I think I've been quite lucky on what I've come across for blade opportunities and this Fantoni HB-01 does not disappoint the streak. A collaboration between Fantoni of Italy and William W. Harsey a USA designer, the result is what I would describe as a very classy tactical knife. It has the durability and functionality desired in a tactical knife while keeping the design overall simple and sleek in appearance.
One of the features that shines immediately is that it has a big ass blade for a 5" folder. The blade coming in at about 4"+, I believe is one of the best examples of fitting as much folding blade into the handle as possible. Sporting an overall drop-point shape blade, the top end starts to taper to give a "false edge" look and provides a very stab optimized tip. Made of CPM-30V steel with a stonewashed process, the blade has a near chrome shine which perhaps is not so tactical, but sure does look purdy. The grip is made of G10 using a fine texture pattern that gives a nice almost sand-paper feel without the harsh abrasion factor. Nicely spaced and deep gimping is incorporated as well to offer additional grip enhancement while holding traditionally or reversed. The slope of the back spine in particular works well for me to flow with my palm on a normal grip and allow my thumb to wrap over on a reverse grip.
Functionality wise the HB-01 uses a liner lock system. The lock interface zone extends a little from the frame so is easier to manipulate. Although extension could be more minimal, I did not find it to be an accidental release hazard while twist / grip testing offhand. Like most liner locks, the accidental release threat is more of an issue for left handed folks. To open, thumb screws are the main method which have a cool stair-step cone shape. I find this shape helps conform to my thumb better while still offering good friction. That said I would still push the thumbstud just a dash further from the frame when closed to make manipulation easier. When using with my left hand, which may just be an issue of being my weaker hand, I worry the liner lock takes up more space between the blade and thumbstud making it a smidge harder to engage. As a bonus, the index finger guard on the blade works out as a tiny blade open assist when folded. This is particularly helpful when I'm trying to open with my left hand so I can press the back assist (with my index finger) and thumb stud at the same time to get a very consistent open. I can also get a solid open release with either hand using a wrist "flick" in combination with the back assist so this is nice to have some opening options. As would be expected in a high end folder, the blade rotation is smooth, yet without any blade wobble or wiggle room when locked deployed out.
For a small down side the pocket clip came pretty tight, like really hard to slip on your pants and would tear them up in a week tight. Fortunately I still have my kershaw torx tool so it wasn't too big of a deal for me to unscrew them off. It did however take some trial and error to use pliers to bend the clip to what I thought was a reasonable clip grip. While staying on subject, the clip can be mounted to the other side to give more carry side options which many knives seem to slack these days. Not to be forgotten, a good sized hole is integrated at the back bottom for lanyard lashing.
With solid design execution and use of high end materials, the HB-01 gives off a very noticeable impression of both visual and functional quality. The use of titanium in the clip and not just the frame is just one example of the no compromises design approach. The attention to the details is great such as making the frame spacers curved to make cleaning just that little bit easier. For those looking for a knife that has all the tactical features while has such a classy blade it wouldn't look too ridiculous cutting dinner meat, be sure and look further into the HB-01. Additionally for those who like everything about the HB-01, but wanted a smaller / lighter size, check out the HB-02.
DESIGNER: William W. Harsey
BLADE SIZE: 4 1/4"
TOTAL SIZE: 9 1/2"
CLOSED SIZE: 5 1/4"
BLADE MATERIAL: CPM-S30V Stainless Steel - Stonewashed - RC 61-62
HANDLE: Thick titanium liners with a black g-10 handle
WEIGHT: 5.9 oz.
Demo knife supplied by and where to purchase: KNIFEART.COM