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Rinaldi Prototype a.k.a. Enigma, first impressions


Gold Member
Nov 23, 1999
I received the subject knife on June 21, from Kevin at The Edge Equipment. I guess the one that I have would actually be the "Prototype" of the knife that is now called the "Enigma." You can see a picture of the knife that I bought at Rinaldi Prototype. It is the first issue of a Rinaldi knife that is going to be exclusively available from Kevin. While I can come nowhere near as thorough review of a knife as Gaucho or Cliff Stamp, I thought people might be interested in my initial impressions. I haven’t gotten a chance to use it much, although I have "made it mine" (more on that later).

The blade is a drop point type, and the knife is billed as a "mid-sized tactical utility knife." From Kevin’s page, edited for my particular knife: It is full flat ground with a distal taper. The stock is 1/8" D2, heat treated by Paul Bos. The blade is 3 3/4", with an overall length of 8 1/4", and is 1 1/4" wide at the widest point. The handle scales on mine are black micarta, nicely contoured, and secured with mosaic pin stock. Now on to impressions....

The Blade
The blade, as described above, is a dropped point type. IMO, the shape of the blade on this particular knife is ideal for my uses. With the shape of the blade, and the distal taper, the point is very fine, and ideal for any detailed work that I would need to do. In fact, it is so fine that I have used it to clean under my finger-nails. Yeah, I know, that is an insult to the knife, but I think it is an adequate description of the fineness of the tip. The spine of the blade is square, but with the edges "melted" for comfort. There are thumb serrations on the spine, just forward of the scales, in an ideal position for a saber (?) grip. There is no choil, per se, as I understand the term. However, there is a small half-circle cutout at the base of the edge, next to the ricasso (? I hope I’m not murdering these terms...). In any case, next to the index finger contour. I like this detail, as it clearly defines where the cutting edge starts. It is nit of mine to have the cutting edge just fade away as it gets near the handle. This cutout is rather small, and while I could see it trapping some types or shapes of materials in it, such as twine or small cord, I think that its shape will prevent that from being a big problem. The full flat grind of the blade does not break the spine of the knife (as has recently been discussed here in this forum), but fades away almost perfectly as it reaches the spine. The grinds along the flat of the knife are symmetrical from side to side, as best as I can tell, and are not undercut at all. The entire blade and spine are bead blasted finish, with a nice subdued gray finish. In fact, the entire knife, including the spine and scales, are bead blasted. The only fault, or really just an imperfection, that I could find with the blade were the primary bevels of the edge. For most of the length of the edge, they were symmetrical and even on both sides. However, in the last maybe 1/4" nearest the ricasso/scales, the primary bevel on the right side of the blade (pointed away from you, with the edge down) went from maybe just under 1/16" width to only about 1/32" or less. The blade arrived sharp enough to work with, but not so sharp that I couldn’t run my thumb LIGHTLY along the edge without cutting through the outer layer of skin. Not sharp enough to suit me, but easily rectified.

The Handle
The black micarta scales on my Prototype appear to be bead blasted as well. They have a rough texture which feels as though it would be fairly grippy when wet. The texture is rougher than that of any of my other micarta scaled knives, but not so rough that it feels coarse. Just right, IMO. The scales are fixed to the knife with mosaic pins, and fit flush with the tang of the blade all around. There are no gaps at all between the scales and the tang, anywhere. To the best of my judgement, the scales are the same thickness on either side of the knife, and contoured symmetrically. There is a slight swell to the grip right where it passes across the palm of my hand. The edges of the scales are rounded, and are VERY comfortable. This is not a BIG knife, but fits my rather small hand very well with the knife gripped in either a saber or hammer grip. The knife feels like it is locked into place in either of those grips, as well as in an ice pick grip. Very secure. While I have not done any stabs into materials, I would feel confident, based on how locked the grip feels, and my experience with other handles while stabbing into wood, phone books, etc. There is a pronounced index finger groove, and a slight curve to the handle that contributes to the fantastic feel of the knife handle. The only imperfection that I could find with the handle scales was a tiny bit of epoxy that had squeezed out from underneath the scale on one side, right at the base of the blade (ricasso?). Like I said, an "imperfection." That’s all, and hardly noticeable unless you are examining the knife VERY closely.

