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Talonite TTKK Review

In the following review, I kind of assume everyone knows about the TTKK and it's design criteria. If not let me know, and I'll discuss it more ...


A few weeks ago I received my TTTKK from Trace Rinaldi. You can see
its 4" brother at www.pe.net/~thrblade

The design:

The knife design is aimed at light camp and overall utility use. It has
a dropped point for control, enough belly for slicing and chopping
food, a 1/8" thick spine and full flat grind for excellent cutting
ability all around. And it's got a drop-blade format (rather than a
guard) for finger protection, so you can rock the knife on its belly
while chopping food. I love this format for both camp and around the
house use, I don't like not having finger protection, but formal
guards can get in the way for certain jobs.

The knife as it arrived was absolutely gorgeous! With burgandy micarta
handles and mosaic pins, it was really classy looking. One of my
objectives was to have an innocuous-looking travel knife that cuts like
crazy, and this definitely fit the bill. I think almost everyone has at
least a niche-need for a knife that looks nice enough not to scare
people, but cuts well.


Trace made me a nice deal on this knife, as a thank you because I had
designed it originally. I feel my review is completely objective, but
if such things make you suspicious, now you know.

As a cutter:

Okay, the talonite blade had an edge on it that ranged from about 15
degrees near the tip, to probably 18-20 degrees along some parts of the
flats. The knife cut nicely even in hard rope -- talonite has a
reputation for being "slippery", but if so, the thinness of the edge
seems to have made up for it somewhat. My ATS-34 TTKK didn't seem to
slice particularly better than the talonite. However, I did not really
do a full head-to-head test of the two materials, so I (and you
should too) continue to withhold judgement about talonite's slicing performance. It also whittled extremely
well, due to the thin edge. Again, this was a quickie performance check
rather than my usual head-to-head testing, so I'm not coming to any
conclusions yet, but whether in talonite or ATS-34, this knife appears to perform exceedingly well! Ergonomics in all cutting was comfortable and

The handle:

The handle has a single index-finger cutout, followed by a palm swell,
and ends in a bird's beak. The handle worked really well for me, the
index finger groove and palm swell provided good comfortable security,
and the bird's beak came in handy in a number of uses.


I next went to see how well the talonite would hold up at the edge.
This knife is NOT designed as a wood chopper -- it's purposely
thin-spined and thin-edge for maximum cutting efficiency and food
chopping. But I took it out and whaled on a soft log for a while. Even
with the thin edge, the talonite held up perfectly, not a ding anywhere.
Then I took out a kamagong (ironwood) stick, and that did finally take
some small pieces from the edge. An ATS-34 blade with similar thin
edge did get slightly roughed up on the kamagong, but not quite as
much. This thin edge is perfect for the talonite TTKK, but for a
talonite knife designed as a chopper, you'll definitely want it thicker.

I re-sharpened the edge to my standard 15/20 edge despite the fact
that I still hadn't seen any edge degradation. I used the Spyderco
204 Sharpmaker and a DMT x-coarse stone. Leaning the DMT stone against
the sticks, I did most of the original 15-degree reprofiling. Then
finished the 15-degree reprofiling with the spyderco coarse sticks,
then went to 20 degrees, finished with fine sticks and the strop.
Sharpening was not too difficult at all.

I've since redone the tests I had originally done, and confirmed
that with the 15/20 edge it performs just as well as Trace's
original edge, if not a bit better.

In the Kitchen:

I've been using the knife at barbecues and around the kitchen.
It handles very well as a kitchen knife, and still doesn't need
resharpening. Again, I haven't done head to head tests yet, but by
gut feel, I think an ATS-34 blade would have been dulled by now.
One of the nicest things about the TTKK is that it doesn't look
*exactly* like a kitchen knife, which means no one uses it but me,
which means it's always sharp for me. Ah, another thing, I've left
this knife gunked up with food juices and various acidic fruit juices
for hours and sometimes overnight, not even a hint of rust.

