Anyone who's held a Case knife has felt quality. But with the all-new Tribal Lock, they really outdid themselves with the fit, finish, and value.
I cannot tell a lie: I've always been a fan of W.R. Case. I'm a sucker for a brand that's stuck around, and I don't know anyone who's been let down by Case products or their customer service. However, although I've handled a good number of their knives and have a bit of a collection of my own, this one takes it to another level.
The Tribal Lock is one of many different patterns produced as part of a nearly 20-year ongoing collaboration between Case and Tony Bose, a world-renowned knife maker I had the honor of meeting earlier this year. As he and I were talking, he actually pulled a knife of his own out of his pocket, and it was (you guessed it) the Tribal Lock design with an ebony wood handle.
Before I dive into my review, I have to let Tony speak for himself about this design and how it was brought to life:
"Our team liked the thought of a Tribal Lock. I told them I wanted a mid-lock because you just put your thumb on it to unlock and wipe it on your pants leg if the other hand is unavailable. It carries a (special) spring and lockbar mechanism: just like a rear lock, but up in the middle."
"(The Tribal Lock) can fit right in your pocket, and you can field dress a deer with it, too. The blade is an old design, and I put it in a Jack frame so it feels better in your hand. If you turn that Spear blade upside down it becomes a drop point. The Tribal Lock is thin, about four inches long closed, and small enough to carry in the front pocket. It's just a really handy knife."
Well, alright, you're thinking, he can say that about his own work, but why should I carry this knife versus thousands of others? Plain and simple, this knife is one of the best-value pieces of EDC gear I've seen.
Not only does it perform admirably for any day-to-day task around the house or office, but it's got endurance. I put it through a nice stress test with cardboard, branches, heavy fabrics, cables and rope with no evidence of blunting. It's also easily maneuverable, which makes it a good choice for a DIY-er or hobbyist who needs precision control. The size is ideal for both delicate and heavier tasks, and the uncommon classic blade shape is comfortable for repetitive tasks. As for ergonomics, it fits as solidly in my hand as in my 6'2 photographer's.
The knife opens and closes smoothly with no risk of opening by accident. Once locked back, there is absolutely zero blade play whatsoever. No chance it's going to snap closed while field dressing; this thing clearly stands up to pressure. As an ultra-minimal folder, it has the feel of a small fixed blade and is a breeze to clean.
Maybe the strongest suit of this knife is that it is truly the perfect gentleman's knife while being obviously built for use and abuse. I also have to say, on a personal note, if there has ever been a pocket knife guaranteed to impress the ladies, this is the one. You can feel quality when it's in your hand, and with this knife, it's unmistakable. The lock is meticulously machined in, nice and smooth, the mirrored finish is beautiful; every detail up to and including the nail nick on the blade is satisfying to see and touch. There's real elegance and grace in this knife.
To wrap up, I scored this knife in a few areas based on what I was able to do with it over the course of a couple days:
Overall size: *****
At 4 1/8 inches closed, this knife is the ideal EDC size.
Blade shape: *****
The blade is proof that going back to classics, and what's worked for generations past, is a great idea.
Blade size: ****
If I had any gripe with this knife it might be that the blade is slightly on the small side for the handle. However, the more I use it, the more intelligent of a decision I think the blade size actually is. The blade is designed for maximum control rather than "speed," which ends up making quick work of most tasks.
Open/close and locking mechanism: ****
Unless you're looking for a tactical or self defense tool and you absolutely refuse to use two hands to open a knife, you can't do much better than this. The locking mechanism is one place where the knife really shines.
As you might have guessed, I wish I could give this knife more than five stars for value. It's ridiculously underpriced for what it is.
This knife deserves a home with any collector, makes an outstanding EDC, and would be a memorable gift (for those who believe in giving knives as gifts). You can get one on Amazon here or at your nearest Case Authorized Dealer.