A Swedish proverb states that “the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm”. Tools that man can create through blood, sweat, tears, and the hands they use to forge such items can be incredible feats. However, now we have reached a time in history where perhaps the Swedish proverb needs adjusting. Seems in the cutlery industry, the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of a high-quality C&C machine… and what is even more impressive is that the items that are made on these machines are often as good or better than the finest craftsman in the world.
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More and more companies have moved to a machine model, and even further toward an outsourced machining of components model (aka – the Mid-Tech). But regardless of what these are called, and regardless of how they are made, a very strong case can be asserted that the quality of knives produces today, in whatever manner they are being forged and produced, is at the highest level in human history. Enter our product for review today – the Swish pocket knife from california-based Olamic Cutlery.
- Blade Length: 3.75″
- Overall Length: 8.62″
- Closed Length: 4.75″
- Weight: 4.6 oz
- Blade Material: Elmax
- Handle Material: Titanium
- Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
- Deployment Mechanism: Flipper
- Country of Origin: USA
- Price Range: About $525
Already well known for fixed blade knives of intricate detail with prices that can easily span into the 4-digit mark, Olamic Cutlery, producing knives in the USA, has steadily been raising eyebrows with the folding pocket knives they make. Their popular custom Wayfarer is perhaps one of the greatest value customs of all time. The Olamic Swish is not a custom knife. However, it is also not a production piece by any means. Hours of pain staking time are spend finishing the Swish in a manner that machining just can’t due. Further, the Swish, a flipper knife that sports titanium handle scales, Elmax steel blade with, in our case, a satin finish on the blade has been given some love from a real craftsman.
The Swish has a very futuristic and sleek design aesthetic. Added to this modern appearance is the modified spear point blade that curves like a swish, hence the name, making for a very sharp point. Let’s get a bit more detail about this knife coming your way.
We have had our eyes on the Olamic Swish for some time now, and it was no surprise to us that when we received it, the knife looked just so. What was a surprise definitely turned out to be the level of detail on the knife. The Swish was not just your run of the mill mid-tech. No, this thing had curves, and rubbed satin finishes on both the blade, as well as the handle scale. We don’t know if it was hand or machine rubbed, and we just don’t even care anymore. All that matters to us at this point is the final results which in this instance was spot on perfection.
Looking at the color of the handle, we were surprised how much we enjoyed the anodization color of a sort of blueish purple with polished darker blue anodized hardware for the pivot, screws and even pocket clip. It is a slightly understated, and yet still striking knife to look at. On that note, the pocket clip is short, and sits differently compared to just about any other knife we have ever seen. It employs a large ball bearing (AKA – Todd Begg) on the clip to assist in easy operation of in/out of pocket. It all looks really good.
As for the blade, same deal. This thing looks stellar. The rounded spine provides a good example of the level of detail they employ at Olamic and on the Swish model. The satin finish, with the fuller that extends almost the entire length of the blade, and with a different finish of what appears to be a bead blast.
Oh, we forget to mention the best part, the action. You see, when we flipped the knife for the first time to check out the look of the blade, we noticed a quick and comfortable action. It is quiet, and smooth, just as you might expect given it is running on bearings. The flipper tab is reasonably sized, another way of saying not too big. The tab has some minimal jimping on it, but only assists to provide a minimal traction. As for the blade jimping by the way, it is non-existent. We don’t mind that call, as this is not really a knife you would necessary want to hard use to the point where you need jimping.
One more item to focus on is the pivot. It is simple. A flat looking polished and anodized blue that for some reasons stands out like a brilliant jewel. We really liked this element, and think the Swish looks absolutely great.
Feel in Hand
The swish feels better in hand than you might think by first looking at it. Though it has a rather severe upward bend to the frame and the blade, in hand it feels oddly comfortable. In fact, everything is rounded off. Not a single harsh or pointy area on the handle scales at all. The blade however, is exactly as pointy as it should be for a design of this sort. The upswept blade not only looks good, but seems to provide a unique cutting angle that might just be good for EDC tasks.
At only around 4.6 oz. the knife feels reasonably light and well balanced in the hand. The flipping action is consistent and reliable. The only gripe we can muster is to do specifically with the lock bar. The titanium frame-lock design works extremely well, however we all agreed that the lock-bar was causing some fatigue after repeated closing efforts. For most who are not going to endlessly flip open, closed and back open, and closed the knife it would not be of issue. However, for us we found it slightly bothersome. A slight relief contoured into the lock bar would be something we wish we’d see in future models. Regardless, we loved the knife so much it was worth the slight pain it caused after hundreds of repeated deployment and disengagement efforts.
Real Word Testing
Some knives are beaters, and some aren’t. Ever get a knife in your hand and just feel like you want to abuse the thing with hard tasks, dirt, water conditions and the like? Well, we certainly have. However, the Olamic Cutlery Swish was not one of those knives for us.
