Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trolling for Hate: Stop Fetishizing the Flipper

We all love flippers.  They have taken the knife world by storm, but in the end I think that we have lost focus on what really matters.  Its a way to open your knife--that's it.  It doesn't make the knife cut better or stay sharp longer.  It may be fun to fidget with, but I think for lots of folks the flipper is more important than the blade.  This obsession with secondary details reminds me of those Mercedes Benz commercials that focused on the quality of their doors.  It was telling that those commercials came during a time when many in the automotive press thought that MB was in a fallow period design-wise.

The other thing that makes me worried about fetishizing flippers is that they always fall into that "ineffable" quality discussion, that thing that people love to rave about but can't really explain.  This brings to mind the Wittgenstein notion about language--namely that if something can't be reduced to language, it is, in the end, nonsense.  They will tell you its something you "just have to experience".  I get that.  I do.  But that can't be the beginning and end of the analysis.  If it is, then it is just a matter of faith or opinion and not reason.  Its also something that is easy to sell because it is hard to prove--the perfect place for scammers to operate and folks that are subject to a heavy dose of post purchase rationalization to exist. 

Finally, for all the talk of silk and effortlessness, flippers on customs aren't generally speaking, better than those found on good production knives.  Heresy, I know.  Sure there are elite customs that have truly superior flipping action.  I have handled a few of them ::cough::Q36::cough::.  But in reality some of the best flippers I have handled were production models.  Here's what I am talking about:



Its still just a way to open a knife.  If it does that well, I am happy.  The rest of the minutiae is really just about knife masturbation.  That's a perfectly good reason to own a knife, but I am not sure how much its worth. 

14 comments:

  1. Good points. For a community who can almost come to blows over empirical facts and figures over blade strength and practicality there's a lot of subjectivity in people's choice of knife.

    Also "knife masturbation" sounds like a recipe for disaster :)

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  2. Personally, I hate them. HATE them! The decent looking ones(if there is such a thing in my eyes) look like peninsulas you have to live with, breaking the flow of the knife's design, while the majority just look like ugly afterthoughts to appeal to the "what's hot" trends.

    I dislike them so much, I've actually taken the grinder to the couple knives I've owned with them sticking out .

    Did I mention I hate them???!lol

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  3. I've never seen the attraction myself. But then again, I don't like assisted openers or waves or anything else that "helps" the blade deployment. I prefer the openers that your thumb controls entirely like a spyderhole, thumb stud, disc, etc.

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  4. The CRKT Ikoma flippers work really well. The CRKT Ken Onion series not so much. Of course, I am talking about right out of the box and not after fiddling and tweaking forever the pivot screw. I ended up getting two of the CRKT Chill recommended by this page. Meh. Had to adjust the pivot screw and still doesn't flipper very easily. Needs significant wrist action and practice. Maybe I need to put a drop of Ballistol to improve on it's action. I got the Leatherman Crater with the blade launcher and ended up getting used to that more than my flippers. It helped that the knife is quite light and it was even cheaper than the Chill. My two cents.

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  5. I'm not a huge fan of them. I love the Skyline, but I'm selling it because I can't stand the flipper (more to the point, I can't stand closing it-it digs into my thumb).

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  6. Flippers are great, and it's great that production knife companies are getting so good at them.

    A good flipper (think CRKT Eraser) is the only way a manual knife can be as swift and sure of deployment as an auto. Add an AO mechanism (Kershaw Knockout / Piston) and you will truly have something functionally indistinguishable from an automatic knife. If you want your carry knife to be able to flex into a defensive role, AO + flipper is an awesome way to go. Even for manual, pure EDC blades like the Skyline it is wonderfully convenient. I have never found the flipper tang to interfere with carry.

    The one drawback is that the "snakt!" of a flipper deployment (especially an AO) can make it conspicuous. When I carry a knife like that I will also have a Vic Cadet, a Ladybug, or some other small knife that I can deploy slowly and quietly for little utility stuff. Basically Nutnfancy's "two knives" approach.

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  7. I can take or leave them. I think the most practical thing a flipper does is provide a guard to keep your fingers and the blade from unexpected meetings. The less practical but, arguably more important, thing that they do is inject a bit more fun and fidget-factor into knives. I like knives. I like to use them, but I also like to cycle them, fondle them and just generally screw around with them. If a feature doesn't detract from the practical use aspect of a knife but adds more satisfaction to owning it, I say bring it on! But I agree that they aren't the revolutionary design that some want them to be.

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  8. I totally agree, Tony. If I have to suffer through another video where some blowhard rambles on about how his new custom or whatever "may possibly be the BEST flipping action I have ever felt on a knife, EVER" I'm gonna hurl. Mental masturbation at its finest.

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  9. Completely agree with this p.o.v. I've had such mixed success with higher end knives and customs when it comes to flippers. Recently I got the updated Boker/Burley Kwaiken and it's such a great example of exactly what you're talking about here... it's not bargain-basement priced, but when I compare it to some of the $500 and up blades I've had or handled it's really hard to justify spending the money focusing on this one feature.

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  10. I personally think that the flipper is an elegant mechanism that addresses the opening of a folder neatly and without the addition of parts (think auto or assisted opening) but with the modification of form. Pretty cool. That being said flipper fetish is esoteric at best. I hear that some knife reviewers appreciate that the flipper also makes a great kick stand.

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  11. "We all love flippers."

    I don't. :-D

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  12. I'm not a fan; they create hotspots on my fingertip from use.

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  13. Not to mention in some locations (such as Australia) a knife being a flipper (or able to be opened one handed through any means) makes it instantly a felony to carry. Which means plenty of nice EDC blades are off limits.

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