Review The Monarch: Beautiful Little Brute

Steely_Gunz

Got the Khukuri fevah
Moderator
Joined
May 9, 2002
Messages
10,482
About 12 years, right before Andy made me my first Fiddleback knife, my place of business had an unexpected office pet. No one was looking to adopt an animal, and we certainly weren't set up to care for anything that required even a modest amount of doting. Still Alki came into our lives, we were smitten. We would open the main office door every morning to set down our things, and there would be Alki hanging out on the window sill, his large eyes taking us in as he looked up to study us. He'd crane his head up to observe our movements, and with a flurry of metallic green mouth parts, he would scuttle over to the edge of the desk in his signature way on his eight hairy legs.

Did I forget to mention that Alki was a Bold Jumping Spider? ;)
tibor-nagy-flicker-sharing.jpg

"Bonjour"

Named not to poke any fun at a potential drinking problem, although I guess all spiders have a drinking problem in a manner of speaking, but because we were (and still are) a very unoriginal bunch at my office. Alki was found hanging out around an old left over plastic bucket of pool chemical that increases the alkalinity of water. We could have named him Baking Soda, I guess, but he never complained about (or responded to) Alki.

For those who aren't spider nerds, Bold (or Daring) Jumping Spiders are an incredibly interesting and totally harmless group of spiders that are pretty much found all over. Known for their squat and powerful wide bodies, 2 large (adorable) binocular forward eyes (along with six other circling their head), and black and white/gray fuzzy bodies, these little powerhouses are the stuntmen of the spider world. Using their webbing more as a safety line in case of missed jumps rather than to ensnare prey, these minute brutes can cross gaps well over several feet across despite being about the size of your thumb nail. While completely harmless to humans, Bold Jumping Spiders take no guff and if prodded a bit will actually turn around raise up and shake their front arms in a warning display like a drunken soccer hooligan. Not to mention they routinely take down bugs 3 times their size. We used to feed Alki cave crickets that we found hiding under the shelves.

7983be39db636371b2676c778359ccf7-jumping-spider-praise-the-lords.jpg

Oi!

Bold Jumping Spiders have been shown in various studies to not only demonstrate complicated response/communication to stimuli (like being shown a video of another spider of their species) but seem to indicate that they can "think" forwardly inasmuch as they have been observed spotting prey, then moving out and around for a better line of attack while losing sight of their target in the meantime. These doesn't seem like much, but this means that this spider actually has an understanding of object permanence, something we humans don't grasp until we are well over a year+ old (the reason you basically disappear from existence and rematerialize out of the ether when you play Peek-a-Boo with a baby). Anyway, my point is, these little buggers are problem solvers in a way most aren't.

Why do I bring up Alki and ramble on about Spiders for several paragraphs? It's because this Fiddleback Monarch reminds me so much of them. Sporting that "I came to formally party" tuxedo T Shirt zebra print G10 with zoot suit pinstripe liners, it reminds me a lot of the little spider's markings. Stout and powerful in build yet compact enough to keep handy, the Monarch inspires a sense of being a knife that can be pressed into all manner of service where ingenuity and imagination will be an even greater ally than a big honking bruiser of a knife clobbering its way through things. The Monarch strikes me as a great blade to have on your person, regardless of the situation. With its wide blade and strong point, it is a knife that can handle everything from mundane EDC box opening to "oh crap, we're lost" bushcraft, to more improbable tactical needs of self defense with its thin piercing point and very substantial purchase. It has a good size blade and hand-hugging grip (a staple gene in every Fiddleback I have handled), so the Monarch easily becomes an extension of your arm. It effortlessly glides through all manner of material and shifts easily to different grips. The refinement of this knife is incredible.

20210302-122425.jpg

It's amazing that when I compare it to my 8 year old Hiking Body that it feels even more lively in the hand despite being about 3/4" longer with a much broader blade.
20210302-122456.jpg

Most this comes from the Monarch being of thinner stock, which actually is a good thing. I appreciate the wide hand-filling grip, but any wider and it would have been a bit too round for my liking. One small criticism I have had with the HB is that it's just a little too slim and a might slick with the synthetic handle. It's not a deal breaker at all, I just had to makes sure my hands weren't overly wet when I used it. The Monarch is smooth too, but the shape of the grip lends itself to a more secure purchase. Im also super jazzed to see the hammer marks on the steel and that Andy's signature is stamped in instead of etched on. My two earlier Fiddleback knives are no longer "signed". Oh no! There goes their resell value!... like I would ever part with them short of having hipster bragging rights of knowing Andy before it was cool ;)