Truth be told, we barely wanted to do anything with this blade aside from look at it, and flip the knife. This by no means is a statement about the knife, but rather an obvious indication that we liked the look of the knife so much we couldn’t bring ourselves to muck it up.
Now don’t freak out, we did cut stuff. We cut open plenty of packages and boxes we received from our over shopping for early holiday gifts from Amazon. We also used it for pealing and cutting up apples we picked from an orchard to make apple pie. We must say that the blade shape words nicely for peeling, just as long as you keep away from that tip. Luckily, we did not get bitten, but we had a few close calls.
Slicing was a breeze with the Swish. Elmax steel is great, and the modified drop point helped us make smooth cuts confidently. The handle feel was secure; however, the relatively smooth handles could have been bothersome our hands got too wet. Then again, the handle allowed us a rather firm grip, and our medium sized hands fit spot on. Sorry lefties, this is a right-handed only game. Though, we are not sure if Olamic has any plans to make lefty models at any point.
As for the pocket clip, it looks the part but in terms of effectiveness, it’s just ‘meh’. It does not sit low in the pocket nor does it have a very deep grip. We liked how comfortable it was to place into and out of the pocket, especially when wearing firm pants like jeans or cargo pants. That said, we feel it’s just not big enough to really put your mind at ease that it will keep the knife in place.
All in all, our limited real world tested was very positive. We did not put it through the entire gauntlet of pain, but we can’t imagine most will EDC this knife beyond our usage either.
At about 525 dollars, the Olamic Cutlery Swish is certainly not a cheap knife. That said, if you are still reading this review, I imagine you already know how much this knife will set you back. Olamic is one of those brands that don’t get a lot of buzz. Or at least in the past it has not garnered much talk in from the folding knife community. But we imagine that has already started to change. Regardless, here are some other brand offerings that can be considered if cross-shopping the Swish.
Zero Tolerance (ZT) 0452TIBLU (BladeHQ) – At round 215 dollars, ZT offers up a Blue anodized titanium flipper that was designed by the great Dmitry Sinkevich. With a CPM-S35VN drop point blade extending to 4.10 inches in length, this knife is both longer, and thinner when compared to the Swish. However, they both share similar blade concept profiles with drop points. At about 5.09 Oz. in weight, this knife is a bit heavier, but not by far. If you are into a longer blade production alternative, with a value proposition second to none, we would certainly suggest you have a look at this ZT.
Custom Knife Factory Decepticon-3 (BladeHQ) – We reviewed this knife some time back, and loved it. The DCPT-3 seems about on par with the Olamic Swish when it comes to mid-tech greatness. They are both extremely well made, but employ very different design approaches to achieve a similar concept. They both have modified drop point blades, however the DCPT-3 is about 4 inches in length compared to about 3.75 for the Swish. If you like a liner lock style opening, the DCPT-3 is an obvious choice. Otherwise these are both excellent and exclusive mid-tech offerings from very good companies. CKF is in Russia, while Olamic is made right here in the good ol’ USA. If you have the means, buy both!
Liong Mah Designs Tempest (BladeHQ) – The Tempest is a productionized mid-tech offering designed by Liong Mah, famed for his well-regarded knife designs. Created and machined in China by David Deng, the owner of Reate Knives, this dare-we-say collaboration piece (of sorts) sports a 3.75 inch S35VN blade steel, titanium stonewashed handle with polished flats, and bronze accents and hardware. At about 5.5 oz. this frame lock flipper knife has some similar qualities, but just a bit heavier. It flips like a demon, too. At about 350 to 400 dollars, the Tempest is a very nice model, and a worthy competitor when cross-shopping the pricier Olamic Swish.
Knives are tools, and the best tools feel like they are an extension of our hand. For some, the Olamic Swish may provide that type of feel. For us, it is yet another remarkable mid-tech knife in a string of mid-tech type knives that overachieves beyond our initial preconceptions. It is perhaps less about the knife, and more about what the Swish actually represents. The Olamic Cutlery Swish is an American made knife, produced by a predominately custom knife making company that has figured out the secret sauce of making a knife that is machined, and partially outsourced. Yet the Swish still looks, acts, and exudes a custom knife feel in practically every way.
We scratch our heads about what this means for true custom knives, the custom knife makers, and those that until recently would exclusively buy them? Will people continue to want to buy them at all if you can get something this good for half the price, or perhaps even less? Either way, we have indeed reached a tipping point where machine made knives, with some assistance from a craftsman to finish them, can produce a knife with the quality and detail of which were only creatable by masters of the trade a decade ago.
Perhaps the Swedish had it right, “the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm”- and let’s just hope we can all rely on a knife like the Olamic Cutlery Swish held by that hand at the end of that arm. We are incredibly impressed with the quality coming out of Olamic, and we are extremely happy with the Olamic Cutlery Swish. This is mid-tech done right!
The Good: Beautiful aesthetic, excellent build quality, flips effortlessly
The Bad: Pocket clip is so-so, lock bar could use relief
Bottom Line: A mid-tech marvel in both looks and performance
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