TAD Gear Hinderer Compact Dauntless

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Kaizen1, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. Kaizen1

    Kaizen1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Some shots and quick thoughts on this design. At the time of this post, I've only had it for a few days and haven't done any serious cutting with it.


    Specs from TAD Gear's site:
    There are some design issues that are deal breakers for other people based on what I've read, and I think those concerns are valid:
    • The detent is on the strong side. There aren't a lot of reviews on this knife, but of the few that are out there, this is a complaint I've seen repeatedly. Friends who aren't that familiar with manipulating folders have all had trouble opening mine one handed. It actually feels close to the strength of the detent on my ZT 0462CF. The problem there of course is that this is a thumb stud opener, not a flipper.
    • The knife doesn't feel as secure in hand as it could. The knife is on the thin side, which isn't necessarily a problem. The titanium side feels a little slick and the handle has no jimping. These factors combined make it feel like I need to grip a little bit harder in order to feel as secure in hand as other similarly sized knives.
    • The lockbar is inconvenient to disengage. There isn't a lot of space between the lockbar and non-locking side when the knife is open. That makes it difficult to get enough of your thumb in there to disengage the lock, particularly one handed. They could have done any of the following to fix or alleviate some of this:
      • Add chamfering on the lockbar
      • Add jimping on the lockbar
      • Made it so the non-locking side wasn't flush with the lock bar
    As an example, we can compare some of these points to my Small Sebenza 21. Facing the edge of the Sebenza in the open position, we can see that the Sebenza has some chamfering on the lockbar. If we measure from the center of the chamfered area of the lockbar at the very peak of that arc, to the inside of the non-locking side titanium slab, we get 4 cm.


    On the Dauntless since there's no chamfering, if we measure from the center of the recess/ finger groove, inside of the lockbar, to the inside of the non-locking side titanium liner, we get 2.5 cm


    Taking a side view of the Sebenza, we can see a more drastic difference between it and the Dauntless. The non-locking side has a cut out that exposes much more area of the inside of the lockbar. This makes it super easy to get your thumb in there to disengage the lock.


    On the Dauntless, we can see that the non-locking side is perfectly flush with the edge of the lockbar. With the complete lack of any of the common features named above, it's difficult to get enough purchase to disengage the lock in a way that's as convenient as we've come to expect from most modern folders.


    Despite these criticisms, I plan on keeping it. I just like it, probably a lot. Here are some of my pros:
    • I've wanted a Dauntless for a long time. Pretty much all of the previous Dauntless models were either out of reach or just not interesting enough.
    • It's pretty comfortable when choking up on the blade, although I haven't spent real time cutting with it yet.
    • It's a nice option if you're trying to keep a blade under 3". The top of the to the tip of the blade is shorter than 3", and the edge is much shorter. There's no confusion about exceeding the 3" length limit some areas impose.
    • Although the detent is really strong which can make it difficult for some to open, I'm comfortable enough with folders that it flies open for me, especially since I have to overcome that detent. I also had the opportunity to handle a model that had been opened and closed a lot more and it seems like the detent will get better in time. That said, you're never going to get accused of carrying a gravity knife with this one.
    • Despite my criticisms on those design decisions, it feels really well made. Everything looks properly finished and very clean. No play, nothing feels out of place. It feels solid, but it's also thin and light so it feels versatile.
    • I really like the aesthetics. The accents like the thumb studs, LBS, Tri-Way pivot, etc., very much feel like a Hinderer on the lock side (I carried a custom XM-18 for years). On the non-lock side, it feels very much like a TAD design with their fullers and pivot. The two sides come together nicely. Of course, that shouldn't be any surprise since Hinderer was the first maker to collaborate with TAD on the Dauntless design.
    Hinderer side


    TAD side


    In the pocket



    Comparison shots




    Overall, I think I'm going to continue to be happy with this purchase. I like the story of the Dauntless. The aesthetics appeal to my preferences in a folder. It reminds me of my old custom XM-18 that I should never have sold.