So here's where this knife lands for me when it comes to first impressions: It knocks it out of the park. I have tried carrying a ZT180 for a little over a year now, and man, while it is indestructible, it is super heavy for a 4" blade. I recently bought a Ontario Blackbird SK4, but the grip is just too narrow and oval. I couldn't use it comfortably at all. The Monarch, while a touch shorter, actually combines the wide blade of the Blackbird with the more hand filling grip of the ZT180 (except way more comfortable). It very well may be my go-to edc for a good time to come. Large enough to work, small enough not to be cumbersome. The G10 gives it purchase without out being rough. I really dunno what I would change about it...short of wishing I would have bought it before I tried other knives that didn't do half as good of a job;)

Unsurprisingly, chalk me up as a very satisfied customer. I have a design in mind for a sheath I plan on working on tomorrow. If all goes to plan, the Monarch, my elegant little brute, will be on my edc hip by the weekend.

Thanks so much to everyone at Fiddleback Forge and y'all taking the time to read my wall o' text
 

Hurrul

Gold Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
523
Thanks for sharing - it was a great read. Really drew me in with the spider pics and story. Oh yeah, and the knife, too.:)

I was tempted to buy this one, but good thing I didn't.

Happy trails out there.
 

Steely_Gunz

Got the Khukuri fevah
Moderator
Joined
May 9, 2002
Messages
10,482
Much appreciated, guys.
I'm really digging it. A bit of coincidence, the Monarch fits a sheath I made for the ZT180 well enough to ride along tomorrow. I'm still going to make it an official pair of pants since the balance point is far enough back on the handle that I will need to make sure to seat it deep enough so that the knife won't tip out, but the ZT sheath will do the job for the day until I can start cutting and bending tomorrow afternoon.

I think one of the best parts of buying this knife is getting a chronological feel for how Fiddleback Forge has constantly moved forward, how the knives have just gotten better and more refined. At its core, the Monarch feels every bit related to my old Woodsman as you would expect. Same feel and attention to detail but yet improved. Lessons learned, things streamlined, perfected.
 

Steely_Gunz

Got the Khukuri fevah
Moderator
Joined
May 9, 2002
Messages
10,482
Jake?

You write good.

Thank you.

Thanks for the kind words:)

Writing is just like talkin' except I generally catch it before I put my foot too deep in my mouth....generally.

I just appreciate anyone talking the time to read my posts :)

Long story short for those that like to cut to the chase: itsy bitsy spider, Andy and Company make a hellova knife. You should buy! The end, and thank you :)
 

Comprehensivist

Platinum Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Messages
2,630
Nice choice on the knife and great write-up.

I carried a Monarch as my main knife for about a year back when they first came out. I like how the taller handle on this model and the Sneaky Pete give a lot of torque control when carving into harder stuff. The Monarch is a very sturdy and secure feeling compact knife. I like how Andy and Phillip have evolved in their handle shaping to put a nice soft radius on the pommel surfaces. The original ones back in the day were kind of squared-off and sharp feeling.

I think the Monarch is at its best with 1/8” or 3/32” steel. I finally sold mine because it was 5/32” steel which seemed to thick for me once I started migrating to thinner blades.

Thanks again the the write-up. You picked a winner.

Phil
 

TrainedBullets

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
276
Nice review! I agree with all of the points made so far, especially those about torque control and being a compact powerhouse. The handle is a perfect length for me and I appreciate the extra purchase I get with the taller design (vs say my bushraptor). It’s a hell of a slicer at 1/8” stock. 3/32” must be insane.
 

RayseM

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2010
Messages
6,053
SPOILER ALERT ~ "Long story short for those that like to cut to the chase: itsy bitsy spider, Andy and Company make a hellova knife. You should buy! The end, and thank you." :)

Still - don't let me stop you - read the most excellent post :thumbsup: Thanks for all that Jake. Learned a lot I didn't know about Bold Jumping spiders and confirmed what I already knew about Andy's (and company) knives. :)
 

Kismet

Basic Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
7,200
Not sure why it took so long to dawn on me, but how absolutely appropriate that Steely Gunz should reflect upon Alki
as he considered and chose a daily carry from Fiddleback Forge.

Whole bunch of arachnids going on here.
 

Fiddleback

Knifemaker
Moderator
Dealer / Materials Provider
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
19,589
Man, I couldn't be happier you got that knife Jake. I knew the handle was fuller figured, and I thought that would appeal to you.

Thanks for the great spider story as well.

FYI, I can re-mark your older knives for you free of charge if you'd like!

Andy
 
Top