HTM (Hand Tech Made) is the latest venture from venerable custom knifemaker Darrel Ralph. HTM is Darrel’s concept of what a limited production, high-end knife company should be—incorporating stellar design, impeccable quality and American, handcrafted attention to detail. His newest HTM automatic offering, the Gun Hammer, showcases these ideals. The Gun Hammer is Darrel’s best-known handmade tactical design. It is a big, burly knife with a thick handle and wide blade that is big enough for lots of hard work. His automatic production adaptation follows that theme with a few notable tweaks.
Practical Recurve Edge
The first thing that jumps out at you is the large “Radian” recurve blade. At first glance, this space-age shape looks wildly impractical and a little too stylish—until you actually use it. The wide, sweeping recurve may offend some folks who prefer a more conservative look, but the thin 0.120-inch blade with a high flat grind and pronounced reverse curve gives this knife tremendous cutting power. Tough items like carpet, nylon rope and canvas are no match for the toothy, stonewashed S30-V edge. Knowledgeable knife nuts know that recurve edges can transform a small blade into a workhorse, but the only downside is that field sharpening can be a challenge. That task is best accomplished with a round diamond rod or a Spyderco-style Sharpmaker system. The holes in the blade are purely decorative and add no value other than a cosmetic signature. In fact, they get full of gunk when you slice some materials. They look racy, but I could do without them.
Darrel has always had a handle on ergonomics. His best-known designs, the EDC, Madd Maxx and Gun Hammer all have superb, comfortable handles, and this knife fits right into their mold. HTM has applied some very nice traction to the 3-D machined handle with a grip process that they have dubbed “ETAC.” The machining is first rate and as good as I have seen in the production knife business. The large, aluminum alloy 4-3/8-inch handle is comfortable enough for hard work, with nicely rounded edges and double finger grooves. It is not another “flat” aluminum auto knife—it has a nice rounded feel that is hard to pull off in production and is also hard-anodized for durability and a nice silky feel.
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by Tim Stetzer / Sep 1, 2011