Fans of DPx Gear will know that Founder and Designer Robert Young Pelton spends a significant amount of time immersed in front-line combat areas with special operations troops. Part of his goal is to see how his knives are used and how to improve them for rugged, no excuses, customers. DPx Gear products are designed for function first, using only the most durable materials, then carefully tuned to match real world uses. The world of Military Specifications or “Milspec” is an oft-abused term to describe products.
Our troops are typically issued with “lowest price bidder” tools which in many cases means cheap consumer products made with plastic handles, automatic opening gimmicks and even a higher replacement than purchase cost (DPx Gear was asked to sit down with Naval Special Warfare to look at replacing a well-known consumer brand they spent more money replacing than purchasing for issue).
The requirements of forward troops is simple. Their knife has to not break, it has to perform poking, stabbing, cutting, prying and hammering without causing more damage to their operation and again…It must not break. There must be little to no requirement for maintenance, lubrication, adjustment or sharpening.
Start with the blade. The sword grind delivers a solid break resistant tip for poking and prying. The deep belly gives you 3 inches of smooth cutting edge and the 5mm thick blade is well past sturdy for prying and wound patterns.
We looked at the steel. And we chose Niolox or LO-R 4153.03 from Lohman, a German company that has been making premium steel since 1790 and an innovator in new steels. A Niobium enhanced high Chromium content steel is a martensitic stainless steel and the niobium helps reduce edge chipping or breakage. It also makes the grains of the steel smaller. The Milspec blade is not just steel, but the same type of metal used in fighter jet engines.
The composition of Niolox is as follows:
Niolox (also called SB1) was invented in 2006 for knife making by knife designers Jurgen Schanz and Lars Behnke (where the “S” and the “B” came from) and is now produced by Lohmann in their mill in the University town of Witten in Northern Germany. Niolox has a finer grain structure than more familiar U.S. steels like CPM S30V (the V is for vanadium). Niobium was added to create CPM S35vn and is part of a family of High Chromium ferritic steels containing Niobium with increased temperature stability and refined grain structure which are found in jet aircraft fan blades and of course the DPx HEST.
In more mundane but functional applications Niolox is a favorite of the commercial meat processing business where the ability to hold a sharp edge is measured and only reliable steels are employed.
At around 59 - 60 HRC, and in a stainless martensitic powder steel, the blade will not only stay sharp but remain rust free with minor care. The Teflon washers means no oil or lubrication is needed to keep the folder working smoothly in the dirt and sand of hard climates. Oil attracts grit and will wear down over time. Teflon washers are inexpensive and are not only smooth but very simple to replace if ever needed. Just wash the dirt out, blow off the water and get back to work.
The stout blade deploys with DPx Gear’s quick open feature. The patented bottle opener notch can catch on your pocket and deploy to the open position faster than an automatic since the blade opens the second you clear your pocket and towards the rear, away from an attacker. Further confidence is found in the unique RotoBlock safety which allows the ability to lock your folder in the open working position. Critical to prevent the blade from closing during heavy work or combat. The Milspec has a simple pistol type safety lever that is fail proof once deployed. All small details designed in the field.
The handle of the knife is also built for massive abuse. We use only American-made 6Al4V Grade 5 (aerospace grade) titanium alloy for the lock side of the frame and black American-made G10 phenolic laminate for the grip side of the frame. There are no scales on a DPx Gear folder. Just two beefy 4mm frame slabs from two of the toughest military industrial materials on the market.
There are more features. Wire strippers for demo, auto and household cord also double as slip-free jimping. A standard sized hex drive makes your Milspec a multi-tool. One of the most unobtrusive but innovative tweaks is that the entire knife can be taken apart using a 7/64 hex, the smallest available hex size from hardware stores and tool kits. The actual frame screws are lighter and tougher with this innovative design feature. There is also our unique deep-pocket clip made for thick uniforms and the tungsten carbide insert skull crusher, also removable with a standard hex drive and replaceable with a round head screw.
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