Saturday, March 10, 2007

Detent, What a Concept . . .

OK, I broke down and did a little tinkering this afternoon and the result of said tinkering is a pair of conclusions:
  • Ernest Emerson is a really, really remarkable knife designer
  • Every other knife I have looked at suffers in comparison to Emerson knives
It is possible to make other knives look and act like Emerson knives but not one of them comes out of the box with the same capabilities as an Emerson blade and primary among these is the ability to open the knife easily. Almost without exception, every other production knife I've looked at suffers from a over-stong detent that holds the blade in the closed position.

Without exception, every folder I have looked at uses the frame or liner lock as the detent spring, with the exception of Emerson knives that use a separate, smaller "spring" punched out of the other liner to perform the hold-closed action. This allows them to adjust the detent tension separately from the lock tension, a very nice touch.

More than 75% of the other knives I handled were difficult to open because of a very strong lock spring effect and many of the ones that didn't suffer from this problem had equally troubling issues.

I have remediated the detent problem for several of my knives by plugging the detent hole drilled in the blade with lead so the detent doesn't engage as tightly. While effective, I really am annoyed when I have to take something brand new apart and tinker with it to make it work properly.

I would not be surprised to discover that many of the knife manufacturers design their knives this way on purpose to avoid any potential liability issues rising from self defense use or perhaps it accommodates manufacturing tolerances to reduce the rejection rate.

All I do know is that the Emerson "top-hat" and the lighter detent make an Emerson one of the easiest knives to open that you can find without spending half a month's rent.

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