Sunday, November 5, 2017

Knife review : Bestech "Grampus" BG02C

My infatuation with folding "pocket" knives has taken a back seat for a while, so there have not been many new knives to review. I've been rocking the Ontario RAT 2, which is the smaller version of the RAT 1, with the pocket clip removed as my EDC for about 2 years. It is a great small-ish knife, probably won't scare anyone too much if you use it, and it's rounded design means it can be in your pocket and it is highly unlikely to cause problems. About the only issue I've had with the knife, and it is one that is fairly easily fixed, is that I've had to sharpen it every now and then because the steel is only ok. There is a rumour that the Rat 2 will come out in D2 soon, but so far it is AUS-8.

Earlier in the year I went to the Sydney knife show, which was a blast. Although I enjoyed my time there, I didn't see anything that immediately made me want to buy it. Probably the most interesting folding knife to me was the "We" range of knives, although I considered them to be pretty overpriced. A few weeks later, I looked through their range and found one I liked, and it was one of the cheapest they sell too - the 703 model which I got with the green handle. I seem to like either black handle or green handle knives, and don't ask me why because I don't know. Anyway, as I was checking out my order from New Bee knives (who I would recommend if you are in Australia), I spotted the Bestech BG02C on sale there too and added it to my order, and I am VERY glad I did.

I'm a bit reluctant to post these photos, as they are genuinely terrible, but I'm hoping that it will give you some idea about these three knives. It is an overcast day today and there is no natural light, so the shadows are nasty - I apologize. I also had to use a slightly weird angle to avoid the shadow from the camera itself. If you want to see better images, please look online for each knife. Note that I have taken the pocket clip off the Rat and BG02C, but left it on the We 703 for now. And yes, the We knife does have a blackened blade, that is not a shadow. You can click on the images to see larger versions.

(left) Rat 2, We 703, BG02C (right)

(top) BG02C, We 703, Rat 2 (bottom)

(left) Rat 2, BG02C, We 703 (right)

Both the We and Bestech knives are flipper designs in D2 steel for the blade, both came perfectly centered. Within a few minutes of handling both knives I knew which one I preferred : the Bestech BG02C! The We 703 is not a bad knife, but my example has the following issues : it is not as easy to deploy, the liner lock is sometimes very early in lockup, the liner is sometimes a bit stiff to unlock, the blade to handle weight ratio is heavy on the blade side and feels unbalanced,  resting it on a table it is a bit harder to get it to sit with the blade upright (when closed). It is also a fraction longer than the BG02C, and they are on the upper limit of size I'm comfortable with anyway so in this case it is not a good thing. In its favour the We knife does have a more traditional drop point blade shape, and more pronounced hollow grind, and hidden liners. Perhaps if I had not ordered the BG02C I would have been happier with the 703, as I would not have had it to compare to.

This is not really a review of the We 703, so I'll stop talking about it now, but I think it is interesting as it is a knife at twice the price of the BG02C. In this light, the BG02C certainly stands out as fantastic value.

I want to talk for a minute about flipper vs thumb stud deployment. I would have said that I'm not really a flipper kind-of-guy, but this knife has opened my eyes to this style. I generally like the thumb stud as you have control over the deployment at all stages, and there is nothing sticking out of the back of the knife when closed. What I mean by the former comment is that is that with a thumb stud you can choose to open the blade fast (with a flick) or slow, by pushing with your thumb in an arc. In contrast, a flipper is an all-or-nothing kind of deal in terms of deployment. Once you press the button, it flies out, ready or not. The BG02C deploys smoothly, consistently, and has a good lockup. One handed opening and closing is possible in seconds, and with little practice you can do this with complete confidence. In fact, this is a big reason why I love this knife - it has a great "play" factor where you can spend time just opening and closing it. If you love knives, you will do this! It sounds great doing it too. There is a really satisfying "click" to it.

The flipper tab on the BG02C is rounded and smooth. It is very comfortable to deploy with a "light-switch" motion. When deployed the flipper tab forms a serious thumb guard - there is no risk of your hand sliding up the knife onto the blade. There is also some (just enough!) gimping on the back of the blade for this purpose too, to give your thumb a place to grip the back of the blade as you hold it. The other benefit of the flipper design is that once deployed the blade is clear to cut through things for its whole length, there are no thumb studs getting in the way to catch on anything.

The liner is also fairly thick steel and is cut smooth, which in my eyes is good. It is thicker than the steel in the Rat 2, and certainly feels really solid. Some liner locks are stiff and overly textured and bite back when you use them, hurting your thumb. The BG02C is not one of those. There is still plenty of purchase on the liner lock to know you have it under control, it is just proud, perfectly done really. Looking inside the knife, for those who care, the liner is skeletonized to reduce weight. There is about 1/3 solid back spacer, with the rest flow through.

