Friday, September 23, 2016

Olamic Cutlery Wayfarer 247 Review

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.  And thanks for indulging me for the crazy op-ed responses.

If you are a knife knut to any real degree you have a list of knives in your head that you eventually plan on getting around to trying out.  Over the months or years it just keeps floating beneath the level of "buy."  Its there, you like it, but something else comes out and catches your fancy, over and over again.  For me that knife is the Al Mar Falcon Ultralight.  It looks wonderful and has a clip, unlike its little brother, but I have never had the chance to just pull the trigger.  It was one of those "get around to it" knives.  This knife was another.  But unlike the Falcon, which costs around a $130, this knife was tremendously expensive, especially in the upgrades version of the midtech.  As reviewed, the knife was probably around $525.  Not exactly an impulse buy.

But man am I glad I got a chance to try this blade out.  It is easily, easily, the nicest of the midtechs I have handled.  It is very easily on par or better than quite a few customs I have held.  It is hard to call a knife this expensive a value, but like the Sebenza, it really is.  What an amazing knife.  I was blown away the first time I fired it open.  The speed, the sound, the weightiness, it all was nearly breathtaking.  The Wayfarer 247 has me questioning only one thing about Olamic--how could the custom be any better?  And that, my friends, is the very best thought a midtech could put in your head. 

Here is the product page. The Wayfarer 247 costs around $400 stock.  As reviewed it is around $525. Here is a written review. Here is a video review from Auston.  Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Wayfarer 247 (sometimes), and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample:


Twitter Review Summary: Pure, solid awesomeness.

Design: 2

The Wayfarer 247 is a smaller version of the custom Wayfarer and both have pleasingly brawny, if traditional lines.  There is a substantial pommel, the blade is a classic spear/drop point shape, the handle slabs are thick and substantial.  On paper, the knife's design doesn't seem groundbreaking--it's full of very good, but very safe choices.  Nothing wrong with that.  

But it's the small touches that really bring the design from good to great.  The copper colored pivot and screws are nice, purely aesthetic, but nice.


The chamfering around the handle is well done, both aiding in grip and nice looking.  But one detail that really surprised me was the floating backspaces.  This is not a design feature you see on many knives, especially midtechs.  

In a sea of same-same midtechs, Olamic took the titanium slab framelock flipper and did something with it.  The pushback in the community against these midtechs has risen to a pretty loud chorus--most are nothing exciting, a bland version of a custom and/or a knife that lacks the panache of some of Spyderco's nicer offerings, but here with a solid design and eye catching details, the Wayfarer is better than a lot of the competition.  

The performance ratios, because of the heft of the knife, aren't going to blow anyone away. The blade:weight is .70--this a beefy cutter.  The blade:handle is .73, which is actually quite decent, better than the Delica's .68, for example. 

Fit and Finish: 2

Eugene at Olamic talked at length on the Modern Neanderthal podcast about how much work goes into all of their knives and it clearly shows.  Everything was drum tight, there was no blade play, no wiggle in the lockbar when engaged, nothing.  Furthermore, every surface was error-free and the blade finish itself was one of the nicest satin finishes I have seen.  The clip was tight without being excessively grippy.  In short, everything felt 100% dialed in.  As you will see this is a theme that will be repeated in this review--the Wayfarer 247 is just dialed in.  

Grip: 2

I am not a fan of overly complex grips and the pistol grip here is right on the line of being too much.


But after a week carrying the Wayfarer will hiking in Maine and another three weeks carrying and using it in regular everyday situations I can say that the grip was very good.  Strange as it may seem, the Wayfarer reminded me of a Becker handle, or at least the back half of a Becker handle and that is a very good thing.   There are some negative side effects of the pistol grip (see: Carry, below), but in term  of in-hand feel, you won't find many flaws. 

Carry: 1

You know I don't like big and heavy knives.  That's pretty much a given by now.  The Wayfarer 247 is an example of why.  With all of the metal in the butt end of the handle, the knife just feels awkward in the pocket.  It's not terrible thanks to a very well-positioned pocket clip, but even among similarly sized knives such as the larger and heavier Eraser, the Wayfarer feels awkward.  It felt like I was carrying a hockey puck around in my pocket.  On long and steep climbs it became noticeable.  Around town and around the house, it wasn't too bad, hence the score of 1.  But be aware--the Wayfarer is bulky and this is where it shows.  If you a person that loves big knives (and really, who doesn't love the feeling of a Mag 2D in the pocket, swinging away), ignore this lost point.  

Steel: 2

The review sample ran Elmax and despite what the Elmax Myth tells me, I have yet another data point confirming that Elmax is a damn good steel.  I used the Wayfarer to do a lot of stuff in the month I had it and aside from a bit of stropping it was fine.  And the reality is that if you wipe your blade down, strop it, and dab some oil on it every once in a while, it will look good as new for a long time, especially if the steel is something like Elmax.  In a way, I am glad the Elmax Myth occurred--people have moved on and now, without the glare of the community focused on it, Elmax can surprise us again, as we come back to it and realize, well, this is a damn good steel.  Think of it as this generation of steel's RWL34.

Blade Shape: 2

The Wayfarer has something of a drop point blade, a good deal of belly, and a sharp but not thin tip.  It is, in the performance sense, 100% awesome.  If I was picking nits, I would point out that the awkward hump on the spine, but it has zero impact on performance and the rest of the knife is so visually arresting I just don't care that much.

Grind: 2

Perhaps this is why I don't care so much about the hump--the grind here is not just immaculate, it is actually so well done that it is beautiful.