The Sheath
The sheath is a pouch type (one piece folded over), of black concealex, probably 0.080" thickness. It was supplied with a Tek-Lok attachment device, and an IWB belt loop of probably 1/2" nylon. The IWB loop is folded over and fixed with an eyelet, and the severed ends of the nylon are melted. The sheath also has holes and eyelets at the tip, to facilitate neck carry, if one wanted to. They could also be used to lash the sheath to a pack or shoulder strap I suppose. These eyelets are smooth on both sides, not crushed out as has been reported on some sheaths. However, to be honest, the eyelet of the IWB loop is crushed out on one side. For the loop, this is not a big deal, as the side will be against the sheath, actually help prevent rotation of the loop. {Italicized portion added on 8/4/00} The IWB loop works OK, but I prefer the Tek-Lok, now that I have figured it out the retention adjustment, and tried it as a cross-draw, 45 deg cant. It works pretty much perfectly, and I must have been on drugs when I originally wrote this first impression, where I panned the sheath. The sheath works great with the Tek-Lok, now that I have more experience with it. And the sheath that I made for IWB carry works great with the PTD straps, which I talk about elsewhere, in another thread.

Overall, I LOVE this knife. So much so that it will likely replace all my others as my daily carry when the weather gets a little cooler, or when I can walk around this summer with my shirt un-tucked. Definitely any circumstance where I would really rather have a fixed blade that can do tactical duty. The knife balances well, and while it is heavy when you pick it up, when you take a proper grip, it feels like an extension of your arm. There is only one thing that I would change on this knife, that would improve it for me personally, and maybe for others. I would remove a little of the pronounced extension between the index finger groove and the rest of the handle. As I received the knife, it almost felt like I was holding a small sub-hilt fighter. And that extension was rather sharp at the end. Removing approximately 1/8" would be about perfect (at least that is what worked for me
). Yes, I did it. I just couldn’t help myself.
I took a dremel and sanding drum, and removed about 1/8" from that extension, rounded it off, and then sanded smooth. That being done, the knife just fits me perfectly, and is much more comfortable. Unfortunately, if you look VERY closely, you can see it, since it doesn’t have the blasted finish. One other thing I did was take some maroon scotchbrite and knock off a little of the bead blast finish. To me, a knife with a blasted finish just feels too.... draggy... when cutting through some materials, and also when sheathing and unsheathing it. I have found that taking the maroon scotchbrite pad to it reduces the drag while maintaining the subdued gray of the original finish. Definitely "my knife" now, after that, grinding off the 1/8" on the handle, and the sharpening.

I will try to add to this post as I get the opportunity to use the knife more. In closing, I can’t forget to say what a pleasure it was to do business with Kevin. Service was quick, very courteous, and the prices were, IMO, quite reasonable. There was the inevitable small mark-up that occurs when you add another person between the maker and the end-user. But, Kevin seems to keep the mark-up very reasonable, and in return you get the knife much more quickly (assuming it is in stock). Probably more quickly even if not, since it would seem to be in the maker’s best interest IMO to put a little higher priority on his distributors’ orders.


[This message has been edited by rockspyder (edited 06-26-2000).]

[This message has been edited by rockspyder (edited 08-04-2000).]
Excellent review! Nice looking little knife. Trace does great work (I've been enjoying one of his TTTKK's for about a year now). Nice to see him coming out with some new designs.

