Thunder storms and hail are keeping me from my afternoon run, so I thought I’d bore you guys with another short knife review.
This time I’m going to take a look at the Boker Subcom. Small knives are a fetish of mine, I admire the design work that goes into making a small folding knife that will still be useful and comfortable to hold. There are precious few really good production knives in this size category, and I think the Subcom is one of the best.
Let’s start with the manufacturer’s specs:
Blade length: 1 7/8”
Blade thickness: 1/16”
Lock: Frame lock
Clip: Steel, can be set up for tip up or tip down carry (but is not reversible for lefties!)
Handle: FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) on one side and steel on the lock side.
Weight: 2.5 oz.
Overall length: 4 ½”
Opening mechanism: Dual thumb studs
The designer, Chad Los Banos, is a Hawaiian Corrections Officer who’s known on several knife forums as Daywalker. He’s got a background in different martial arts and quite a bit of real world experience, he’s also one of the nicest guys in the knife business and his understanding of ergonomics is just amazing. The only one of his knives I don’t like is his karambit (but that’s something for another write up). Check out his website for more info: CLB Design - Aloha ALL!
The Subcom F was the first of his designs to make it to full production, at first Boker made it under their Magnum label with some crappy steel, but soon upgraded it to their Boker Plus line and AUS-8 steel. It was, and is, a very successful product.
So what’s so great about this little fellow?
For starters, it’s very comfortable to hold and use, something that’s not common in such small knives. The handle is relatively wide and the finger groove just makes it lock into your hand. The texture on the FRN side is perfect, coarse enough to afford a secure grip without being uncomfortable. There’s jimping in all the right places, the jimping on the handle is not sharp (so it doesn’t dig into your palm) but the jimping on the blade spine is sharper (you can add a lot of pressure with your thumb).
Since it’s a frame lock, the metal side of the handle (where the clip is) is smooth making it easy to draw from a pocket. It can also be used as a money clip without shredding your bank notes. In my humble opinion, the excellent handle design is what sets this knife apart.
The blade is a traditional drop point, with a lot of belly that gives you a bit more edge than the 1 7/8” blade length might suggest. The thumb studs are very good, some of these small folders are tricky to deploy one handed, it’s not the case with the Subcom. Lock up is tight, with no play in any direction. AUS-8 is a good steel, especially when coupled with a thin flat ground blade like this one. Edge holding is more than adequate, especially considering that this is a small knife that won’t be used to skin moose or build a log cabin.
It’s held together with torx screws, and its open construction makes it really easy to clean.
For most utility tasks, the Subcom is just wonderful. It performs like a much larger knife and the way the handle and blade are designed allows you to put a lot of force behind it. It does have its limitations, like deep slicing and food prep, which is to be expected with a blade under 2”.
It’s a very discreet knife, perfect to use in sheeple infested environments. It’s so light that you forget it’s on you, and is legal almost everywhere.
Although it’s not a fighting knife, it would work as a last ditch defense weapon at extremely close distance. The way it locks into the hand allows very powerful slashing, and makes it difficult to drop or be disarmed in a fight. It’s useless for stabbing, but as a “get off me” weapon it should do well. The hawkbill variant, called Subclaw, is better for a defensive use.
I don’t have any major complaints about this knife, considering the size and price (MSRP is $39, it can be found for much less) I think it’s a superb product. The only issue I had was with corrosion, but that has happened to me with every single bead blasted knife or tool I’ve owned. My sweat is just acid like alien blood! This has happened to me with all my Leatherman tools, Kershaw knives, etc. The process leaves tiny depressions on the metal, moisture accumulates and it rusts. After much suffering I’ve found an easy solution, as soon as I get the knife I rub it with 1500 or 2000 grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and that sorts it out.
Here are some pics in hand and next to a SAK for scale. Sorry for the poor quality, I suck at photography.