If you're heavier on kitchen knife use, ask Trace to make the knife
with a little less belly. The current design, with the typical
amount of belly you'd see on, say, a hunter, leans slightly more towards
utility or hunting use, but still performs great in the kitchen.

The sheath:

Trace made me a multi-carry carbon fiber concealex (that's what it is,
right Trace?) sheath. It's nicely done. I'm using it these days as
a slip sheath, but it has attachments for horizontal carry, IWB
carry, and my fave for around camp, swivel-clip carry. With the
swivel clip, you can quickly move the knife&sheath from your belt
loop to a pack without taking your belt off.

As a defensive knife:

A defensive knife? The TTKK? Yeah, definitely! Look at it: the
ergonomics are excellent, the point is dropped, plenty of belly for
slashing, incredible edge geometry for maximum cutting, comfortable and
secure in earth grip for those of you who favor it (though not as strong
here as a knife designed for that grip), multicarry sheath for a number
of carry options. And even at 1/8" thick, tough enough to handle a
whole lot. And hey, get it in burgundy micarta and mosaic pins, and it
won't even scare your family and friends ... too much. This is a time
I feel a purpose-designed camp/utility knife works fine for defense.


I love this knife. Performance in its targeted areas is just superb --
exactly what you'd think you'd get from a thin-spined thin-edged
drop-point blade. The ergonomics work very well, and I've found
a number of uses where wrapping a finger around the bird's beak made
things easier to do. The looks, depending on the material choice,
can be from utilitarian to utterly classy -- for me, the classy
look is my goal for this knife. I'm still discovering talonite
but so far love it for this application -- it cuts well, doesn't
rust out from under you when you (or whoever is preparing food
with it) leaves it covered with rust-causing substances for too

Of course, remember the most important conclusion -- I designed this
knife, it's hardly a surprise that it ended up working out perfectly
for me! Your mileage may vary depending on your needs, but I've
tried to outline the design objectives so you could decide for yourself
how useful this knife would be to you.


Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
Joe, nice job as usual :

The knife cut nicely even in hard rope

I don't quite understand why it wouldn't be expected to. A polished edge that is nice and thin should go through most things like butter, being "slippery" should only make it easier not worse. I wonder if the complaints about rope cutting are from people sawing lightly like it was serrated instead of just using direct pressure. I rarely have to saw unless the rope is huge - like docking like or similar (2+" thick).

Then I took out a kamagong (ironwood) stick, and that did finally take some small pieces from the edge. An ATS-34 blade with similar thin edge did get slightly roughed up on the kamagong, but not quite as much.

Chipping (clean breaks) or indenting to the point of fracture (metal pushed out usually leaving slivers)? Impact toughness is my only concern about Talonite. I think I might ask Rob Simonich if I can buy an unfinished blade (no handle, just a ground blank no polishing), and see how it handles. He does have a production line coming out, so I might look into that either. I realize that you can always go thicker, but there are blade materials that can handle impacts with thin profiles.

Sharpening was not too difficult at all.

Time wise how would you compare it to your ATS-34 version? Significantly different or not? Did you notice any excessive loading?


Thanks Cliff

After the kamagong, the blade had some small half-moon type cutouts in it. They didn't necessarily look like a ding, where I can see the metal pushed up and around the indentation. And it didn't look like a classic chip with very smooth edges. The half-moon cutouts were very ragged.

In really hard rope, given two knives with the exact same edge geometry, I typically expect the coarser one to cut better. That's because with hard rope, it's difficult to push-cut through, so you're depending more on slicing, and that depends more on coarseness. On soft rope, a thin edge is always champ, 'cause you can push-cut right through it more.

In any case, having used the knife for a couple weeks since the review was written, I have absolutely no cutting performance worries with talonite. It's performing excellently with that thin edge, and being able to leave it gunked up overnight after a hard day's use in the kitchen is nice. Utility-wise it's performing wonderfully as well.

