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Pohl Force - Mike One (Survival)

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Herlock, May 23, 2016.

  1. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Hi there! After I’ve patiently waited for it, I managed to get one of these. It’s been a long courting :D, I’ve been eyeing this baby since her launch on the market a few years ago, but always considered it way too expensive. Finally I got what I can consider a fair price for a new one on sales and went for it. I’ve used this knife for a few weeks now both as EDC and as hiking blade and I just want to share my own impressions, thoughts and few pics, as knife hobbyist and week-end hiker, no expert at all :).

    I learnt the Mike One is a folder from Pohl Force’s “Euro Ops Division”, launched during 2013 and officially presented that year at IWA in Nuremburg (if my actual information are correct). E.O.D. has nothing to do with Explosive Ordnance Disposal but instead indicates a Germany-Italy collaboration. E.O.D. series can be considered “premium” knives, when it comes both to materials and manufacturing, designed in Germany by Mr. Pohl and manufactured in Italy, by Lionsteel.

    It’s still big for my EDC preferences, but not huge; at 160 g of weight and around 12 cm length when folded, it’s really not a brick in the pockets. Also, Spring has come and I start to carry my Maxpedition Fatboy regularly (no more winter jackets with lots of pockets and lighter trousers on) and hiking (or simply running outdoor) is more frequent, so the knife sits more often in some bag/rucksack pockets rather than in my own :).

    The first impression it conveyed to me was sturdiness. This knife is truly solidly built. The second thing that struck me was the fit & finish: basically perfect. I find the care for details on this piece outstanding; for a production knife (though I would consider this more as a mid-tech) it’s just amazing.

    The Mike One employs the “mysterious” :) Niolox steel. I personally never heard of it, until I started to have a crush for this knife. Niolox, is unique in that it incorporates Niobium. To make it simple, what I understood is Nb basically enhances the strength of the steel. It’s mainly used in special applications steels. When it comes to knives, it’s said this element improves the grain refinement and increase the steel hardenability. Niolox it’s a stainless steel and I like this for my uses. Pohl Force claims it’s harden up to 59 HRC.

    The Mike One sports a beautiful modified drop point profile, with a unique blade pattern. At 5 mm thick and 95 mm long the blade might seem stubby, but it’s not! A high flat grind produces a fairly keen edge, finished with a secondary bevel. There is a long and narrow swedge along the spine, which gives the blade a sleek look. I think this blade geometry finds a good balance between strength and cutting efficiency. The knife came decently sharp from the factory. It sliced paper nicely but not hairs. It had a good working edge. It looks the secondary bevel was grinded with a preference for edge robustness, therefore a bit too obtuse to make this truly a slicer.
     
  2. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Edge retention looks good, from my empirical observation. I haven’t yet properly sharpened the knife, I gave few passes on the ceramic sharpener and stropped with red compound, after use on wood. I’ll see, when I will sharpen it for real, if I can get a sharper and keener edge but I doubt that, without re-profiling it completely, which I would avoid, since it looks rather thick at the edge by purpose. Anyway, for me, this knife it’s not a laser beam and probably it’s not meant to be :).

    My version here, has a black PVD coated blade, called “Survival”. At the time of my purchase also a stone-washed finish (named “Outdoor”) was listed, but was out of stock and not on sales. According to my empirical experience, PVD is not as good as DLC in terms of resistance to wear and tear, but I don’t mind, I like those marks and “scars” from use on my cutting tools. Like the wrinkles on my face, they have some stories to tell and good memories within :D.

    The handle is really particular, the Ti and G10 are sculpted to create a unique and beautiful pattern. It has a closed back construction, which I am not personally a huge fan of, but I can understand the choice: if, from one side, it’s making daily cleaning and maintenance a bit more laborious, on the other it prevents the dirt and lint to get in too easily. One side of the handle is a thick slab of G10 that also makes up the back-spacer. The other side is Ti and includes the lock. Torx bolts and two hollow sizable fasteners hold the thing together. The hollow fasteners heads have a wide slot for easy adjustment with a flat head screwdriver or at-hand items, like a coin.

