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“If you build it, they will come” is an all too familiar movie reference for most of us who have even the smallest handle on movie trivia. Never has this phrase applied to the knife world more than the Ferrum Forge Septer. Build a mid-tech level pocket friendly folder with excellent steel, fantastic fit and finish, design aesthetics with a true custom knife level feel, and you have given the people what they want. The Septer is exactly that. This small 3-inch knife that people indeed have been asking for, and that without question people should want.
Key Specs: Ferrum Forge Septer
It is interesting how specs just can’t seem to truly capture the details of a knife. This folding knife feels larger than a 3-inch blade, seems thicker built than a 4-oz. folding pocket rocket. Yet even still, the specs are the specs.
Ferrum Forge may not be a household company or brand name to most of you yet, but that is exactly why they are the best kept secret in custom and mid-tech folders likely in the entire knife industry hailing from California, right here in the US of A. Owners Elliot Williamson, and his younger brother Chris might be caught catching some waves during an extended lunch break, but have been working most days and nights busting out fabulous custom folding knives since about 2009. Elliot founded the company in San Diego in his garage shop before he opened his very own full-scale shop with at the time “Apprentice” Chris.
Elliot has made custom knives that range in price from about 1000 dollars well into the 5-digit range for clients who want true custom designs from a man who not only has the CAD and design chops, but who also is willing to make a true custom knife for those who have the vision, money and time to devote to the project. Thankfully Elliot and Chris worked out the growing pains of the mid-tech arena, having started making mid-techs that really could/should have been called full-on customs. Regardless, the process has been successfully refined, and with the high-level collaboration of these brothers, they have managed to make insanely high level product at an extremely rapid pace.
The Septer is another in a long line of mid-tech knives that displays the wonderful talents of these men. Add to that the incorporation of a HRD (Hoback Rolling Detent) in every frame lock design, and these guys are no joke. Did I mention that these guys even create “Maker’s Choice” versions with every run of each mid-tech model which effectively is one-off custom finishes that can take these guys hours to make. The catch for these (usually 20 or so) maker’s choice knives are that they are pot-luck for those fortunate and quick enough to sign-up for them. In case our words got lost in translation, this means that you will be assured an awesome custom unique one-off design on the handle scales (and perhaps blade), but it will be randomly send to you out of the batch created. Awesome idea if you ask us.
This was not our first rodeo when it came to Ferrum Forge knives. We have a few others, and as of late, they are all shipped in about the same way as far as the mid-tech line goes. We were greeted with a black zippered pouch with a dog-tag style aluminum FFKN logo attached to the zipper. It is a nice presentation, and it kept the knife safe in transport. When we got the Septer out of the pouch we were a bit surprised by just how small it looked. After all, this is the first sub 3.75 inch blade we had ever received from the Ferrum Forge boys. Thankfully, as we lifted it up it felt every bit as solid as our other Ferrum Forge folders, and in-fact is sort of felt even better.
We love the design of this knife. Our particular version was referred to as “Armor Plate Blue” – the titanium frame lock folder was anodized blue with a slight tumble finish, along with bronze accents on the pivot, screws, and bent-spring clip style pocket clip. The feel was smooth and contoured. It was extremely ergonomic in the hand given the size and design of this knife. We will get to more on that in a moment.
As for the blade, it just looked right. If you are going to carry a 3 inch knife as a primary carry, let it be solid and feel like it is something more substantial. Further, let it be made of great CPM-20CV steel and be given a wonderful drop-point blade configuration with an insanely sharp edge, and a usable tumbled finish. Add some satin finishing to the blade flats and that is what I call a proper 3 inch knife for EDC. Boys and girls, at only 4 ounces, this thing is a very friendly carry and it offers a comfortable thickness to both the blade, as well as the stock of the handle scales.
