The name Heckler & Koch is synonymous with high-speed, low-drag units in the military and law enforcement. And you probably know the MP5 is the submachine gun of choice for units ranging from the British SAS and U.S. Navy SEALs to SWAT units worldwide. But you may not know that the HK name can also be attached to knives.
HK has joined forces with Benchmade Knives and designer Mike Snody to bring a new generation of knives to market. Made in the U.S.A., they embody the HK motto "No compromise."
The Heckler & Koch Axis Tactical Folder is one of a new series of duty knives made of the highest quality materials. Thanks to the Snody design, it is also cutting edge in form and function. The whole series of HK knives has lots of "damn they look cool" factor going for them.
HK's Axis Tactical Folder is eye catching. With the combination of a flat black blade and its silver etched HK logo, matte aluminum frame, and black rubber inlay grips, this knife looks good. The stainless steel liners of the grips are highly polished and add to the visual appeal.
The folder is offered in several versions. The knife can be had with a modified drop point or a tanto blade with either a plain edge or combination plain and serrated blade, and as a manual opening or auto-opening version. Since the tanto partially serrated blade has loads of cool factor, this is the knife I chose to work with.
As cool as the knife looks, is it capable of surviving the rigors of daily use? With names like Heckler & Koch, Benchmade, and Snody all combining forces, I am certain the knife will be up to the toughest of challenges.
First off, the knife is designed around Benchmade's patented Axis Lock. This locking system is one of the strongest on the market and is also one of the easiest to unlock, but only when you want to. The Axis is a spring-loaded lock that slides into a track on the spine of the blade. This system uses the entire frame of the knife, not just a small piece of steel, to lock the blade open. One of the most important features of the Axis is how virtually impossible it is to inadvertently unlock the blade. The releases are positioned so you can't "bump" them, and are truly ambidextrous.
Next, the materials used to build the HK folder are the best in the business. The frame is made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy for strength and light weight, while the liners are polished stainless steel. 154CM steel is used for the blade, and a proprietary rubber is used for the knife's grips.
To ensure durability, the frame halves are secured with four screws instead of the average three found on folding knives. The grip, frame, and liner are secured by two additional screws to ensure these parts won't come loose under hard use.
While the overall construction of the HK34 Axis is impressive, details are what make it a true daily use tool. Made to accommodate a variety of users, the knife's pocket clip can be switched from one side to the other for left- or right-handed use; or the clip can be removed completely for carry in a belt pouch. Similarly, the finger groove is comfortable for those with large or small hands.
A major feature that drew me to the HK34 Axis was its tanto blade, although it's available in other versions. The tanto-style blade is not only unique looking, but the tip is quite strong. The tanto folder blade has a high point, which is the line from the pivot point of the blade to the tip of the blade. The blade's strength is further enhanced by the flat grind behind the point. This is particularly important for those who insist on using a knife as a pry bar. I found the knife capable of handling a variety of day-to-day activities, from cutting banding to opening the mail.
To further test the strength of the tanto blade — originally designed by the Japanese to puncture Samurai body armor — I put the HK Axis Tanto through an admittedly unscientific test. I backed my surplus PSGAT vest with several phone books for stiffness and used an ice pick thrust. The knife successfully punctured the GI PSGAT Kevlar vest. This knife should handle most anything you would have to cut through on duty.
Overall, the HK34 Axis by Benchmade is an impressive knife. The blade opens and closes easily and smoothly. It can be readily opened with a flick of your wrist once you start the blade moving. This will bring the knife into action almost instantly if the need arises. The thumb stud and Axis lock are truly ambidextrous, and the lock can be operated with one hand.
Once again, Benchmade has hit a home run with the Heckler & Koch Axis series of knives. These knives are built to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional; this is a rare combination in a duty knife. No matter what you use your HK34 Axis knife for, it is worth every penny.
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.