A Tale of Two Knives

Well, it’s actually a tale of four knives. Three of them of the same model, and one new.

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The upper, black handled knife in the photo above is a C.R.K.T. Ed Halligan designed/engineered H.U.G. (Columbia River Knife and Tool/ Halligan’s Ultimate Gadget or High Utility Gear). The lower one is a ten dollar Gerber beater that I bought to see if I liked the partial serration feature.

I bought my first H.U.G. five or six years ago. It has been my EDC knife; clipped in the front pocket of my jeans every day since then. I am not someone who worries about the high-tech composition of the steel, the refinement of the construction, or the detailing on a knife. All I really care about is its utility… for my own personal uses. I learned that lesson from my Grohmann #S1 fixed blade that is “too nice” to just bang around. I will leave the fine, custom knives to collectors. I just want something that works… every day.

This little CRKT knife gets multiple daily use, sharpens/hones up easily, clips securely in my pocket, deploys quickly, and carries so unobtrusively that I never know that it’s there. Even after a number of years, the blade shows no signs of wear, and the frame lock is just as tight as it was on the first day. I really like the stonewashed finished on the blade and handle. As you can see, there’s no sign of any discoloration, anywhere.

My only minimal criticism of the knife was that initially I found the blade boss that is supposed to aid in deployment to be a bit rough. A little quick work with a piece of emery cloth satisfied that problem. The truth of the matter is that I have never quite seen the point of one-handed deployment. I always feel like I’m more likely to end up cutting myself inadvertently, and quite fortunately, my life does not confront me with “tactical” situations. Furthermore, I have been so accustomed to using an old-fashioned “blade nick” for opening my knives over the years that using both hands to open a blade doesn’t faze me.

At one point, I lost my original H.U.G., and I purchased a second as a replacement. I found that liked the knife so well that I ended up buying a third unit as a gift for my son in law. [thus the tale extends to the third and fourth knife]. My son-in-law was formerly a captain in the US Marine Corps, and he carried his H.U.G. on a six month deployment to the Middle East.

A couple of years ago I replaced an old couch in our living room. As I ran my hands around the cushions and down in the padding in search of lost change, what should I find but that poor lost knife… blade openMy fingers were very fortunate, and encountered the butt of the knife first. The luck of the innocent.

I spent something around $30 dollars on each of those three knives, and thought the price is very fair. But the CRKT H.U.G. is no longer available for new purchase, and I really and truly do like the knife, so I count myself lucky that I have a backup if anything should happen to the one I carry daily.

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However, a month or so ago, I found myself wondering if I might not like a partially serrated blade. When I found the Gerber Ripstop for $10 on Amazon I went ahead and added it to an order. At the price it seemed like a fairly low risk investment to determine whether it would cut through boxes and cordage more readily.

As you can see from the photos, the two knives are very, very similar. Both are nearly identical in size and form. And each of them certainly has their own recommending points.

  • A slightly larger clip on the H.U.G. means that it slips on and off of the pocket edge more readily
  • The Gerber Ripstop has a double-sided thumb boss that makes it easier to deploy the blade with either hand
  • The handles on both knives fit your fingers well, and feel secure in the hand
  • While it is difficult to see in any of the photographs, the H.U.G. has “jimping” at the top of the blade behind the hinge to prevent your thumb from sliding forward [these are shallow grooves filed across the edge of the blade, roughening it.]
  • Each knife has a sufficient choil below the hinge to prevent your index finger from slipping out on the blade
  • Both feature that nice stonewash surface
  • My own preference is slightly in favor of the blade shape on the H.U.G…. however that is strictly a matter of personal taste and style, because I also slightly prefer the descending shape of the Ripstop handle to that on the H.U.G., but like the black Micarta on the H.U.G. best.
  • The only major difference that I have actually noticed between the two knives is that the H.U.G.seems to close with a more satisfying “chunk” as the blade snaps home
  • The only actual major difference between the two blades is that the CRKT H.U.G. has a chisel grind [beveled on only one side] and the Gerber Ripstop has a standard, two-sided grind.

I have not owned the Ripstop long enough, nor had to sharpen it frequently enough, to be able to voice an opinion on its edge retention, but it certainly seems to be holding its own.

Looking at the bulleted list it would certainly seem that the H.U.G. is my favorite. However, in usage I cannot declare a winner. Given the price difference of $10 versus $30, the Gerber Ripstop would come out on top. In practice, they are both excellent, small EDC knives. I don’t see how you could go wrong with either one.

I have sort of committed myself to carrying the Gerber Ripstop long enough to determine whether I actually like the serration on the blade. I’ll try to toss a quick edit onto this post if I come to any true conclusions.

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