Issue 11 Neck Knives Patrick Vuong Join the Conversation Welcome to RECOIL's first ever jewelry buyer's guide. But instead of polishing pearl necklaces or gawking at gold chains with diamonds, we're zeroing in on an ornament that is decidedly manlier: the neck knife. Dangling at sternum height, this type of accessory is something we'd be glad to model at the nearest gun range, campsite, or dark alley. But neck knives are more than just a bold fashion statement. They serve a few roles, most important of which is as a last-ditch tool. These blades are clearly not a primary weapon, or even a secondary one. But neck knives could very well be your last line of defense. Imagine it's the EOTWAWKI. You're out of ammo, your folder knife has failed you, and you've just been rushed by some desperate raiders looking to take your supplies or your life — or both. Perhaps you're in the backcountry, hunting for game when a wild boar bursts through the brush and hits you at 30 mph. Your rifle goes flying into the foliage. You're on your back, dazed, when the swine returns to finish the job. In either case, a neck knife could very well be the only tool in reach. By their nature, neck knives are small and carried in a “pendant rig” — a sheath (often made of Kydex) that's hung around the neck using paracord or a ball chain. The full-tang blades are usually about 3 inches, while the handles are significantly shorter than those found on other types of fixed blades. This compact anatomy is to keep the weight down and to prevent it from getting in the user's way when not in use. While some people wear the rig underneath their shirts, this slows the quick-draw nature of the tool — not to mention raising the eyebrows of law enforcement in jurisdictions where concealed weapons are strictly regulated. No doubt your circumstances will dictate how you wear your neck knife. Whatever your situation, a neck knife could be a nice backup plan for your backup plan, be it for your bug-out preparations or your next outdoor adventure. So, in this edition of “Unusual Suspects,” we round up some recent models that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Don't forget to turn the page for our closer interrogation of each one. We're certain you'll find a neck knife here that meets your manly “jewelry” needs. Make: Magnum by Boker Model: Lil Friend Clip Tanto OAL: 4.63 inches Blade Length: 2 inches Blade Material: 440 stainless steel Weight: 1.6 ounces MSRP: $26 URL: www.boker.de/us Make: TOPS Knives Model: Mini Scandi OAL: 6.13 inches Blade Length: 3 inches Blade Material: 1095 high-carbon steel Weight: 2.2 ounces MSRP: $90 URL: www.topsknives.com Make: Blackhawk! Model: XSF Micro OAL: 6.2 inches Blade Length: 3.2 inches Blade Material: AUS-8A stainless steel Weight: 1.5 ounces MSRP: $30 URL: www.blackhawk.com Make: Spartan Blades Model: Enyo OAL: 6.25 inches Blade Length: 2.69 inches Blade Material: CPM S35VN stainless steel Weight: 2.8 ounces MSRP: $150 URL: www.spartanbladesusa.com Make: Columbia River Knife & Tool Model: SPEW OAL: 6.25 inches Blade Length: 3 inches Blade Material: 5CR15MoV stainless steel Weight: 3 ounces MSRP: $45 URL: www.crkt.com Make: CampCo Inc. Model: UZI Covert Neck Knife OAL: 8 inches Blade Length: 3.75 inches Blade Material: 3cr13 420 stainless steel Weight: 2.9 ounces MSRP: $20 URL: www.uzi.com Interrogating the Unusual Suspects Boker Magnum Lil Friend Clip Tanto 411: This blade looks like a training knife you might buy your toddler if you want to get her started early. But the Lil Friend is actually a real neck knife — if you have really small paws. Though Boker's Magnum line is made in China and Taiwan, not Germany, this model is well built with a cool design. Pros: G-10 handle and Kydex sheath are rock solid Finger choil and jimping on blade spine provide good gripping surface At just 2.2 ounces with the pendant rig and 4.63 inches overall, this is the Mini Cooper of the bunch. Perfect if you want a super compact and lightweight carry. Cons: The pro is the con: We could get only two fingers and a thumb securely on the teeny handle A tanto blade is great for stabbing and slicing, but doesn't work as well as a utility knife The 440 stainless steel blade leaves much to be desired TOPS Mini Scandi 411: This TOPS blade proves that big things come in small packages. Its name refers to its Scandinavian