For the past few weeks, I've been testing the new Snap-on Dash pocket knife. Made in the USA with the Kershaw Knife, the Dash is a masterpiece of ergonomics and practicality. It boasts American manufacturing, high-quality materials, and Speed Safe® spring-assisted opening technology. Measures 4 5/8 inches long when closed and 8 inches open with a 3 1/2 inch drop point blade.
Switchblade and Spring Assist Deployment
I've been using affascinato knives since I was about 8 years old when I accompanied my dad on a visit to Mitchell's Hardware Store in East Orwell, Ohio. As he picks up what he needs for his latest home repair project, I admire the knives in the wooden display case on the counter. In the 1950's, all hardware sold switchblades. Of course, a switchblade is something I really, really crave; however, my dad would say, "You're not old enough to use a switchblade." What my dad was really trying to say was that I wasn't old enough to have a knife. I had to wait until I was 11 to join the Boy Scouts, get a totin chip patch (a Scout license to use axes and knives) and a Boy Scout 3-bladed boner made by Camillus.
The reason I want a switchblade is that all "shelves" have one, in the side pocket of the engineer's boot, as part of their dress code. These shelves are anthropomorphized by Fonzy today, but trust me, they're not the idyllic font of wit that Henry Winkler portrayed in Happy Days. The racks aren't very bright, and if they catch you, they'll beat you to the ground on the playground. Looking at that display case, I thought, "If I only had one, I'd teach those thugs two things." Looking back on those years, I can't thank you enough for the wisdom my father kept from me!
Because of the rack, a federal law was passed in 1958 prohibiting the importation or location of switchblades in interstate commerce. Whether it's this reduced gang violence or hardliners simply turning to bats and guns, I'll leave that to sociologists. The truth, however, is that it refuses to allow the general public to own a very useful knife for a variety of reasons. The switchblade can be opened with one hand if the other hand is occupied. It's compact enough to fit in your pocket with the blade securely covered. For these two reasons, they were issued to paratroopers in World War II. You won't accidentally cut through the shroud wiring with a Knife, Pocket M2, but you might cut yourself out of the shroud with one hand while the other hand is busy: firing a gun, hanging from a branch up and so on. That said, the overwhelming reason I like them so much is that they are so much fun!
One downside to switchblades is that without an additional locking mechanism, the blade can easily open accidentally. If this happens to your pocket, damaged clothing is the best you can hope for. For this reason, most switch blades, including the M2, have a safety lock that must be removed before the open button can be operated. Exchange blades can still be purchased in some states because the 1958 law only applies to interstate commerce. Oddly, the law doesn't ban spring-assisted knives that require some physical strength to start the opening process. Most spring assist knives have a corner, called a flipper in the patent abstract, that extends from the base of the blade up to the back. Backward pressure on the horn starts the opening process, and if your finger or something is out of the way, the blade snaps open.
Snap-on Dash: What They Say
Cutting to the chase, the Snap-on Dash is one such spring assist knife; probably the best I've ever had the pleasure of opening. Dash's ad claim is:
- Features a large, slightly pointed blade for excellent slicing and piercing capabilities
- High-performance stainless steel blades provide excellent corrosion resistance and enhanced appearance
- Lightweight machined 6061-T6 anodized aluminum handle with Trac-Tec insert for an extremely secure grip
- Equipped with SpeedSafe® knife-assisted opening technology
- A short press of the indicated point overcomes the built-in resistance of the torsion bar in the mechanism
- SpeedSafe knife technology takes over and the blade moves out of the handle quickly and easily
- Inset Liner Lock® Mechanism – An inset steel plate functions like a locking liner and is located on the side of the handle
- When the blade is deployed, a steel plate moves behind the blade, locking it securely open without all the weight and bulk of a full liner
- Includes reversible deep carry pocket clip so the knife stays in your pocket at all times
Snap-on Dash: What We Say
The drop point blade is truly a useful all-purpose shape for everything from slicing salami and brie at an impromptu picnic to removing gasket remnants from an engine block. The high performance stainless steel is Sandvik's 1428N alloy, which has the right material to make a very good blade. With a carbon content of 0.62%, it can be heat treated to approx. HRC 62 without difficulty. Containing 14% chromium and 0.11% nickel, it should have excellent corrosion resistance. In addition, the blade has a diamond-like coating (DLC), which is both flexible and hard. I'd say it's been a few years before I can say if it's beneficial?
The side plates (scales) are made of 6061, a very good easy-to-machine aluminum alloy with a T6 temper, which is the hardest aluminum that can be rolled. Anodizing allows for corrosion resistance as well as four colours: black, green, orange and red. I would like to see hard coat anodizing, which provides a higher level of protection and wear resistance than standard anodizing. The black Trac-Tec appears to be a textured polymer that provides good grip even when wet.
The SpeedSafe® opening is great. Slight back pressure on the horn/baffle (Snap-on/Kershaw now call it the index point) starts the opening process. At about 25° of motion, the spring takes over and the blade snaps into full extension, locking open in the process. After taking it out of the box, I was absolutely amazed at how perfectly the blade unfolded, unfolded twice. The opening is perfect no matter where you start the process. Up, down, sideways, it doesn't matter. I even got my asparagus knife dirty and it still opened just fine. I pushed it into the mud just enough to hit the clip, but it still opens. Carrying two or three of them at once over the past few weeks, none of them even bothered to accidentally open them. Thanks Kershaw. If you want more details, you can go to Google Patent Search and read patent abstracts. The patent is US 8001693 B2 Closable knife with opening mechanism.
In the end, the clip worked as advertised. It is retainable, allowing the knife to be cut from the field, but can be used in your left or right pocket depending on your handedness. The blade is delivered nicely ground to a medium grind for general use in cutting food, rope and small game. The edges are completely free of feathers (burrs). Work knives should be sharpened on a medium-sized stone. When lengths of edge are drawn over fibrous substances such as rope, the slight serrations left by the moderate grind quickly cut through the fibers. Polishing the edge on a fine or super fine stone will cause the knife to slide instead of cutting the twine. If you want to push the edge straight forward in tasks like chipping/carving, polishing the edge will give better results. I recommend the Snap-on Dash Knife unconditionally.
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