One element to the knife, and is kind of a mixed blessing, is the lanyard hole/glass breaker at the end of the handle. This is an extension of the back spacer, and is quite a serious spike without actually being cutting sharp. To me, this immediately gives the knife a specific purpose - as a car knife. That is, to keep this in the glove box or side pocket and use in an accident or emergency. Car windows are remarkably resistant to breaking, but will shatter if hit by something shaped more or less exactly like this. It might take a few hits, I'm not sure, and I'm not about to go and try it. To be honest it is fairly unlikely you will need this, and I wonder if it would be better off without it, but it is what it is. The problem is, if this knife is lurking in your pocket there is a fair chance you will come into contact with the glass breaker when trying to get it out.

This brings me to another point. The finish on this knife is fantastic in general, in my hands it all feels right in terms of action. One thing I did feel the need to do, though, is go over it with some fine (400 then 800 grit) sandpaper to smooth out some slightly sharp edges from the factory. The glass breaker was one of those places, as I'd stuck my hand in my pocket to get the knife out and for a split second I thought it had deployed and my had was in contact with the blade. In fact, I'd just pushed my hand on the glass breaker instead, but it goes to show how sharp those corners felt to start with. After the 5 minute sandpaper treatment it is certainly not a problem, and you'd get the same point with enough wear over time I suppose.

The pocket clip is tip up only, but has holes for both sides. This is irrelevant to me in that I take the pocket clip off any knife I use. I find they generally makes the knife feel terrible in the hand, and once you are used to a free floating knife in your pocket there is no going back. Anyway, one quirk I discovered, and it is the kind of thing you will likely only do by owning the knife, is that the scales have an indentation for the pocket clip (at the screw end) on the side it is shipped with it on, but not the other side. This indentation breaks up the pattern of the knife on the scales with the pocket clip removed, and that is a bit unfortunate, but it is a minor point really. It is also a place where a bit of fine sandpaper will smooth out the edges.

So it seems I'm talking now about the handle scales, so lets keep going with that. The G10 is nicely done and has this beaded scoop pattern in lines on it. It is kind of hard to describe, best to go back and look the picture. In person it feels pretty nice, and has plenty of grip without being too aggressive. With the thick liner and G10 scale, the handle of the knife does end up being quite thick though. I don't mind this myself, to me it feels solid and reassuring in the hand, but for others it may be an issue. If it is, the Rat 2 is the knife for you, as this is quite thin in comparison.

The knife is held together with small torx screws. The main pivot however has torx on one side, and on the other is a strange proprietary two pronged flathead design that most people will not have a tool for - and it is not included in the package, so that is a bit of a bummer. I have not had to adjust or take apart my knife so it has not been a problem so far, but it's worth noting as a potential con of the design. I actually have a set of strange security bits at work so I think I could get past it anyway - maybe.

I realize I've spent all this time talking about this knife and have yet to really talk about the blade and its ability to cut! I'm actually not sure how to accurately describe the blade shape - a modified drop point maybe? When I first deployed the blade my reaction was "ok, that's a bit different" and I stared at it for a while. The design gives it a fairly thick spine, and this extends quite a long way to the tip, making it stronger and thicker. This means that this knife isn't ideal for applications where thin pointy tips are needed - for those a knife like Kershaw Leek is the right thing. For everyday jobs though, like cutting tape to get into boxes, and then cutting the box to put it in the recycling, the BG02C does it all without a problem. It came shaving sharp out of the box and the benefit of the D2 steel is that it is likely to stay that way for a long time. It feels like it could handle quite heavy duty work, it is stocky and solid, this is not a delicate knife.

Overall I have been very pleasantly surprised by the Bestech "Grampus" BG02C (to use its full name!). I like it enough to consider it a serious contender to knock the Rat 2 our of rotation for my EDC blade, which now feels a bit lightweight. The only thing holding this back, and I'm seeing if I can live with it, is the glass breaker. If this is too uncomfortable in the pocket then the knife will end up in the car, displacing the Rat 1 that is there at the moment. Either way, it is a great knife and I'm very glad I own it, it is a total pleasure to use. Highly recommended!

  • Flawless deployment feel and liner lock implementation
  • Well built, solid design
  • Comfortable ergonomics (for the most part)
  • Fantastic value for a D2 steel based knife
  • Attractive blade and knife overall
  • Fun to play with - open and close it all day long
  • Glass breaker reduces pocket ergonomics
  • Pocket clip indentation on the G10 is on one side of the knife only
  • Pivot screw proprietary design and tool not included
  • Handle may be a bit thick for some
  • A quick sandpaper treatment helps smooth some sharp factory edges
  • May be imposing/threatening to non-knife people

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