Starmate - final report

Mar 25, 1999
Why "final" report and not "12 months use update"? Simple: I've now permanently retired my Starmate, because, surprisingly, in the long run it turned out I didn't like it much and found very little use for it.
Others may, and do, think differently.

For some reason, this time I didn't like the serrations, perhaps because they didn't improve cutting performance on anything I tried them on, perhaps because with this blade geometry there isn't any straight plain edge left when the serrations have been put in.
I'm not sure if I'd continue to use it if it had had a plain edge, but I don't think so.

The clip I've mentioned before, but that was easy to replace with one for lower carry, so that wasn't a factor in the replacement.

Blade thickness is definitely something which led to retirement. This, together with the geometry, simply doesn't make for good cutting performance in something like this which certainly isn't intended for chopping, and it can't be to make the knife stronger, as even if the blade was much thinner, that's not where the knife would break if you put pressure on it. The shape of the spine also makes it clear the blade isn't thick in order to let you use the knive as a wedge, by hammering on the spine with a piece of wood or something. It's only on the thumb ramp there can be a real reason for a thick blade, as it's more comfortable for the thumb, but usually you put it further back, where the grooves are, and there the knife is thicker than the blade anyway.

In short, when I found the knife wasn't much good for heavy duty work, the blade thickness made it very impractical for smaller tasks around the house. A flat grind would have helped some.

So why didn't I like it for medium to heavy duty? I've already mentioned the edge, but apart from that, I don't think the ergonomics of the handle is good.
There's one interesting difference compared to the earlier models, on the C15 the handle narrows towards the butt, not much, but enough that it helps giving a good comfortable grip. As opposed to that, on the Starmate, all force to keep your hand from sliding forwards is concentrated to the thumb and first finger. This difference isn't immediately apparent, as the Starmate grip feels quiet good at first.

The cutout for the opening hole isn't well placed. As it is, it interferes both with the placement of the first and second fingers. This is a sensitive area of the hand, where a good symmetrical grip is important. It gives me a strong feeling that in this case, the placement of the opening hole was an afterthought and not really integrated in the total design.

That there's a "bump" on the handle, which is supposed to go between the second and third fingers, but doesn't if you have the wrong size hands, is also a negative factor, but not major.

One thing which made this knife impractical for me, but in itself wouldn't be enough to totally retire it, is that the blade opens far to easily when it's not supposed to, so I couldn't leave it in the trouser I'm not wearing, in case my ferrets got to it. It's got this in common with many linerlock knives.

To sum up, it's been a learning year for me, as I've learnt about what makes a knife good for my hands and my purposes.
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Urban Fredriksson
Latest update: A Russian hand made hunting knife

"I've always been fascinated by Scandinavian knives [...] they're simple, in an advanced way".
- Bob Loveless

Another perspective. Good to hear. I never got really hot about the Starmate. Something about the way it looked, from blade geometry to handle design, didn't take off for me. I am still reserving my judgement until I get one in my hands.


AKTI #A000356
I've got a plain edge Starmate that I don't carry much. The blade does seem thicker than I want for most purposes. I carry my Junglee Marshall a lot more. One of the reasons is that the stud on the Marshall works 10x better than the hole on the Starmate.

PS. I never left my pants around where our ferrets could get into them so I never felt the Starmate opened too easily. Do people ever ask you, "Is that a ferret in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?"

Thanks for the candid report. I like the way you presented your findings: constructively and calmly.

The ball detent issue you raised is of interest to me. If you think the detent is not positive enough, perhaps it could be adjusted at the factory. I have a couple of Militaries with extremely secure ball detents, such that shaking the blade open sans thumb hole requires considerable effort; I see no reason why the Starmate could not be made to work as well. I tend to like my detents secure. Other people may not want to sacrifice speed for a bit of extra safety (crazy!). Of course, getting a more positive ball detent won't address the design issues, so perhaps it's not worth worrying about.

David Rock

AKTI Member # A000846
Stop when you get to bone.