Neil Blackwood Tactical G-10 RVW

Mar 25, 1999
Disclaimer: I’ve never claimed myself as a good English speaker, heck I didn’t even speak English 3 years ago, so please forgive my English. Make your own corrections if you find funny words, or just plain bad grammar

I had contemplated on a Talonite knife, especially a skinner, long before I decided to get this knife. Several makers have just begun to make their knives in Talonite version, and I saw this as a double fold opportunity to try some less known makers and of course the material itself, Talonite. I began to contact some makers and was getting ready to hear some obscene prices. I’m happy to report that this was not the case. If you don’t believe me, check it out yourselves folks. Makers usually charge from $60 to $120 more than similar pieces in stainless or carbon steel.

EDI was probably the first company to announce a production knife based on Talonite. Unfortunately, they still haven’t come out with it yet. And then there was REKAT, although they only used it on a limited number of Carnivores. Not too long ago, we heard that Camillus is coming with Quest (the name is still Quest, no?). It is based on Rob Simonich’s Cetan I believe. All this interest from knife manufacturers and individual makers is like adding fuel to my already burning curiosity. Now the question is where to get them knives? If I could spare 3 to 15 months, then there would be no problem.

One of the makers I contacted was Neil Blackwood (a.k.a Dr. Lathe, a fellow forumite). He had two Talonite knives at that time, a Stag Hunter and Tactical knife with G-10 handle. Unfortunately for me, he informed me, both had already had prospective buyers. Oh no! I began to contemplate on my own skinner design, and was getting ready to commission a Talonite knife. And then came that wonderful news from Neil, both Talonite knives were available! Now it took me a long time to consider between the two, I like the blade of the Stag Hunter better, but I really wanted a G-10 or black Micarta handle for toughness. In the end I decided on the Tactical one, hence my story…

To avoid of being redundant on Talonite performance review, plus I just got the knife last night, I will limit this review to the knife itself and spare you all the Talonite performance stuff. However I will include a review of the blade geometry and its influence on cutting performance. I will update my review as soon as I have the time.

First here’s a link to the picture: . The Tactical G-10 is the bottom one (duh!).

The Handle
The knife has a somewhat slimmer and narrower handle than what I expected. This is a happy surprise for me as I have small hands and skinny fingers. While I don’t despise a wider handle, I really hate thick handles. There are three holes along the handle, my bet is they are there to reduce weight, hence the skeletonized handle and good overall balance. Seven pins grace the handle and I cannot feel any of them jutting from the G-10 surface. I didn’t notice it first, but there appears to be dark blue spacers. There’s a lanyard hole towards the butt, just in case. What is interesting is that Neil sculpted the handle around the holes, and he ended up with a really nice contoured handle. The G-10 itself is polished, but not excessively smooth so that it becomes unnecessarily slippery. Neil told me that he actually did that to increase grippiness of the knife. The knife also makes use of one finger groove for better grip. To test that, I dipped the handle in a jar of machine oil and did stab-and -pull tests with cardboards. Next I used some old rolled mat and did the same stab and pulls. The knife came with flying colors in terms of grippiness. The only thing I want to add is a thumb ramp for positive thumb placement and orientation.

The Blade
The blade has a wide profile compared to the handle in my opinion. This is good. There is a really sexy false edge on it that is really hard to describe and this in turn contributes to the overall slim figure of the blade. I wanted to say that the blade thickness was 3/16”, but it sure looks slimmer, so I’ll have to ask Neil for this. This is really good! The picture on Neil’s site doesn’t do it justice. The blade was hand rubbed satin finish and the words ‘Talonite’ and ‘Blackwood’ were etched on the left side. The knife came sharp, although not scary sharp. However, I maintained this original edge until later when I touched it up on my Sharpmaker 203 after some tests.

The Sheath
The sheath is made of Kydex and is of multi carry option. While Kydex doesn’t offer the beauty of leather, I specifically asked Neil for a Kydex sheath. This is a knife that I’m going to use a lot, and past experiences with leather sheath dictated that I have a Kydex sheath for longevity reasons. Plus, I can convert it to neck sheath anytime I want.

Simple Cutting Tests
This knife is an excellent slicer, period. I tried it on old leather belts, cardboards, old rugs, meat, and some light materials like bond papers and cigarette papers. On thicker materials, the point of exit is really narrow. With thicker blade, the thickness of the spine would have forced the material to tear as the knife acts like a wedge. This ‘wedge’ behavior is very much less shown on this particular knife, courtesy of curvy false edge and the slimness of the blade. Don’t let the name Tactical fools you, this knife is a good all around knife, enough pointiness to do delicate work and enough belly for cutting power. The Talonite itself is excellent. I agree with others who had said that Talonite performs better with unpolished edge. I sharpened it to polished state just out of curiosity and it was not difficult at all to sharpen. Not until I tested my knife on heavier materials, especially old carpet with some backing (looked like thin plastic to me), that I dulled the knife. I also did some other tests that I would like to include here, but hey, this is already very late. I have whittling and light chopping tests in mind for the near future, and probably some point strength tests (if I have the guts though), and I think that will be in my update (hopefully soon).

