Miscellany: Boker Magnum Escape Knife Review
When some people hear the words "fighting knife," they think of something like this:
But not every "fighting knife" has to be a huge Bowie or even a West Side Story-esque switchblade. In fact, there are a considerable number of small fixed blade defense knives, like the Emerson LaGriffe, designed by French martial artist Fred Perrin:
The Boker Escape is sort of a poor man's LaGriffe, and it's part of Boker's Magnum line, a series of inexpensive knives made overseas (the Escape, for instance, was made in China). This means that you can buy the Escape for less than $20, about 1/3 of what you'd pay for a LaGriffe.
While the Escape is marketed as a back-up outdoors survival knife in the Boker catalog, it's hard to see this tiny 1.75" blade doing any kind of serious bushcraft, except for maybe snare building or light food prep. That's why I think the Escape is actually supposed to serve as a small self-defense knife. As its name implies, you could use this knife to escape an attacker who has already closed to bad breath distance. The index finger hole makes it much easier to retain the blade, and the included leather sheath can clip onto a belt, boot, or pocket.
Of course, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to knives, and the Escape's blade is a little dull out of the box. It's also made of 420 stainless steel, a low-end cutlery steel that's a few notches below the LaGriffe's 154CM in terms of toughness and edge-holding. On the plus side, it's fully-flat ground and sharpens readily.
The knife and sheath weigh about 2 ounces, which is light enough to facilitate boot or ankle carry if you wanted to rig it up. The sheath itself is leather and does a serviceable job of retaining the knife, though the metal clip definitely feels chintzy and cheap (you can't expect much from a sub-$20 package).
The knife's tiny handle is finished off with micarta scales that actually look pretty good. They're slick, though, and they are riveted in, which is a disappointment - I would have preferred a mini Torx screw setup so that you could customize the scales.
In hand, the Escape works all right, though I suspect the index finger hole will be on the small side for most people (I have small hands, and even my index finger was snug inside there). The problem for me is that the handle just isn't large enough to be comfortable - I'll probably need to attach a paracord lanyard to facilitate a better grip. Additionally, when worn on the hip, the sharp edges of the tang and the handle dig into your side, so a paracord wrap is in order if you plan to actually carry it that way.
Overall, the Boker Escape is an interesting little hideaway knife that works well enough considering the price. To be sure, the LaGriffe remains the gold standard in small defense knives; its hawkbill blade and better handle design make it an incredible slasher. The Escape's conventional blade shape makes it much more useful in everyday life, though, and if that's a trade-off you're willing to make, the Boker Escape is worth a look.