    Handle comfort, against all odds :D, is very good, considering the look of the sculpted handles. After owning and using the Bravo One, I had no doubts about it, but before that, I was one of the very sceptical about the real comfort of Pohl Force handles. Once I tried them out, I had to reconsider. Both sides of the handle have a heavily corrugated texture granting fair traction in all conditions. I still prefer something less sculpted and rougher textures when bare-hand, but it’s just personal preference.
     
  3. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Blade is deployed by a thumb-disc that is recessed into the blade’s spine. Honestly, this knife is far from being a flipper :p. Even today, when I consider its break-in period over, the one-hand deployment is not a breeze. Not an effort either, but I wouldn’t define it a “fluid” opening. For its intended use, I can live with this, don’t need a ninja-fast deployment, more a Sunday camper one :D.

    The blade is held open by an integral titanium frame lock. The lock-up is rock solid and without play in any direction. The lock though, has a noticeable stick and it requires a certain amount of force to disengage the blade to fold it. In this case, given my primary use of this knife, I don’t classify this as a defect; actually, stretching it a bit :D, can be seen as a virtue. In this one I own, the lock is now set at around 30%.

    The Ti side of the handle integrates Lionsteel’s proprietary RotoBlock for extra safety. This consists of a disc that manually turns, cinching down on the lock arm when the knife is open. Frankly speaking I have very rarely used this feature, I maintain a frame lock it’s one of the safest locks available. Also I don’t like so much these extra “gadgets” on knives, they look to me a bit gimmicky and I believe in “what’s not there, it can’t break”. Nevertheless, I can say this one doesn’t get in my way, it’s elegantly and discretely recessed in the handle and does not disturb at all.

    For carry the Mike One has a reversible, tip-up only wire pocket clip. To my own taste, wire clips feel a bit “cheap”, specially on a knife like this (for example I like the one used on Mike Three and Four much better) but it’s definitely a good choice for its intended use. The tension is good, it clamps properly and securely the knife. The clip it’s not a disturbance during use. I wouldn’t call it totally unobtrusive, but it doesn’t get in my way either. Of course, for long whittling/carving sessions, I prefer to wear gloves. I think this knife is definitely “glove-friendly”, given its size and opening/closing features.
     
  4. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    I think Pohl Force has put out one great knife with the Mike One :thumbup:. The best performances I got out of it was on wood, splitting, whittling, carving, light chopping (like limbing branches) and in hiking/camping related tasks, cutting ropes, paracord, making pegs, etc. Decent but not brilliant for food preparation, as I said, it’s not a wicked slicer. It cuts, it peels, it chops, it gets things done, but has a kind of “wedge style” in doing this. Does barely OK on cardboards, does good with other packaging materials like PP straps, stretch and shrink films, tapes, etc. but don’t expect a box cutter.

    When it comes to its impact on the public, all was fine when on hiking trails. I even got a couple of appreciative comments in a picnic area. For urban/working environment, it’s rather “tactical” looking. M1 it’s a rather big knife. So, I try to be discreet when preparing my lunch or carrying out cutting tasks, when in the office. At suppliers, on production floors or warehouses it wasn’t an issue. Generally the dudes are a bit “tougher” there :D, most didn’t looked at me twice, some wanted to see it closer and we had a chat about hunting, guns and gear.

    I think Mike One is a solid choice for anyone who is interested in a beautiful (to my eyes) outdoor/sport/utility knife; a good compact and sturdy tool with a unique look, appeal and feel. The major appeal this knife has on me is its incredible mix of stalwartness and elegance perfectly blended in. The Mike One arrived in a cardboard box containing a nylon pouch, an elastic lanyard, a sticker, a certificate and some leaflets.
     
  5. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Basic Specs:
    Overall length: 220 mm - 8.66″
    Weight: 160g - 5.64 oz

    Blade Length: 95 mm - 3.74″
    Blade Thickness: 5 mm - .197″
    Blade Steel: Niolox, 59 HRC
    Finish: PVD coating

    Handle Length: 125mm - 4.92″
    Handle Materials: black G-10 (show side and back-spacer) and 6Al4V titanium (lock side)
    Lock: Frame Lock (with RotoBlock safety)
    Pocket Clip: Stainless Steel (tip up, reversible)

    Elastic lanyard, nylon pouch, certificate and sticker included

    Made in Italy

    Some pics…

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  6. jfk1110

    jfk1110 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    Great job. Lion steel does impressive work. Enjoy
     
  7. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    On your pack - the " POS " badge , in English ,translates into a very negative phrase !!
    I would like a full report on the Niolox blade . We don't see that here very often.
    Nice report !
     
