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Review Shirogorov Neon Lite, Ultra-Lite and HatiOn Lite

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by CPP, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    Shirogorov Neon Lite, Ultra-Lite and HatiOn Lite Part 1

    After going through the escalating stages of the knife enthusiast–first breaking the one-hundred dollar barrier until accepting the hundreds-of-dollar knives as the new normal–I found myself considering the purchase of a Shirogorov. The first time I had heard of the brand the pictures alone were awe-inspiring. But price and availability were enough to dissuade me from doing so. Once the aforementioned price-barrier was transcended I had to contend with availability. With one authorized dealer, Recon 1, to deal with this matter was simplified although patience was necessary. I had my heart set on the Neon Lite in M390 simply due to the blade steel, but when an Ultra-Lite in S30V came up for sale I jumped at the chance. With a Shiro finally in hand the question of worth was answered and I purchased the Lite in M390 a short while later. Initially I intended to sell the Ultra-Lite, but held onto it after noticing a few subtle differences between the two models. Several months later I bought the HatiOn in Vanax 37 you see below.
    [​IMG]
    The obvious differences between the Lite and Ultra-Lite models are the blade steels used and the presence of a titanium back spacer or a single standoff: while my Lite is in M390 and my Ultra-Lite is in S30V, I have also seen the former offered in S90V and the latter in Elmax.
    [​IMG]
    The subtle differences that I noticed were:
    • the titanium used in the handle scales seemed softer on the Ultra-Lite most noticeably in the pocket clip and the lockbar
    • the heavier stonewash finish on the Lite
    • the dimple on the Lite's lockbar
    • and the bite of the jimping is more pronounced on the Lite.
    A close-up of the finish on the Neon Lite followed by one of the Ultra-Lite:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I do not know whether these differences are deliberate distinctions between the Lite and Ultra-Lite versions and I do not mention them here as shortcomings. The first of these differences of course has the most practical impact. In an online review of the Neon, the author of Everyday Commentary, who otherwise described it as "superior," commented that the pocket clip "works, but barely." The rationale for this criticism was that he "found it to be a bit pokey and somewhat difficult to get over the lip of bulky materials." "Pokey" is subjective and I don't find it to be as such but "difficult to get over the lip of bulky materials" I half-agree with depending upon the model. I have noticed that Polo and J Crew pants and shorts double up the material at the lip of the pocket whereas other brands do not. The Ultra-Lite works perfectly with those pockets of a thicker material while the Lite requires two hands and some maneuvering to secure. The pocket clips of both the Lite and HatiOn Lite work perfectly with pants not using the "doubled-up" construction on the pockets that I mentioned above.

    The clip on all three models is sculpted titanium mounted from the inside of the handle by one proprietary screw and held in place by milling on the the exterior of the handle that the clip's base fits perfectly into.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  2. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Great write-up, @CPP , and a great start to what I assume will be an ongoing commentary/review. :cool:

    I can only speak to the UltraLite as that's my only NeOn, not owning a veritable heap of them as you do. ;) Nick Shabazz made a couple vids on the NeOn, the first being generally favorable and the second more of a slam. I forget whether he was reviewing the Lite or the UL, but one of his stinging criticisms was the of the pocket clip, finding it difficult to insert and deploy the knife. For myself, I find the UL's clip to be excellent and perhaps the best of all my Shiros, easily insertable in all manner of pants pockets with the possible exclusion of the sleep-shorts that I find myself still wearing--a lazy Sunday for sure. (Actually, I just went and grabbed my knife and it pockets in these shorts just fine, my "mature" physique that makes keeping them up problematic notwithstanding.)

    I don't know that there are deliberate differences between the finishes and clips of the various incarnations of the NeOn or any model, or if those are simply the product of different runs by different hands of similar knives. It does give one reason to buy more Shiros solely for research purposes, though. :rolleyes:
     
  3. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    Yes, for research purposes!
     
