Snap Attack! | EDC Cutting Knives Review

Snap-On Tools and GATCO do a full frontal assault on the world of EDC knives for work, trail and self defense.

Snap-On has a long history of providing quality tools to the working class throughout the world. Now they’re taking those years of service and applying them to one of man’s most basic tools: the knife. While Snap-On has sold knives before, they’ve generally been other companies’ models. With a new collaboration with Great American Tool Company (GATCO), Snap-On now has a line of models they can call their very own.

gatco-snapon.jpgNo Job Too Tough
Snap-On doesn’t mess around when it comes to jumping into a new line of knives. I received 11 different models for evaluation, which covered a broad spectrum of styles. Some of the common features that the knives share are that they are all imported models, and that they have good fit and finish. Most have Snap-On’s traditional red, or red and black, color scheme and many sport the company’s logo as well. The traditional Stockmans have tasteful medallions inset into one scale with the Snap-On logo in gold lettering.

Starting with the Stockmans, we have three models following the traditional 3-bladed design, the 5210, 5212, and 5214. All three feature 440 stainless steel blades and have genuine bone stag handles. The 5212 is the smallest model, with a closed size of 2.63 inches, while the 5214 is 3.88 inches closed. The 5210 falls right in between the other two at 3.38 inches closed.

There are five liner-lock models offered in the line-up. The 5205 and 5209 feature black G-10 scales with red liners and a large red Snap-On overlay logo. These have a classic, tactical one-hand opener style using dual thumb studs and a skeletonized pocket clip. The 5205 has a 3.5-inch blade and an overall length of 4.5 inches closed, while the 5209 carries a 2.5-inch blade and is a petite 3.5 inches closed. The 5211 and 5213 feature handles with a distinctive combination of red anodized aluminum and black G-10. They’re stylish and offer a good grip. They also have dual thumb studs and skeletonized pocket clips. The 5211 and 5213 have a more subdued Snap-On etching on the blades. The 5211 has a 3.2-inch blade while the 5213 is slightly larger with a 3.38-inch blade. The last liner lock is the model 5207, which has a 2.6-inch Wharncliffe blade and sports a red anodized aluminum handle with a black Snap-On logo. All of the liner locks also have 440 stainless blades.

Fit For The Boss
Next up is a 2.5-inch-bladed gentleman’s knife, the model 5203. This one is a skeletonized design that Snap-On calls the Money Clip Knife. It has an extremely thin profile and would ride nicely in the front pocket of a pair of dress slacks. Construction of the 5203 is of 420 stainless steel and G-10 for the frame and 440 stainless for the blade. The 5230 is also a smaller knife that would ride well in the pocket, but it features a short and stout 2.25-inch blade of 420 stainless steel and a rugged frame lock. It has a pocket clip as well as a large lanyard hole, which would work well for clipping this knife onto a tool belt with a snap ring or a carabiner. The handle has a red anodized aluminum scale with the Snap-On logo readily visible on one side. Last, but not least, is a lockback folding work knife with replaceable blades. The 5270 bears the now familiar red anodized frame with the Snap-On logo and a one-hand opening blade carrier, which accepts common utility knife blades. The 5270 also features a handy pocket clip, so you can always have it close at hand while doing a job. 

Putting Snap-Ons To Work
Before I even had a chance to begin my hands-on testing, my wife got to the Snap-On line! I received my test knives just before the 2009 SHOT show in Orlando and, while I was gone, my wife and father-in-law began a remodeling project on our downstairs bathroom. It seems that my father-in-law was looking for a utility knife and my wife helpfully volunteered up the shiny new Snap-On 5270 that conveniently arrived at our home! While my report on its use is secondhand, they assure me that it worked out quite well. Its positive lockup, ease of blade changes and comfort in use were all notable features that they commented on to me. I suspect this is one knife that I’m not going to see again, unless it’s in my wife’s utility drawer or father-in-law’s toolbox!

For my part, I worked primarily with the 5205 and 5213 liner locks. These full-sized, one-hand openers were right at home in my pocket as a plainclothes police officer and handled all my everyday tasks nicely. Routine uses included opening up boxes, cutting cardboard, packing tape, evidence bags and even some impromptu kitchen use in the break room at work. I also carried them off duty in my jeans or cargo trouser pockets where they carried easily and were just as handy in that role as well. Both models had smooth actions that opened easily with one hand and had very positive, well-centered liner locks. They carried comfortably clipped in either the back pocket of my dress slacks during work or my front jeans pocket while working around the house. Around the house and garage I used the knives to cut packing and banding material, plastic zip ties and for opening up 5-gallon buckets.

Tactical Tools
While the Snap-On line will certainly appeal to do-it-yourselfers, mechanics and handymen, a number of models in the line are every bit as tactical as the typical black folders from other companies geared towards military and police sales. With 3.5-inch blades, one-hand opening thumb studs, pocket clips, liner locks and G-10 scales or inserts, they’ll do the job just as well as anything else out there specifically marketed as defensive tools. They may be a bit more discreet, too, bearing the traditional red Snap-On color and Snap-On logos. 

Keeping Your Edge
In addition to the new knives, Gatco is also offering a couple of sharpeners in their Snap-On line. The first is a compact carbide knife sharpener with an ABS body and a Kraton grip. It’s a basic pull-through sharpener that’s simple to use and it has replaceable carbide inserts. The other model is a double “V” ceramic sharpener. It’s essentially a mini set of crock sticks with medium and fine grits available on either side of the sharpener. It’s also constructed of ABS plastic and has slip-resistant grip pads and base pads so that you can set it firmly on the table should you choose to do so. It has a key ring hole as well, although, personally, it seems a bit large for that to me. It’s definitely compact and would fit in a pocket or toolbox quite well, though, as would the carbide sharpener. Both sharpeners are quick and easy to use and would be handy to have nearby to touch up your blades for routine maintenance or when doing especially rough chores like cutting up cardboard or old carpet.

Whether you’re a longtime user of Snap-On tools or simply looking for a good value in a folding work knife, chances are that the Gatco line of Snap-On edged tools has something for you. With eleven different models ranging from traditional slipjoints to one-hand tacticals, it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t something there that will appeal to you or make a great gift for the mechanic, handyman or do-it-yourselfer in your life!

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