Review of Gunting

Burke

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Feb 25, 1999
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3,132
Following an e-mail discussion with fellow BFC member fourcycle, I recently acquired a Gunting, #316, along with a Skunkworks holster for it. I should note that I acquired this knife primarily because of an interest in the “kinetic” opening system, and the new Spyderco compression lock, not because I am a martial artist, or because I am a disciple of Bram Frank. However, I have always taken an interest in the mechanics of how locks work, and in the ergonomics of knife design, and this particular knife provided an excellent opportunity to get a look at both. What I’m trying to convey is the idea that this review is from the viewpoint of a knife-knut, and not a martial artist, so I’m going to try to cover some of the aspects of this knife’s construction that have not been covered in previous reviews I’ve seen.

First, fit and finish. This knife is absolutely one of the best I’ve ever seen. Scales and liners match perfectly. Grind lines are comparable in quality to Microtech, and the solidity of this knife is impressive. In terms of handle rigidity and strength, this knife feels absolutely rock solid. Lock-up with the compression lock is outstanding. This knife easily passes “spine-whack” tests, including the standard “whack it against your desk” and a few full pressure swings with the back of the blade against a tree, as well as slashing motions. The blade is CPM 440V, and has a fairly standard satin-type finish (it’s my understanding that CPM 440V doesn’t really take a mirror polish). The edge is hollow ground, with a not particularly high grind, but it is extremely sharp, and though it doesn’t exhibit, in my not-so-scientific testing, above-average edge holding, it is extremely easy to return to hair-shaving sharpness with a few passes on a white Spyderco Profile stone. This is, I think, one of the tradeoffs of the lower RC on Spyderco’s 440V. I’ll gladly take the ability to get a knife this sharp, this easily, along with increased toughness, over a few percent more edgeholding. The only fit and finish flaw I can find with this knife is in the second set of screws used to reinforce the back. They are sunk extremely deep into the handle, in such a way that they reduce the attractiveness of the handle. Using a screw with a taller head, or countersinking the G-10 less would fix this.

