The Jake Hoback Knives Sumo has beautiful lines and a functional form.

I will admit right off the bat, the Sumo from Jake Hoback Knives is geared more toward high-end knife users. It is not the knife you would purchase as a first knife or something you would grab to beat up on the job site. However, having used Hoback knives for years, I can attest that it’ll stand up to whatever you throw at it.

The Jake Hoback Knives Sumo

Jake Hoback Knives is known for really creative and collectible designs with high-end hard-use materials. And the Sumo is no different. The milled titanium frame features an ergonomic design with beautiful chamfering around its extremities for a comfortable fit. Likewise, a form following milled pocket runs along either side of the frame, adding to the aesthetics. In addition, milled pockets inside the frame slabs help reduce the weight.

The Jake Hoback Knives Sumo strikes a formidable stance.

The 3.25-inch blade is constructed of CPM-20CV stainless steel which is a super-premium steel known for its excellent wear and corrosion resistance. In addition, it balances the wear and corrosion resistance with good toughness, which is not typical for other steels high in corrosion and wear resistance. Although CPM-20CV can be quite difficult to sharpen, it has excellent edge retention, and you won’t need to sharpen it often.

The Sumo features a reverse tanto blade profile with a flat grind, providing a very keen edge. An aggressive swedge adorns the tip, adding to its aggressive penetration. Just forward of the ricasso is an aggressively defined fuller that runs approximately three-quarters the length of the blade.

The Sumo from Jake Hoback Knives features the company’s first button lock.

The Sumo is the first button lock to come from Jake Hoback Knives and it provides a very solid lockup. Pivot thrust bearings bring the blade smoothly into full lockup, at its full 7.25-inch overall length.

Almost all of the hardware on the Sumo is constructed of anodized titanium and is available in different colors. For testing, I received the blue anodized finish. Included in the hardware are a 3D organic backspacer with jimping along the spine, a geometric thumb stud, pivot covers with the presentation side featuring a beehive pattern, and the 3D milled pocket clip. The pocket clip also holds the Sumo tight in the pocket and rides high for a solid purchase while drawing.

The spine on the back spacer features jimping that rises ever so slightly out of the frame.

Opening the Sumo

Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of the Sumo is the multiple opening methods. They were all by design.

First is the thumb stud, which is pretty standard, although the geometric thumb stud is not a typical thumb stud design. Next is a small, hidden flipper. Although it’s a little hard to get inertia with it, a slight flick of the wrist helps it on its way. Also, depressing the button lock allows the blade to freely glide from its resting place and snap open.

Additionally, the defined fuller allows for flicking the blade open with the middle finger, or rolling it open with the thumb. Also, the geometric shape of the thumb stud acts almost like the Wave Feature on Emerson knives. As a result, you can force it to catch the pant pocket during the draw and it will open as it clears the pocket. Finally, I am able to open it in forward and reverse grips using inertial opening. It takes practice but is very functional.

All in all, I count eight different ways to bring the blade to bear.


Although it’s clear that the Sumo is a work of art, it is also a workhorse, built for utility. But because it is a high-end, expensive knife I didn’t perform any of my brutal hard use tests. Instead, I opted to keep it to typical daily EDC-type chores. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a knife you would want to take to the construction site. Although you could, and it would perform any task you ask of it, you wouldn’t want to.

To start, I pulled out some half-inch climbing rope I often use for tests like this. I was able to easily slice off a series of small pieces from the rope with no resistance. I then moved on to some thick leather stock I have leftover from an old project. The Sumo sliced off thin strips, straight and clean. There was no snagging or tearing of any kind.

This half inch climbing rope sliced cleanly with the Jake Hoback Sumo.

Next is a little tougher test, cutting a heavy-duty industrial zip tie. This is a very thick, very robust plastic tie and the Sumo made short work of it. When I was done with this, I took a look at the edge and there was no dulling or deformation. The edge was as sharp as when I pulled it out of the box.

This was a really heavy-duty industrial zip tie and the Sumo cut it easily with no signs of dulling or deformation.

Another test I really like is the heavy-duty nylon military gun belt. They are very thick and can be hard to cut cleanly, due to the fibrous nature of the weave. However, the Sumo glided right through with no issues. I think this was the cleanest that any knife has performed this test for me.

I was really impressed with how easily the Jake Hoback Sumo glided right through this heavy-duty military nylon gun belt.

Final Edge Test and Observation

Finally, I cut up some corrugated cardboard to add one final test and then check the edge retention. The Sumo made short work of the cardboard and was ready for more. To finish, I tore a page from a phone book and sliced it into pieces. It didn’t catch or tear at all. The Sumo was still very sharp, with no dulling, rolling, or edge deformation.

Even after all testing, I was able to get smooth, clean slices on this cardboard and phone book page.

One thing that I did notice during use is the shape of the pocket clip. Although the aesthetics are amazing and it holds in the pocket very tightly, it was a little uncomfortable. During moderate EDC use, there were no issues. However, due to the upswept design at the end of the clip, it was biting into my hand while bearing down on tougher subject material.

With that said, it only happened while really bearing down and was not noticeable during typical daily use.

Straight to the Point

I have been using Jake Hoback Knives for years and am a fan. Having had the opportunity to spend some time and speak with him, it is clear that he knows steel. When it comes to metallurgy, he is a bit of a mad genius. That, coupled with his incredible talent for design and innovation, makes his knives the stuff of serious knife collectors and users alike.

Although the price point puts the Sumo in more of a collector’s category, the materials more than justify it. Even if you are a casual knife user, chances are you have considered a higher-end knife at some point. Featuring super-premium steel and an almost entirely titanium construction, the Sumo would be a great place to start. It is the nexus where form meets function and does both well.

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The striking flow of the Sumo creates an ergonomic form that fits the hand nicely.

Jake Hoback Knives Sumo Specs

Blade Material: CPM-20CV Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 3.25 inches
Closed Length: 4 inches
Overall Length: 7.325 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.15625 inch
Blade Finish: Silver Beadblast
Handle Material: Milled Titanium
Weight: 4.44 ounces
Handle Thickness: 0.560 inch
Thumb Studs/Pocket Clip/Backspacer/Pivot: Titanium (available in different colors)
MSRP: $550.00

Other Features:

  • Pivot Thrust Bearings
  • Hardened Stainless Steel Button Lock
  • Engineered Internal Lightening Pockets
  • 3D Organic Titanium Backspacer
  • Titanium Thumb Studs and Pivot
  • Flipper
  • 3D Titanium Pocket Clip

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