It is not all that often that one can suggest that a 3-inch blade folder is comfortable in-hand. This one really is. Everything is rounded, smooth, and yet still easy to grab without slippage. Granted with our medium to large size hands we can just get a true firm 4 finger grip, but the way the ergonomics of the titanium knife handles are shaped, it still feels very secure. The pointer-finger choil really helps get a strong grip on the knife. If you have really big hands and don’t prefer to give up any handle real estate for your EDC, this may not be the right literal fit for you, but all in all it is very well executed.
As for flipping action, when we deployed the knife using the (slightly longer than we might generally prefer) flipper tab we felt the same exact feeling as every other Ferrum Forge Knife we have ever flipped open. This means that it opens very well and easily, and is so consistent and dialed in that Ferrum Forge seems to have nailed the repeatability factor that is always a question when it comes to small scale production runs of mid-tech offerings. The Septer flipped so nicely and has this almost smooth abrasive feel when opening the knife. The lock-bar is easy to disengage for right handers for certain, and the built-in stainless steel lock bar is extremely functional if not altogether the most slightly – Function before form folks.
The use of the Hoback Rolling Detent (HRD) along with his caged bearings makes for a rather specific feel when deploying and retracting the knife. Let’s talk a bit about the retracting of the knife. The HRD allows you to dial in the feel of the knife, and to a certain extent the position of where the knife locks up. Included in part of this is the closing of the blade in that Elliot has been somewhat vocal in the fact that he and Chris create usable folding knives to work safely. This does not include the guillotine style closing that is often regarded as being a tell-tale sign of folding knife quality. They want to make sure that when you close the knife, it will not cut you. A freefalling blade toward your fingers is not the Ferrum Forge way. Instead they allow the HRD to slow the blade forcing you to give a gentle tap to the blade to make it get over the detent completely before the blade closes in the handle scales. Again, some of this is adjustable with the tweaking of the HRD position, another nifty feature that further shows the versatility of the HRD usage. Though the Ferrum Forge Knife Works duo did not create the HRD, they have been given complete permission to use the design by Jake Hoback, another very talented knife maker, and friend of Chris and Elliot.
I can without question state that this knife feels completely custom to us. It is wonderful to hold, and the standard bronze colored bent spring pocket clip, though not particularly gorgeous in appearance is very useful. It keeps tight in the pocket and feels snug. It is not however a deep carry. Regardless it is a competent and functional click that should keep the Septer from falling out.
Real World Usage
We have been rotating this knife in-and-out of the secondary carry position for a while now. It is one of our three go-to secondary weak side carry knives in our standard rotation. As such it has managed to see lots of pocket time. One of the great things about this knife is it punches well above its weight, yet it still is only a 3-inch blade. What that means to us, and perhaps many of you is that you can legally carry it just about anywhere in the USA since it does not breach the magical 3-inch sizing rule seen in some many local cities and states. This is a big plus and makes for a very good EDC option as a result of this alone. The fact that it feels bigger and performs bigger is the icing on the cake.
We have used this knife to do everything! The CPM-20CV blade steel is a winner, and the impressive corrosion resistance allows for a multitude of options for usage. It also holds a great edge thanks to both the steel and the heat treatment either performed or overseen by Elliot. As an FYI, Elliott is a steel aficionado and only uses steel materials that he feels is of top quality.
The Ferrum Forge Septer was used at the beach, job sites, around the house, and even as something of a utility knife. We can recall a day where we used it to open and cut at least 10 boxes of double thick corrugated board. It handled the task extremely well. The drop-point blade shape in this configuration made it very comfortable to hold and get a good purchase on the knife as we cut. The blade edge was also wonderful by the way. It was extremely sharp, but not stupid sharp to the point where it does not have enough micro-serrations to actually cut anything. We were impressed. To date, we have sharpened the knife only two times. It is honestly not the easiest to sharpen as the 20CV blade steel is a beast. That said, it is also why it keeps such a good edge for so long. The fact we had to only sharpen the blade on this knife two times is a testament. We have used this knife almost daily for about 4 months.