The sharpening went pretty quickly, but remember the edge was already extraordinarily thin, and I did use an x-coarse stone to get the initial bevel. It did not load up the stone inordinately, and a burr was easily formed and ground off on the spyderco stones and strop. I'll get a better idea of this when I resharpen, when I'll use the spyderco stones strictly.


Joe :

They didn't necessarily look like a ding, where I can see the metal pushed up and around the indentation. And it didn't look like a classic chip with very smooth edges.

I would have bet heavily they would have looked just like you described the dings, would have lost money on that. Your description has me very interested. I'll have to drop Rob an email.

As for stain resistance yes, it can be wonderful. If I could get it without having to compromise on the cutting ability I would pay for it heavily.

Joe & Cliff,

Great stuff as always. Joe, for those who don't know, offered suggestions when I was putting together specs on the Chimera by Rinaldi. We ended up with basically identical blades. The handles are different. Those finger cutouts aren't as impeding to grip variances as most might think. There's a recent review elsewhere on the Chimera by another owner which addresses this. One thing they do do is provide protection to the hand which I really wanted.

On the Talonite blade. First Cliff you're spot on about the slicing rather than push cuts on rope. It gets mentioned more as a warning so that expectation when using an incorrect approach to rope aren't blown
Second, Joe. I really wish we had access to a photo-microscope so we could see a 40x or so blow up of that indentation. It's the first I've heard of anyone having that happen and we're including Steven Dick's thrashing of that big Talonite chopper Rob submitted for a work out evaluation. All I can think of is that there may have been a flaw in the matrix which resulted in diminished cobalt and a "real" soft RC. The material sounds like it has been compressed rather than chipped. I say this thinking that the cragginess is due to cobalt particles extending from the matrix. I'll shoot this page to Rob and maybe he can comment. Regardless you rightly pointed out that the blade wasn't designed for this, but as tough as I've found Talonite to be over the last 10 months or so, I'm still rather surprised. Leave it to you two though. If it were to happen, you know it'd be when one of you were putting the stuff through its paces

-=[Bob Allman]=-

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

BFC member since 3 Oct 98
AKTI membership pending
VHA and NRA member

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 15 September 1999).]
Bob-Why are you surprised? I would expect that a 1/8" (.125)thick piece of talonite with a 15-20 degree angle and ground "xtra thin" will most certainly impact on hardwood.

I am sure that the big chopper Steve Dick tested is probably way bigger and thicker at the edge than Joe's sleek matter separator.

Joe-get some calipers and measure the edge thickness of your TR TalmadgeTactical Kitchen Knife and report back. A Simonich Cetan is nominally .035" before sharpening (or it least the several I have measured seem that way. In my use, this seems to be a decent thickness for a Talonite small fb.

From your description, it sounds like your knife may be closer to .020-.025 at the bevel.

Thats a BIG difference. Kinda like the difference between a Carnivour and an AXIS........possibly too thin for the softer Talonite....we shall see.
Right! Remember, this is a blade that by request was ground with a thin edge, is only 1/8" thick at the spine, and is 1 5/16" wide (which means it's thin all the way up!). It's a pretty bad design for chopping on hardwood -- but man, does it cut! I don't think this speaks badly about talonite, and I'm sure the talonite blade that was cutting dimes and chopping hardwood was thicker. What I'm not sure of is how a blade of (say) ATS-34 or D-2 or whatever would have held up. My smaller (and thicker-edged) ATS-34 TTKK took a little damage at the edge also, but it's not quite a direct comparison as that edge thickened much more quickly.

I knew at the time I did this I was really testing outside the design parameters, but what curious as to how things would hold up. In fact, I even felt the hard chopping on pine was pushing it, but the blade held up to that easy.

Where can I pick up a set of calipers? Radio shack?


