Review : Sub-Sniper from Lynn Griffith

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
This knife achieved its primary purpose which was to allow me to carry a knife with enough size to allow serious functionality without printing as a "weapon". The only real critism I can level is the edge is a little too thick for me, but my personal standards in that area are really high.

Suggestions, well I would obviously recommend that it come with a thinner edge standard. However there are durability drawbacks that need to be considered and this is a matter of personal choice. I would also recommend trying something like BG-42 or CPM-420V as an upgrade in regards to edge retention. However it is not like ATS-34 is poor in this regards anyway.

In regards to handle size, this is the minimum that I would consider for a serious use knife as once you get smaller than this you have to rely on pinch grips and the amount of force you can apply is seriously limited and thus so are the types of cutting that you can do.

For a general use knife I would prefer a much larger handle, full length as well as much thicker to fill out the grip, even on a knife of this size. Check out for example the handles on many carving and chip knives. However of course, you would not be able to carry it as a neck knife then.

More details :

There will be much more info on this knife as it part of my daily carry now and tends to get used as a baseline standard for most knives, for example it has been used extensively alongside the MEUK from Allen Blade and Ed Caffery.

Let us know how it performs while skinning a Yak at -180 degrees. :)
Although I question the need to address someone else's
reaction to a knife as a weapon, as usual a very informative test. It also confirms some of my own observations about ATS-34. I was going to start my own knife tests, but as long as you are around Cliff, why should I reinvent the wheel? :)
Steelhed :

Although I question the need to address someone else's reaction to a knife as a weapon

This is the only reason I don't carry something like the Allen Blade / Ed Caffery MEUK. Basically as soon as you go below a full sized blade you lose serious functionality, however something of that size would print far too much as a weapon for me to carry it to work. This is of course depends on your enviroment, some places are far more restrictive and would react badly even to the Sub-Sniper while others would allow you to carry a Steel Heart without a second glance.

why should I reinvent the wheel?

Any honest information adds to the existing body of knowledge, even if you just repeat exactly what someone else has done and get the same thing, by confirming it you raise the probability that what is described is the expected result which is very valuable. Even better yet, if you repeat what someone else has done and get drastically different results that should lead to a greater understanding of the aspects involved as the problems are worked out and the ignorance of the relevant issues brought to light and then removed.

very informative

Thanks. I have done much more work with the blade lately and now have the edge brought down to 9 degrees per side. Its cutting ability is now the highest I have seen, it will shave hair above the skin both backwards and forewards, push cut straight through 1/4" poly with 1000 g load, cut light thread with a ~60 g pull etc. . Interestingly enough, this is not as sharp as it can get because when I look at the edge under magnification I can see irregularities at the 10 micron level. Now I have resharpened the blade 3 times the same way (after extensive dulling), and seen the same thing so I am confident the work is repeatable, so it either has to be a problem with the steel to take that fine of an edge -at that low an angle- or there is something wrong with my technique or the abrasive. I have a few other steels to try it with. I would also like to try a natural Japanese waterstone as they have a very soft cutting action, but they are like $1000 so it will be awhile before I get one of them to work with.

I think if I can get an even edge at that level of finish (1-5 Micron), it should raise the sharpness and low penetration cutting ability by at least 100% maybe even more. Of course the edge angle could also be lowered to around 3-4 degrees per side, at which point you have no distinct edge bevel just a full grind. It will be interesting to see how that profile will cut say with 52100 or 10V as both have a very fine grain structure, <1 and ~2 Microns respectively. You would want a very hard steel though to keep the edge stiff, but at that thin a profile you might see edge cracking even at just cutting a piece of cardboard. A very light convex sweep might help without lowering cutting ability that much.

Normark, I try to control my sick sense of humor, but sometimes it gets the best of me. :)

Cliff; sorry, it was just too much to hold in.
More detail on the above, when I was lowering the edge to 9 degrees I shaved off 3 patches of skin off of my fingers. I work with my fingers on the blade so as to better control the angle of the stroke and the amount of pressure. My skin is fairly thick and I can usually do this without harm. However because the edge was so thin any contact at all was cutting right through the skin with no effort. I could not feel it and only only noticed it when as I washed the SiC grit off I noticed it was tinted red.

Some concern should be given to the tip at this profile though. A Wharncliff has the weakest tip geometry as it puts the tip at the thinnest part of the blade and once you thin the edge out as much as I have it starts to get really fragile. I snapped a mm off of the tip just trimming some plastic off of the handle of a hollow screwdriver. The edge held up fine however and I'll be doing some worst case cutting with it this week to see just how fragile it is. Based on how it held up at 10 degrees on some old mats, I don't expect it to have much problems, but again, I would avoid any tip work except for really delicate cutting - getting out a splinter that kind of thing.

Danbo :

Cliff; sorry, it was just too much to hold in.

Well, it was a little ridiculous. The lowland NF Yak hibernates once the temperature drops below -80. Hunting them once they are asleep is not that sportsman like. I could obviously get one and then freeze it and skin it, the results however would be a little abstract though for the above reason.

Cliff, your response is one of the funniest I have seen outside of the Strider Forum. But lets get real: if I were in a survival situation, and I discovered a yak in hibernation, at what ambient temperature extremes could I feel confident my knife would skin it?

And you do this sharpening freehand? I wish I were that accurate with a Lansky. We should all chip in to get you that Japanese waterstone in recognition of your contributions here.

exechobo :

lets get real: if I were in a survival situation, and I discovered a yak in hibernation, at what ambient temperature extremes could I feel confident my knife would skin it?

It is a moot point. Since it is the only known animal with natural fluorescent hair, it has been hunted to near extinction. Thus similar to the Black Rhino, it is only found on reserves and under heavy guard with high powered assault rifles. Of course the Canadian version of this is the local Boy Scout troop armed with a pump action Daisy bb gun. So the answer would be, you would forget about skinning the Yak, yell out "Jamboree" and all your problems would be solved.

And you do this sharpening freehand?

I have had a lot of practice.

In regards to the waterstone, the price, while high, it not even the biggest obstacle. Natural waterstones do not have the rigerous QC checks that man made ones do, and thus they can be full of large inclusions, have poor absorption etc. . Buying a good one is difficult as the stone will only be as good as the dealer who graded it. I think I'll take a serious look at trying to obtain one this fall.

I have one last edge retention comparision planned for the Sub-Sniper with the edge as described in the above. I will run it against the 52100-MEUK after I lower the edge on that blade down to a similar angle. That will be at least one to two weeks away though, as I am doing some work now to figure out what the limits of edge durability are for the 52100-MEUK with its current configuration, mainly all I have left to do is build a small shelter using just that blade and see how its edge holds up. I may do multiple runs as well, try the MEUK at 15, then 10 degrees as I can explore how the edge durability changes as well as the cutting ability and edge retention.