5.11 Tactical Scout Folder Review
After carrying the 5.11 Tactical Scout folder for over a year now I wanted to go into some details on how it has performed for me.
I work construction for a living and am very hard on my work carry knives. I usually destroy a knife every 3 to 9 months when I carry it at work. The fact that this one has lasted around a year now is quite impressive.
You can see by the pictures that this knife has been well used. It has been nicked. It has been scratched. It has been dropped. It has been smashed under other tools. It has been well abused, and well loved.
When I bought this knife I figured it was just another throw away work knife. And for the price, I have been quite impressed with how well it has held up.
Like I said above, I work construction for a living and am very hard on my work knives. I pry with them, chop and scrape, cut things I shouldn't, and just overall abuse them. With that said, I am fairly picky with my edges as most knife guys are. I carry a couple diamond cards in my work bag to touch up the edge as needed.
Most of the cheaper knives that I abuse at work tend to lose an edge fairly quickly due to the fact that they are usually softer or less durable steels. I was a little cautious of the AUS 8 Steel in this knife but I have been pretty impressed with how it has held up so far. I don't want to make it sound like it is all sunshine and roses though, I do have a few complaints about this knife that I will get into later in this review.
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5.11 Scout Folder, Overall Performance
This definitely isn't a fancy knife that you carry around and show to your buddies any chance you get. It also isn't a super steel ultralight slim knife that disappears into your pocket and lets you shave with it after cutting up a bunch of cardboard.
What this knife is though, is a solid workhorse that just doesn't give up and gets the job done day after day. For the price point it has given me some of the best value for a work carry knife that i have had in a long time.
I have carried this knife for around a year now and have put it through a ton of abuse and it is still holding up well. I have had to tighten the main pivot screw and body screws a few times but other than that this knife has required very little maintenance.
The edge holds decently well for a steel in this price point and although it isn't the hardest steel around its toughness has held up well without many nicks or chipping.
If you are interested in another one of my favorite EDC knives you can check out our full review of the Spyderco Delica here.
About 5.11 Tactical
With a motto like "Always Be Ready" you can be sure that the gear they produce is designed to hold up in a variety of conditions. 5.11 Tactical has been around since 1968 and much of its gear is designed for law enforcement and first responders.
5.11 was started in Modesto California and currently operate out of Irvine California and have a little over 50 retail stores in 7 countries. They are rapidly expanding at a rate of about two new stores per month.
5.11 Makes everything from pants, shirts, boots, belts, gloves, and bags to holsters, slings, flashlights, body armor, and of course knives.
This knife is produced through a collaboration with Blade-Tech and renowned bladesmith Mike Vellekamp. There are 5 knives in the line and all of them have a non reflective black oxide coating that helps resist corrosion.
AUS-8 Steel Blade
This knife comes with a fairly beefy blade for a folder and is one of the main points that drew me to this knife. The 3.5 inch spear point blade is a solid 4 mm thick at the spine. It is almost 1.5 inches wide along most of the length of the blade body.
This bulky blade has been one of the main reasons i have enjoyed this knife so much over the last year. It has a heft to it that implies strength that a more delicate blade lacks. This has given me the confidence to abuse it without much fear of failure. Although the G-10 scales feel light in the hand and the blade is so bulky it is actually quite nicely balanced and performs its cutting duties quite well.
AUS-8 steel is a low carbon stainless steel that resists corrosion fairly well. It has moderate hardness at around RC 58 and is quite similar to 440 steels.
How well a blade holds up to abuse like this is mainly determined by two characteristics of the steel. Hardness and toughness. This steel is far from the hardest knife steel around. AUS-8 is also far from the toughest steel around. But, the combination of thick heavy blade and easy sharpening make a great pair.
Due to the lower carbon content and moderate Rockwell hardness it sharpens up quite easily. Although it isn't as hard as many premium knife steels it has held an edge surprisingly well for me and anecdotally it performs better than the numbers would suggest.
My Main Complaint With This Blade
One of my main gripes about this blade was in the concave grind towards the heel of the blade. I like to sharpen on extremely flat diamond plates and cards and the curved heel made it difficult to get a good grind on the back part of the blade.