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 15 September 1999).]
Anthony & Joe:

If the TTKK is that thin, absolutely! Here I commented that the blade looks to be exactly the same as my Chimera.... maybe not. The Chimera's 1/8" stock is flat ground all the way but the edge bevel is very short, not more than 1/32" which leaves the edge still fairly strong. Joe's is structurally much thinner at the business end. Mmmmmmm.... That may have been one spec we differed on. Joe, you're famous for loving that wispy thin blade that cuts like crazy and Trace did indeed grind it thinner for you
! No arguement from me; they work a damn sight better than sharpened prybars
!!! I have both dial calipers and a micrometer on my reloading bench. I'll have to mike mine and post the numbers. Be interesting to see just how much thicker mine is. And what the heck, I'll mike my 3/16" Simonich Wambli too.

-=[Bob Allman]=-

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

BFC member since 3 Oct 98
AKTI membership pending
VHA and NRA member

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 15 September 1999).]

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 15 September 1999).]
Anthony :

I am sure that the big chopper Steve Dick tested is probably way bigger and thicker at the edge than Joe's sleek matter separator.

I have heard comments (in these forums) like Talonite is much more resistant to deformation and chipping than Busse's A2. That is a pretty strong statement indeed and it would lead me to expect very strong performance. A2 is much tougher and far less prone to fracture than ATS-34.

While it is of course true that the bigger knife will have a thicker edge, it will also take far greater impact forces so I don't think it would be unreasonable to assume the damage might scale uniformly. It will be interesting to see some field reports. I would be very interested in just what kind of edge geometry that a decent sized knife should have in order to avoid damage.

It does sound like it would make an excellent kitchen knife though. I was planning on getting Mel to make me a set but sadly that is no longer an option. What kind of wait does Trace have on his knives?

Nice report Joe.

Fascinating stuff! When you test past design parameters and still get pretty impressive performance, that says a lot.

Joe, you should be able to purchase calipers at any store which has good tools (in this area, Home Depot should have them). Grizzly Industrial carries them (I just checked their catalog - their number is 1-800-523-4777). Harbor Freight also should have them at 1-800-423-2567.
Joe, have you used the blade with a coarse edge yet? If so how does it wear down? I was very interested in Rob's description of a gradual polishing effect that he saw when he left the edge coarse on his Talonite blades as I have never seen that before.

Generally I seperate blades two ways when it comes to coarse edges. The first type of edge just blunts slowly and responds well to extended steeling. This always happens in relatively soft low-alloy steels that are very ductile and I am guessing that the micro-serrations are simply being bent and thus can easily be aligned again. The second type of edge wears slower and then suffers a massive blunting and does not respond well to steeling. This effect is common on high-alloy high RC steels. I think here what is happening is that the micro-serrations resist reforming strongly but suffer fracture when they eventually do.

Any comments on this with respect to Talonite? Have you found similar in general?


Joe, Cliff, Bob and all the rest. I heard about these chips before Joe posted this thread so I thought I would play around with some scrap and watch the thread before I commented. I told Joe that I wasnt surprised about the chipping of the very thin edge on the Ironwood. I recently had a customer take a chip out of a big Talonite blade chopping last years Elk bones. I tried to knock a chip out of the blade by chopping through an old Oak 2X4 but I couldnt chip it. This particular blade was kind of a Kukri shape and so I hollow ground it so I could follow the curve. My mistake as I got the edge to thin for its intended purpose. Steven Dicks knife is much more robustly flat ground. The edge on it is around .035" before sharpening, and has plenty of meat above that to support the edge. It has very similar edge geometry to a Busse Steel Heart I recently had in my shop. By the way, the chip out of the Kukri looked just like Joe described.

Cliff, where have you read that Talonite is as tough as A-2? I certainly dont agree with that statement! A-2 is my personal choice for a big Chopper, and is hard to beat. I am also on record as saying that Talonite will take a bend easier than ATS-34, and snap at less of an angle than a PROPERLY heat treated ATS-34 blade. I am doing some testing with Cryo on Talonite, but doubt there will be any changes in the material. The knives that I hammer through the coins have about a .030 edge as Anthony describes and are sharpened at about a 20 deg angle. I place the coin on a copper bar and hammer the edge through the coin by hammering on the spine with a rawhide hammer, so there is no blunt trauma involved. At the Blade Show, Anthony took my personal Cetan and did a brass rod test on it, he reefed pretty darn hard on it and there was a tiny bit of deformation at the edge but no chipping. A few strokes on a stone and they were gone. Anthony, correct me if I am wrong, but didnt you say that most ATS-34 knive you have done that to knocked a chip out of? Please respond to this if you read it.