Second, ergonomics. This is one of the primary reasons I was interested in this knife. I understand that Mr. Frank, along with Spyderco, engineered it to be extremely comfortable and secure, while still allowing for enhanced grip manipulation, and striking with exposed surfaces of the grip and blade in the closed position. This is comparable to the use of the balisong, another knife that allows tang and butt strikes while in the closed position, as well as use as a fist load. Ergonomics is a highly subjective category, so I should mention that I have fairly large palms, and short, stubby fingers. My hands are also fairly calloused and muscular. Please take this into consideration while reading the following subjective comments. The most striking (pun intended) feature about this knife in the closed position is the ramp. This is also the device intended to allow kinetic opening. I find that, when held by the bottom half of the handle, this protrusion juts out in a such a way as to allow “tomahawking,” as mentioned by many martial-artist users of this knife, or to allow jabbing strikes to be reinforced with the front radius of the ramp, and front of the handle. I would guess that a sufficiently hard strike in this fashion would cause pressure cuts, in addition to the bruising one would normally expect. However, I find that this position results in my little finger covering the bottom of the handle, meaning that when held in this position, the knife is not effective as a fist load for hammer strikes with the bottom of the fist. When I choke up on the knife, so that my index finger rides over the bottom part of the ramp, I feel that “tomahawking” effectiveness is reduced. I’ve seen comments to the effect that one might allow the ramp to poke out between one’s fingers in a fist. I find that when I do this, the ramp is actually below the level of my knuckles, making it not particularly effective as a striking implement. In summary, I would like the ramp to be either shifted slightly higher up the blade (to afford more grip space), or else a slightly longer handle, so that I could make fuller use of the striking possibilities of the closed knife.
I actually found that one of the most effective closed positions of this knife was upside down, with the clip on the inside of my right palm, and the ramp cradling the swell at the base of my thumb. This allowed comfortable striking with both the front and back of the handle, and raking with the slight guard swell present at the top, front end of the handle (protruding below my little finger).
The clip on this knife is one of its best features. I found that not only did the clip disappear in my hand in almost any grip, the indentation in it, coupled with that on the front of the handle, allowed for more comfortable secure grips and grip manipulation. Definitely the “future” of clip design (though some have mentioned they dislike its size and shape, I suggest you hold it before you knock it). I also understand that in the future this clip will have a subdued finish. I think this will make the knife much less obtrusive in the pocket.
In terms of open ergonomics this knife is also excellent. The clip is still unobtrusive, the rest of the knife very secure in the hand due to the long, sculpted handle. I would like a slightly wider handle, as this would fill my hand a little better, but this is the case with almost every knife I hold. Grip changes are easy to accomplish, and aided by the clip and indentation on the opposite side of the handle. The lock seems, in my limited testing, to be resistant to accidental closing of the “white-knuckle” type, though I would like its position reversed (I know Bram has explained his reasoning for designing it in the way he did (opposite from other compression locks) but I can’t help feeling it would work better for me the other way).
Other thoughts and observations: The ramp is an excellent opening/closing device. It even allows for opening on an object while wearing gloves, which is helpful. While the knife is open, it also serves as an excellent guard for the thumb in saber grip, preventing the hand from slipping forward. I’ve also used it to break apart the bottoms of cardboard boxes, saving my knuckles from my usual technique of simply punching through the tape. My sole word of warning about it is that, when one is inserting the knife into a pair of pants, it can catch on the top of the pocket and open the blade. This results in approximately a one-inch slit in the front of your pants. For this reason, I tend to carry the knife with the action screwed down tightly (use a 2.5mm allen wrench for this), to minimize the possibility of an accidental opening.
The shape of this blade, with a distal taper, and spear point tip allows for excellent penetration on a variety of media, including a frozen tub of ice cream (I work in an ice-cream factory), a phonebook, and raw steak. The hollow ground blade also provides good slashing ability, as tested on a phonebook and the steak.
Alterations I would make: As I mentioned above, I would like a slightly longer handle, engineered for those of us with bigger hands. I would also find the compression lock easier to use if it were reversed (as it will be on all other compression lock knives). I’d like to see the dent in the G-10 on the front of the handle made slightly larger, and oval, as I think this would improve both grip and grip changes. Finally, I think the closed striking ability of this knife would be maximized if the front and back of the handle (the striking surfaces when the knife is closed) were given checkering like the ramp.
Please note that this is a great knife, and I really like it. The highest compliment I can give it is that it has stimulated me to think in new ways about the various methods of using a knife, open and closed. I’m happy to clarify any points about this knife, and my experience with it in this thread, or via email at brkriete@yahoo.com, but I would like to reiterate that I am not a martial artist, nor am I affiliated with Spyderco, Bram Frank, or any other party involved in the manufacture and distribution of this knife, nor am I qualified to comment on its use as a self-defense tool in comparison to a gun, a sword, a leatherman micra, or a rottweiler.
 
Your review was great. Well thought out and thorough. I truly enjoy reading the opinions of people outside of our "Gunting Cult". Your review was intelligent and unbiased. GOOD JOB
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I don't know what to tell you about the handle size in your somewhat LARGE hands....but I'm glad you like to knife overall.

Have a happy!
 
Thank you Jody. I saw the need for a review of the Gunting by an outside source -- so many discussions of it turn into "I don't think I'd like it and it won't work" versus "It's the greatest thing since sliced bread". I'm hoping people can appreciate this tool for all of its unique attributes. About the whole size thing, I'd buy a "Mega-Gunting" with another half inch of handle and another inch of blade in a heartbeat.
 
Burke,

I may be wrong, but I think Bram has a "Mega Gunting" in the works for Military usage.

Should be great as well. Maybe it will be a better fit for ya?

Great review, BTW.

Later,

Steve
 
Great Review, I have to agree about the need for caution when placing the knife in your pocket, because of the Kinetic opener. I had it clipped to my pocket last weekend and prior to entering a store I dropped it in to be less obvious. I didn't notice right away but it had opened slightly and sliced a hole clean through the pocket. Talk about obvious, when I noticed it about 2" of the blade was sticking through.
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Eric
 
Good review, for the readers at large I have medium to large hands. I agree that a bigger kinfe or a "Mega-GUNTING" may suit me better as well for the reasons mentioned by our humble reviewer.
At the same time this kinfe is probably the ideal pocket size as is. A Mega-GUNTING would be less pocket carry friendly.
Over all I really like the knife.
I too have ruined a pair of pants with this knife. Not because it opened in my pocket but because I tried an improper kinetic opening technique. Oh well, Bram told us to buy Drones.
 