  8. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Thanks! Yes they do, some of their knives are really amazing, next on my wish list from them would be a TiSpine :). So far I only have the T.R.E. G10 “plain” flipper, a very good EDC blade (http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/1367423-Lionsteel-T-R-E-G10).

    Thanks! I am just an amateur here and don’t think I have the competence to issue a "full report" on Niolox steel performances. I can say like this: from my layman user perspective it is very comparable to S30V when it comes to edge retention, so, I’d say, pretty well performing. I have whittled quite much with this baby (including some hard wood) and the edge holds up just fine. When it comes to “toughness”, like its ability to pierce, tip strength, lateral torque, prying (on wood) resistance to chipping, etc. I find it rather similar to D2. But I have learnt here it’s probably more the geometry and the construction than the steel which play a role. I can commit to come back with a comment about sharpening it, when I will do that seriously (so far just few passes on ceramic rod and stropping). Yes, Niolox is more popular here in the old Europe :).

    About the badge… LOL :D! I had to google it on Urban Dictionary and was confused by the "Parent Over Shoulder" thing… :D I always have a blood type info on me, just in case SHTF :D. No, seriously, this was (and still is) the standard blood group badge to wear on the Italian Army camo outfit. Is that different in U.S. to avoid the double meaning :p? Just curious.
     
  9. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    POS = Piece of shit ..American [at least ] English
    Here I think the blood type is on the metal ID badge ['dog tag' in American' ] which is hung around the neck.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  10. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Hi. Just realized there is an interesting (for me at least :)) YT video about the M1, showing some real use of this knife (cutting and stuff similar to what I put the knife through). I somehow missed it until now. Bit old, but also the knife it’s not a news :). Here’s the link:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtSwmnBx4mc

    I have one comment about this. I agree, as it’s commonly said here, this is a knife which can take some “beating”. I say myself it is a sturdy tool, one of the sturdies folders I own. Light chopping for me also it’s no problem, so is piercing and its ability to withstand lateral torque it’s just fine (yes, I “tortured” some logs, one is in the pics :D). The tip is very strong and the construction very solid. At a certain point, the dude batons quite hard with the M1 and (in video, at least) it shows it holds up. I’m more than happy about it, but I am not sure about what “holding up” really means there. Sure his knife hasn’t broken in pieces as direct consequence of it, but I maintain batonig is causing a big stress to all lock types and to every folding knives structure (e.g. fatigue, plastic deformation, micro cracking, wear, creep, relaxation, buckling, etc.). So a folder might withstand a little/some/a lot of batoning but then it can suddenly fail during a “normal” cutting task. If batoning it’s really the only way out, I’d rather disengage the lock and baton on the blade only. This specific blade had no issues with this technique (yes, that I did! :D).
     
  11. MicheleB

    MicheleB

    8
    Nov 1, 2015
    Really nice review, thx mate
     
  12. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Thanks Michele! Glad you enjoyed it. Hope it was useful. It's a nice knife :).
     
  13. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Niobium --mystery steel ? The steel is similar to D2. Niobium is similar to Vanadium [Niolox has that too ] but it's carbides are spread throughout the steel rather than concentrating at the grain boundaries like V.
    It was here in the USA that Niobium was first discovered and then it was called Columbium .Named after some Italian guy ,Cristofero Columbo from Genova .They even have a statue of him there , really , I saw it !. We didn't do much with it ,then it was rediscovered in Europe and they called it Niobium. When I was in school we metallurgists called it Columbium [Cb ]and in physics they called it Niobium[ Nb ]
    In Greek mythology Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus since the are always found together . So if you want a girly steel call it Niobium !!! I prefer Cb !!
     
  14. bodog

    bodog Banned BANNED

    Dec 15, 2013
    Don't worry dude, anyone who's familiar with combat type patches should have automatically known it was an O+ patch for blood type.
     
  15. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Hi!

