Until recently, MercWorx has been a relatively unknown company outside of the military, paramilitary, and law enforcement communities. As a closed company, its client base has been more or less confidential and exclusive. MercWorx has built its reputation on unique, highly functional tactical gear of high quality and extreme dependability, offered with discretion and integrity. MercWorx products include everything from butt packs and submachine-gun magazine pouches to 40mm grenade pouches, canteen covers, and combat knives. Almost everything in the web and pouch lines is available in black, OD, coyote tan and ACU. MercWorx has a solid reputation for high quality in an uncompromising and unforgiving market. Because confidentiality has been as important as competence to the company’s success, MercWorx has until recently avoided the public marketplace.
Last year MercWorx released a number of their knife designs to the public and TK has previously covered a number of their superb fixed blade knives. However, their automatic knives are still only available to active duty military and law enforcement that may purchase them directly from MercWorx or from one of its designated dealers. Since TK has many readers qualified to buy automatic knives, it seemed remiss to not cover these excellent blades.
The Latalis Series
MercWorx’s newest offering in the automatic knife field is the Latalis series. These encompass several variations that include titanium or black hard anodized aluminum handles with inserts of carbon fiber. These are not production knives, as each of these knives is hand made by one skilled artisan from beginning to end.
The Latalis is a good-looking knife in an extremely handy size. The cryogenically treated CPM S30V blade is 3-1/2 inches long and it has a Rockwell hardness of Rc 60. From past experience I can assure you that this results in quite remarkable edge-holding ability. I have found that even with hard use, just an occasional touchup with a couple swipes from a fine ceramic rod will keep this knife shaving sharp for months without a full-scale resharpening session.
The knife’s blade has an extremely handsome hand-rubbed finish. The blade has a sort of dropped point/spear point with a deep false edge. The edge has the characteristic MercWorx recurve and it arrived hair-splitting sharp.
Florida Black Knife Roots
The basic operating mechanism is a variation of the immortal “Florida Black Knife.” That is, there is a simple spring-loaded button mechanism that locks the blade in both the closed and open positions. Unlike the Florida Black Knife, this knife has a sliding safety that also locks the button from accidental firing or unlocking. The safety is very conveniently located at the top front of the knife’s handle.
The Latalis has a removable titanium pocket clip on the right side that carries the knife in the blade tip-down position that most experienced automatic knife carriers prefer. The knife in its aluminum-handled version weighs only 5.3 ounces and the titanium-handled model weighs 6.8 ounces. The Titanium model is in very limited production. Each Latalis is accompanied with a simulated leather zippered pouch for storage.
The handle of this knife has just about the perfect shape for a secure grip for my average-sized hand, while still allowing many comfortable different grip positions achieved by rotating the handle one way or another, choking up on the handle, or reversing it. My only additional comment in that regard is that I found the aluminum handle to be very cold to the touch if not wearing gloves when the knife was being used outdoors.
The T&E sample Latalis I worked with fired its blade open smartly and it locked up in the open position without any detectible play even after many firings. The safety engagement is smooth and solid. All in all I would rate this knife top-notch in fit, finish, and function. Indeed, my sole criticism is that it needs a hole for a lanyard for when the knife is in use by a jumpmaster or when operating over water or heavy snow. This is a superb tactical automatic knife that anyone would be proud to carry and use. The suggested retail price for the aluminum-handled model is $454.95.