Grinder satin is not hard to do, engine turning or engraving it is not, but, when done well, it is actually something to behold and here, it is that good.  The big thing that always concerns me about thick knives is something I like to call the "Strider challenge."  Strider makes thick stock knives that, in my experience, just aren't great cutters.  Here, the Wayfarer handles this issue with aplomb, tapering down to a very fine, yet stable edge.  You couldn't ask for more from a blade this big and this thick.  The grind is outstanding.

Deployment Method: 2

It's a great flipper.  Truly great.  No questions asked.


But is it the best I have ever handled?....hmmm....that is a good question.  It is no doubt better than any Spyderco flipper I have had, which is saying something because they have all been good.  It is probably better than the majority of ZTs.  It is at least equal to the Steelcraft Mini Bodega.  But it's not QUITE in that upper echelon, occupied by a few knives.  It's probably a small tick below the Kizer and the the ZT0450CFZDP.  It's a bit behind my Gedraitis Pathfinder.  And it is not better than the Shrio Neon.  But the fact that it is in the same company as these great flippers should tell you something--this is one heck of a blade with a very well-executed flipper. 

Oh and the thumb hole, I couldn't get it to work at all.  Aside from its size and placement, I couldn't get a grip because the inside edge of the hole is chamfered.  But with a flipper this good, who cares?  Think of it as decoration, and unlike a thumb stud, it snags nothing.

Retention Method: 2

One thing that has vexed me since this blog started is trying to trace design ideas on knives back to their inventor.  We have some designs, like the liner lock, that have a popularizer like Michael Walker, but going beyond that is very hard.  And so too with the ball bearing at the end of a clip, which works wonderfully by the way.


I originally assumed it was designed by Todd Begg, then I went to a local knife show and saw a knife with the same feature that was clearly before Todd Begg, in fact, it was probably made before Begg was born (unless he is using some serious dark magic to preserve himself).  When I asked about the design, the owner of the knife actually told me it was taken from an even older knife and he had no idea who came up with the notion.  Regardless of who invented it, the design is great--providing quite a bit of tension while making retrieval and return a breeze.  Great clip here even if it looks a bit hot spotty.  In fact, in use I didn't find that to be the case.  Oh and in yet another "more than just a midtech" touch, the clip uses three stand offs.  How classy.

Lock: 2

You'd think well-executed frame locks would be a dime a dozen, but even now, years into the TFF (titanium framelock flipper) boom, we still see some that just aren't that good.  Here though, we have a dialed-in, spot on lock that snaps into place, remains there without much issue, and is easy to disengage, but only when you do so on purpose.

Overall Score: 19 out of 20

My only ding here is one of preference.  Handling this blade tells me one simple fact--Olamic makes great stuff. I am really straining to think how their custom stuff could be better, aside from exotic materials on the handle and other embellishments.  As far as the core product is concerned, the Wayfarer is a step or two above the majority of the midtechs out there, both in terms of details, like the floating backspacer, and in terms of fit and finish.  There are no crude machining remnants or the like--just pure, solid awesomeness.  I am so glad I got around to checking out Eugene's stuff.  He and his team make great knives.  

The Competition

Well, I hate to do this to you, but this will be a cliffhanger ending to this review. I finally got my third entry into the uber-production blade shoot out this past week and I'd prefer to have the ending be organic, as opposed to forced.  Look for a head to head to head battle between the Wayfarer 247, the Steelcraft Mini Bodega, and the Shirogorov Neon.  In other words, "To Be Continued..."


  1. Great review, as always, T.

    However, two small grammar errors that, out of charity, I am going to call typos:
    In the first sentence, "your" should be "you're." In the second, the period should go before the close quotation marks: "buy." In American English, periods and commas go inside of quotation marks.

    You set a great example for many things. Let grammer be another!

    1. Thanks for the corrections. I will always take them. I tend to write in bursts of inspiration, very very quickly and so there are lot of typos. I usually try to purge them out two or three read throughs. As for the punctuation and quotations, I have always wondered which was correct.

    2. Very good. Thanks Tony. Yeah, punctuation with quotation marks is pretty complicated, due to Brit and US differences. In American English periods and commas go inside. Everything else (exclamation points, question marks, dashes, colons, and semi-colons) go outside, unless they're part of the quote.

  2. Great review Tony. On a recent trip to the US this was the "what knife should I buy that I'll likely ever find in the UK" purchase. Mine has the sculpted handles and comes in a shade over 4oz and my initial impressions were just how slim it feels. I think Auston said the same (mine is the same version) and I guess the sculpted scales remove a lot of material but equally I've handled far, far fewer knives. It's my first experience of Elmax and it's a very positive one all round. Whilst our asinine knife laws limit how much I can carry it I have no regrets in picking one up and it's the highlight of my modest collection. Thanks for all your stellar work Tony and looking forward to the shootout. CharleGM

  3. I heard that same podcast. I get the impression that the benefits of the custom are: probably more options even ignoring materials, more options in terms of materials, and that hand-made feeling that some folks are more interested in getting. For me, yeah I would be fine with the mid-tech, especially because of the cost.

    Great review! I can't wait for the shootout.

  4. I'm glad you got around to the Al Mar Falcon. I bought it based somewhat on your review of the Hawk, I wanted the version with a clip and it was next up in size. I didn't carry it much at first but it's gotten more pocket time recently. It's very well done and more knife than is assumed when handling it for the first time. Now if only MBI would build a few more lights, I would like to add the HF too. Thanks.

  5. Top Tip: a lot of Beth's styling choices existed long before him, yet he claims ownership of them because he made them popular...