Boker /Pohl Kalashnikov 74 Automatic
I have always like Boker knives. They have traditionally been made in Germany with impeccable quality. Like many, manufacturers, Boker has added products that were outsourced to lower cost Asian production facilities.
This knife, model KALS74 (Kalashnikov 74), manufactured in Taiwan, comes boxed in a novel package made to look like a ammo clip.
Inside, you will find a nice looking finger groove automatic knife with a pocket clip.
The knife is 4 1/4 inches long, 1 3/8 inches wide and 5/8 inch thick ( 13/16" including pocket clip) closed. It has a 3 1/4" x 1" blade of AUS8 stainless steel, flat ground, with smooth gray bead blasted finish. The blade was extremely sharp right out of the box.
As noted on the blade, this is a design by Dietmar Pohl of Germany. Mr. Pohl is quite knowledgeable about knives and is a respected author on the subject. I have had the pleasure of working with Dietmar on a knife article that was plublished in the German publication "Messer Magazin" and I had the pleasure of meeting him at the 2008 Blade Show.
The release button is recessed but not quite flush with the handle. With the blade closed, the button extends about 3/32" inch beyond the handle and about 1/16" with the blade open. I thought the "Kalashnikov" branding on the pivot screw was a nice touch.
The fist time I saw this knife I passed on it because it did not have a safety. I am very leery of carrying an auto without a safety as I have had them open in my pocket when bending over or pressing something against my leg. The grooves for a safety switch had been cut into the inside of the handles but the switch was not present. Later, I found the knife at a gun and knife show and I was pleased to see that the safety switch had been added so I bought one.
My enthusiasm for the safety switch soon faded however when I began using the knife. The switch slide is anything but smooth and it is very difficult to operate with the thumb and virtually impossible with your forefinger as would be necessary in the opening position. I am sure that is is something of a challenge to design a safety that is strong enough to prevent accidental disengaement but still easy to disengage when needed. This one however just seems to be poor fit and operation. It does click solidly into both positions but does not do so easily.
The handle is aluminum although the texture and feel fooled me into thinking it was plastic at first. It is very rigid and sturdy. I was not able to flex it all at the blade slot. The fit and finish is very good with just the slightest bit of slop in the blade fit. The action is smooth and crisp with a solid lock up. The blade snaps open with authority and a distinctive "snap" that might not be desirable if wanted to open the knife discretely.
It has a nice feel in the hand. Finger grooves are always a risk as there are all size hands out there but this one fit's my medium size hands perfectly. The textured handles with raised ridges provide a good non-slip grip. At only 3.5 ounces, the knife is light weight but it's 4 1/4" x 1 1/2" size is on the upper limit of what I like to carry in my pocket. The pocket clip is quite sturdy but I think it is longer than it needs to be. I would prefer a shorter, less obvious clip.
I haven't had the knife long but from the light to medium use I have given it so far the blade is still as sharp and pristeen as when I took it out of the box. I like the overall size and design.
All things considered, I think this is a good knife at it's under $50 price point. Not great, but good. I seldom buy Taiwan manufactured knives these days but the Boker and Pohl names sold me on this one along with the AUS8 blade steel. A better safety, less obvious pocket clip, and perhaps something to quiet the opening snap a bit would make this one a winner in my opinion. Making it just a bit smaller might be even better.