You have the idea...Tomahawk out, regrip as you return for fist load..its a natural motion..yes your pinky just goes into the persian butt, it allows for the extra snap on the tomahawking motion...then on return to you, regrip, pulling the GUNTING into fist-load..as you extend out it goes back to tomahawk...
grip changes witin the flow are very important..extension is normal on reach, tomahawk and flex is normal on return, close range fist load..

thanks for the great review!

 
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Burke:
About the whole size thing, I'd buy a "Mega-Gunting" with another half inch of handle and another inch of blade in a heartbeat.</font>

That's an interesting take on the Mega-Gunting. I understand why the Gunting has the form factor it does -- blade small enough to be legal just about everywhere, but handle must be big enough to perform its various duties. Everything on the Gunting is sized according to its purpose. But presumeably, on a Mega-Gunting, the handle already is big enough, so the blade-to-handle ratio can be improved considerably. Is that right,Bram?
 
Joe, the blade on the Gunting is sub-3", making it legal almost everywhere. What I'm suggesting is a just-sub-4" blade, making it legal *most* places, and filling up a little more of a slightly longer handle. This would result in a piece with, yes, a better blade/handle ratio, but also a handle that better suits those of us who like a slightly larger handle, particularly for the kinetic techniques the Gunting emphasizes. Additionally, in most areas, it wouldn't compromise legality, while a longer blade would be nice for things like food preparation etc., where getting pizza grease or cream cheese into the pivot area is a PITA. Plus, I think most of us would agree that a little extra reach in a defensive situation is not a bad thing.

Everybody, thanks for the great comments. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who has holed pants in that manner.

Bram, thanks for your comments. I absolutely agree with you on changing grip to maximize effectiveness at different ranges. What do you think about adding checkering to butt and head(?), I guess one would call it, of knife, to increase "grab" when striking with these areas?
 
Oh yeah, lengthening the blade would also allow a choil to be built in, something I appreciate as a safety feature when allowing the blade to swing shut, and providing a nice grip for fine work.
 
when you single finger close it..non release your grip, Use your thumb to release the blade and keep holding the knife...keep your first finger on the knife...in the first finger groove, there is a choil cut out that comes to rest on your finger..giving you the option to:
1) pop blade back open with inertia
2) close knife fully with thumb
3) re-open blade with thumb

NOTE: if you bail out and MOVE YOUR FINGER you will be VERY VERY unhappy..it cuts really fast,..as Peter found out.

Thanks for the input on the design..as you all know its barely born yet so improvements and evolutions will keep coming...We'rec still running in place to get the GUNTING as it is out to all of you!!!

The custom versions will be very very HOT..
Crawford & Wood...

The future Military version handle will be about 1" or so longer, allowing for another inch of blade and keeping the Blade to handle ratio...but thats in the furure!!!!!

thanks again!
 
Make sure your pivot screw is "very tight" so that the Blade won't swing open accidentally.
use a 3/32 hex and tighten it up..back off a little, put non permanent lock-tite on the threads and retighten to the correct place..
It should seem almost too tight as compared to regular knives..other knives don't open kinetically, which is alot of force ...not as small force as using ones thumb action...

My personal knife will not inertia open..not even with Mike Janich doing it..some say its too tight but Sal has seen me open it as have others really fast..

It will not open accidentally...

I'll make sure all others are very tight out of the box and that the detent is stronger..
Thank you for mentioning it!!!
 
Bram, thanks for your advice on closing the Gunting. I see what you're saying...and I'll try practicing some tonight. I think a stronger detent would help with the "pants-cutting" issue as well. I currently have mine tightened to the point where it almost won't inertia open (if I give it a sideways snap it will), and that seems to work pretty well for me. Also, if you go to put the Gunting in your pocket, *turn it upside down first*. This keeps the horn from snagging on your pocket. When you pull it out, make sure you have your hand fully around the handle, as this will prevent the horn from "waving" on your pocket. Just a few "notes from the field", as I thought of them.
 
Burke..upside down..tip Up position will be a disaster in ones pocket..
The ramp will engage upon pulling r attempting to access it..and like wave fearture of the Commander, the blade will open..
tip down as intended it won't ..

tighten it so it WON'T inertia open..mine won't..it will only open with my thumb or kinetically...
I have to go "BAM" on someone or something..I cannot flick, snap it, or pop it open in any way...

its a Kin-Op..a kinetic opener..ROFL..

Happy Holidays!!!!

 
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