    @ Mete: :) :p:) Mysterious was for me, with a background as agricultural engineer metallurgy has never been a subject I dig into very much :). But I’m catching up somehow! As a metallurgist, I’m sure it’s your bread & butter instead. Like your way of sharing infos and your story-telling skills, you could have been a good teacher! :thumbup:

    @ Bodog: :) Thanks! It’s not that I really was concerned to look as a P.O.S. wearing the badge, but it’s nice to get confirmation that, for most, the meaning is clear… I would have been specially concerned about a hypothetical US EMS finding me injured and unconscious on a crash site, paramedics running to me, looking at the badge and then: “Mmm guys, it’s just a P.O.S., leave him there”. :D

    Take care!
     
  16. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    There are lots of stories about language .My Grandmother visited a newly arrived friend and found a strong smell in the apartment ."What is that smell ? " "The cheese" "where is the cheese ? '' "Under the refrigerator " " Why do you keep it there ? " "It says to ,here's the box " " Keep under refrigeration" ...That means a bit different than "Keep under Refrigerator " There are lots of funny stories like that .When dealing with people not very familiar with English try not to use any colloquial terms ,keep it simple. ..And when in Piacenza and are confused with all the French words just shut up and drink the wine !!! LOL
     
  17. MicheleB

    MicheleB

    8
    Nov 1, 2015
    Aaaaand i bought it, is the best medium-folder knife i have ever had! Almost perfect, definitly not EDC but great for excursions and night out
     
  18. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Congratulations for your good score MicheleB :thumbup:! I agree with you, a bit oversized and overbuilt for normal urban/working EDC (which here in Italy is quite regulated anyway) but a great tool for all the outdoor recreational activities :thumbup:! Enjoy her in good health and, if you feel like, it would be great to see some pics of your newest acquisition and to read about what you think of her :). Take care and have a good end of the Summer!
     
  19. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015

    Update about Niolox steel sharpening - 2016.09.18:

    Hi there! So yesterday, having some time, I put myself to work to refresh the edge of the Mike One, which I wanted to carry this week, being her turn in my rotation :). Edge was not completely dull but, since I have used the knife rather extensively on wood, it was not shaving paper cleanly any longer.

    I normally use a basic Lansky system. I found Niolox very hard to sharpen with the stones, basically the stones just tickle it :). Rubbing and rubbing for half an hour but very little done. I went then to the diamonds, medium and fine, but still I had hard times. It looked the edge was polishing but not sharpening :confused:. Then I run short of patience and put it through the ChefChoice 120 – sacrilege :D! But it worked! I finally put a good edge on it, I got some steel grinded finally! I refined the edge by hand, always with the Lansky, using the fine diamond and the Blue Sapphire stone. Now we were talking! Finished up with the leather hone with red compound first and plain leather hone after that. Yesss! It has now a good edge, still a bit on the “toothy” side, not super polished but I prefer these “aggressive” working edges, really good for my EDC use. I managed to thin out a bit the edge angle as well and now I really like this baby. Yeah, for purists and duty to report, I have put a couple of good scratches on the blade coating in the process, actually not because of the ChefChoice :D, rather I scratched it with the Lansky medium diamond hone which went “whoops”. Nothing dramatic, this baby is a user (as all her sisters :)). My personal conclusion is to sharpen properly the Niolox one needs some electrical belt grinder, probably a WorkSharp will do much better than the ChefChoice but, by hand systems only, it can be quite challenging. Niolox has been one of the toughest steel to sharpen for me.

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  20. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Herlock , now that I've had breakfast and am waking up -- I find the super steels are better with micro-serration edges .I do all mine with diamond by hand ,no 'systems '. As for a grinder , that's a poor way .It has been proven that using a power tool to sharpen will soften the edge due to the heat !!! Roman Landes has shown this and I do agree !! I never polish my edges ! A 1200 grit diamond works best for me.

    Since you have an interest in cooking . At the diner [like a trattoria ] on the menu was tortellini with spinach ! I wondered if in Italy you ever saw that ? I hate spinach and won't eat the vile stuff.Why ruin tortellini - something I have eaten and made all my life .We served in broth or with just a simple sauce of tomato or cream sauce .
     

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