Microtech SOCOM Manual Action

Oct 9, 1998


MT SOCOM Manual Action next to BM Manual Action Chisel-Grind Stryker (910CGSBT).

Well, I've had this knife for a couple months, and I must say I'm pretty impressed with it. I can't remember exactly what I paid for it, but it was probably around $160.

Blade Grind Lines: The grinds are about as perfect as they get. There are extremely minor imperfections with the grind, but I'm very picky and you really have to take a lot of time looking for them. Sometimes I take an hour just looking over the grinds on my blades. All my friends have asked me if I had nothing better to do than examine my small knife collection. Grade: A.

Blade Shape: The shape is pretty good looking, and very efficient for cutting. The spine is thick for good durability, but the edge is fairly thin. It does a very nice job opening my mail and packages and stuff. Most of my work has been pretty light, but I've probably done some wood cutting with it before. Grade: A+.

Blade Coating Durability: The Black-Ti coating on this SOCOM is a little bit less than what I expected. It didn't have the smooth and rich black of the Benchmade coatings, and surprisingly it didn't seem as durable either. I had always heard that Black-Ti resisted scratching better than Black-T (which is better than Benchmade BT2). However, it seems that Black-Ti shows wear more than BT2. Not too cool. I recall having a BM 910BT that showed less wear with similar usage. Coating strength isn't too important in my opinion for a using knife, but I seriously expected a better coating. *Grade: D+.

* New Grade: B-... It ends up that I was mistaken about the reason why the coating was stripped. It wasn't because of usage that the coating because worn, it was because I stropped at too low of an angle and rubbed the coating off on the leather with Jeweller's rouge.

Blade Centering: One of the most annoying things for me is to have the blade rub the handle during opening and closing. This problem is usually caused by a loose pivot or by poor blade centering. I am glad that my SOCOM has neither of these problems. The blade is centered almost perfectly. The tip of the blade is only 0.1mm off center. This is most likely due to the extremely thick (and powerful) liner lock exerting pressure twisting pressure on the blade. I'm very picky, and without extremely close examination, it appears perfectly centered. As far as most people are concerned, the centering is perfect. Grade: A+.

Blade Play: There is no blade play in this folder. Grade: A+.

Blade to Handle Ratio: The ratio of the blade to handle is perfect. Some knives seem to have the problem of a huge handle but a dwarfed blade. The SOCOM maximizes use of the handle length. Grade: A+.

Opening Smoothness: At first the opening action seemed a little stiff, but after a lot of openings and a little bit of Hoppes oil, it became smoother than my Benchmades while maintaing zero blade play. Grade: A+.

Handle: The handle shape is very well designed, and the hard anodized 6061-T6 aluminum has a good texture to it. The thumb ramp is comfortable and it doesn't hurt my hands while using this knife for cutting work. It's got a very hefty feel to it. I have no complaints about this handle design. The hard anodize coating on the handle is very durable, I recall dropping the knife onto gritty ceramic bathroom floor, and there was only a little half millimeter mark where the back of the handle slammed into the floor. It seems to have slid on the gritty ceramic floor, but no scratching was done to the handle. On the half millimeter mark on the handle, the anodize isn't stripped, it just looks like a very tiny dent. One thing I especially like about this handle is that there is a nice thumb ramp on the handle, but also there is another set of grip lines on the blade so that you can hold it normally or choke up on the blade for finer work. Grade: A+.


Traction notches on the handle thumb ramp and on the blade.

Spacers: The spacers are part of the handle, unlike many other liner lock folders that have steel cylinders or G-10 spacers. This design makes sure that loose change can't get into handle and ding the edge up while it is in your pocket. This is important because some people like to put their pocket knife in the same pocket as their change and keys (shame on you!). With the MT design, nothing gets in, but there are still little slits in the "spacer" to vent out pocket lint or fuzz. Grade: A+.


The back design of the MT has small slits that keep loose change out.

Thumb Stud: The location of the thumb stud was good, but the design of the thumb stud itself could have been better. After finding the pocket lining on my pants destroyed, I started examining the thumb studs on my pocket knives. I checked each knife's thumbstud location in my pocket when clipped. My examination of all my collection revealed that the culprit of the torn pants was my MT SOCOM for two reasons, one of which is the sharp thumb stud. While riding around my pocket, the rubbing of the stud against the pocket lining caused a ripping of the fabric. Other than this problem, the stud works fairly well for opening, though it is a bit rough on my thumb. I would suggest that MT round their studs off a little bit for future knives. Grade: C.


Torn pocket lining circled in red.


Side view of MT thumbstud design.

