Well, SanRenMu review #3 for me. This one is a little bit different, as the T01A has separate tools that fold out on the back of the knife, increasing the utility of the blade - something like the Leatherman knives with the fold out bits and screwdrivers. This is a review that I've been meaning to do for quite a while now, I just have had little time because of work. Suffice to say though, I am very impressed with the knife.Design
Straight off the SanRenMu site, again, these measurements do jive with reality. Since I got a question on it last time, I should make the point that SanRenMu measures the cutting area of their blades by measuring from the point straight back to the where the sharpened grind begins on the blade. Sometimes this means that the sharpened area of the blade is longer than the actual blade (which is measured from the point to the closest part of the handle when opened).
Blade Length: 2.83’’ / 72mm
Blade Thickness: 0.099’’ / 2.53mm
Weight: 3.25oz / 92g
Open: 6.53’’ / 166mm
Close: 3.66’’ / 93mm
As I've said before, it's nice when a company actually bothers to get these measurements right (looking at you, Kershaw).
All right, let's start with the blade.
Standard drop point utility blade. I'm not really a fan of partially serrated blades, but this particular model only comes in partially serrated. The serrations are nothing special - the standard 2 short/1 long serration pattern used since time immemorial on Spyderco, Buck, Benchmade, CRKT, Leatherman, Gerber etc. knives. Definitely workable, but not as good as say, Kershaw's great scalloped serrations. Very utilitarian overall. The grinds came clean and even, and as all SRM knives do, came hair-shaving sharp out of the box. Overall nice, but nothing really special.
There is a row of very effective jimping on the spine of the knife, and it does really allow you to jam your thumb down to get some grip. Very nicely done.
The thumbstud is the standard SRM terraced affair. The design does afford excellent grip, however it is somewhat occluded by the handle, which makes the knife a little bit harder to open than it should be.
The blade and tool steel is 8Cr13Mov, which SRM rates at 57-58 HRC.The little nub beside the liner is the secondary lock.Disc on the top of the handle to disgengage the secondary lock.
What *is* special about the blade is the locking mechanism. Similiar to the CRKT LAWKS system and the Gerber Rotolock, the SanRenMu T01A has a secondary lock to keep the liner from slipping under force. It's spring loaded (meaning you can't not use it without taking the knife apart), but it's very solid and works very well. Also, unlike the Gerber and CRKT versions, the spring tension isn't so bad that it's difficult to disengage when you want to close the blade. A light pull on the textured disc on the top of the handle will disengage the lock, allowing you to actuate the liner and close the blade - very easy to do one-handed.
The handle is a full anodized aluminium affair. It's reasonably well shaped and comfortable in hand, and the anodizing does provide enough texture to provide decent grip. I'm not sure of the level of anodizing (2 or 3), but the knife has been in my pocket a lot during the last few months and has yet to show any scratching, so take that as you will. While this handle is better than most, I'm just not a huge fan of metal handles - hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and they do increase the weight of the knife. In this case, I believe the choice of handle material was less a design decision and more a necessity for housing the tools in the back of the blade. The newer version of the knife (T21) uses a highly textured G10 handle instead of aluminium, which I would probably prefer.
The clip is a skeletonized, folded type that buries very deeply in the pocket. While only held on with two screws, it is very solid. One of my favourite types as you can be sure you won't bump or lose your knife on things because of it. The clip is switchable for left or right carry, but not tip up/tip down. This is likely not possible due to the back tools.
If you've been reading thus far and you've gotten the distinct impression that I've been kind of so-so about the knife, you're right. Besides the lock (which I could take or leave), the blade and handle aren't really anything special. The secondary tools on the knife make all the difference in this case.Tools unfolded
There are three tools on the back of the knife, those being a cord cutter, screwdriver/caplifter/prybar combo tool and a glass breaker.