grind, which results in a strong blade with great edge retention that's easy to sharpen. Modeled after a larger TOPS bushcrafting knife called B.O.B., the Mini Scandi lives up to its lineage as a serious tool for outdoor adventurers. Pros: Despite the small Micarta handle, it feels great in hand because of its ergonomic shape The blade is laser sharp and tough as nails Quick to draw, easy to handle Cons: Because the handle is quite short, this is strictly for light-duty or last-ditch functions The 1095 blade, which is among the best of the high-carbon steels, requires cleaning and polishing to prevent corrosion Blackhawk! XSF Micro 411: The XSF Micro‘s blade has two diagonally opposing grinds on either side, creating a third cutting edge at the top instead of a pinpoint tip. The knife was designed by Brent Beshara (a custom knifemaker, lifelong martial artist, and former Canadian special forces operator), who found that combat daggers often failed in the field due to weak tip strength. Pros: Smart finger guard and unique blade design provides superior thrusting ability Blade is made of AUS-8A, a quality stainless steel Lightweight and easy to deploy Comfortable G-10 scales Cons: The innovative blade geometry has a singular purpose (stabbing) and anyone looking for a more versatile knife won't find it here Spartan Blades Enyo 411: After testing the Enyo, one term comes to mind: bad ass. Pronounced “Eye-nye-oh” and named after the Greek goddess of war, this is the kind of neck knife we'd wear into harm's way without hesitation. It's brilliantly constructed and razor sharp, with a killer look — available in black and flat dark earth with matching Kydex sheath. Pros: Drop-point design increases tip strength without sacrificing blade versatilityWhen it comes to stainless steel, it rarely gets any better than the CPM S35VN found in this blade Plated pewter Spartan helmet tied to the end of the handle isn't just for looks; it also acts as a grip extension for our pinky to wrap around Comes with 2-foot paracord if you prefer to swap out the ball chain, and a belt loop if you want an inside-the-waistband carry Cons: It's hard to find a flaw in the Enyo…except perhaps the $150 price tag. It stands out like a Cadillac in a lot filled with used Ford Fiestas. CRKT SPEW 411: Despite the unappealing name, the SPEW (an acronym for “Small Pocket Everyday Wharncliffe”) is actually quite charming. Not only do we dig its aggressive aesthetic, it feels and works like a large, dependable blade…but in the form of a petite neck knife. Pros: The handle shape is a natural fit while the textured G-10 scales, finger choil, and jimping provide a stellar grip Though we're not fond of Chinese-made steel, the 5CR15MoV blade comes out of the box quite sharp The paracord (both to hold the sheath and a little tied to the end of the handle) can also work great for emergency use, such as a tourniquet or to secure a splint Cons: 5CR15MoV doesn't hold an edge for long, so frequent sharpening is on the horizon The blade's hollow grind makes for a sharp but weak edge CampCo UZI Covert Neck Knife 411: If you're looking for a larger neck knife but without the usual increase in cost, CampCo's UZI-branded model could meet your needs. At just 20 bucks, it offers a medium-sized knife that fits comfortably in hand while weighing just 3.8 ounces (with the pendant rig) around your neck. Pros: Medium-sized knife that's super lightweight Finger grooves on the aluminum-plated handle provides a sturdy grip Plastic sheath comes with a pocket clip, should you prefer a more traditional carry Cons: While the tip is quite pointy (great for thrusting), the rest of the blade is dull The blade has a chisel grind: There's an edge on its right side, but the left side is flat, which is fine for certain cutlery, but a hindrance in a tactical knife A round-head Phillips screw on the blade serves no other purpose than to fit into a dome indent on the sheath, which is a funky retention system that mars the knife's tactical aesthetics and seems to have been crafted as an afterthought Explore RECOILweb:Radical Firearms Releases Low Cost Suppressor LineEar Protection Buyer's GuideInside the Continued Campaign Against LeadImprovised Weapons: Forever Armed NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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