Review: Manix PE

I have been fortunate to have handled a pre-production prototype of this knife and at the time I remember being not too impressed with the design. If I recall correctly, the blade featured a saber or hollow grind, and the handle was identical to that of the Chinook II. I was however amazed at the lightweight of the knife. Then along came a picture of the finished product, and it looked a lot like my favorite Li’l Temperance.

Temperance lineage
In fact, I believe Sal’s original idea for the Temperance line of knives would be to introduce a small and large folder and a fixed blade. It seems that Eric took over where Sal has left off. Sure there are many differences between the Li’l Temp and the Manix, but there are strong similarities; a thick full flat ground leaf shape blade and an MBC rated lock. Some aspects of the Li’l Temperance are actually improved, albeit at the cost of ergonomics. The clip can be positioned in every which way you like, tip-up, tip-down and for left and right-handed carry. This necessitated a symmetrical handle design, which isn’t as refined as the Li’l Temp. Amazingly this handle seems molded for my hand. This is mainly due to the thicker and ‘boxier’ feel of the handle. I many ways the Manix is an evolution of Al Mar’s SERE folding knife. Most of Al Mar’s field-type knives had relatively large handles that you actually had to grip, they definitely didn’t disappear in your hand. The Manix is likely to be much stronger and is definitely made from more advanced materials. Then again, I think these two models span almost two decades.

Not so MBC
Certainly this knife is too big to carry and use in public for me, since I live in an urban society that at times is almost hysterical with fear off terrorism and random acts of violence. No, this knife is purely an exercise in fun! A dandy ship’s mate to my Chinook II. While the Chinook II is an excellent MBC knife that offers much to interested and broad-minded martial artists, the Manix is a joy to use in the field and around the house. I actually tried some MBC drills with this knife, but it just doesn’t feel right to me, rather awkward. Sure it’s sharp and offers a very secure grip and opens very intuitively, but the alignment is off and it feels rather comatose in my hands during MBC drills. Objectively, this design should excel in MBC, large blade, good solid point, MBC-rated lock, handle can be used as pressure point instrument etc. But for me the feel of this knife is totally off for MBC use. Where it really shines is utility chores, cutting up everything you run into.

The CE blade cuts very aggressively. Rather than measuring twice and cutting once, as Chris Reeve likes to say in his ads, this knife just has to be put in the right direction and it cuts what you want to. For example when cutting up a large cauliflower. I was amazed to see that by just inserting and twisting around the tip of the blade into the stem of the vegetable, all the desired chunks just fell off. I think it’s due to the enhanced leverage of the strong and large Manix.

The design stimulates you to make use of this enhanced leverage, yes even in a folding knife, I chose the ComboEdge because of the blade length and the straight angle of the handle and blade. I knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying that fine plain edge near the heel of he blade, for cutting on flat surfaces. Moreover, I am used to 3-inch utility folders or less and the Manix leaves just as much PE left for regular chores.

Furthermore, with my experience with the Rescue 79mm folder, I am steadily favoring serrations. I do insist that a plain edge is more satisfying to use and sharpen than serrations. It takes more skill (on a Sharpmaker) and it is easier to modify -and appreciate- the edge to your liking (coarse, fine, angle etc..). The Manix’ serrations slice through cardboard like the proverbial butter, which went way better than I anticipated because of it’s relatively thick blade. The tip is plenty fine for cutting out newspaper articles. With the Manix it is even possible to comfortably slice fruit in the hand. Let me explain. I use a forward inverted grip, edge-up, and rest the thumb of the cutting hand on an apple, which I am holding in my non-cutting hand. A natural task when chilling on the couch eating a piece of fruit. Now I only want to use the PE section of the blade. This is a large knife, closed it’s just as wide in the hand and pocket as a Spyderhawk! I have to reach quite a bit on the blade to get a good grip. This is where that wide blade, large choil and light weight all help to get a safe and handy grip on the knife. You can choke up on this blade extremely well.

This model has a lockback, without the praised and hated Boye-dent in the locking bar. Strangely enough, the spydercrew managed to make it in such a way that it unlocks very smoothly, but I cannot make it unlock accidentally. Especially in a pikal of edge-in reverse grip. With my hands, I cannot come up with a realistic using grip that would cause my fingers to come near or exert pressure on the locking bar. Maybe this is because of that long handle. The locking bar is just much further away than usual.

Much has been said about this knife’s weight. On paper it heavier than a Chinook II. In the hand it feels just as heavy as the Chinook, but also a Military or Stretch. The weight distribution is very astonishing. For example, I changed my Leatherman Wave into a Pulse, simply because it’s a very heavy and clunky box of steel on the belt. Not so with the Manix. When carrying both a Chinook and Manix (OK I have some Freudian issues 😉 ), my pants certainly don’t drag down. You feel they’re there but without any hotspots. The profile of the knife when closed is nice and smooth, unlike the of the ParaMilitary which tang sticks out in the pocket.

Grip refinements
This model definitely does not need a cobra hood. The blade is thick enough with the proper thumb serrations, to rest your thumb or index finger on. And if that is still not enough, then grip the handle slightly more to the butt-end (plenty of room on that handle), and place you thumb on the spine of the handle. That is so thick, it would be hard to slip off of that. The choil by the way, is coated with the same bead blasted surface as the Dodo’s spine. The Chinook II has this as well. It’s a very nice addition. It adds more grip without chafing your finger. And if it would wear off, you have a regular choil.

Overall, this knife is for everyone looking for a large strong no-nonsense utility folder. MBC fans, pass on this one unless you can handle it before buying. The knife’s balance is totally off, as is the edge and point alignment with the hand, wrist and forearm. Furthermore, using the closed knife as an impact weapon is possible, but definitely a challenge. The closed Manix is just too wide to get a quick and non-slip grip on. But that same wide blade allows you to put your fingers on to control the blade for extremely fine cutting chores. Not that you will be doing much of that anyway though. The whole feel of this strong knife just begs you to use it hard. It’s as much hummer as I have seen Spyderco put in a knife to date. And despite the somewhat heated debate, I am convinced it will draw in people who are considering getting a(nother) Strider(type) folder.


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