Test/Review AG Russell One-Hander FeatherLite

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Mike P. Swaim

Jul 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/20/97

Initial Impressions

When AG mentioned that he was sending me a modern version of his
justly famous One-Hander to test, I was very interested to see if the
Zytel handled version addressed a few of my concerns about the
Original One-Hander. Many years ago, I had one of his metal handled
originals, and though it was a nice knife, I gave it away the very
first time I got a Spyderco Endura. My chief gripes with the Original
was that it was a little difficult to carefully thumb open, (though it
could be opened in a manner that makes it fail the Mattis centrifugal
test ;-), and had heavy, slick-sided metal handles that were hard to
hold on to.

Out of the wrapper, the lightweight One-Hander that AG sent me, was
very difficult to open. A drop of mineral oil in the pivot, and some
working of the knife, quickly loosened up the action. I suspect that
some manufacturing particles were causing the blade to bind at first,
but this was very easily remedied. With that done, this one, too,
fails the Mattis flip test. ;-)

One thing that really struck me right away about this knife is it's
extreme lightweight and ultra-flatness. It's designed for pocket
carry, and doesn't feature a pocket clip, so the flatness and
lightweight really helps. At it's widest, it's a mere 3/8" thick, and
is 3 15/16th" closed.
The smallish oblong opening hole is accessed by true ambidexterous
recesses in either side of the checkered handle, and the action is
top-lock. For my thumbs the recesses could stand to be a little
deeper, but that's a very minor nit.

The blade on the one shipped is a 3 1/8th", smooth edged, Warnclife
point, piece of AUS8A, with 2 13/16th" of ultra sharp edge. The blade
grind and shape instantly reminded me of one of my favorite
lightweight pocket folders; the Moki Elite. Little surprise that
they're both stamped Seki Japan, and I wonder if they are made in the
same factory.
I tested the knife against some similar niche knives that I have
laying around. All of the knives started out capable of really
"popping" the hair off my arm, but were not resharpened or retouched
throughout the tests.

Ergonomic Comparison Tests- 1" Oak Dowel Whittling--DRY hands

For this test, I used 1" Oak dowels since they are commonly available,
cheaply throughout the US, and since oak represents a consistently
fairly tough medium. I marked the dowels every 2" and then "whittled"
a point onto the dowels as fast and efficiently as I could with each
knife, and counted and recorded the number of strokes or cuts and
recorded the time it took using a stopwatch. I repeated this test (3)
times with each knife and averaged the results. A proper point on the
sticks was defined as causing minor pain when thumb pressure was
applied, and should be capable of putting a 1/16th" hole in taut
newsprint when twirled.

Moki Elite plain edge-- 63 cuts/68 sec.

Mini-AFCK-- 77cuts/ 73 sec.

AG Russell One-Hander Litewt-- 86 cuts/72 sec.

Spyderco Walker Lightweight--- 117 cuts/ 121 sec.
1" Oak Dowel Whittling -- OILY hand
Above test duplicated while wearing Kevlar glove, with vinyl glove
over that and mineral oil liberally applied to vinyl glove.

AG Russell One-Hander Litewt-- 76 cuts/97 sec.
very easy to hold on to

Mini-AFCK-- 78 cuts/94 sec.
no problem holding on at all

Spyderco Walker Ltwt-- 108 cuts/153 sec.
very difficult to hold on to due to tapered butt

Moki Elite-- testing discontinued after a single session going 150
cuts/ 180 sec. with no point yet made-- very hard to hold on to , very
likely to let hand slip onto blade
Edge Retention test--
For this aspect I used some solid core, hard 3/8" polypropylene rope.
The rope was put on a 1x4 board and the number of times that the
knives could cleanly sever the rope in ONE slice towards me, before
dulling was recorded. In this case, a higher number represents longer
edge retention.

++Mini-AFCK-- testing discontinued after cutting over 80 ropes in one
pass ea. with no noticeable dulling, and no idea how many more it
would take to dull it substantially

Spyderco Ltwt Walker-- 66 ropes cut

Moki Pln Edge Elite-- 41 ropes cut, and at 43 it took (5) slices to
finish cut!!

AG Russell One-Hander Litewt. -- 39 ropes cut, and like the Moki, when
it's lost this much edge, it is _really_ gone

Just for jollys I also did this aspect with both a fully serrated Moki
and a fully serrated Spyderco Delica, and both were still going strong
at 80 ropes when I stopped testing them.
Leather Shaving and Cutting

Finally, and again, with no edge resharpening, the knives were first
checked for their abililty to "skive" or shave off thin sections of
1/8" medium leather, and then used to cut 18" x 1/4" strips off
leather on a cutting board. Only the Mini-AFCK and the Spyderco Walker
would "skive".

Mini-AFCK- cut strip in one medium pressure pass

Spyderco Walker Ltwt-- cut strip in 2 passes, heavy effort

AG Russell One-Hander-- 5 passes with heavy effort finally severed the
leather-- lack of belly on the Warncliffe point really hurt this one
for this type testing

Moki Elite plain edge-- 4 separate very heavy passes yielded 4
separate channels with little or no control, and no total severing

After the testing, it was very easy to put a razor edge back on the
One-Hander by first using a coarse DMT Diamond Hone, followed by a
Spyderco Ceramic hone.

It may not seem like it from reading the above, but I like the Russell
One-Hander in it's lightweight configuration. In fact, I like it
enough that I'm going to buy it from AG. The reason is that it is very
much a _pocket paring knife_, and it's very low "scare" factor
probably won't send the easily perturbed in search of security. ;-)

I've been using it around the house for a bit now, and have really
come to appreciate it's ability to pare fruit. B has already noticed
that it's flat profile, lightweight, and long thin blade make it
perfect for purse carry, and I suspect that as soon as I pay AG for
it, I'll probably never see it again. I particularly like the aspect
that it'll perhaps provide her with a more sure grip when using it on
lunch, than her current Moki. (She did have a little trouble with the
small plastic flange that lets you lift up to unlock it, but I think
she's got that figured out now. Course I still think that they could
do better than the cheap phillips screw that attaches that part, but
that's a _very_ minor nit.)

It has very sucessfully halved several bagels, sliced several dozen
peaches, and even quite adequately quartered (3) 6- 6 1/2" cantelopes.
It cleaned up easily each time with just dishsoap and water.

It is not a knife that I'd want to rely on for defense or heavy
materials cutting, but for it's niche, it's pretty darn good, and at a
price that won't break anybody.


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