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So maybe it’s not so strange that O’Light, a company who is famous for making flashlights, has decided to pivot into making knives. O’Light is an interesting company, inspiring a mixture of admiration and dislike in seemingly equal parts from denizens of the internet, from their rabid fanbase who buys up every different color of light they come out with, to people who like to talk about how their products double as IED’s if you drop them at the right angle. They’ve started branching out from flashlights into other strange products, like the O’Bulb which you can mount in your O’Buddy, a charging base that’s shaped like a cartoon astronaut, to the Nightour, which is a desk lamp.
Key Specs: OKnife Splint Ti
They’ve also got a nice titanium pry bar now, as well as the O’Pen, which writes and lights stuff up. Sort of an ecosystem of gadgets, into which they’re introducing the line of O’Knife products. The first was the Drever, which we did a short review on, and they’ve since expanded the lineup to include a wider variety of knives. These are all made by Kizer, whose products are no stranger to our website, including the model we’re taking a look at today – the Splint Ti. The Splint Ti is the current high end of the O’Knife line, offering full titanium construction and high-end blade steel with excellent fit and finish for $170 retail. It’s also got some interesting design details that set it apart from the ocean of other titanium framelocks out there, and it’s a knife I ended up liking a lot more than I expected to after carrying it for a while. Let’s take a closer look.
The blade on the Splint Ti has a unique shape – it’s a pronounced clip point blade with a tall flat grind. The top of the blade has a false swedge that runs from the tip back into the flats, and then above that the spine of the blade has a relief cut into it – as if it was the bottom half of a fuller that was interrupted. Blade thickness at the flats measures 0.114”, while the relief cutout measures 0.064”, but the effective blade thickness is that first number – since the primary bevel is cut into the blade from that, and the fuller is machined in. The relief cut for the half fuller circles around the thumb hole (more on that later), sweeping back up and terminating in a curl shape on the top side of the thumb hole. It’s very dramatic and artistic, especially considering it packs all this drama into a 3” blade!
There’s a wide sharpening choil at the base of the edge, which is smooth but too short to use as a forward grip, which limits the cutting edge length to 2.75”. Blade finish is grinder satin, smooth to the touch, with a vertical pattern on the primary grind and a horizontal pattern on the false swedge giving a nice visual contrast when the light hits the blade just right. The Splint Ti’s blade measures at 0.034” right behind the edge, so the cutting abilities are definitely there regardless of the fancy blade shape. Blade steel on the Splint Ti is CPM-S35VN, a very common high end powdered metallurgy steel from Crucible, which is commonly used on Kizer’s premium products line. While S35VN has recently been superseded by the newer S45VN, it still provides an ideal balance of edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness for EDC blades, which is why it’s been so popular over the years.
The “regular” version of the Splint uses Bohler N690, which is more akin to a stainless like VG-10. Comparing the S35VN in the Splint Ti to the N690 in the regular version, we see that the Ti has about 30% more carbon (1.38 vs 1.07%, the primary determinant in edge retention), slightly less chromium (14% VS 17%, which primarily determines corrosion resistance), and more of a lot of trace elements like manganese, nickel and vanadium which all aid in hardness. So N690Co will be more corrosion resistant generally speaking, but as anything over 12% chromium is considered stainless, you wouldn’t expect to have issues with corrosion anyway. You can expect the Splint Ti to hold an edge longer than the standard version with N690Co.
Deployment & Lockup
The Splint Ti features three different ways to deploy the blade: a finger flipper, a thumb hole, and a front flipper or thumb flipper. What’s odd about this is that none of the literature on O’Lights website mentions that this knife has a front flipper – and honestly, the dual flipper configuration is one of the most attractive features of this knife. The Splint rides on caged ceramic ball bearings in a plastic cartridge for smooth deployment and closing, and there’s also a thin stainless washer on the outside of each bearing to prevent galling between the hard ceramic bearings and the relatively soft titanium scales.
Deployment from the flipper tabs are very good, particularly the finger flipper. I’ll admit the standards for flippers have advanced a lot in the last few years, and what used to be exceptional is now just expected, but I still never get tired of the pure fidgeting joy from these dialed-in titanium framelock flippers. The finger flipper works best as a pushbutton style (pushing in and down, rather than back) but honestly the pivot is so smooth and the detent is tuned just right that it’s hard to flip this knife wrong even if you’re trying. The front flipper is less successful to me, and maybe that’s because I’m much better at a finger flipper than a thumb flipper, but I frequently found my thumb slipping off the tab despite the presence of jimping for traction.
Especially if you’re using nitrile gloves and trying to open it (as I frequently find myself at work), the front flipper can be frustrating to use, leading you back to just using the finger flipper. When you do get it right, it does absolutely fire out of the handle with a hard “thwack” noise sure to irritate anyone around you, but I still found my success rate with the front flipper to be about 75% versus 100 for the finger flipper. