Fred Perrin Jaws Review

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Jan 25, 1999
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Jaws I, knife by Fred Perrin, design by Laci Szabo, review by Joseph Scibienski

Specs:

Steel: 1075 Carbon steel, differentially hardened
OAL: 8 7/8 in.
Blade length, including choil: 4 7/8 in.
Cutting edge length: 3 3/4 in.
Handle length: 4 in.
Blade thickness: slightly less than 5/32 in.
Scale thickness: about 3/16 to 1/4 in.
Sheathed length: a little over 9 in.
Wt.: just shy of 5 oz., unsheathed, sheath adds very little weight

Initial Impressions:

The knife moves pretty well in the hand. The balance sits right over the middle finger, more or less in the palm of my hand, making the knife quick and responsive, without any feeling of "drag" on my wrist when changing directions with it.

The steel (1075) seems to have these "pores" in it. I’m not sure if they are from forging, or from not removing the initial texture of the steel, or whatever. It might bother someone else, but I’m not normally picky on such things. The handle is brown Micarta, pin and epoxy construction. I normally prefer a black one, but the difference is negligible. The false edge (unsharpened) is not perfectly even, but not so bad so it should affect penetration, I think. The grind bevels are even. The blade is a near mirror polish, with F PERRIN stamped on the left side of the blade, and LACI SZABO DESIGN. scribed on the right side.

There are two sets of file work on the blade spine. The first, I assume is for thumb purchase in saber grip, as it’s simple, and lies exactly under the thumb in that grip. It adds some purchase for cutting and thrusting, but it’s not excessively aggressive on your skin like some other knives. The second set, in between the first set and the false edge, is mostly decorative and is an asymmetrical design. I like it, as I feel it adds character to the knife visually, without affecting the knife’s performance. The blade has a temper line, visible as being slightly "clearer" in polish than the rest of the blade. If looked at under visible light, it stands out a significant deal more than under a lightbulb.

The knife came moderately sharp, with an even, smooth polished bevel. It took off a few arm hairs, but didn’t truly shave. The knife’s corners and edges are nice and smooth, melted almost, with the exception of the pointy butt or pommel, and the edge (of course).

The sheath is a kydex affair, with a lanyard hole, closed by brass fasteners, unevenly spaced. It holds the knife relatively tightly. There is a leather loop that slides onto the sheath in myriad ways, so as to offer as many carry options as possible. The sheath doesn’t seem to be as nicely made as what I’m accustomed to. Time will tell whether it performs as well.

The vision for this knife, I believe, is an urban self-defense knife, with secondary utility applications, that can be carried every day, either concealed or not. Since it’s not truly wise or convenient for me to go out and get into a fight with it, the testing will be of a more utilitarian nature, with some drills, and simulations done to partially gauge how it would do in a confrontation, assuming the user does his or her part.

Initial testing:

I’ve had it for a few days now, and the blade opens envelopes, and slices through cardboard boxes quite well, about comparable to a Spyderco Endura. The handle/choil design is more comfortable than I had originally believed for utility work. The force of using the knife is fairly evenly distributed through the hand(my hand at least)when doing powerful cuts.

The sheath is truly multi-purpose. With a little ingenuity, and a length of paracord, I’ve carried the blade in literally dozens of ways. However, I’ve settled on a forward IWB for most of my carry time, augmented by behind the strong hip IWB and cross-draw for specific occasions. One thing noticed, that may not be a problem for those of a thicker build, was that the butt of the knife would occasionally poke me in my abdomen when quickly leaning over.

Kitchen Use:

The Jaws has been used as frequently in the kitchen as possible, and performed relatively well. it sectioned and chopped several cucumbers, onions, carrots, and kiwis quite well, in addition to the occasional apple. At times, it was a bit tough to push the blade through certain materials, as the blade is quite a bit thicker than your average kitchen knife. Although the lack of belly precluded an easy rocking motion for chopping up vegetables, this was offset by the fact that I could, using a pinch-grip, get the entire edge into contact with the cutting board.

Defensive Testing:

Defensive testing consisted of corrugated cardboard sheets hanging suspended on string from the rafters of my basement. It takes a relatively sharp and thin blade to puncture and slash this when all that’s holding it in place is the weight of the cardboard. My first tests with saber and hammer grip were about what I would expect with a defensive knife, with medium size slashes, more than small cuts, but not laying open the cardboard, either. Early thrust results were mediocre at best, with the blade only sinking in up to it’s false edge. I then started to look at my hand positioning, and tilted my hand up a little to account for the blade shape, and found that the results were a little better. I found the blade to thrust best in foil grip, with the thumb parallel to the blade. In this grip, the blade sank in easily up to my index finger.

It was when I switched to reverse grip that the knife began to come into it’s own. Thrusts penetrated further, both due to more power, and the natural cant of the wrist in this grip. I discovered also that this blade shape could cut in a different way when desired. When held in an icepick grip, and powered by aggressive footwork, and rotation of the hips/torso, the tip would bite into the test medium, and slash/tear its way out with wide, wicked cuts. the best way to describe it would be to think of it as a "shearing" movement of the body, and using a strong movement to whip the tip into the target, rather than placing it there, and drawing it back, in a traditional cut.