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  4. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    Shirogorov Neon Lite, Ultra-Lite and HatiOn Lite Part 2

    The blade shape of the Neon is a drop point with a slight bulge along the spine toward the tip which provides it with more heft while maintaining a fine tip for detailed cutting. The grind is a definite highlight making the Neon a superb slicer right out of the box. It is almost a full-flat grind with the very top of the blade just above the logo and steel type is a very brief flat section with the plunge line beginning after only two or so millimeters. The primary grind culminates in a very fine behind-the-edge-thickness which makes it a very efficient slicer.

    Once upon a time, I had accumulated a large quantity of cardboard and decided to informally test a number of my knives. I used each knife to break down each box. A few of the knives had relatively thick blade stock and remained thick behind the edge causing them to push through the cardboard bunching up the outer layers. Out of the bunch, the Neon Ultra-Lite–my only Shiro at the time and with its factory edge–was the best slicer along with my small Sebenza Insingo which I had re-profiled at that point.
    [​IMG]
    Each of the three models has a brief strip of jimping on the spine of the blade that, in spite of its brevity, provides ample traction. As mentioned above, the jimping on both the Neon Lite and the HatiOn Lite has somewhat more grip than the Ultra-Lite's. However, the latter's is sufficient.
    [​IMG]
    The inside of the spine of each handle scale is precisely chamfered in the are where the flipper protrudes in the closed position providing a comfortable flipping experience.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
    ChazzyP likes this.
  5. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    Shirogorov Neon Lite, Ultra-Lite and HatiOn Lite Part 3

    Shirogorovs in general have a reputation for their flipping action and the smallest in the Shirogorov lineup upholds that tradition. The Neon Lite and HatiOn Lite are both snappier than the Ultra-Lite. An important caveat at this point would be that this point along with aforementioned differences between the three models are quite possibly specific to these particular knives as opposed to being intended features of each model. It seems that a likely explanation for this difference in action can be attributed to the slightly softer titanium of the Ultra-Lite which makes the detent somewhat weaker. The flipping action of the Ultra-Lite is still superb, out performing the bearing-equipped flippers of other companies' knives.
    [​IMG]
    All three models feature the same style jimping on the flipper tab ensuring one's finger get a firm hold of it which, in turn, ensures consistent almost effortless opening. Once opened the flipper serves a finger guard complementing the curve of the handle, both of which combine for a firm and comfortable grip.
    [​IMG]
    The lockup is secure, having yet to release during use on either of the three models. Due to the firmer titanium on the Neon Lite and the HatiOn Lite the lockup feels firmer than on the Ultra-Lite without that presenting itself as problem on the latter. For the same reason, the Ultra-Lite falls shut effortlessly once disengaged while the others require a nudge or two to shut completely.
     
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  6. archieblue

    archieblue Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2001
    I’m not sure what you mean by “softer titanium.” I only have the Ultra Light but I, unfortunately, dropped mine onto a ceramic tile floor a few days ago with only the tiniest ding on the pommel end by the clip. I am definitely not a metallurgist but I’ve dropped plenty of 6al4v Ti knives and caused more or similar damage. This angle is the most prominent I can make it look. 0399F8D4-1E0A-4A45-8471-BAEBA7470671.jpeg
     
    CPP likes this.
  7. archieblue

    archieblue Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2001
    3DADDE7D-4EA3-4754-8E06-89BCF6C4536A.jpeg 67E6C88D-50E3-4003-9D76-68E5C84D3E40.jpeg 54A01C22-BF3C-4FAC-B3D4-F14D8D75A5ED.jpeg 6E7641F5-D80D-4284-99D4-FAFA715B6766.jpeg E1F6AFD0-D7BE-49F8-90F7-5DD9B0F81592.jpeg
    I’ll add some more pics to the thread since mine is also a little different. The only thing I’ve noticed so far is mine doesn’t have jumping on the spine.
     
