Hammer Time!

A Knife Nerds thoughts on the Bestech Sledgehammer…

Bestech’s little Sledgehammer pocketknife grabbed my attention the moment I saw the first photo online, and for me, it was all about that blade. Tanto? Modified Tanto? It certainly doesn’t have the pokey, pointy tactical personality that defines most Tanto’s. In contrast, its stubby, snub-nosed blade says ‘utility’ to me, and I love that in a knife. And it’s about as confrontational as a Golden Retriever. If you’ve ever seen a pic of the high-end Grimsmo Norseman, there’s a bit of that look in the Sledgehammer blade; the blunt nose and compound grind, if not the recurve and oddball looks.

(Sorry Norseman fans…)

The specs put the Sledgehammer right in my wheelhouse, fairly compact at a touch over 180mm overall. The blade is 76mm long, reasonably beefy at 3mm thick and ground from one of my favourite steels, D2, always a winner for decent edge retention at a reasonable price. Let’s see…thumb studs, ceramic bearings, liner lock, micarta scales. I’m a sucker for micarta. I had to have it. Time to wait by the mailbox and play the comedy Australia Post game of ‘Track Package’.

The parcel finally arrived and soon the rapidly shredded wrapping gave way to reveal the Sledgehammer in all its mildly chunky glory. If you associate a bit of heft with good build quality, this knife will give you a warm feeling, coming in at just shy of 100 grams on my trusty digital kitchen scales. For comparison, that’s around 10 grams more than my QSP Penguin and a few more again than my Steel Will Mini Cutjack, but still less than half the weight of my iPhone 11. So while it’s not a featherweight, despite what its name implies the Sledgehammer is certainly not a heavy knife.

Time to carry out all the standard knife nerd checks. Thicker than average satin stainless liners, skeletonized on one side. Blade nicely centred. Lovely black micarta scales, textured but not woolly or rough, and no daggy air holes. Stainless deep carry clip. (Tip-up carry, right side only, sorry lefties.) A spacer at the rear, drilled for a lanyard, so no lanyard hole drilled randomly through the knife to ruin its looks. That’s refreshing. Now, let’s snap this blade out! No? More thumb needed and…click! Success.

I’ve seen this initial stickiness many times and my reaction is always the same – I just put the knife in my pocket for an hour. Many new knives arrive with pivot lube applied a bit on the thick side, and like most lube, a bit of body heat seems to get things moving. You can read into that whatever you like, this is a family friendly review…

Sure enough, an hour or so later the blade deployed easily with a satisfying snap and perfect lockup. And it kept deploying, ready to go with a factory grind sharp enough to cleanly cut a piece of paper held in the hand. This is a blade built to slice, and more besides. The compound grind gives it decent draw-cutting capability using the point where the two angles meet, and the sharpened nose offers push-cutting and scraping, too. This is a blade that’s less ‘stabby’ than most, but still earns its keep piercing plastic bags and packaging, opening up boxes, that sort of thing. And if you’re a fan of knife abuse, firstly; shame on you, and secondly, you’re unlikely to break the tip off this little bugger in a hurry because its snub nosed blade is no delicate snowflake. It might not be a hard use survival design, but this knife is made to work.

I spent a few hours fidgeting with the little Bestech as I worked, and then I headed to the shed to disassemble it. For no real reason at all. You could just go ahead and use a knife like this happily without every taking it apart, but I am a strange boy and I take pretty much everything apart, even kitchen appliances, cars and motorcycles. I need to know what’s inside. And in this case, I had to prove to myself whether I was right about the knife shipping with a decent smear of thick lube inside. Turns out I was. The teardown was perfectly straightforward, with T8 and T6 Torx head fasteners, and thanks to only modest use of thread locker by the factory, took all of three minutes. The ceramic pivot bearings were indeed bathed in a viscous, clear grease. And there’s nothing wrong with that, after all, too much is always better than not enough. All the same, I chose to clean it out and replace it with a couple drops of light oil. I put the knife back together, centred everything up and was rewarded with a sweet, snappy deployment action, one that borders on being ‘drop shut’. Nice.

I managed to get a bit of oil on the Sledgehammer’s scales while farting about in the shed, but a quick wipe down with rubbing alcohol set that right. Nonetheless, I know that these scales will absorb oil from my hands over time, change colour and texture a bit with age and take on some character, all things I consider benefits of this material. Did I mention that I love micarta?

Next up, I decided to put the blade to work with a project befitting its shape. So, still in the shed, I traced out the shape of a wooden spoon onto a random piece of pine I had lying about, cut it out with my band saw and got stuck in. What an absolute dickhead I am. After many hours of hacking, whittling, carving and gouging, I have a partly-finished comedy spoon that looks like it belongs in Fred Flintstone’s kitchen. My hands are knackered, I have borderline RSI and of course I could have done the whole thing better in 15 minutes with power tools. Whittlers and carvers, I take my hat off to you. However, throughout the tough but pointless exercise, the Sledgehammer didn’t miss a beat, despite my hacking, pushing and gouging away to form the bowl of my ridiculous spoon.

You can own a knife you really love but if it’s a pain in the arse to carry, it won’t get used. My Cutjack is a good example of this. I like the knife, but its tight clip and aggressive scale texture tears my pockets to shreds, so I seldom carry it. By comparison, the little Sledge is easy. The clip is deep, the tension is spot-on and the texture of the micarta gives it enough grip without ripping your jeans to tatters when you yank the knife out of your pocket. So I’m carrying the knife every day, getting to know it better all the time.

I’m yet to put a fresh edge on the Sledgehammer but that will be happening soon, although the knife has stayed usably sharp despite the work it’s done. If you’re a reasonably confident sharpener, D2 isn’t a challenge. My plan is to use bench stones, because I reckon they might be the best approach for keeping an edge on the nose of the knife.

If I really want to nit-pick, I can only level three small criticisms at the Sledgehammer’s design. Firstly, there’s no texturing on the thumb studs. They’re smooth barrels. It’s never proved to be a problem in normal use but I imagine if conditions were sweaty or slippery, it might not be ideal. Secondly, there’s no jimping for your thumb on the lock bar. It doesn’t matter a damn to me, as the cutaway is created in such a way that your thumb naturally finds its rightful place, and slipping seems unlikely unless perhaps you’re neck deep in olive oil.  Finally, unless you have very slim fingers, choking up into the ‘choil’ with your grip will put your digit pretty close to the blade’s sharpened edge. Generous jimping on the blade’s spine near the thumb studs means that you’re unlikely to slip up, but I thought I’d mention it anyhow.

I’m enjoying Bestech’s Sledgehammer. It’s different, useful, robust and well made. In a world where delicate, pokey designs are all too common, this one is handsome, easy to carry and a genuinely useful tool What’s more, it’s up to the task should your EDC call for something with a bit more grunt than the average pocketknife.

 Bestech Sledgehammer at a glance:

  • ‘Modified Tanto’ D2 steel blade in stonewash and satin finish, flat grind
  • Dual thumb studs
  • Linerlock
  • Ceramic ball bearing pivot
  • Black micarta or orange G10 scales
  • Satin stainless liners
  • Stainless, deep carry clip, RHS, tip up carry
  • Spacer drilled for lanyard
  • Overall length 181mm
  • Blade length 76mm

To see more of the Bestech range, simply click here. 

Credit to Kym for this artical/review. You will see more of his writing on the Nebo Knives page weekly.