Lock Mechanism: The locking mechanism is fairly thick liner lock that is recessed into the 6061-T6 aluminum handle. I would estimate the locking liner to be almost 1/10" in thickness. When I first got it, it was extremely tight and required me to use the back of a pen to close it, but it seems to have loosened to proper tightness with repeated unlockings. It was suggested to me that you put a little bit of Tuff-Glide or other lubricant on the back of the blade where the lock engages to make it unlock easier, but I have found that it makes it worse. With lubricant applied to the back of the blade, the liner lock travels further and tightens more. It's pretty easy to disengage now, but is extremely durable. This is probably the most durable and reliable liner lock I've ever seen. Just needs to be given a "breaking in" period of time. I've done a lot of hard openings on this knife, and the lock hasn't shown any wear at all (isn't sliding further and further to the right). It was tested by having it beaten against the hard part of my knee repeatedly (I hit hard). It passed with no sign of failure and no movement of the liner lock. I don't like hitting desks because they can dent the blade. Grade: A+.


Powerful Microtech locking liner is very thick.

Pocket Clip: Since pocket clip placement is largely a preference and there is no commonly accepted standard of "good" and "bad," it is a little hard to judge the clip. As far as placement is concerned, I would prefer the knife to ride a little lower, but it is just a personal preferance. The clip is durable and doesn't bend out of shape even when given a prolonged clipping to thick fabric that would generally warp my Benchmade clips (make them looser). I mentioned earlier in my review of the thumb stud for this knife that there were two problems causing my pockets to tear. The first reason was the sharp stud. The second reason is that the head of the screw securing the liner lock bar into the handle protrudes from the handle just slightly under the clip. When unclipping my knife from my pocket, the small tear initiated by the sharp stud is made bigger when the screw head tugs on the fabric as well. The problem would be reduced if the clip rode higher and the screw head wasn't immediately beneath the end of the clip. Grade: B-.


Pocket clip design. Protruding screw head (circled) tears up my pockets.

Fit and Finish: This has to be one of the best finished folders I've ever seen. Hard anodize was very well done and the parts all fit perfectly except for some very minor mistakes which I will ask them to correct when I send it in for sharpening. This seems to be a problem with mine only, but it doesn't close 100% perfect, it closes about 99% of perfect (not perfectly tight close up, but almost). Also, on the inside of the hole where the lanyard loop goes, there is a tiny area where the anodize is not there (visible when you put it in good lighting and look at the lanyard loop hole). Grade: A.


Missing anodize is circled in red.

NEW - Edge Information: When I received this knife quite a long time ago, the first thing I noticed was how sharp it was. Brushing the edge up the hair on my head caused some hair to split and fall off. It shaved arm hair easily. After cutting cardboard, I noticed that it held it's edge very well. It resharpened extremely easily on a leather strop back to the hair splitting sharpness, though it lost a little bit of hair splitting ability. It seems to hold the edge a little better than my Benchmades, and has the edge more readily restored by stropping as well. Still doesn't resharpen as easily as my Opinel does, though. The low angle edge (probably about 15-degrees each side) cuts into cardboard rather smoothly after taking the fairly thick blade into consideration.

Overall Product Grade: A

Extremely well made knife and well worth the $160 or so I paid for it. It would have gotten an A+ if the pocket clip rode a half inch higher, the thumb stud had the last "ridge" removed, and the coating had been more durable.

- Chang

[This message has been edited by Comrade Chang (edited 02-18-2001).]

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[This message has been edited by Comrade Chang (edited 02-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Comrade Chang (edited 02-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Comrade Chang (edited 02-21-2001).]
I assume that you are pretty happy with this knife?

Seriously, I agree with most of your opinions except mabye the blade design - not too thrilled with the tanto point for general utility. Strong design for penetration though.

I've had my tanto SOCOM for some months now, and after having used it quite a bit, I prefer the clip point version which is what i'm ordering from Mike Payne of Knives & Things.

Great review Comrade Chang! I'm very pleased with the variety of review styles we see around here. Lots of good information. I don't have one of these particular knives, and I'm not in the market for one at this time. But your review would be a large factor in my decision to buy if I was interested in the SOCOM line.

Nice review! Couple of questions, though. Have you had the opportunity to torque check the lock? What happens if you penetrate some thick cardboard and twist on the handle?

I read over on the Microtech forum that they have introduced a new black coating that is supposed to blow away their old coating.

Have you had a chance to A/B this model against the MA Socom Elite?

Thanks for your input!

Barry H
First off, I'd like the mention some supplements to my review. The coating ends up to be not as bad as I said it was. I thought it over and looked at my Benchmade folders again and compared it with my MT. The reasons for the wearing coating on my MT and not on my Benchmade seems to be in the fact that I strop my MT's at a very low angle, and it rubs away some of the coating. The parts that weren't in contact with the strop seem to have held up to wear extremely well when compared to my BM's. Still, I feel it could be even more durable. I'd say increase the coating grade to a B- and not a D+. Black-T is generally what I consider to be the mediocre coating (C grade).