I love this thread as I am learning more about Talonite, I am positive it is a great material for smaller utility knives, kitchen knives and anything around salt water, but choppers? I think the jury is still out on that one, and whatever the results, it gives us all more information to make materials choices, which is a good thing!

I should have known better... neither the dial blade caliper nor micrometer give repeatable enough numbers to use. I too, like Joe, will need point calipers if I'm to get that measurement.

On that A2 business someone may be mistaking some comparisons of edge retention with Talonite for toughness. Just a thought.

-=[Bob Allman]=-

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

BFC member since 3 Oct 98
AKTI membership pending
VHA and NRA member

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 16 September 1999).]

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 17 September 1999).]

I use a Mitutoyo dial caliper. I like to measure the top of the edge bevel for a reference.

Really good heat treated 440C and ATS with decent geometry (25-45 thousandths) will flex over a brass rod and not chip out.
Good Carbon will easily flex even at extreme thinness(15-20 thousandths). Most factory heat treated stainless knives chip out when laid on the rod. (I use the brass Sharpmaker rod). factory 440V always chips out.
Knives sharpened with a single bevel usually do as well since the edge is more acute and there is less support.

Robs cetan impacted slightly but did not chip. It would have easily stoned out on a smooth stone. The talonite did seem to flex a bit before taking the small dent.

Kim Breed turned me on to this test. I think its a good predictor of whether a knife will chip if it hits a large staple while cutting a box or even bone while skinning game.
lets face the facts...the stuff is fairly soft compared to the knife steels we usually use....so we HAVE to compensate for this in our designs....this is one of the reasons i stopped using stellite 6k a number of years ago.......but talonite seems to be a lot better...just in my short run of using it.. takes a great edge....absolutely will not rust....rob sells it to me for super cheap, and it drills like butter...but seriously, the pendulum of life swings back and forth, we can not have everything.....choose your battles carefully....and i am really liking talonite a lot...


What a great thread! This has been very educational. Thanks, guys. I only wish I had my Chimera so I could campare notes...

Rob -- Have you thought of making a Talonite Nordooh? I don't know, the Nordooh just seems like a good model for Talonite that would be hard to chip out -- from the pics, it looks like there is alot of meat behind the edge.

Clay Fleischer
AKTI Member A000847

Specialization is for insects.
You know, I left out one big piece of data. My TTTKK is 5.5" long, not the standard 4" version. So the blade is both longer and wider than the standard, plus the edge was ground x-thin at my request.

I have multiple roles involved for this knife. First, it's my main kitchen knife. My actual kitchen knives are always dull and abused by certain people, not to mention my wife or mother-in-law by name
So although this isn't the perfect kitchen knife shape, it's wickedly sharp and does most 6" chef's knife jobs with aplomb, plus no one touches it but me. Since it's so classy looking, it'll also be my travel knife. I will probably take it camping too, though I think the 4" version is the sweet spot for that role. It's also working as an around-the-house utility knife.


I am anxiously awaiting my own 5.5" black handled, camo sheathed TTTKK from Trace. It should be here anyday according to latest correspondence from Trace. I can't wait to try out my first Rinaldi and Talonite blade at the same time.

Joe: Yes you are correct! it is a Carbon Fiber, Concealex, Multi-Carry sheath Whew!! what a mouthfull!!!:) Glad to hear you are getting positive results from your Talonite. Talmadge. Tactical. Kitchen. Knife. yet another mouthfull!! That blade was gound REAL thin, and I would be suprised if there wasnt some edge damage in your hardwood test.
For what the knife was intended I seriously doubt any damage would result from "Normal" use. Thanks for the kind words and insight, I am learning all the time..

Take Care

How does one perform this brass rod test? And why brass?