The K-1 is from TRC Knives, a company out of Lithuania. It is run by Andrius Tricius who is also the maker. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing another one of Andrius’ knives, the Apocalypse-L which has helped to give me a little more insight into his work.
As with the Apocalypse, this knife leaves an immediate impression of quality. There aren’t any rough surfaces or inconsistencies in the symmetry from side to side. The sheath is cleanly made without damage or marks from thermo-forming and all of the surfaces are well finished, edges chamfered and holes carefully countersunk. From first glance the knife seems to have been CNC made by a high end manufacturer. On closer inspection it is much nicer with the subtle attention to details only a highly skilled craftsman will ensure are tightly buttoned up.
The blade on the knife is made from Böhler Uddeholm’s Elmax. This steel falls into the category of powder metallurgy (P.M.) steels and offers exceptional performance. By performance I’m referring to its ability to take and maintain a keen edge and its corrosion resistance. As a P.M. steel it enjoys a healthy mix of some otherwise tricky to alloy materials (in high amounts) such as carbon, chromium and vanadium. The exact composition is as follows:
There has been a bit of a buzz surrounding Elmax as being overrated. The heat treat is often speculated as being the culprit. Personally I’ve had a positive experience with this knife and Elmax in general. It is somewhat tougher to sharpen than what most people are used to and perhaps this is partly where Elmax looses some points. If you let your knives get very dull and aren’t an experienced sharpener than a lower hardness or less tough steel may be a better choice.
The blade profile is reminiscent of the classic Bob Loveless drop point. It has a good amount of straight working edge followed by some belly toward the end. The spine drops down to meet the tip (hence the name) creating a better point for penetrating cuts, adding to the versatility. The grind is a high flat that is sharpened with a secondary bevel. The spine of the knife is “capped” meaning that it’s rounded. This detail resolves the shape nicely while making it more comfortable in use when bearing down on the back of the blade with your thumb or other hand. This K-1 has a satin finish but the model can also can be had in a stone-wash. The flats have a coarse texture that contrasts the smoothly finished bevels adding an attractive detail. At the plunge there is a deep choil for sharpening. TRC knives is etched on one side of the blade with K-1 on the other and Elmax on the handle spine.
The handle is a full tang construction meaning that the supporting handle material travels out to the edges of the scales and is visible. The tang on the K1 actually protrudes a little further and is rounded off for comfort. Having this extra steel around the edges helps to both protect the scales and allow the pommel to be used as an impact tool.
The scales are thick Olive Micarta. Micarta uses organic materials like paper, linen or in this case Canvas as a reinforcement in a resin matrix. Unlike other similar materials such as G10 (also called FR4) or carbon fiber that use glass fibers, Micarta has a natural look and feel. On its outermost surface it also slightly absorbent. Even when wet, Micarta has excellent traction making it a solid choice for an all-weather grip. For fasteners the knife has flat topped bolts that require a three pronged driver. While the bolts give the knife a modernizing look and add to the design interest, you’ll need a special tool if you ever have to re-tighten them or want to take down the knife.
Ergonomically the K-1 checks all the boxes. The handle has a great thickness and as mentioned, the Micarta provides excellent traction. All of the corners have been skillfully chamfered preventing hot spots and supporting prolonged use. The blade has a short front guard followed by a finger groove to keep your hand firmly in place without worry of slipping onto the edge. The groove is complimented by some deep jimping on the spine for thumb placement that adds control and feedback. At about 4.75” long the handle should fit most medium to large hands with or without gloves. Both the inner and outer edges gently curve and resulting in a natural grip. They terminate at a slightly flared pommel that helps to prevent slipping off the handle. There is a lanyard hole where you can add a wrist lanyard to further secure you to the handle.
For carry the K-1 comes with a Kydex sheath. It has a two piece, sandwich construction with the halves being held by black eyelets. The eyelets are spaced for modular attachment points using fasteners like Tek-Loks or other M.O.L.L.E. type rigging. A nylon belt comes standard with the sheath and can be removed if desired. At the bottom there is a small drainage hole for aeration. The retention is good while still allowing the knife to draw easily. Removing the K1 is helped along by a flared out corner at the mouth of the sheath. This allows you to quickly push it away with your thumb. Overall the sheath is well executed, uncomplicated and versatile.
To sum it up the isn’t anything I dislike about the TRC Knives K-1. It is an excellent fixed blade. I think that the overall dimensions and weight fit perfectly into my outdoor knife preferences. It has enough size and brawn to make it capable of handling some harder tasks but isn’t over-built. If you are looking for a higher end, medium sized handmade fixed blade than this may just be it. If not, TRC makes other models on the larger and smaller end of the spectrum that I’m sure will be equally well made, function flawlessly and last a lifetime.
Overall Length 9.25″ (235 mm)
Weight 6.95 oz (197g) WithSheath 10.1 oz (286g)
Length: 4.52″ (115mm)
Thickness: .189″ (4.8 mm)
Steel: ELMAX 59-60 HRC (heat/cryo-treated)
Satin blade or stone washed blade
Green Canvas Micarta (also available in black)
Kydex with detachable belt loop
Made in Lithuania