The number one selection criterion for this folder was fun. I just wanted to get the biggest baddest MBC folder there is. Sure the Civie is one tough folder to beat; and someday I will get a Civilian and see what the fuss is all about ;-). To maintain the purpose with which this folder was purchased, I’ll offer you a martial artist’s review of he Chinook II. The Chinook offers numerous little MBC features, packaged in a rugged workhorse type package, which is surprisingly lightweight. (The accompanying pictures show the newer Chinook 3, not the Chinook 2)
The number one thing I always look for in a tactical folder is the handle. Sure, some will say that is looking at things from the wrong end. However, deploying a folder under stress and keeping my fingers wrapped around it is more important to me, than whether the blade is convex ground or has a geotanto tip. If the blade has a sharp edge and a serviceable point, then I move on to examine the handle. Does it offer a secure grip? Does it allow multiple gripping options that are safe? Can I use it with my weak hand? Etc. The Chinook would answer all these questions in affirmative. While the first Chinook was joked to be a useful impact weapon, closed, by dropping it on your assailant’s foot; the Chinook II seems too light for that particular trick. Still, when closed, the butt end of the handle is a natural, large and solid striking area.
When doing impact drills, the clip is smooth enough not to cut in your palm. When the blade is deployed, the fun really begins with the handle as an impact weapon. The bowie’s and Keating’s saber heritage shines through here. While you can still use the butt of the handle for hulk-like smash and bash, the gently curving point of the busk offers a surprisingly natural secondary striking surface. While this little saber has no D-guard, it seems that you may still use it as such. During practice, I stepped in close after deflecting an incoming slash and couldn’t reverse my blade quickly enough for a follow-up. No biggie, I just responded by throwing a hook-punch on the dummy. Only, my hand missed, but not that little tip of the busk. With a little practice you can actually use this tip at the butt of the handle to launch a hook-type strike and reverse with a little back-cut. I love this feature, great options for the martial artist that loves to accumulate all sorts of little tricks to the toolbox. I know of no other folder that can do this sneaky trick. It really adds to the close quarters MBC capabilities of this knife.
The Chinook 2 handles really naturally in the edge-out reverse grip. One thing that stands out when using the knife in this mode is that the curving blade really helps with trapping limbs. The non-sharpened clip seems to trap offending limbs almost by itself. It works really instinctively with the Chinook. Mind you, this is all done with the dummy and not on a noncooperating attacker. The arch also seems large enough to trap the back of the neck of an attacker, to better introduce it to a nearby wall and such. Mind you, I do not practice trapping as a strategy, but in sparring I noticed that I can actually miss a target ;-). When overshooting your target, trapping becomes a natural option, and you can turn the tables on your assailant after all.
When using the knife in reverse grip edge-in, it works amazingly well for me. Two things to look out for are the locking mechanism and staying off the blade when thrusting. In this grip, my fingers stay well away from the locking bar, so I am hopeful I won’t disengage the lock accidentally. Second, that guard-like protrusion in front of the choil -that works so well in the traditional saber grip- also protects my hand from the blade in the reverse-edge-in-grip. I can even slide my thumb halfway across the butt for added security. For those right-handers who can’t wait until the Pikal knife is out, switch the clip to a left and carry it as usual. With a little practice and personal preference of tip up or down, it deploys nicely in the edge in reverse grip. If I was looking for a full-sized Pikal folder, I’d go for the Chinook II, period.
The blade is thicker than I expected, especially near the tip. I was expecting a more delicate blade, as you can expect in most other production clip/bowie type blades, both folders and fixed. Still, the grinds provide a scary sharp blade and point. This blade is heavier than most other spydies, but with the same sharp edge and tip. This caused me to be a bit scared of the edge at first. Since it was heavier than I’m used to, I was just waiting for this thing to slip out of my fingers -I tend to … play with my knives too you know ;-)- and that its weight would make a deep cut on my person. This hasn’t happened though. The wide extra grippy G10 slabs offer a lot of surface for the fingertips to hang on to.
Like the Kasper folding knife, the Chinook II’s edge hangs below the knuckles in an edge-out grip. Although this does allow for more positive contact with the cutting target, it also begs for kitchen duty! I can say that the Chinook is a worthy folding kitchen knife. What it lacks in a thin flat ground blade, it compensates for it because you can bring a lot of edge down to the cutting board. The factory edge was very coarse; it almost gripped the veggies before slicing them. Very effective, I must practice more to create those edges myself. I tend to go for the best-polished edge I can get out of my sharpmaker.
What don’t I like about this knife. Well, I have a huge personal bias for Spyderco Knives. I have had such good experiences with these knives that I inevitably tend to look for the strengths of their models, rather than weaknesses. Therefore, the things I generally dislike about Spydies come to the surface after carrying and using them for a while, as opposed to initial examination. On a big lockback like the Chinook, you’d expect the corner of tang to stick out of the handle when closed which is very uncomfy when carrying and deploying the folder. However, the curvy back-strap of the blade is seated flush with the guard, so no troubles there. The clip is rounded and smooth, unlike that of the Delica for example, so no troubles there. The Chinook II comes with the “Swiss cheese” clip option that is 4 options to attach the clip, which many of us asked for. It also leaves a lot of unsightly holes. I don’t mind it and the holes blend in with the black G10; so no real trouble there as well. There is one thing though, it is big very big. Although within legal carry limits for me, there is no way anyone would let me get away with whipping it out in the city centre in public.
Plus, I generally prefer slightly smaller blades to cut off a string or two. I would prefer a Chinook II junior with a three-inch blade. So after harassing Spyderco for many years for a Paramilitary, I now would like to start the campaign for a “Para-Chinook”! For those looking for a big, versatile folder that is good for rugged and fine utility work, but superb for MBC work (Keating absolutely knew what he was doing when hiding the little MBC features in this knife), then I heartily recommend the Chinook. Besides, it’s a breath of fresh air to carry and use a folder that has been selected purely on its functional and aesthetic merits, rather than it’s politically correctness.