Anyone who has read my writing (which has spanned more than a decade now) for any period of time knows that I’m a huge proponent of always carrying a knife. To me it’s far more important than the American Express card; you just simply never leave the house without it… ever. The only thing better than carrying a ‘regular’ knife is carrying a high quality versatile knife – or carrying two knives. In this case, I received an XM Strike Fighter folding lockblade from Ontario Knife Company for test and evaluation. I was not disappointed.
When I first took it out of the box, the XM Strike Fighter (XMSF from here on) seemed like a typical folding lockblade. Truth be told, there are a number of decent high quality knives on the market, but some are well designed and some are just supported by good sales gimmicks. The XMSF struck me as a good yet relatively basic design. It’s a folding knife. It doesn’t have a rescue blade, window punch, corkscrew or whatever Inspector Gadget gadget you think you need. It’s a folding knife.
Let me start out describing the knife with this note: It’s restricted to military and law enforcement sales only. Why? Because the ‘spring assisted deployment mechanism’ combined with the ‘plunger lock’ means it will spring open at the push of a button. In other words, it pops open at the touch of a button – and, in this case, incorporates a secondary slide lock on the spine above the pivot pin to lock the blade shut. This protects against unintentional opening in a pocket which could have not so desirable results.
My sample knife is all black in color and I don’t see any other options available on the OKC website. The blade is available in plain edge or a mix serrated/plain edge. The 3.5” blade is sufficient for all the cutting chores you could reasonably expect to accomplish with a folding knife. Closed length is 5” which means the grip length is 5” and that’s a good hand-filling size. The grips are also shaped well to fit your hand comfortably with a noticeable curve for index finger placement and a molded partial hilt to give you that “don’t go past this point with your fingers” feeling – even in the dark. The blade is 0.125” (1/8th of an inch) thick which is, in my opinion, optimal for a folder. Made of N690Co steel and with a hardness rating of 58-60 HRC, the blade has a (published) finish of ‘satin’ but it looks like a matte finish to me. It’s very non-reflective and professional looking.
The grips are all metal and shaped as described above. The pocket clip has two positions allowing you to carry the knife tip down (pivot pin up) on either the left or right side. For pocket carry I prefer pivot pin down, but given the design of this knife I’d most likely carry it in my waistband or above my waist on a vest or in a shirt pocket.
Like all knives that I T&E this one had to go through the “back yard shed materials” cutting tests. I pulled out all of the miscellaneous junk materials that I keep for just such purposes that included (in this case): fishing line, string, twine, ugly yellow ½” plastic rope, ½” cotton rope, 1” nylon strap and an old five gallon plastic construction bucket. The knife handled all of the cutting chores without issue. I saved shaving off chunks of the plastic bucket for last and then brought it into the house to clean up. Once cleaned and dried I used it to cut my dinner (baked chicken breast) later that same evening and it cut the meat cleanly with no pull or tear.
I couldn’t find an MSRP on the Ontario Knives Website but a quick Google search for “Ontario Knife Company XM Strike Fighter” found me one as low as $199. Given the knife design, function and materials, that’s a reasonable price in the comparable market. Some other knives that I’d consider similar in size, design and function are priced $50-$100 more.