Price, blade design, locking mechanism, ease of opening, construction, and overall utility (especially important in a law enforcement or fire/EMS blade) are some of the considerations that need to be taken into account. A good blade manufacturer to look at when choosing a new tactical folder is Steel Will Knives.
Steel Will Knives is an American company with an extensive line of folding and fixed blade knives organized under three different series: Outdoor, Urban, and Tactical.
The “Outdoor” series of knives is designed primarily with fishermen, hunters, hikers, climbers, and other outdoorsmen and women in mind. The “Urban” line is intended more for self-defense situations in populated areas. The “Tactical” series draws upon historical military blade designs reconfigured for 21st Century use.
The Tactical series Onrush 612 is a somewhat larger folder than I’m used to carrying. Crafted in Italy, the Onrush 612 features a drop point 3.7-inch N690Co steel blade, with an overall length of 8.98 inches open and 5.28 inches closed. Blade thickness is .14 inches and a stiff steel liner lock is used to lock it in place. The blade is protected from corrosion by a process Steel Will calls PVD. According to Steel Will, the PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) blade coating provides excellent resistance from wear and corrosion.
The black scales on the Onrush 612 are 3D machine milled G10. The angles and textures of the scales remind me of the angles used on the F117A Stealth Fighter aircraft, although Steel Will doesn’t claim any radar defeating properties. There is a tip-up carry pocket clip that can be reversed for left-hand tip-up carry
The 612 blade features ambidextrous thumb studs and an index finger flipper for smooth blade opening. There is no spring assist in the opening mechanism, and none is needed. By adding a flick of the wrist while applying finger pressure to the flipper, the blade pops open and locks solidly into place. And when I say that it locks solidly, I mean it.
I compared the Onrush 612 to a well-known mass production liner lock folder of Chinese manufacture. This particular knife cost me under $40, and is a decent knife, with some of the same design features as the 612. However, looks and features don’t automatically equate with quality, strength, and utility.
When the 612 is locked open, there is zero wobble or play between the blade and the frame of the knife. It feels like a fixed blade. The other knife has a discernible, but slight, wobble in the blade when locked in place. That’s ok for the day-to-day tasks most tactical knifes are actually used for, but when a REAL tactical situation arises, the lesser knives aren’t always up to major tasks like prying or serious rescue missions. The 612 is.
Once locked open, the frame and blade forms a pronounced finger choil, which gives the user a solid, non-slip grip on the knife. The top of the blade—and the top of the inner frame—is ridged to form a non-slip, comfortable support for the thumb. There are also serrations at the top rear of the frame that keep the thumb from slipping when the knife is held in a reverse fighting grip. When held in that grip, the choil supports the pinky finger and keeps it from sliding onto the blade.
Another feature of the Onrush 612 that I really like is the glass-breaking pyramid at the end of the grip, which is also part of a lanyard attachment hole. A glass breaker of this type is designed for breaking ONLY side window automotive safety glass for rescue purposes. Just tap the breaker in the bottom corners of a closed window and the entire piece of glass fractures.
The 612 comes with a nylon carrying pouch that can be attached to MOLLE gear, or worn on a belt. It uses a clip closure, rather than a snap closure, for added security.
The Onrush 612 is currently on sale on the Steel Will website for $191.24 with free shipping. The Onrush 622 has a tanto style blade. See the entire Steel Will line at: www.steelwillknives.com.