Starting with the combo tool, we have a standard cap lifter paired with a 3MM screwdriver. Fit and finish are excellent, with even, clean grinds and nice straight edges. The cap lifter works fairly well, being long enough and having just enough of a curve on the hook to grasp the edges of caps without issues. This particular tool doubles quite nicely as a prybar as well. If you take a look at the picture above, there's a secondary rivet just behind the pivot for the secondary tools, and the combo tool has a notch in it - this slots in quite nicely next to that rivet and provide a significant amount of extra strength for that tool. Very well done. Opening is done with a proper nail knick on the tool, and it's fairly easy to get out. I would've preferred a thumbstud, but not bad.
The glass breaker, well, I haven't had a chance to use, so I'll have to pass it by for now. On the plus side, the opposite end of the handle is nicely curved to fit in your hand if you ever had to use to the glass breaker. Kudos to SRM on that little design detail.
Moving on, we come to the cord cutter/package opener. This is a double cut, hollow ground cutter and it is excellent
. This is honestly one of the best cord cutters I've ever used, sharp, well formed, and the angle at which it comes out of the knife gives great leverage for cutting. Like the combo tool, the cord cutter uses a nail knick for opening.
Now, what makes the secondary tools in this particular knife so nice is the absolutely astonishing level of detail that went in to their design. As can be seen above, both secondary tools have their own liner locks to keep the tools open, and the locks are quite solid. However, the level of detail goes far beyond even this.
Not only does each tool have it's own liner, each liner uses a proper ball bearing detent with a corresponding cutout in the tool for retention and opening rather than a simple metal nub. This little design detail ensures absolutely smooth opening every time, as well as solid in-handle retention.
Each tool in the back also has it's own set of phosphor bronze washers at the pivot to further ensure a smooth, hassle-free opening. Incredibly nice, and a pricey add-on for a knife that likely wholesales for less than $8.
Fit and Finish:
Typical SRM quality. The grinds on the blade are clean and even, the handle is well finished with no sharp edges or uneven grinds. The tool is evenly polished with only some very light tooling marks on the back metal spacer. After three knives from SanRenMu, I can say that the level of fit and finish I've come to expect is equal to much more expensive knives.Usage
The lockup on the blade is very nice, with no blade play up or down, side to side. The lockup is solid, and the secondary lock provides some security against the liner closing on you. As I mentioned before the secondary lock is quite easy to use, not the finger-buster the CRKT and Gerber versions tend to be.
The pivot came a little bit on the tight side, but a little usage and touch of silicone lubricant sped up the opening. The pivot rides on phosphor-bronze bushings and is very smooth, but again the thumbstud is somewhat occluded by the handle. This can make it a touch more difficult to open.
For the back tools, I would've preferred a thumbstud rather than nail knicks for opening, but I have been able to open them with gloves on. Just a little bit slower than it needed to be.
Not bad. I generally prefer more belly in my blades, but the drop-point style is a VERY strong blade. The serrations are effective, if not the best in the world. One nice design detail that SRM tends to have is that when you use the jimping on the top of the blade in your grip, it tends to naturally put the belly of the blade in to what you're slicing. This does increase performance and I appreciate it.
Okay, not great. I don't like metal handles for grip, and when using the T01A with wet or somewhat numb hands, you can never be quite sure it won't slip in your hand. To the knife's credit, it never has. More of a mental issue than anything else.
I believe the T01A is likely on it's way out of SRM's catalogue, as there used to be a T01 version with a plain-edge blade that's been discontinued. Also, within the last year, SanRenMu has released an updated "tool" knife called the T21. The T21 switches out the aluminum handle for a textured G10 handle (yay!), the drop point utility blade for a clip point recurve available in plain edge or half-serrated, with a choice of a coating (yay?), and switches out the combo tool for a can opener (boo!). The T21 also has thumbstuds for opening the secondary tools. If there was only a version with the combo tool, G10 handle and thumbstuds on the secondary tools I'd be all over it.
Always a consideration. This particular knife generally goes for $12-15 after shipping, and it can go down to ~$9 when on sale. This is a fantastic deal, considering the fit and finish, attention to detail, design touches and fit and finish you get. A definite buy. A wee bit on the heavy side, perhaps, but that's really a personal issue.
-Fantastic attention to detail
-Great secondary tools
-Handle is heavy and not well textured
-Solid if unspectacular blade
-Nail knicks instead of thumbstuds on the secondary tools.