Conclusion of This Short (not!) Review
Neil’s Tactical G-10 is an excellent all-around knife. The highlights of the knife have got to be the handle contour and the blade geometry. Add Talonite to the recipe and you got an excellent knife. And Neil, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love the knife


[This message has been edited by Frantium (edited 02-02-2000).]

Nice review. I would be interested in hearing a follow up review, after you have had the knife for awhile. Some of us who haven't experience talonite would be especially interested in how in holds up to other quality steels.



AKTI #A000356

Yes, I'll definitely do a follow up on this. The problem is I don't have any knife that is similar blade geometry wise. But in the meantime I will use a Dozier Canoe (my other favorite knife) with D2 blade for reference.

Thanks for taking the time to write this review! Your English is excellent!
Just a few things.....
There are some differences between this version and the standard Medium Hunter other than the Skeletonized/G10 handle! It's ground on a smaller contact wheel for a much lower grind line. This results in a stronger blade. It also has the curvy false edge that leaves maximum material on the point, similar to a BM Stryker blade. It has a little less belly on the main edge also. The standard hunting version has the same holes in the tang to reduce weight but they are hidden under the handle material. In addition to this, I also taper the tang on them.
The edge.....
I sharpen all my knives and view the entire edge with a microscope. I have a fixture that allows me to do this in seconds while sharpening. I finished the edges on the Talonite knives to the point that the edge looked perfect! On my D2 and A2 knives this is hair popping scarry sharp! With the Talonite, it would shave but not like the steel blades. Since the edge LOOKED perfect under the scope, and the angle was consistant, that's how I left it.
I found that If I make the Talonite FEEL sharper, under the scope, I'm feeling a wire edge! This will not last very long.
I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad you like the knife. For me, this knife was a challenge and I was happy when I finished it. Now I'm even happier knowing someone is proud to own it!
Its' been a pleasure doing business with you and I look forward to reading the performance reviews!

LiteWaves and Hawkbills in stock!

Ah..., the master himself. Thanks for pointing out the differences between the Tactical and the Medium Hunter

It also has the curvy false edge that leaves maximum material on the point, similar to a BM Stryker blade.

Like a Stryker! It is so, it is so Neil. And it is very sexy
. Wish that picture on your site could capture the beauty of it. And I wish my scanner was still working.

About the edge, I did resharpen it to shaving sharp, and yes, the wire edge didn't last long. I shredded three large pizza boxes with it, and the wire edge was gone after I finished the first box. After that, I can tell that the edge will just grab everything I cut. I guess it was because the softer material had been dislocated and this leaves the harder material that acts very much like microserrations. Come to think of it, I do have a Boye Dendritic Cobalt folder that I haven't touched for a long time. I haven't used that knife for a while, but if I remember correctly, the Dendritic Cobalt had a more bity (is it even a word?) behavior than Talonite. I'll have to find that knife and do a comparison test soon.

Another satisfied Blackwood owner! Well done, Neil. And great review, Frantium! Neil tells me that my hunter will arrive tomorrow (today now I guess) so I'm off to bed to try and sleep. Folks, if you haven't had the pleasure of holding a Blackwood knife, you're missing out. Phenominal stuff.
I absolutely agree with you Paul. I am still thrilled about my Blackwood and as soon as I can get the cash together, I'll be up for another one.
ptpalpha, Arizona, and Lynn,

Neil is a pleasure to deal with, and his knives are awesome. His attention to details is superb! I'm also fixing to get another one, actually I'm dreaming about a skinner. Hmmm...

All of you forumites, if you're looking for a custom blade, visit Neil's site and take a look around. Chances are you will like what you see there.

BTW Lynn, I also admire your knives, especially the Texan
Hey guys,
What about the Atlanta Blade show?? I would love to meet all of you in person! I know Lynn and I have discussed this. Email me if you are considering this. I would like to thank all of you in person for your business, support and encouragement!

LiteWaves and Hawkbills in stock!
Nice knife and very good review. I have one question (for Neil) though. Is Talonite knife lighter or heavier than the same knife made of steel?



My Photopoint pictures
As far as I can tell, Talonite is not any lighter than steel. Nothing like Titanium. For an exact comparison, I would give Rob Simonich an Email. The Tactical has more holes through the tang than the ones that are revealed by the G10! This one is about as light as can be had with full tang construction.
I will definitely be at the Blade Show. Atlanta is only less than an hour away, so I'll be out there....If I hurry it up a bit, I'll have the tax return money in hand

I'm looking forward to seeing you out here.