Reviewing the Dart-XT : Doug Marcaida Signature knife

Having been a fan of the TV Show Forged in Fire for a year or so now, I’ve been amazed and amused by the antics of blade-smiths having to forge a functional knife in under 6 or 7 hours. It’s always amusing who talks it up and who goes home early, but when I dug around a little about one of the judges in particular, Doug Marcaida, I found he had a knife with his name on it. Cool. This guy is pretty handy with a blade and seems to be an extremely capable Martial Artist. Cool again. So what the heck, I have quite a few pocket folders so I thought I would get one to see how it measures up to my favorite knife; Benchmade.

Well, right off the bat I was left a little wanting. Initial impressions of the box seemed like it was a bit on the cheap side. The box is pretty roughed up with printing rubbed of on almost all of the corners. Hrmm. So I open up the box and slide the knife out. To my surprise it comes with a full additional set of screws and a whole other clip. Cool. Another bonus is the ability to move thew pocket clip to the other side if you want to carry it in another pocket or just change the way it faces when you pull it out of your pocket. This is a small detail, but it’s one of the things that I really like about a lot of the Benchmade knives I have. Little features like this speaks volumes about the manufacturer and attention to detail in the design. When push comes to shove, these are the details that separate the runners from the duffers. In fact, it’s a detail like this that led me to Benchmade as my go-to pocket knife in the first place. Up until just about 6 years ago the bulk of my pocket knife selection Dart XT contentswas made up of Case knives. If you’re not familiar with Case, well, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been hiding under, but Case knives are some of the best knives made. Their craftsmanship, design and durability is impressive to say the least, but they have this thing against putting clips on their knives. They do make a couple with clips, in fact their mid-folding hunter is absolutely gorgeous, and I own several, but I don’t like having my EDC pocket knife rolling around in my pocket. But lookit that, here’s me getting off-track….

The handle finish is rough, like the texture of grip-tape on the deck of a skateboard, but it fits nicely in the hand and is pretty comfortable, but it seems kind of blocky and the edges are harder than what I really like. An interesting feature I noticed right off is that it has a blade lock to hold the blade open (LAWKS), which it already does since it’s a locking folder, so basically this little lever deal keeps you from being able to depress the metal tab in the handle to unlock and close the blade. I like the “idea” of it, but it seems totally unnecessary. The Karambit design and the finger ring are fine, the little pointy bit for striking pressure points or busting a window is an interesting idea, but I bet that if I smash the handle of any of my metal Benchmade knives into a car window it’s going to break it.

Dart XT BoxWhat I don’t like is the fact that I simply cannot open it one handed in one fluid motion. The blade actually sticks closed a bit like there’s a small bearing detente in the closed position to keep it closed. I can fidget with it enough to fumble it open with a couple of quick swipes of my thumb, but I could really cut the crap out of my thumb. It’s not like my hands are small either, it says it’s designed for medium to large hands, but there’s is no way I could just flip this sucker open unless it loosens up with use. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, I’m not Mr. Knife Fighter so I don’t really have to be able to whip this out and be combat ready on a whim, but it’s supposed to be designed with this in mind, and mine just doesn’t perform. The other thing is the placement of the LAWKS tab is only really usable if you hold the knife blade side up in a Saber grip. Which is not really the way I see a Karambit being weilded.

It’s sharp though, there’s no doubt about it.

Like a lot of other people I’m sure, I bought this because of the TV Show where Mr. Marcaida is a judge, without which I have no doubt I would have never come across this knife. So in with my collection it will go, and quite likely have the distinction of being the one lonely Karambit.

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