The S is one of those irresistible designs that you just ‘find’ a use for. I got plenty of small pocket folders, and even more little big knives. Yet the cutouts on the S do look cool and the design is a refinement of the Salsa I carried for quite a while. A few e-mails with my friend Rorsach (www.scarysharp.com) sealed the deal; I had to have a silver S. Although -to me- the S is a handy novelty design, I was still curious to see how functional it is.
Salsa generation 2
The S looks like it started out like a Salsa and was put through boot camp. Apart from losing weight, it got shot up a bit too. The holes are everywhere, making the S ultra light. The blade has been narrowed down as well, resulting in a nice and pointy tip. The ‘blunt’ tip on the Salsa was its only real drawback. The clip design is the same on the S as it was with the Salsa. The maker is still from Taiwan, but he seems to have had a course in fit and finish. The S’ fit and finish is steps above that from the Salsa. In my S, there is no blade play in any direction (even after disassembly, but more about that later) and the edges on the handle are nicely rounded.
The clip on the S is a nice reversible wireclip. I love wireclips because they feel great and they are low profile when clipped to the pocket. This clip had to be moved on the other side for left-handed carry. That procedure didn’t get any easier, compared to the Salsa. Sure there is one less screw in the handle to loosen, but I still needed to disassemble the entire knife to change the clip. I wanted the non-clipside ‘clip screw’ to sit flush with the handle. That’s why I needed to switch the entire “barrel-screw-assembly”. The male part of the clip screw assembly has a much better grip on the clip too. The female part simply doesn’t hold the clip down as well; the clip started to shift a bit after a week.
Taking the S apart (sorry no camera was around), revealed two rubber-like washers and amazingly few parts. Adjusting the compression lock seemed a bit tricky at first. The lockbar either barely contacted the tang, or it went almost all the way over to the opposite end of the tang. In the end I realized that in both cases, there was no blade play. So I decided to go with the ‘lock bar almost all the way over on the tang’. The lockbar hasn’t moved in little less than a month’s carry, use and flicking. The (un)locking tab is a bit sharp and small. It could be a little bigger so it bites my thumb a little less. This little inconvenience is slightly exaggerated by the fact that the lock bar tends to stick a little to the tang. I certainly have no fear of the lock accidentally disengaging, but the Golden made compression locks are a bit more refined in this area.
I was quite anxious to see how the cutout blade would perform. The cutouts in the R2 fill up almost immediately with cardboard or food. Not so with the S, as I found out. The blade’s holes, combined with that wonderful flat grind, are nicely finished. The edges of the cutouts are rather smooth and don’t grab onto everything you cut. Apart from not feeling much drag, the holed also don’t clog up much. And even when the holes do clog up, with ‘amandelspijs’ for example (my fellow Dutch forumites will understand), the blade still cuts and cleaning was easy with a brush, soap and running water.
The 440C blade holds its edge well enough. Subjectively I’d say it’s a notch better than the AUS 8 in the older Salsa. The S needs a bit more rinsing than other knives and I haven’t seen any rust spots yet. Then again, I haven’t had this knife long enough to get really ‘sloppy’ with it.
I really love the jimping on the blade spine behind the hole and in the choil. The jimping could be just a hint rougher because a like to ‘feel’ the grip if that makes any sense. I can tell you that the jimping is fine enough not to chafe, even on the thinner skin of my index fingers in the choil.
The pivot did loosen up by itself regularly. I am sure it was because I took the S apart for a thorough clip change. A little drop of superglue solved it. I also found that dirt accumulates on the tang around the pivot through the little holes around it. It rinses out easy enough though.
The S is definitely a much improved variation of the Salsa. The tip is much more useful in everyday cutting chores. The grip is thinner but still just as great. The grip is both secure, comfortable and versatile; kind of reminds me of the Li’l Temp grip.
Moreover, the S is incredibly light. If you’re into trekking or climbing where weight is a very important factor then the S is the cutting tool for you. It’s as light as paper and the lock seems really solid. Cleaning is easy because of the cutouts. Because of those same cutouts, you do spend more time cleaning this knife than with a regular design.
The NKP-friendly factory is very high on the S. It shares the ‘techie/meccano’ look of the Polliwog with the friendly rounded shapes of the Salsa. The S looks nice and works better than I expected.
I don’t carry the S in my EDC rotation, because it is still a rather bulky package compared to other folders in that size range. The S had to compete with a few Kopas and a Red Bone Kiwi in my EDC rotation. The S is a bit bigger compared to those designs and still a bit ‘rough’, both in terms of looks and finish. The Kopa and Kiwi boast significantly better fit and finish, than the –admittedly improved- finish of the S. Don’t get me wrong, for a factory knife the S’ finish is very good. But the Japanese maker of the Kopa and Kiwi is simply on another level. This aspect is reflected in the pricing. If I could only carry one ‘small’ folder and it had to be really lightweight, then this is the knife to get. For now, it’s a lovely curio and desk-knife for me.