Sunday, September 22, 2013

DPx HEST/F 2.0 BladeHQ Edition Review

Robert Young Pelton is a wild man.  He is a reporter in the same sense that Sebastian Junger and Hunter S. Thompson are reporters.  They are really thrill seekers that write to pay for their adventures.  I knew a guy in graduate school that did something a lot like that for a living, working as a mountain guide to pay for his climbing.  He didn't design a knife, but RYP did.  The HEST started out as a fixed blade but morphed into a folder, the HEST/F, after a while.  It is a polarizing design from a polarizing brand that is the brain child of a polarizing person.  There is not much room for a middling opinion.

Had this been a review of the HEST/F 1, it would have scored okay, but like the Lighthound Light, it had a fatal flaw--the knife blade did not fully rest in the handle.  The point did not go into the handle all the way.  That is a major fail.  The HEST/F 2 has its detractors, see the Nutnfancy review, but no one seems to condemn it outright.  I like the knife, but I don't love it.

Here is the product page. There are a wide variety of models, the review sample is the BladeHQ edition with red G10 handle scales.  They are definitely a striking color.  The DPx HEST/F 2.0 costs $200. Here is a written review. Here is a video review from Nutnfancy (yikes, he is not happy). Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the HEST/F 2.0, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample:


Twitter Review Summary: Good blade shape, great wave opening, sticky lock and high price.

Design: 2

The overall design of the knife is quite appealing.  It is technical looking and loaded with features.  The jimping is supposed to double as a series of different sized wire strippers, you know for all of those emerency eletrical jobs you are going to do in the jungle with RYP.  There is a bottle opener on the HEST/F but it is as much a bottle opener as Kate Upton is fat (yes, there are women that think Kate Upton is fat...).  It is a wave device, but more on that below.  Overall, a very good outline here.

Here is a shot of the HEST next to the zippo:


Here it is in my hand:


This is a heavy knife with a short blade for the handle size (which is okay thing for a hard use knife).  The blade:weight is .64.  The blade:handle is .72.  Both are distinctly less than average, but you know going into this knife that it is a beastly thing. 

The one thing I found pointless was the glass breaker.  For every time you need to break glass in an emergency it will jab you in the hand as you reach for the knife 1000 times.  I took it off after one day of use and I was glad I did.

Fit and Finish: 2 

Andrew is much more familiar with LionSteel stuff and he assured me the fit and finish would be great.  He was right.  This is an immaculate piece, with curves and cuts in all the right places.  The lock is well made, an improvement over the HEST/F 1, and the blade coating is actually quite good, better than any other coating I have seen or used.  Other than the lock issue, below, there is nothing to complain about.  Since I am deducting points for that below, I didn't think it was fair to double dip on the penalty.

Grip: 2 

This is a well above average knife in terms of grip.  I liked it quite a bit, in part because the simple handle shape affords quite a few grips, none of which are bad.  The shape is wonderful.


This is one of the few folding knives I have used with a parrot beak handle and I like that as well.  

Carry: 2 

The knife is heavy, as you can see above, but it is not a pocket anchor.  The clip is positioned well and the overall size of the knife is not too bad.  It is a little thick, in large part because of the blade stock, but nothing unmanageable for a knife of this type.  It is no fatter than a Cold Steel Mini Recon 1, though it is noticeably heavier.  

Steel: 2

Andrew and I debated the merits of D2 on Episode 16 of GGL (listen here), and after some extensive cutting, I agree with him--D2 rocks.  Normal EDC tasks are not really a challenge, so I decided to do major fire prep--shaving wood for fire starters, batonning (yes, I am that a-hole batonning in his backyard; I do it for you guys...), and whittling.  I cut a lot of shavings.  A lot.  Way, way more than needed.  I also cut them out of pine (blah), poplar (decent), and maple (yowza).  Even pulling on the rock maple was nothing.  I could cut all day.  It wasn't fine shavings (see below) but I got a lot of them.  Here is the shavings pile about 1/4 the way through:

Then I decided to split some wood, Nutnfancy style.  Here are the results:

Thanks to the new camera and good lighting you can see the details.  There is some micro chipping along the edge, but nothing that some sharpening won't fix.  D2 is monstrously tough and a very good choice for a hard use knife like the HEST/F 2.  I'd love to see the blade in CTS-XHP, but that is just being picky.  D2 is more than fine.  