The problem with the grind line ("extremely minor imperfections"), I found that I did not mention. It seemed to be that the top grind (sort of like angling spine off near the tip, like a false edge) didn't match up completely. You really have to put it next to your eye and stare at it though to see the little tiny imperfection. It could just have been Chinese Food Syndrome though. I was feeling a little bit dizzy yesterday from eating way too much General Tso's chicken (Monosodium glutamate gives me headaches and makes me dizzy, and they put way too much of it in Chinese food).

Red - I am very pleased with this knife. To me, all my knives are tools or "art" (even if they aren't art knives, they are still worth admiring just for the workmanship). The tanto point works pretty well for utility, especially for cutting paper on a hard flat surface. You can use the corner of the tanto to cut precise shapes into paper and to trim things.

Matthew - try a couple at a store. They are really well made folding knives. Most people (myself included) are very pleased with theirs.

Barry - I will actually try torque testing the liner lock when I get home. It isn't something I have tried on most of my knives, but I guess I should. I haven't even seen a MT SOCOM Elite in person.
Good review, Comrade. Thanks for your efforts. My much-used SOCOM clip point is the one I grab if I know beforehand the knife is going to be used hard. One thing I like about MT's tanto style is that the blade does have a little belly to it, not just a straight line. Now if only Microtech could them out in Changmascus!!

[This message has been edited by richard rosvall (edited 02-19-2001).]
Richard, my MT SOCOM is finding itself used for more and more hard work around the house.

Changmascus material SOCOM? Sure thing:

Comrade Chang,

I, personally, would have given the SOCOM higher ratings in the <font color=orange>"Pocket Clip, Thumb Stud, and Blade Coating Durability"</font> categories.....

But, it's your review and a great one at that !

I know that you like the SOCOM but....just wait until you get your hands on the LCC. <font color=green>Talk about AWESOME! !</font>

[This message has been edited by GigOne (edited 02-20-2001).]
The pocket clip placement mixed with the screw holding the liner lock into the handle caused my pants to get ripped up. So did the thumbstud. The thumbstud snagged on my clothing a lot. That's not too cool.

As far as the coating durability rating goes... if I gave it higher than a B- (the final grade after realizing that I had worn it down on a abrasive strop, and the areas that were unmarred by the strop had experienced an above average resistence to wear)... then it means that it is extremely above average. Right now, a C is considered average. BT2 is what I consider the average coating. In my experience, the Black-T on my Emerson performs marginally better than the BT2, and the Black-Ti on the MT's perform marginally better than the Black-T. Thus, that is how it became a B-. Who knows, maybe the new Boron based blade coatings on the Benchmades will get a B+ or an A, but right now I have not seen a coating be as durable as grade A would be.

BTW, guys, new photos included in the review above. They got edited in.
Hi there Chang,
I've been wondering where you've been since I havn't seen you here for a while. Now that I read your review.......I have my answer.

By the way, very good review. Exremely thorough.

--The Raptor--
Mr. Raptor, I'm back at BladeForums after a long period of no-Chang. I posted like three times in the past 3 months, but I should be posting more now.

Thanks a lot for all the encouragement, people.

Data about ease of resharpening via stropping and edge retention being added to review.
Glad to see that your back in action here at BFC.

I hope that you will be back over at the Blade Discussion/General forum soon. I miss your sharpening advise. I learned alot from your previous posts. I see so many posts from newbies regarding sharpening questions and we all need the answers. You seem to have quite alot of knowledge on this subject as you have used most (if not all) of the popular systems that are on the market.

See you around the forums Comrade.

--The Raptor--

Great review! Really takes each aspect of the knife into account!

I may just have to dig my SOCOM up out of the safe and carry it for a while...


He who has smelt the smoke is never free again...
Mr. Raptor, I'll be back at BFC less often than usual, but still be there once in a while.
Didn't think I knew that much about sharpening. I've worked on a lot of systems, but they are all sold now, except a Smith's precision sharpening kit that I use to touch up my CRKT KISS keychain pocket knife and the small Opinel.

Michael, thanks for the compliment. I usually only carry the SOCOM around the house for opening big UPS packages (cutting through the thick tape and stuff).

Yes that was a very good review
i have a camo serated manual it is my favorite everything on it is just perfect i have no complaints i am picky buy not to the extreme i do carry it a little but i really don,t use it much i bought it cause i wanted a collector knife i think the coating on it is differant then my LCC socom is dated 3/99 my Lcc 9/2000 ?? again very good review

I am just a worthless liar....... I am just an Imbecile ...... I will only complicate you ..... Trust in me and fall as well .... I will find a center in you ... I will chew it up and leave .. I will work to elevate you just enough to bring you down
A tanto SOCOM MA is my everyday/work knife, it has taken a pounding and is still rock solid/scary sharp after a year of major useage. Great knife (and none of the torn up pocket trouble you encountered).
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Bryan, mine is manual action only</font>
I dont own one of those.
I do however own the auto. and i can attest that the blade and handle design are as excellent as you say they are. That is why i would say "good review". lest anyone think i have any firsthand experience (and to help convey my feeling towards it) i decided to add "I love my auto SOCOM"