Quick advice on where not to use the Septer… the kitchen. We like to try most blades out with some kitchen tasks in one form or another, and we found this knife is of great utility is all things that do not include food. Why? The blade was just too thick and small to comfortably get any detail and precision with the food cutting for us.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.Finding competition for the Ferrum Forge Septer was a bit tough. because it is a 3-inch blade we wanted to include other 3-inch (or smaller) offerings, but at the same time wanted to compare it to a few other options that it might compete with it that had larger blade sizes. All of the below are actually 3-inches or below are wonderful, but we felt that we wanted to keep this a battle of the true smaller sized bladed knives. We think the Septer stacks up like a champ against them all.
Todd Begg Steelcraft Series Mini Bodega (BladeHQ) – The mini-bodega is one of these knives we continue to discuss and harken back to because it is so versatile and well-priced for what it is. This knife, like the Septer is a 3-inch blade in a drop point configuration but this time with CPM-S35VN steel. Like the Ferrum Forge Septer it offers titanium handle scales, and is a tip-up right hand carry. The weight is a bit lighter at 3.7 oz, and incorporates the much adopted IKBS ceramic bearings along with a ceramic detent. These two are some of the best 3-inch knife offerings we can think of. That is why we have both, and they are both part of our secondary carry rotation. At 450 dollars US, the Reate made Steelcraft mini-Bodega is not cheap, but it is still a great value. However, so is the Ferrum Forge Septer, at about 500 dollars.
Chris Reeve Small Inkosi (BladeHQ) – What comparison would be complete without a Chris Reeve knife in the mix? The Inkosi is the newer take in the small titanium folder liner-lock offering from CRK with a 2.75-inch blade and ceramic lockbar interface. The recently designed oversized bushings make the Inkosi feel like that traditional CRK feel when opening and closing the knife. It is perhaps one of the best built knives on the planet to come out of a production run process. It is also a thumb-stud opening deployment as opposed to the Septer which uses an almost idiot-proof flipper tab to deploy the knife. Regardless, for 375 bucks, the CRK small Inkosi is a wonderful knife with a lot of name/brand recognition and credulity.
Spyderco Techno (Amazon) – Only one other knife seems to epitomize a small knife that can punch above its size and weight class. This is without a doubt the Spyderco Techno. Perhaps it can be called the outcast, or the ugly duckling of the bunch, but it is a real contender. At 2.56 inches in almost all usable blade length, this CTS-XHP bladed knife sports two titanium slabs of industrial looking 6AL4V titanium with a stonewashed finish consistently throughout the handles. The patented Spydie hole is used for quick and nimble deployment, while the frame block is relatively easy to disengage. Add to that the extremely useful deep carry style paperclip style pocket clip, and you have yourself a very competitive folder. Did we mention the pocket clip is adjustable for either left or right side carry? Well, it is, and it is the only clip friendly to the southpaws out there. At an average price of about 200 bucks, this little Spydie is the budget winner for sure. Even still, it is production knife, and a common one at that. The exclusivity and hand finish of the Ferrum Forge Septer is apparent, and can be justified as costing more.
It is a shame that the Ferrum Forge Septer may now be hard to find, as the production run of these knives occurred a handful of months back. Ferrum Forge makes a limited number and never seems to make them again. This may mean that the Septer may one day become collectible, and perhaps even valuable beyond the cost of the knife. Profit, or potential profit is not the name of the game as far as we are concerned. It is about getting an amazing tool that can also serve as an item that brings enjoyment.
Elliot and Chris at Ferrum Forge certainly know how to design, create and build wonderful knives. They have been building them, and we have been coming to get our fill. Whether you can get your hands on a Septer or not, the Ferrum Forge boys are the real deal. They are making mid-tech offerings all the time, and if you want to find out what all the talk is about, you should reserve one for yourself.
The Septer is one of those knives that just fits so perfectly with the EDC mentality, and this knife is a long-term user and keeper for us. We can see passing this knife down to our kids… it is that good! Now it’s time for you to come and get some for yourself.
- Feels like a custom, top notch materials, flips like a dream
- Limited availability, underwhelming pocket clip