Blade Shape: 2 

A simple, perfect drop point blade shape.  That ALWAYS works.  Why screw around with weird angles and grinds and recurves when this works so friggin' well?  

Grind: 1

Whoa baby, this is a thick blade.  Even my RD-7 has a thinner blade.  Okay, so that might be an exaggeration, but its close to being true.  This is a massive slab of D2.  The durability is outstanding, but given the knife's size, that much blade stock makes for a poor slicer.  This is not a paper slicing knife, so limited slicing ability is not a killer, but still there can be some compromise.  The PM2, a clear competitor to this knife, had thinner blade stock and it never caused a problem.  All design is a compromise, and I get that, but this is too thick a blade.  

Deployment Method: 2

In my mind, this is the difference maker on this knife, the thing that makes it stand out.  It is a "thumb stud" knife only if you think that the "bottle opener" is just for opening brews.  In reality is a virtually perfectly designed wave opening device, better than the Emersons I have handled (a CQC 8 and Roadhouse). Heresay I know, but it is damn good.


I never failed to open the knife using it and I never accidentally opening the knife when I didn't intend for it to be used.  

Retention Method: 1

This is a well positioned, deep carry clip, but it is very big.  This is a car door scratcher if I have ever seen one.  As a clip it works well.  As a possession you carry with you everyday, it will definitely take a chip out of something.  I don't think it needs to be this big, either.


Lock: 0

Sticky lock.  REALLY sticky lock.  Even after three or so weeks of use.  Some deployments would snap the blade in place and it would take a pry from my Gerber Shard to get this thing open again.  It was a lot of effort more times than not.

Here is the big problem:


I wonder if in fixing the HEST/F 1's problems they didn't cause another.  I don't know but it seems possible.  I did not have the lock develop blade play like Nutnfancy did and I too did batonning (at least I am not the guy batonning in his backyard with high work gloves on...that is a whole other level of dorkiness...not really, but let me pretend).  I even tried the graphite trick on the lock to no avail. 

Here is the lock side with the RotoBlock:


And speaking of the RotoBlock, I guess it works.  The knife didn't have problems without it being engaged, so I have no way of knowing if engaging it helped.  It made me FEEL better and less worried so I guess that is helpful, but it is not something I see becoming a requirement on knives like this.  I did like it as an overtravel stop.  

Overall Score: 16 out of 20

I like the HEST/F 2.0 quite a bit.  It is a rugged knife with a great blade shape and an excellent, fast deployment method.  In isolation it is quite good, except for the sticky lock problem, but when viewed in light of its competitors, it is hard to pull the trigger on the HEST/F 2.0.  It is significantly more money than the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and probably three or four times the street price of a Cold Steel Mini Recon 1.  Its not worse than those knives, but it is not clearly better either, especially in terms of value.  I also think that the SR1 and SR1a, stable mates of the HEST/F 2.0 give it a run for its money.  This is a big blade, a slab of steel that is plenty rugged for most tasks, but the titanium lock adds a premium price and some serious stickiness.  This is a good knife, no question, but in the Golden Age of Gear good isn't what it used to be... 


  1. would have been interesting to hear your opinion on the tool that comes with the hest.
    i have had mine now for going on a year and the lock is finally breaking in...a bit.
    as a wildland firefighter i love the hest and the ability to throw on the glass breaker when heading to a fire or into a helicopter. although this is one of the last knives in my collection i reach for for edc it is one of the first i grab it things are getting hot.

  2. Something that you do from time to time is assume that everyone knows what an esoteric feature is. In this case, it's the Roto Block. What is it, and what is it for?

    1. Sorry. That is a good point. The Rotoblock is an overtravel stop and it can be rotated to force the lockbar to stay in the locked position, a lock for the lock, essentially. The idea is that it makes the knife more like a fixed blade when opened and the Rotoblock is engaged. I had no problems with the knife without the Rotoblock, but it did give me some piece of mind.