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In Use

First of all, we should mention that both knives worked well as daily-carrys, and they both held up to our use and abuse quite well.

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The ‘Stockman is the smaller of the two, and we both felt like it was the perfect size for carrying in an office.  (No matter how useful your 6’ folder is, you’re going to scare the living crap out of your boss if you pull it out to cut mail.  Seriously.)  It’s slim, too, so it doesn’t stick out when you carry it in the front pocket of suit trousers.

I’ll admit that I prefer “pocket worn” corners — a feature that Case now offers direct from the factory on a number of different patterns.  The ‘Stockman’s square corners are sometimes a little uncomfortable in thinner pants pockets, though you don’t really notice it in jeans.  In the past I’ve used a paper wheel in a drill press before to artificially “pocket wear” knives that I like a lot — and don’t want to wait five years for them to “wear in.”  I think the ‘Stockman could benefit from the procedure.

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Sean: “The Copperhead’s a bit large for my daily-carry taste, but that’s totally a personal taste thing.  The rounded corners make it easy to slip in and out of your pocket, and it doesn’t hook on anything — or poke you when you sit down.  It’s heavy enough that you know it’s there.  I’d love it as a weekend-carry or for use when I’m in the shop, where the larger, stronger blades really come in handy.  One advantage to the size: It’s easy to open.  You can pull out either blade without using the nail mark, and that’s handy as hell.  It also makes a satisfying ‘click’ as it snaps open, which inspires confidence in use.”

The ‘Stockman was a little less smooth opening, but still felt very solid — enough so that I felt comfortable tearing into large, multi-layer cardboard boxes without fear of it closing on me. 

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Sean: “The Copperhead cuts like a monster through all sorts of crap.  Its extra mass makes it easy to control, though it’s clearly not intended for tiny work.”

Sean’s much harder on daily-use knives than I am, so he has much better stories from testing.

Sean: “What’s the weirdest thing I did with it?  I used it to pry bark off a tree where my guide-wire had dug in.  There was also the tick-off-the-dog bit.  I must have gone through at least a dozen boxes — everything that came in to Toolmonger at least.  I also whittled a soapstone dog for my dog Talat.”

My usage was much more pedestrian: I opened an imperial crapton of mail, and cut open more clamshell packaging than I ever want to see again in my life.  (Thank you, Case for never using clamshell packaging in your knives.)

The Professional Opinion

To get an idea of how the blades’ll hold up, we took the knives to our favorite professional sharpener — who really knows his way around a blade.  When we arrived, he was bouncing off the walls because a client had just hired him to sharpen three essentially priceless Hanzo Katanas — the traditional Samurai weapon and very difficult to obtain here in the U.S.  As you can imagine, one doesn’t trust such a blade to just anyone.

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He was interested in the CV blades in particular, and after sharpening the large blade on each, he pronounced them quality.  He said they felt a little softer than what he suggests is the “perfect pocket knife blade,” but admits that this is purely an opinion, not necessarily held by all.  He also indicated that softer blades will be easier to sharpen by home users with stones.

In short: He liked them, and generally had positive things to say.  Remember, this is a man in search of the perfect blade.  Such an endeavor takes a lifetime.  He’s always got something to say about any knife, which is why we love bringing them to him.

Read on to page 3 for our conclusions.

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10 Responses to Hands-On: W.R. Case’s Red CV Pocket Knives

  1. NarcolepticDoc says:

    If you want to start talking about newer blade steels, I’d suggest you head over to bladeforums.com. The stuff used in the Case knives is nothing special compared to the newer cutlery steels out these days. For example, ZDP-189 has a working hardness of up to 67rc, resulting in amazing edge retention.

    As for the opinion of your professional sharpener, the sharpening (or polishing rather, they’re one in the same with these swords) of traditional japanese swords is an art form in and of itself. Having a real sword polished by a non-specialist will pretty much ruin it. A “Hanzo Kantana” sounds like one of the cheap replicas styled after the Kill Bill movies.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    NarcolepticDoc: It’s funny; He suggested that we not mention the Hanzos because we’d immediately see comments on how they’re fakes.