    If you have reservations about any of the criticisms described above, this may not be for you. Especially at this price range, it may be too difficult to justify the cost.

    If on the other hand you've always wanted a Dauntless or are a fan of Hinderer designs, it's something to seriously consider. Compared to other Dauntless variations that I've been interested in, this is way cheaper and it's available. Compared to other production Hinderers, it's in the same price range as XM-18s (and Sebenzas), so if you're the target audience for those, the price for what you get will be much easier to justify.

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
    Fullflat and BD_01 like this.
  2. d762nato

    d762nato Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    Good looking knife but not a fan of choils like that on folders. It does have style though, Congrats nice knife and Thanks for sharing.
    Kaizen1 likes this.
  3. ibute21

    ibute21 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Thanks for the interesting write up. What you may consider to be a downside (the nonexistent lockbar cut out), I consider a positive. Then again, I regularly carry a Spyderco Gayle Bradley so I'm used to it.
  4. BD_01

    BD_01 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2016
    Fantastic review! Thank you for outlining positive AND (potentially) negative observations. It really helps me narrow down what I may feel like trying out.

    I think the limited lockbar access migt really bug me.
  5. CPP


    Sep 8, 2014
    Thanks for the write up. You use your thumb to disengage the lockbar?!?!? I just went and tried that on a random folder and it works but I have always used my index finger without realizing there was another way. The world is a big scary place...
  6. Biochemdawg

    Biochemdawg Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 11, 2018
    I fell in love with the knife.. but, to do so I had to modify several things. I did create relief by sanding an area for my thumb to perch on when relieving the lock bar. I also weakened the detent some by hyperextending the cutout, but was very minuscule.

    My biggest issue was the high polish of the thumb studs and the jumping. I avid/stonewashed the blade and that really took care of most my issues.

    I run this like all my Hinderers now on sterling. It’s super smooth.

    I really disliked the bearing because it felt like i could really hurt myself if I was mindlessly playing with it.

    All in all it’s a good knife but for the price it could have been better. It felt in my hand like a dream so i couldn’t give up on it.
  7. Jubz


    Mar 11, 2019
    Loving mine, just got it a few weeks ago. I also modified the detent by grinding the inside edge of the detent hole where the ball comes out. Thin grinder bit; removed just the edge so there's a slight ramp. Detent now is perfect for slow and fast openings with control. And it came wicked sharp!
  8. CHNeal

    CHNeal Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 24, 2019
    I’m leaning very hard towards pulling the trigger on one of these tomorrow...what’s everyone’s thoughts after almost a year since this was posted?
  9. Biochemdawg

    Biochemdawg Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 11, 2018
    Love mine. Bought a second just in case I ever lost this one. Wish I had a picture for ya!
    CHNeal likes this.
  10. CHNeal

    CHNeal Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 24, 2019

    Thank you. Buying a second is what I would call a ringing endorsement!
  11. flash900

    flash900 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    I like my 3-inch Hinderer XMs and the Compact Dauntless is a nice addition to that collection.
    It feels good in the hand, is easy to flick open and the choils and the jimping seem designed just right.
    Like some other frame locks, you have to be careful not to let it close on your finger.
    I own the original, now hard-to-get Compact Dauntless, and if you get this, you'll know what all the excitement was about.
  12. "Havoc"

    "Havoc" Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 20, 2016

    thanks for the quick drop with your thoughts. I just pulled the trigger on an all OD Green G10 Hinderer TAD Compact here in BF and happy I did. I’ve always loved the aesthetic of the compact tad dauntless and always missed the drops from TAD. They have a current drop now.


    I like the look of the more smoothly stonewashed blade than the new ruff or working finished ones above in the link.

    looking forward to mine later next week. Will be a perfect edc no matter we’re I fly to in the U.S. :thumbsup:
    I will post some pics, thoughts and any changes I make to the one I get in a week or so after it arrives. I’m very used to tweaking all my knives unless there customs (never need it) or my new Koenig Arius Gen4B1 that’s a Dream right out the box.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020

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