Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hideaway Knife (HAK) Review

I talked in the past about my favorite small fixed blade knife, the Boker Fred Perrin Neck Bowie.  It's a fantastic small knife, wickedly sharp, lightweight and very practical EDC (with a few mods).  Overall, I still like it a lot but it has been replaced in my heart - and around my neck.  My new, true EDC is the HAK or Hideaway Knife .

Before I go into detail on the HAK I'm going to talk a little about what I consider an EDC knife and why I said "true EDC."  For those that aren't familiar with "prepper" or "survivalist" terms, EDC means Every Day Carry.  To most people, these are the items that you obviously carry every day - they are your normal kit, you put them on when you get up in the morning and they remain with you throughout the day, wherever you go.  Anything from a cell phone to a Glock.  Generally this only refers to your time outside the home, you wouldn't carry EDC items in your PJs for example.

This means that we are all going to have a different EDC based on a variety of different factors such as:
- weight we are willing to carry
- job we work at
- clothing we wear
- different legal options
- different needs

The problem is that many of us may call our little package of goodies "EDC" but it's pretty tough to carry them every day, in all public settings.  It should be more like MDC, Most Days Carry.  Or BDC,  Business Day Carry, and WEC, Weekend Carry.  For those that carry tools such as knives and firearms, the differences can be dramatic.

I am unable to carry a handgun where I live but I do carry one or more knives every day, everywhere I go except for air travel.  My main knife for the last 20 years, my EDC, has been a folding pocket clip knife.  Prior to that it was either a small scaling or skinning knife on my belt or folding knife loose in my pocket.  The actual knife has probably changed more than 50 times (currently back to the Blackhawk Hornet II) but a pocket knife has been a constant.  Pocket clip knives are a fantastic innovation, they have been a real game changer for knife carry.  They do have a few drawbacks though such as clips losing retention over time (especially the very old plastic-version ones), clips getting caught on things, the knives being more obvious than some people prefer, can be difficult to deploy, etc.  One of the main negatives is that a folding knife is more likely to fail than a fixed blade knife.  New types of locking mechanisms and handle materials have reduced the risk but it can never be eliminated.  This concern and an effort to integrate either an emergency bushcraft-capable knife or a stronger utility blade into my EDC led me to experiment with a lot of small fixed blade knives such as the Fallkniven F1, the Cold Steel Kobun, the CRKT ABC operator knife, Mora 511 and more than a dozen others. In the end, I've pretty much given up.  The knives are just too uncomfortable for me to wear all the time sitting down.

The Perrin Neck Bowie made me interested in neck knives as an alternative.  I had written them off in the past because they are generally crap and also uncomfortable, but the Perrin knife is pretty amazing - very light, very sharp, and very useful.  I'll let you read my review for the rest.  The best thing about the neck knife is that it really is a "true" EDC.  As long as you have a neck (hehe) you can carry it, no matter what clothing you are wearing or what setting you are in.

What I have started to notice is that it was printing on my short more than I liked.  Initially I seemed to be able to adjust it to minimize the print but in the end, it wasn't quite working for me.  This and one other feature (get to that in a minute) caused me to look again at a knife I've owned for a while:  the HAK or Hideaway Knife, the "straight" utility model:

Note: That's a quarter and a loonie (Canadian $1 coin) in the pictures.

I first heard of these knives after reading a Marcus Wynne* novel.  The characters used them extensively so I looked them up.  They were interesting....but expensive.  The website seemed a little odd too, not a traditional ordering method.  I wasn't sure what I though of the knives and they were out of my price range for a "try it out model" - the cheapest was around $150 USD and since they are a custom fit, would be tough to sell if I didn't like it.

Maybe a year or so after that, I checked the site again and saw they had some new, cheaper versions available.  They were made from lesser steels which were more than adequate for me and I really wanted to try one out.  I bought this Tiger Striped version (I'd rather have a plain color) because it was $80 or so.  You need to measure around your index and middle fingers and submit that measurement.