    The short take: We did, anyway. He was right. They’re not fake. He is a “specialist” in a number of areas of sharpening. That’s why we go to him. That’s why we mentioned the Hanzos — real ones are rare and difficult to sharpen, and it’s the kind of thing he does — and that helps others to understand why we value his opinion.

    Chuck

  3. NarcolepticDoc says:

    The simple fact of the matter is that there is NO such thing as a ‘real’ Hanzo katana, because the swordsmith in the movie is a fictional character. There is a historical record of a real ‘Hatori Hanzo, but he wasn’t a swordsmith.

    http://www.shopusmore.com/articles/hattori_hanzo.html

    The very fact that you’re even talking about ‘Hanzo Katanas’ speaks volumes about the likelihood of those being real japanese swords (as opposed to ‘sword like objects’) or of your sharpener being somebody who’s qualified to properly polish a valuable sword (of which there are very few westerners).

    http://www.bigempire.com/sake/sword.html

    “Working 10 to 12 hours a day, the entire polish could take a couple weeks. A typical charge, including the polish, a new sheath, and any adjustments needed to the handle, is roughly 400,000 yen.” That’s about $4000 USD for a polish on a single sword.

    Either way ‘Chrome Vanadium’ is hardly a unique combination of alloys in a stainless, nor is it even a valid descriptor of a particular steel.

  4. Chuck Cage says:

    Great information!

    re: swords — The correct term, I suppose, would be “Hanzo-style” as the swords in question were made by a master bladesmith in Japan using the same methodology. Make sense?

    re: CV — As we’re primarily a tool site, the CV knives caught our attention not because the alloy was particularly “original” as much as because we figured the composition would strike a chord with other toolaholics.

    Thanks for the great comments. You sound like you’re pretty seriously into blades! Have you done some work in the field?

  5. Jay says:

    Thank for the excellent review on Case knives as actual tools. Case knives with CV blades are great!. They are handcrafted so no two are exactly alike (bone handles mainly) and CV can be easily brought to a razor edge with a regular sharpening stone. They are not stainless so they can rust, but I don’t work around a lot of water and it’s not a real problem.

    Some comments on a prior post: ZDP-189 I understand is a great steel. I’m guessing it is harder to sharpen and one will need a diamond sharpener (which makes life easier in the shop anyway). Plus, I don’t know of a stockman pattern made in ZDP-189. I like traditional knives. Lastly, if a stockman was made in ZDP-189 it would probably cost 2-3 times as much. I am prone to abusing my working knives. Browning I think offers a stockman (or did) in AUS-8 which is a very nice stainless. It is no ZDP-189, but still very nice. The CV will still be easier to sharpen.

  6. Dick Hickson says:

    I have no problem keeping my Case CV pocketknife rust free. I just make sure to keep it clean and dry, that’s it. I don’t even oil the blades other than every once in a blue moon. A dry blade won’t rust, not even a carbon steel blade. And man o man do these knives take a great edge.

  7. I’d sharpen and polish a katana myself with a belt sander, Arkansas stones, and a buffing wheel, and it would take maybe half a day. But then again I’m not personally involved in the production or maintenance of museum pieces, as you can probably tell from a glance at my website..

    As for rust, I live in a dry climate and yet find it necessary to leave a light coat of pharmaceutical mineral oil on my 10xx carbon blades. Any humidity is enough to get annoying red rust started. And it’s weird– one knife will spontaneously rust next to five others that don’t. So I keep the water away with a little oil.

    Love Case knives, this review, and old slipjoints in general.

  8. Chad says:

    Really nice review with excellent pictures. After reading your review I purchased a Copperhead. Thanks.

  9. Alexandre says:

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  10. car says:

    un post interessant sa m’interresse , merci