I started presentations out of the sheath, working slowly and cautiously as one should at first with a new blade, and upping the speed as I became accustomed to the feel of things. I think the sheath is a good compromise between speed and retention. I held the knife upside down, sheathed, and shook it as hard as I could, and could not get the blade to fall out. However, undue force is not needed to pull out the knife. The blade drew quite easily and naturally, especially in reverse grip, making this an ideal choice for systems similar to James Keating’s Drawpoint. Held correctly, the point was in line for picking and raking, a good feature for those who prefer reverse grip. The handle was secure in my hand during dozens of presentations into thrusts and slashes, and I didn’t have any problems with grip.

Part of a defensive knife often overlooked is the butt, or pommel. The pommel of the Jaws is small, and abrupt, ending almost in a point. It easily created large holes in cardboard, and even fared well against some wood boards, causing significant dents. Despite the tapered shape of the handle, so long as I held on tightly, I experienced no problems with my hand slipping.

Next, I went to a dummy that consisted of an old pair of jeans, padded with mostly old T-shirts, reinforced with a thick wooden dowel through each leg. While the blade thrust ably, I found that cuts achieved very little depth against the heavy denim. Puzzled, I theorized that the acids from the foods in the kitchen tests, along with the significant amount of cardboard that this knife had cut its way through in the past week or so, had taken it’s toll on the edge. Also, as noted before, the edge was very smooth, which is probably why it did not "bite" into the fabric as I’m accustomed to.

Deciding it was time for a resharpening, I did just that, lowering the edge angle a little, and making it a bit coarser with a 600 grit (red) DMT stone. It cut much better on the test dummy now, biting in and tearing the material apart.

Outdoors use:

Being one who spends a significant amount of time outdoors, I wanted to see if the Jaws could pull it’s own weight in the woods. I started by collecting some wood for whittling tests. Now, no knife this small will ever win any awards for chopping, but with a lanyard through the handle, and around my wrist, and the knife in an extended reach grip, I found that I could chop some thin branches if I took the time. However, after a couple of these, I became frustrated, and decided to see how much abuse this little knife could take. I would stick the blade into the branch I wanted with the aforementioned technique, and then stomp the blade back until the branch gave way. I cringed after a few very hard blows, but continued through a few more branches. Once I was finished, I looked at the blade. A few minor scratches, some tree gunk that would need to be washed off later, and a little bit of a bent edge (a little under a cm), but the blade emerged without any significant damage, including edge chipping. I sat down and began whittling wood, making some sticks into tent stakes, others into piles of fuzz for fire fire-starting. The blade did moderately well, though I am accustomed to using very thin knives for whittling and carving. The edge had begun to dull some, but not so significantly that I couldn’t whip the blade through some nearby reedy plants, severing the stalks cleanly.

I’ve carried the blade as much as possible for a little over a month at this point, and recognize the handiness of having a small, relatively stout fixed blade around, even in a suburban/urban environment. It’s handy to have the structural integrity to kick the blade through a branch, and to be able to cut things without constantly opening and re-folding a folder. It also makes a great defensive tool for off-hand carry, or in other situations where your hand may not be functioning fully. Case in point: early in the testing, my left thumb was injured badly enough that I knew I couldn’t open a folder with that hand. When I had to venture one evening into less than comfortable territory, I put the Jaws where it would draw into my left-hand in reverse grip. I felt confident that if any problems arose that occupied my right hand, the Jaws would be ready. Fast forward two weeks, to deal with fractured metacarpals in my right hand. Drawing a small sheath knife was much less painful than opening a folder. I also knew that the Jaws would be much safer for me to carry and use in a defensive situation than an impact weapon that I might normally pick, that would put a lot of stress on my hand and wrist.

A note: during the past month that I’ve had this knife, after lots of carrying close to skin and sweat, several sessions outside where the blade wasn’t washed until several hours later, and almost daily use in cutting and peeling acidic fruit, I didn’t use any oil, Tuf-Cloth, or any rust preventive at all. A few minor rust spots, and I mean, minor developed on the blade. However, I suspect that they will rub off quite easily with a bit of oil, and a mild abrasive sponge.

I’m fond of this knife, and it's definitely a keeper. It’s a stout little blade, that cuts well, carries well, and would make a good daily carry, light utility, defensive blade. I would recommend Fred's work to anyone, and Laci should also be commended for his thoughtful design.

questions/comments?

Joe S.
 
Joe,

This is such a BIG review !

I will fax tomorrow to Fred.

Thank you.

JM
 
Joe,

You are truly a Master Reviewer. Your writing abilities outshine much of what I read in the publications. Keep up the good work, I look forward to reading future reviews.

The Jaws sounds like a winner.

Bowing humbly to your superior reviewing/organizational/grammar skills.....

YeK
 
aw, shucks, you guys are making me blush. i don't think i'm that great, but i believe in knowing the limits of my equipment, especially stuff my life could depend on.

hopefully, my next review will be a bunch of different knives that i'll be sticking through a Kevlar/Spectra vest, if everything works out.

Stay Sharp,
Joe S.
 
Joe,
Call me paranoid, but as someone who wears a kevlar vest every day I wonder what you hope to learn by stabbing one? My assumption is that you intend to post the results of your tests revealing what knives were most effective at defeating a vest.
Jason
 
i'll explain. i have no plans on sticking knives through people that tend to wear vests, predominantly LEOs. the possibility of this test was an outgrowth of the several times i've been involved in discussions regarding the relative merits of the tanto blade style, and the claims by some that it's superior in regards to soft armor penetration. i really am tired of everyone having an opinion, and never seen any test data along these lines. so, there was some talk amongst some friends of mine about procuring a vest, and then testing different knife formats on it, to determine the relative merits of the different blade shapes.

Stay Sharp,
Joe S.
 
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