I received the knife in good time - once I figured out how to pay!  :)  

Product seems well made, I like the cord wrap.  Was a good fit (measure very carefully). However, I didn't like it at the time.  The sheath has some rattle to it with the knife in it, it sticks into the capsule area a little which makes it a little more awkward to draw and I just couldn't seem to find a comfortable carry location.  I'd actually purchased it with the idea of belt carry, I had bought the double-j belt attachment.  Unfortunately, with my rather chubby stomach, it was neither comfortable nor unobtrusive and I wasn't thinking neck carry back then. I threw the knife in my crap-to-sell-someday box and mostly forgot about it.

My new love for neck knives and my slight dissatisfaction with my perrin knife made me give it another look.  The other feature (see, I did get to it....eventually) is that blade shape, the reverse tanto or wharncliffe design of the HAK straight.  I did a training seminar with Michael Janich this year (FREAKING AWESOME!) and I got a chance to handle a prototype of the Spyderco Yojimbo II.  After seeing a cutting demo, I was totally sold on the blade shape (just like a box cutter).  That knife is amazing btw, can't wait to get mine, darn things are on backorder still.  Anyway, the Yojimbo blade has a similar shape as my HAK and the HAK capsule/handle design provides for a grip very similar to the "filipino grip" taught by Michael Janich.  Suddenly I had a whole new appreciation for the HAK and it's been a near-permanent carry knife ever since.

Some of the great features of this knife:
- Very lightweight, it is no strain at all to carry (noticeably lighter than the Perrin Neck Bowie and custom sheath I have).
- Amazing retention, it's virtually impossible to be disarmed when this knife is on your fingers.
- This knife is designed to allow for full use of your hands.  The designer talks about its use as an off hand weapon for shooters, you can load magazines, carry a flashlight, etc and still keep the knife on your fingers.  For my purposes, it's the best work tool ever.  I went through pallet after pallet of boxes and was able to carry them, stack them, cut tape and bindings as needed, and keep the knife in my hand the whole time.  Totally comfortable and a nice change from continually hunting for where I put my box cutter!
- Very safe.  Knife won't slip in your hand.  Again, anyone doing utility tasks, working in a warehouse, etc, this is an awesome knife.  Climbers and hikers could get great benefit from this also.  A must for people that work or play on or under the water.
- Low profile.  Slim and has numerous carry options.
- Not too tactical.  Probably not as scary as other options thanks to the small size, at least in some versions.
- Available in a variety of steels (including rust-free titanium) and shapes.
- Trainer knives are available.
- Small blade may be legal in more states.

Some not so great features:
- Sheath fit is not ideal, though the retention is very good, it's not going to fall out.
- The jimping on the back is purely cosmetic.  I'd rather have none.

Yep, that's all I could think of  :)    What can I say, the knife kicks ass.  That version at least, I don't like the other blade shapes.

*If you like knives and action check out With a Vengeance, it's only 99 cents for kindle.


  1. Hey Jon! Thanks for the shout-out about WITH A VENGEANCE; much appreciated! Glad you enjoy a HAK; I have a couple, including one Strider grind. Take care and thanks for reading my books! cheers, Marcus Wynne, author of WITH A VENGEANCE

  2. Wow, I'm quite excited to see your comment Marcus! I love your books, I have them all in paperback or kindle (or both). Hope to see many more soon!

    With a Vengeance is one I've read many, many times, I really loved it.

    Take care,


  3. An excellent knife, unfortunately the seller is very spotty on service. If you plan on ordering the knife of accessories, go to Fenix Outfitters rather than the HAK site.

    1. That's what I did - got the last 'straight utility' in my size. No connection etc, but +1 for F.O.

    2. That's a good tip, I will check them out

    3. I also had a few problems when I ordered direct last time, from the hideaway site

  4. Customer service is non-existent. They will take your money, never ship, and won't respond to your emails. If you must have one, order from Fenix, at least they're a reputable business. HAK site will immediately take your money and can't even ship simple standard accessories like belt sheaths.