Monday, July 2, 2018

Cheap Gear Review: Ozark Trail Pocket Knife

As many of you are aware, I like cheap gear. I also like knives, and I think I may have found an excellent combination of the two.

There is a brand of products called Ozark Trail, meant to compete with national brands on an “Okay quality, good price” basis. One of the things that they sell is actually called the Ozark Trail Everyday Carry Rivet Knife. Aside from the name (EDC knife), I find myself drawn to it by the price: $4.99 on Amazon as of this writing. It's cheap enough that you can hand them out as stocking stuffers, or to a teenager headed to scout camp, or to a co-worker, and not sweat the price.
The knife is a liner-lock folder with a three-inch tanto tip and rear serrations. The four-inch handle is made of plastic. While it doesn't seem much to speak of, this review has actually been six months in the making and I am actually very impressed with this knife.

Use and Abuse
Things I have done to this knife:
  • I have run it through the dishwasher several times. No rust spots.
  • It has been left to soak overnight, which turned into a week. No rust spots.
  • I have used it to pry up staples from a tarp that was improperly attached to a wood frame.
  • I have used it to pry car parts apart from each other when working on my car. It wasn't the best tool, but the knife did not break, bend, deform, etc.
  • I have used the tip to make fairly precise cuts on paper, including cutting painter's tape in order to mask things off for air brushing. While it is not as precise as a razor, it actually seems to hold a tip better than my Cold Steel Black Sable.
  • It survived drops from my roof to the concrete (multiple times) and from my roof to the asphalt of the street with no ill effects. The blade didn’t even come out when it hit the ground, and there was no damage beyond scratches on the handle.
  • I have used it to cook, just because I could. It does in fact cut tomatoes, but it should be sharpened beforehand if you have been using it, and it is a little too small to cut them easily.

Now for the big one:

Surviving a Teenage Boy
I gave one of these (not the one that I have tested myself) to my 14 year-old nephew to take to scout camp and told him that he needed to test it to its limits and that I would replace this if it broke.

He has cut rope, whittled wood, carved his initials into a chunk of soapstone, hammered tent stakes, used it for eating, scraped the crud off the bottom of a cast iron pan, opened cans of food, cut up old bike tires, and generally been a teenage boy with it. Aside from needing to be sharpened (which has mostly consisted on running the end of it through a Lansky Blade Medic), I have had to do no real maintenance on it. The frame has not cracked and the blade has not bent, chipped, or broken.

The one thing I have against this knife? The liner lock spring is quite stiff, and for someone with low hand or grip strength, it can be difficult to close one-handed. The liner lock is in fact stiff enough that it causes difficulty opening it for the first while that you own it, due to the friction on the blade itself, until it breaks in.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It doesn't keep an edge as well as my Benchmade, or my Kershaw, or my other very nice knives, nor does it have some of the features I like (glass breaker, seatbelt cutter, etc.) but it costs nowhere near as much, and is about 80% as nice. I completely recommend it as an inexpensive EDC knife that, if it goes missing or breaks, you will not cry over.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice.

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