Being a gear reviewer means that I have to churn through gear at pretty ferocious rate. Writing a review or two a month of new gear means that I have to buy a new knife or light twice a month (I am trying in earnest to pull away from company-donated review samples). Given that dizzying rate I sell old review samples to buy new ones. And everyone once in a while I make a mistake and sell something I later regret.
As gear geeks we all can identify with this experience. The hunt is almost always more fun than the kill and so, once you score the knife you were pining for, keeping it is less alluring, especially when the piece you were targeting turns out to be less than what you expected. There are ways to cure this insanity, such as having the piece modified or altering it to better suit your needs, but let’s face it, there is always an element of FOMO, keeping up with the Joneses, or “gotta catch ‘em all” that serves as the impulse for gear purchases.
This is a story of one such buy and flip that I regretted and worked diligently to fix or more than three years. Take this as a PSA. Don’t do what I did (or to borrow from the greatest bit of knife-related humor ever “Don’t Do what Donnie Don’t Does”).
I came into the knife world in earnest through a forum, EDCF. That led to Blade Forums, USN, and a host of review sites. At the time, there was a Holy Trinity of high end production knives—the Sebenza, of course, Strider, and Hinderer. I targeted the Sebenza and after a few years on the Upgrade Tread Mill, one Christmas I bought one. It was great in that way only a Chris Reeve Knife can be—subtle, clean, and hard to appreciate your first time around. I had it for a year and then sold it. At the time Hinderers were still around $1,000 and that seemed crazy to me, especially because the reasonable sized Hinderer, the XM-18 3” was exceedingly rare. Plus, I was really into choils at the time and while the Hinderer had one, it was the Strider that caught my attention.
Strider was not a brand without baggage. At the time there was a huge controversy because the SNG, the middle sized knife in the Strider line up (PT—>SNG—>SMF), had a lanyard hole that fed the cordage through the blade path. It was a dumb as it sounds and in this day and age of Practically Perfect Production Knives it is quite comical. People, myself included, howl when there is a tiny bit of pokiness to a clip. A design failure as titanic as the SNG Guillotine, however did not dissuade me from wanting a Strider. And then the PT CC claim out. It purportedly had none of the roughness that the SNG and the regular PT had. But it still retained the brilliant handle ergos that make a Strider a Strider. I wanted one. Like checking-websites-every-night-before-bed-for-a-week wanted one.
Eventually I snagged a OD Green one from Plaza Cutlery. You can find the review here. It was very good. There was no galling, not rough pivot, and the handle ergos were a treat for the fingers. But it didn’t have a clip. And I am quite dogmatic. During the year I had it, I tried to get a removable clip made for the PT CC. My idea was that it would work like the Al Mar clip on the Hawk and the Eagle. Alas, I found one machinist that would tackle the task, but it would have been about $500. And so, after about a year, I let it go at a knife show. A dealer asked me what I was carrying, I busted on the PT CC, and he bought it out of my pocket for $295. I paid $300 for it. I wasn’t sad at the time.
But then I kept reviewing knives. I got less insistent on a clip. Hell I have reviewed a half dozen or so clipless folders (yes, I have become broadminded in my old age). And I missed the PT CC. Even now, it stands as the pinnacle for folders in terms of grip. I love the ergos of this knife like none other. And so, when I had a chance to snag one in a trade, I did. I had long given up hope, what with Strider possibly shutting down and then not and then going to customs…I don’t know. The model I have now, a brown G10 version, is as snug as drum skin with absolutely dead-on centering and fantastic action (for a Strider—bearing pivot this ain’t).
This process taught me a few lessons:
First Lesson: Greatness doesn’t conform to your tastes
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was notoriously poorly received in its debut. Greatness, even for those that believe they have refined tests, can be challenging to behold. If its great, which the PT CC undoubtedly is, just go with it and worry about your tastes later. Masterful design makes everything else work.
Second Lesson: If a dealer pays you nearly full price, something is up
Dealers make money buying things cheap and selling them for more. The fact that the dealer was willing to pay $5 less than retail should have told me something. I had no idea that the PT CC would basically never be made again, but the dealer’s cash layout should have been a tip off that this knife was beloved and if it was beloved I should have been able to figure out why. I am a dummy so no bells went off.
Third Lesson: If you like it, don’t worry about the flaws
Unless the flaws are fit and finish related, don’t let them overwhelm your impression of gear. Good stuff is good stuff, even if there is something small wrong. Here, the decision not to include a clip is not only, not a flaw, but 100% correct. It is the thing that makes this knife insanely great. I was wrong here, wrong with the Zulu, and wrong about traditional knives in general. Being wrong like this is quite fun.