I ended up taking a diamond file to it to remove the curved section next to the ricasso and have been much happier sharpening it since then. It is a fairly minor complaint and i am sure it has a large part to do with the cost effectiveness of machine grinding production blades such as this. Although, when the sharpness of a blade is so important to its functionality it is one quirk that i had to fix.
G-10 Handle And Grip Comfort
Many knives from mid range economical brands to higher end premium knives use G-10 for the scales of their knives. G-10 is a glass cloth high pressure resin fiberglass laminate. It can come in a wide variety of colors and textured patterns as well as sanded and polished.
The overall closed length of the tactical scout folder is 4.75 inches. The curved shape of this handle fits my larger hands very well. The handle is somewhat cumbersome in my wife's hands and isn't very comfortable for her to use. With that said, the rounded back and generous length fits my hands quite well.
The flush pivot screws and flush standoff screws provide for a nice feel and don't create any pressure points or rubbing spots that stick out. This also gives the knife a level of finish not often found in this price point.
The back of the blade rises quickly just off the handle and has solid jimping in front of the V hole used for opening. the handle itself also has a short stretch of jimping before it ties into the blade. This produces a very nice section of grip for you thumb to press against when cutting hard materials.
The finger side of the handle has a nice finger groove although there is no choil to allow you to get your hand father forward for more detail work. This ties in with the slightly brutish design of this blade and suits it as the workhorse it is.
The textured surface and slightly chamfered edges feel good in my hand and allow for lots of grip even when soaked in the rain. Lastly, the handle has a small lanyard hole at the back end which i have never used.
Liner Lock and V Hole Opening
The 5.11 tactical Scout Folder has an open inset liner lock that provides a solid lockup and has hardly wiggled through a full year of solid abuse.
I have had liner locks in the past that developed small indentation in the lock blade after hard cutting. I have also had the lock bar bend to the side which makes the blade loose. This has not happened on this knife though. this one has help up very well and locks just as solid as the day i got it.
This knifes open liner lock and open pillar construction make it very easy to clean out the locking mechanism if it gets jammed up with dirt or debris. I have washed mine out under a hose or a tap numerous times and am a big fan of this open construction that allows such easy cleaning.
The V hole opening is large enough and shaped well to give good grip and functionality. It is a little small when wearing gloves and i would prefer a thumb stud or flipper when wearing gloves. Since i mainly carry this indoors on the jobsite it hasn't been an issue for me.
The liner lock functions well and is easy to function to open and close the blade. It was a little stiff when i got it but after a year of work it now glides smoothly and flips open with just a light flick of my thumb.
4 Way Ambidextrous Pocket Clip
One of the nice features of the 5.11 tactical scout folder is the 4 way ambidextrous pocket clip. This gives options on how i want to carry it. I played around with it in different configurations and settled on a tip up right hand carry.
The position of the pocket clip mounting holes makes it much more inconspicuous when in the tip down position. However, with the thumb hole the way it is and the overall shape of the knife i settled into the tip up carry position. This allows me to pull it out and open it with one hand very quickly and easily.
It does stick out of my pocket a little more than i would prefer in this position. It has got caught on my truck seats a few times when getting in and out of the truck but it hasn't really caused many problems other than that.
I think the benefits of easy one handed operation far outweigh the disadvantages in this position.
Final Thoughts On The 5.11 Tactical Scout Folder
If you have made it this far, I think you can already tell what my overall thought s on this knife are. After a year of carrying this knife on the jobsite and the daily abuse i have put it through i have to say that i am overall very impressed with the performance of this knife. Especially considering the price point it is found in.
With the overall benefits of the thick and heavy blade, quality lightweight G-10 scales, 4 way ambidextrous pocket clip and the fact that it has survived me for almost a year now puts this knife very high on my ratings.
This would make a great folding camping knife and is strong enough to handle any camping knife tasks you might throw at it.
The fairly minor drawbacks of the AUS-8 steel, rounded blade heel, and slightly bulky size i think all of these things are a decent trade of for the quality of this knife in a very reasonable price point.