Over the years, Boker has turned to a number of custom knifemakers in different areas to create unique additions to its already extensive line. A couple of its recent collaborations, the Gitano and the Solo, have been done with designers Tom Krein from Arkansas and Jens Anso from Denmark.
For those of you who are not familiar with Krein knives, it’s important to note he got his start in the mid-1990s working with the legendary Bob Dozier. Over the last 20 years, Krein has grown his craft and his reputation, but he still looks back on his time with Dozier as life-shaping. Up until 2009, Krein worked as a male nurse full time, and pretty much spent another 40 hours in the shop following his passion of making knives. In his early years, many collector/users would be familiar with his fixed-blade work. But since Krein has started a new chapter making folders, that seems to be his preferred expression. When I asked Krein where he saw himself in five years, he said, “I see myself making folders, but every once in a while when the passion hits me, I’ll make a fixed blade.”
With a closed waiting list and no signs of it opening up for two years, grabbing a Boker collaboration will be your quickest chance to own a Krein design. Not only does the collaboration make it possible to get past a waiting list, we can also sample a maker’s style at prices under those of customs.
Krein welcomes the opportunity to do more collaboration work with Boker, but, for now, I would like to take some time to appreciate his current work, the Gitano. “Gitano,” is the Spanish word for “gypsy.” The overall length of the Gitano is 9.75 inches, including a 4.25-inch blade. Its appearance it is a unique combination of North American and Mediterranean culture.
The handle style is very much like the Mediterranean Navajas-style folders. Characteristically, the handle takes an arched shape, giving it a pistol-style grip hold in the forward position. While trying to do any cutting or detail work, the proportions of the handle are generous enough that I can choke up a bit, bringing myself forward to gain more control. Even while working at the forward part of the handle, the contour allows my fingers to be in a safe position away from the edge. The handle material on the Gitano is a bead-blasted, black G10.
The blade profile on the Gitano is referred to by Boker as a modified clip-point. While Krein traditionally uses 154 CPM on his folders, Boker has chosen to use 440C for the Gitano. When Krein and I were talking about the Gitano the topic of the steel chosen came up. Since the advent of all the newer super steels, many people have turned away from alloys that have been cutting for ages, and they forget how well they perform. Forming the edge of the knife is done by a nice thin hollow grind.
The blade is locked in place by a liner lock system. For opening, the Gitano design uses an ambidextrous thumb-stud system, but the pocket clip itself is not interchangeable.
While using the Gitano, I found that the thumb stud stood out from the scales and that while pushing the knife onto my pocket rim, if the pocket is tight, it catches the thumb stud. When the pocket rim catches the stud, it tends to kick the blade open a bit and you can end up with a small cut in your pocket like the one in mine, so watch out if you tend to have tight pocket openings like on jeans. Boker is using a short pocket-clip but keeping it towards the edge for deep, tip-down carry. Weight wise, at 6.75 ounces the Gitano is light for its size.
I spent time with the knife cutting boxes, insulation and scoring dry wall and found it to be a clean, light design with a comfortable handle and useful blade profile. Krein has put together a unique blend of two culture’s knife designs making the knife attractive to the eye and yet a solid tool.
Boker’s Jens Anso design, the Solo, is a large everyday-carry knife that you can use as a utility knife or a tactical folder. Overall, the knife is 8.63 inches long with a 3.75-inch-long blade. The blade profile is a broad, spear-tip style. To my eyes, the blade style is very similar to traditional Chinese broad, leaf-shaped blades. At the blade’s broadest point it measures 1.25 inches wide, but the center line of the tip follows the center line of the knife, so the tip naturally lines up with center of your grip. Broad, thin blades such as this one have a definite advantage cuts. The subtle curve makes the knife great in a reverse-grip with the edge out. The blade is made from N690BO steel and is hollow ground. It opens with the use of an ambidextrous thumb stud.
The handle is made from aluminum and has a textured dimple grip on one side, and the locking mechanism is a liner lock. Using an open, gentle curve on the Solo’s handle gives the knife a comfortable grip, and because of the pointed shape of the pommel area, you can use it as a non-lethal power multiplier while closed. The lack of contour works to make the knife lively in your hand. To carry the Solo, Boker provides a short, wide pocket clip that is adjustable for either tip-up or tip-down carry.
Anso’s Solo design makes for a full-size EDC that will fill even some of the largest hands, but it is still very maneuverable and easy to work with. I liked the thin edge and the aggressive cutting action of the knife, and even with its width I found it easy to carry. The Solo is a good solid EDC with a good clean outline that isn’t over the top in bling.
Boker has once again proven it is capable of turning in-demand custom designs into extremely well made, reasonably priced production models the average knife user will find great for field use.
For more information, visit http://www.boker.de/us or call 800-835-6433.
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