Walking through WalMart on the weekly grocery run, I happened to notice a rather interesting looking folding knife on one of the end caps. The knife looked good and advertised “G10” scales. Unfortunately it was in a clamshell pack with the “Ozark Trails” brand. If you are unfamiliar with this brand, it is WalMart’s own outdoors gear brand. Ozark Trail branded items are usually low-quality, made in China and considered disposable. I have used a few in the past and would not bet my life on their performance in the backcountry.
I would have usually just passed and saved my money. However I couldn’t get over the $3.87 price point. I spend more than $4 on a cup of coffee. I figured it was a very low risk. If it really failed to perform, I could hand it off to someone as a tackle box knife.
The Ozark Trail “Flip Opening Knife” comes in black or tan. I selected the tan version hoping that the details would show better in photos. Once I got home and tore open the package, I was plesantly surprised. The action was fairly smooth and the blade locked out securely.
You can deploy the blade with the thumb stud or the “flipper” on the blade. The blade swings smoothly and locks into position with a snap of the wrist. When open, the “flipper” works as a very effective guard. When combined with the jimping on the back of the blade and on the back side of the liners, it makes for a very secure grip even when wearing gloves.
The knife uses a liner lock mechanism. On my sample, when locked the liner engages the mid-point of the blade. There is very little wobble when the blade is deployed.
The scales are real G10 and have a very pleasing shape. They provide good grip without being too aggressive on the pocket. The knife does come with a pocket clip. It is attached in the “tip down” orientation on the right side of the knife. There is no option to change that. I would guess the extra threaded holes would have added too much to the incredibly low price.
I am extremely surprised with the fit and finish. I have $30-40 knives that don’t feel this good. However, the purpose of a knife is to cut. Out of the box, the edge is barely acceptable. It is definitely not “shaving sharp”. Just a couple of passes on a hard Arkansas stone brought out a usable edge.
In order to test the durability of the knife, I traded out my regular folder for the Ozark Trail knife. It was pressed into service for the regular box-opening, staple pulling, fingernail grooming, and other pedestrian tasks. The “drop point” type design makes for a relatively strong point. We didn’t have any problems with bending or chipping.
I did notice a few small problems carrying the Ozark Tail “Flip Opening Knife”. The first, is that that pocket clip has a pretty severe bend at the tip. This works great for clipping onto thick pockets or gear. However, when wearing jackets with drawstring hems they can pull the knife out of the pocket. I experienced this several times when wearing an Arc’Teryx ATOM LT. The second problem is that the thumb studs on the blade are very wide. I have had them catch on the edge of my pocket when re-clipping. The blade has a pretty good detent when it is in the closed position. I have not had any problems with the blade opening in my pocket. Finally, the liner lock protrudes just a little too far. While it does make it fairly easy to close one-handed, it also increases the possibility of unlocking unintentionally.
One interesting note is that the Ozark Trail “Flip Opening Knife” does not carry any markings, anywhere on the knife. There is no mention of blade steel or country of origin. I actually prefer a “sterile” knife to one with tons of logos or markings. Not having “Made in China” marked on the knife was likely a good choice.
While researching other opinions on the knife, I encountered this post on BladeForums.com. One of the posters claims to have involvement in the production of this knife. He states that the blade steel is likely 3cr or 420J2. It is a cheap grade of steel, but for $4 you can’t expect premium steel. For a blade that may have once been a fifty-five gallon barrel, it works very well. The steel may not hold its edge as well as top end blades, but it is easy to sharpen and get back in service.
The bottom line is that this knife is exceptional for $4. You can afford to buy ten of them and keep one in every vehicle and toolbox you have.