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  8. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    When I said the Ultra-Lite's titanium was softer I meant relative to the other two knives described above, and then, only to a slight degree. I am not a metallurgist either, but soft seemed the best way to describe the difference I had perceived. I hadn't noticed the Elmax Ultra-Lite doesn't have jimping on the spine; still an awesome knife.
     
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  9. CPP

    CPP Gold Member Gold Member

    779
    Sep 8, 2014
    Shirogorov Neon Lite, Ultra-Lite and HatiOn Lite Part 4


    Another significant difference between the Neon Lite and Ultra-Lite and a smaller one between the former and the HatiOn Lite is the presence of a back spacer on the first and third and a stand-off on the second.
    [​IMG]
    The less significant difference between the Neon Lite and the HatiOn Lite is the additional recessing on the latter's lanyard hole allowing for easier installation of a lanyard. The Ultra-Lite has a hole cut into the presentation side handle scale which is recessed along the pommel to allow the lanyard to be level with the handle either in hand or possibly in pocket as well. While I do not use a lanyard on my folders I do appreciate the ingenuity and workmanship that go into a relatively minor feature of the Neon series of knives.
    [​IMG]
    Even though I am not one to be overly concerned with a knife's weight I found myself breaking out my digital kitchen scale. The results are obvious: the HatiOn Lite is the lightest, followed by the Neon Ultra-lite and then the Neon Lite. I was curious how much each knife's weight would be affected by substitutions in materials in the same overall knife. The carbon fiber scale on the HatiOn Lite intuitively provides the largest weight reduction in spite of having the titanium back spacer that makes the Neon Ultra-Lite lighter than the Lite in spite of its internal milling.
    First is the HatiOn Lite weighing in at 2.45 ounces:
    [​IMG]
    Then the Neon Ultra-Lite at 3.05:
    [​IMG]
    And then Lite at 3.15:
    [​IMG]
    To state the obvious once again, the weight difference in hand between the HatiOn and both Neon is noticeable while the difference between the two Neons is not.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
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  10. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    I'm really enjoying following this review along, @CPP . Well done indeed.

    Not being a smaller knife guy--my preferred size range being 3.625" (i.e. large CRK) and up--I'm continually struck by how much I like and find reason to carry my UltraLite. Funds and carry opportunity not being limited, I'd love to have a HatiOn, and who knows, if I end up selling off a bunch at some point I may.

    MY UL's a keeper, though, and suits me just fine for a variety of reasons. I've got no problem with Shiro's iteration of S30V as I have that same steel in my F3 Python. Edge retention is certainly good enough and those S30 blades take wicked keen edges and touch up easily.

    I'm a big fan of open back construction both appearance- and maintenance-wise. I do like the way Shiro does their backspacers, incorporating the lanyard hole, but also love the way my F95s and UL have the single-sided lanyard hole--it's just the simplest, most practical construction and the aesthetics of it are good with me.

    [​IMG]

    As to flipping action, your observations about Shiros in general are spot-on. My measure of excellent flipping geometry is how softly one can depress the tab and get the knife to lock up. Having just disassembled, interior-polished, and re-lubed 3 of my 6 Bears, I'm awestruck how how they can be made to open discreetly with very light pressure. Most any knife can "flip like a rocket" with a hard push and many need to overcome a wicked stiff detent to do so, but that doesn't speak of well-tuned flipper geometry to me. My little NeOn is just an amazing flipper.

    Lastly, drop-shut closing is fun, though not something all that useful, a forefinger flick being faster and more practical. That said, I find that quality to be a good measure of good pivot and overall design. Not necessary, but fun for sure. My little guy had a bit of a hitch before re-tuning but that's all but gone now and its light blade drops shut with the right technique--not like my now finger-guillotine 111's massive blade drops, but impressive nonetheless.

    And, as there's no such thing as too many Shiro pics....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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