~ By Tim Stetzer
uns and knives pretty much go hand in hand. If you find a guy who hunts, shoots, o uses a gun on the job, there’s a good bet that he’s got a blade on him as well. Guns and knives are the two tools that helped found this country and helped open up a lot of undiscovered territory around the world. They still make a good match in the modern world and the firearms companies know that. It’s not uncommon for firearms manufacturers to offer a knife or line of knives with their logos on them.
Usually, these knives aren’t made by the gun manufacturer themselves; they’re contracted out to folks who make knives for a living. One of the latest such collaborations is from Bond Arms. If you aren’t familiar with them yet, Bond Arms is a Texas-based company that makes a series of ultra sturdy over-and-under derringers in calibers from .22 Long Rifle to .45 Colt and .410 shotgun rounds. They’re very popular in the Cowboy Action Shooting circle, and for folks who want a compact sidearm for personal defense around town or on the trail.
Their .410 models make especially good snake guns and close-range Personal Defense Weapons, particularly with some of the newer defense-oriented .410 loads coming out. With the solid reputation that Bond Arms has in the firearms industry, they weren’t about to put their name on a knife that didn’t live up to that same standard of quality and performance that folks have come to expect from their derringers. When they decided to add some knives to their line up, they turned to one of the oldest names in the American knife industry, Buck Knives.
Based On The Vantage
The two Bond knives are based upon Buck’s Vantage model. They feature drop-point 3-1/4 -inch blades of 13C26 Swedish Sandvik stainless steel. Overall length is 4-3/8 inches closed. The handles on the Bond’s are either rosewood or black ash over stainless-steel liners. The scales are both checkered for grip and feature Bond Arms logo embossed on the side. The wood grain of both is quite attractive and they make for a nice departure from your typical basic black tactical knife. The frame is open along the spine, which minimized dirt and crud buildup and makes cleanup easy when you do need to do so. Lock up is by means of a liner lock, which was very positive on my test model.
The Bond knives have an elongated opening hole in the blades like that seen on the Buck Mayos. It’s well positioned and gives enough room for the thumb to easily roll the knives open. Another option for opening the knives is to use the flipper that protrudes from the spine of the knife when it’s closed. I’m a fan of flippers and they’re one of my preferred ways to oopen knives whether they’re assisted or not. Which brings up an interesting point on the Bond knives. The Bond online store lists the knives as being “assisted,” but in fact they open using basic flipper system without a spring assist. Just tap the exposed flipper with your index finger and the blades snap open with authority on Buck’s smooth pivot. I can see how folks would think that these are actually assisted openers. When I first saw the design at the SHOT Show in 2009, I actually did think I was operating an assisted opener as the design is so smooth, and so fast. These particular models were a littl stiffer than the one I tried at SHOT, but a little bit of Ballistol and some working in of the action resulted in the fast, smooth action I was accustomed to.
When it came time to test out the Bond knives, I have to admit I had a leg up on the process already. I picked up a 13C26 Vantage Avid last spring as soon as they became available. The Avid version of the Vantage is essentially the same knife as the Bond models, with the exception of the upgraded rosewood and black ash scales o n the Bond models.
Now, I generally have the opportunity to carry and use a lot of knives for testing and review, but I found myself slipping that Avid in my pocket more than most throughout the year. When I wasn’t actively testing something else and looked up on my shelf of EDC knives, I’d quite often grab for the Avid. It’s a knife model that I’ve recommended quite a bit to friends and to fellow police officers on the job. When the Bond knives came in for review, I put my Avid away and replaced it on the shelf with them instead. Same great knife I’d been using for a year, but now with prettier and classier scales. I found that I really liked the wood, particularly the rosewood. Althought they are still fast, on-hand-opening tactical knives, they come across with a more civil, gentlemanly air to them, aided by the warmth of the wooden scales. I found that folks who never looked twice at my usual black tactical fare would actually comment on the nice looks of the Bonds. They may have drawn some attention, but it was positive and non-threatening, so that was okay by me.
One of the things I found while carrying the Vantage, and now the Bonds, was that they carry flat and you pretty much forget you have it on you until it’s needed. The butt-mounted clip allows for a deep, secure carry and I never felt as if I were going to loose the knife and never had it catch on anything. Despite that, it didnt grab so tightly that I couldn’t draw the knife easily. It also proved easy on the clotes as well and did’t tear up my pockets. I carried the Bond at work in a suit, in the woods in cargo pants, and for regular EDC use in jeans and shorts. One of them even rode in the trauma plate pocket of my ballistic vest for a while. The flat profile made it particulary good for that use. I used the Bonds for all of the usual EDC chores like cutting evidence tape and opening boxes, slicing open packages, and dicing up lunchtime fare.
Over the past year I’ve used their Vantage brethren for all of that plus a lot of camp tasks like whittling, making tent pegs, and doing impromptu camp kitchen work. My camp cookery is pretty simple and the Vantage did a good job on sausages, cheese, fruits and opening up trail mix and tuna packets. Cleanup on the Bonds was easy due to the Sandvik stainless blades and the open frame design. Edge retention has been excellent. The Bonds came with Buck’s usual excellent edge and would easily pop hair when I got them. I knew from past experience that the 13C26 blades would still shave hair even after a couple months of regular use and were easy to touch up on a loaded leather strap. Dulling past that point was very quickly remedies with a couple of passes on a Sharpmaker sharpener. Overall, I rated the edge retention as very good and resharpening was easy, even for someone who isn’t a sharpening pro.
If you get the idea that I was pleased with the way the Bond knives performed, you’d be right. I have a lot of field time in now with the basic design of these knives and the Bond Arms variations just gave me a couple of great new options to choose from. They’re a perfect match up if you already have a Bond Arms derringer, and they’d go great with a nice single-action six-gun, or double-action wheel gun with nice wood grips, too. Even if you aren’t pairing them up with a pistol, they make for a darn nice EDC piece in general. The wood really adds a layer of style to an already practical and functional design and it sets you apart from the rest of the black, one-hand opener, tactical crowd. With a suggested retail price of only $60 through the Bond Arms online store, the Bond/Buck knives won’t cause you to have to raid the kids’ piggybanks, either. If you’re looking for a great EDC tactical folder without the tactical look, then the Bond Arms knives ought to be given serious consideration. TK