Knives REVIEW: Microtech SOCOM Alpha Knife Chad McBroom December 21, 2017 Join the Conversation When someone hears the name Microtech, it’s very likely that the first things they will think of are the expertly-crafted automatic knives that have become a staple of the brand. It may be surprising for some to learn that Microtech also has some awesome fixed-blade pig-stickers in its product line. One such blade is the SOCOM Alpha. The SOCOM Alpha is the newest addition to the SOCOM series offered by Microtech. It is essentially a fixed-blade, full-tang version of the SOCOM Elite, a folder belonging to the same family of Microtech knives. Originally offered exclusively as a Microtech Custom, the Alpha is now available as a production knife in Microtech’s standard lineup. HANDS-ON AT SUMMIT IN THE SAND I personally encountered the Alpha during RECOIL’s inaugural live event, Summit In The Sand, a training-focused event held at CowTown Range in Phoenix, Arizona, where I was teaching Defensive Blade Tactics as a guest instructor. Microtech sponsored this portion of the event, and the SOCOM Alpha was the company’s featured piece of steel. Just for this event, Microtech ground the edges and points off several Alphas and converted them into trainers. This afforded attendees the opportunity to train with a blade that provided the actual weight and feel of the live blade they would end up walking away with at the end of the day (a not-so-little surprise from the sponsor). Having never seen or handled the SOCOM Alpha myself prior to the event, I left with a newfound admiration of this well-designed knife. The Alpha has some impressive “credentials” in materials alone. The blade is made out of Bohler-Uddenholm ELMAX steel. If you’re not familiar with ELMAX, we think pretty highly of it. Considered by knifemakers to be a “super-steel,” ELMAX is a high chromium-vanadium-molybdenum-alloyed steel, consisting of 1.7% carbon, 18% chromium, 1% molybdenum, .8% silicon, .3% manganese, and 3% vanadium. The end result of this alloy composition is high wear and corrosion resistance, a high compressive strength, and excellent edge retention qualities – all while remaining easy to sharpen. The powdered metallurgy process used to produce ELMAX has some distinct advantages over traditional ingot steel. With this type of metallurgy, fine-powdered materials are blended and pressed into a desired shape and then bonded through heating. This process results in a more consistent, homogeneous steel with a superb microstructure. In layman’s terms, it's good stuff. The Alpha boasts a large 10.47” overall length with a 5.42” hollow-ground blade. The knives provided for the class were of the tanto blade variety, though the Alpha is also available in a clip-point version. This large knife – a relative term for blade aficionados – tips the scale at 8.25 ounces, enough weight to feel solid in the hand without being outright heavy. It’s also nicely balanced right at the center of the handle’s forefinger notch. Speaking of the handle, it features nicely-indexed G10 handle scales that are affixed with 17-4 PH stainless, 3-hole screws. This is some of the most beautiful handle hardware we’ve seen on a production knife in a while. What stands out more than any other feature on this knife, though, is the jimping that runs down the entire spine of the handle. Aside from being beautifully-paired with the accompanying jimping on the G10 handle scales, this added texture provides aggressive grip that ensures this knife won’t slip in your hand. Combined with the thumb ramp and forefinger grove, it pretty much negates the absence of a guard on this knife. Oh, and for those of you who like to accessorize, there is a lanyard hole on the butt of the knife as well. The Alpha ensemble is completed with a well-designed, carbon-fiber-lined Kydex sheath. It’s fully-equipped with 550 cord for lashing or a lanyard, and Blade-Tech MOLLE-Lok attachments for MOLLE compatibility. Again, the 17-4 PH stainless hardware used to affix the MOLLE-Lok to the sheath adds a touch of class, like elegant cufflinks on a dress shirt. SPECS Weight: 8.25 ounces Blade Length: 5.42 inches Type: Fixed, Full-Tang Steel: ELMAX Blade Coating: Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Blade Thickness: .160 inches Handle Material: G10 Overall Length: 10.47 inches Sheath: Kydex w/ MOLLE-Loc Country of Origin: USA MSRP: $303.20 To learn about training with the SOCOM Alpha during Summit in the Sand, go to: https://www.offgridweb.com/gear/review-microtech-socom-alpha-knife/ ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chad McBroom is the owner of Comprehensive Fighting Systems, a company that offers practical training in armed and unarmed combatives. He has over 30 years of martial arts experience and specializes in edged weapons. He also does a bit of knifemaking himself, a hobby he took up to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of blade-craft. Follow him on Instagram @cfs_combat. 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