Saturday, May 14, 2011

Knife Review - Boker Fred Perrin Neck Bowie

I've been carrying a folding knife for the last 20 years or so, but over the last few years I've started to gravitate toward fixed blades. Unfortunately carrying one is not always very easy. People look at you pretty funny if you walk around with a 7 inch bowie strapped to your thigh (silly people), so I've generally looked at smaller options. I tried and discarded a few looking for something that was a functional tool, something with survival-oriented function, while still small enough to carry IWB without digging a new hole in my crotch, hip, or butt depending on placement. Also wanted something that didn't stand out a lot in order to keep from "scaring" people, though why people are so scared of someone carrying a knife is beyond me. Apparently, the mere possession of a sharp and functional tool turns what are normally upstanding citizens into raving lunatics.....

As you can tell I tend to go off topic a bit, I hope you'll bear with me.

The knife I had settled on was a fantastic small survival knife, the Fallkniven F1. Love that knife. It comes with a very bizarre leather sheath with a top-folding flap, similar to a WW2 gun holster, or a zytel sheath with a belt carry loop. The zytel is OK but not what I wanted so I ended up getting a kydex sheath from On/Scene Tactical. Great sheath, makes the knife more functional (more carry options), it's very secure, and has a g-clip style attachment that allows me to pop it on and off without having to take my belt off. However I was still running into a few problems:

1. I had to wear a belt. Yes, I know this is obvious, but I don't always want to wear one (track pants, shorts for example).

2. While the knife was pretty comfortable, pretty comfortable isn't always great for long days sitting my fat a** in a chair at work.

3. Even with that carry method, the knife still tended to drag at the shirt and pop out a little, making it more obvious than I wanted.

What I ended up doing was carrying the knife with me in my bag, having it available, and occasionally attaching it to my belt going to and from work. Which is OK, but not ideal. I usually can manage to carry a folder, even with sweat pants or track pants, but they don't clip to the pocket as securely as I would like.

All of this led me to again consider neck knives, a type of knife that I have never been a fan of. Yes, I am aware of the benefits of them, especially being able to carry a knife no matter what clothing you are wearing, but in my experience they fell under two categories: (1) Large, awkward, and obvious; or (2) Small and useless.

The large knives were too heavy to wear for long periods, they printed under my shirt, they looked ridiculous, and some of them were actually harder to get at than small knives. The small knives usually were just too small with terrible handles, they were of such extremely limited use that I didn't see the point of carrying them. And most of the knives, both large and small, had sheaths that were just enormous (often ridiculously enormous for the little knives) and/or ineffective.

I was randomly looking at different knives for a while, with nothing appealing to me, when I came across the Boker Fred Perrin Neck Bowie (yes, I am finally talking about the knife). I had a Fred Perrin Street Bowie and was impressed with the control that the distinctive and large finger choil provides. With a very short handle, you get a lot of control and there isn't a large guard needed to keep the hand from sliding up. I was searching ebay for Perrin PPT knives (which I did buy) and saw what looked like a miniature version of the street beat, as a neck knife. Wow, that was very exciting! There were only two available and I bought them both immediately, they were around $65 CAD each plus shipping. I've never seen them that cheap anywhere also, not too many places have them for sale. Not sure if they are a new design or something getting phased out.

As soon as I pulled them out of the shipping box I knew I had a winner. The knives were extremely small but completely functional due to the finger choil.

The positives:

- very low profile, thin
- small sheath
- doesn't print on my shirt
- very sharp blade with a nice shape for EDC cutting tasks
- very short knife that is still very functional (very short handle)
- very light, doesn't bother me to carry (only 1.5 oz!)
- the carry cord was tied in a neat way (never seen before), allowing for easy adjustment of knife height
- excellent jimping on the back of the blade

The negatives:

- The sheath retention. It's a foldover kydex which should be ideal but it is very poorly made and the retention is not enough for long-term use. One sheath isn't bad, the other sheath is barely hanging on and the knife is retained by a small lip on the inside of the sheath - not good, I will need something better for extended use.
- The handle is very functional but I don't find it very comfortable. The bulges at the front and the back of the bottom part of the handle tend to dig into my fingers, would be uncomfortable if I was using the knife for an extended period of time.
- As it is a skeletonized metal blade, the knife handle is slippery. The jimping and the finger choil make the knife very secure but to add more grip and to add just a little more cushioning, I wrapped the handle with some camoform tape. Not too much or it would get too bulky.

Obviously this isn't a replacement for my F1, it's more of an EDC blade than a survival blade, but I've got enough blade here to be useful, the security of always having a knife, and the strength of a fixed blade that exceeds that of even a large folder.

I really love this knife. The only other small fixed blade knife I have owned that I found at all useful is the excellent CRKT minimalist. They have three blade shapes, I prefer the bowie though the tanto is OK. I've never tried the other. That is an awesome little knife with an incredibly safe and comfortable handle, smaller than the Perrin, with an excellent sheath. The handle scales unfortunately add enough bulk that the knife tends to print a little so I had been periodically carrying it on my belt, in the front, very handy knife. It's also much cheaper, you can probably find it for around $20. Some of you may find it an even better choice as a neck knife.

I've also finally ordered an ESEE Izula to try. I don't think I am going to replace the Perrin but I'm going to give this one a shot too, it may also be another, lighter, more low-profile belt carry option. I'll update you once I get it.

Knife description from

Fixed blade knife by Fred Perrin. This small and handy knife made of 12C27 blade steel offers, despite its extremely compact dimensions, great versatility for an everyday knife. The Neck Bowie was developed as an EDC knife, covering all cutting tasks which might occur in any situation. The Perrin characteristic deep index finger choil provides excellent grip and a very secure feeling. Includes a kydex neck sheath . Blade length: 2 1/2". Overall length: 5 7/8". Weight: 1.5 oz.

Update April 09, 2012: A video comparison is available for this knife.  I also did a blog post discussing some other options.   

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