks that play north of $500. The aforementioned SPY 007 has an even pricier, but more fragile relative, the Tri-V and Tri-V II. Both are refinements on the original SPY shape, but with different emitters. There is the normal LED, a Hi CRI LED, and a flood LED. Three emitters, one for each task a light is asked to perform. This is a zero compromise design. It does everything you could ask a light to do.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the work of Photon Fanatic. He makes genuinely custom, bespoke lights. Some of his more exotic stuff is just mind blowing, such as this piece with blued titanium damascus.
He is taking the flashlight to a level no one else is, and if you have the money he can do what ever you want done. Oh, and just in case that didn’t blow your mind, Photon Fanatic recently made a light from Tungsten–yep, virtually impossible to melt, pain in the ass, Tungsten. He’s that awesome.
Given the title, you’d think that would be the end of the recommendation series, but I have one last piece in this series, a sort of best of things not mentioned. We don’t want any cool stuff to fall through the cracks, especially with the holidays coming up.