Nice looking knife Rock. Looks like you picked a nice one to use as your everday carry...should make a great work knife.

icq 61363141
Just some knife pictures
Hi there Rockspider. Sorry the sheath didnt quite work for you. If you send it back I will make you another one no problem. I have recently been trying out wrapping the blades with duct tape before molding to help minimize the scratching some people complain about. I can make the sheath fit as tight as you might ever want, if need be. I can also do the other modification you mentioned as well. Again dont hesitate to send it back..

Take Care
Trace Rinaldi
Well, I don't know what's going on, but apparently I'm not allowed to add to the review post above.
Keeps just sitting and spinning. Oh well, here is what I was going to add.

Since originally writing this "first impressions", I have gone back to the Tek-Lok, andtoyed with the tightness of the screw nearest the mouth of the sheath.
Turns out, I think my initial gripes about the sheath were largely due
to ... uhh.... operator error.
By playing with the tension of the
upper screw, it seems that the retention can be adjusted pretty well,
from a crisp (but firm) release, to a loose, easy release. With the
retention adjusted by this method, I would pretty much carry this knife
in any position, I believe, as I feel it would be secure. Maybe not
inverted, since the tension would probably need to be pretty high,
therefore, difficult. Anyway... this needed to be said. I will still
probably make my own, as the supplied sheath seems to work best with the
T-L, not the PTD strap that I like. Plus, I like to make my own sheaths.

Trace, no need to send it back to you. Besides, I like the knife so much that I really don't think I want to part with it, even for a few days. At least not yet.
It is a REALLY great knife. And, as you can see by what I added, the sheath is pretty much OK, now that I have.... uhhh... figured it out. Thanks for the offer, though. And keep up the good work.

Hello again rockspyder:
Yeah thats the way they are "supposed" to work:).. I guess some basic instructions on how the sheath works would help with this problem. It has happened before on a few occasions where I hadnt set the tension screw just the way the customer wanted. Anyway glad see its working ok for you now.

Take Care
Trace Rinaldi
Hey Trace,
For Rock, you may wanna include some pictures, too.....

Sorry, bud couldn't resist....nice review and gorgeous knife......

~Greg Mete~
Kodiak Alaska
Hmmmm... yeah, that might have helped.

Thanks Kodiak. Sittin' here wearin' it right now. Nice and covert like, here in the office. Sweet!

The IWB loop works OK, but I prefer the Tek-Lok, now that I have figured it out the retention adjustment, and tried it as a cross-draw, 45 deg cant. It works pretty much perfectly, and I must have been on drugs when I originally wrote this first impression, where I panned the sheath. The sheath works great with the Tek-Lok, now that I have more experience with it. And the sheath that I made for IWB carry works great with the PTD straps, which I talk about elsewhere, in another thread.

Added the portion quoted above to the original first impressions, under "Sheath", and took out a bunch of stuff that was totally unapplicable and due to my unfamiliarity with the Tek-Lok system. I pretty much have totally changed my mind on the original supplied sheath, although I still prefer my own and the Blade-Tech PTD straps for IWB carry.


Nice description! Trace does great work doesn't he? I find some common design elements to your blade, Talmadge's TTKK, and the Chimera Trace did for me. My Chimera has a bit longer blade and there are two finger cut outs instead of the single one on your Enigma.

I'm quite fond of 3.5 to 5 inch fixed blade knives. They're extremely functional and easy to carry. Trace's Enigma certainly is another quality design in his stable of offerings.

In addition to the quality of his work, Trace is great to work with. A very highly recommended custom knifemaker!!!!

-=[Bob Allman]=-

I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

BFC member since the very beginning
Member: American Knife & Tool Institute; Varmint Hunters Association;
National Rifle Association; Praire Thunder Inc.; Rapid City Rifle Club;
Spearfish Rifle & Pistol Club; Buck Collectors Club (prime interest: 532s)
Certified Talonite(r) enthusiast!

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 08-07-2000).]
Bob, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.
And very much like the other two knives you mention.

Heck, about the only knives from Trace that I don't like the looks of are the tanto blades, but that is a personal thing, not a reflection on his designs.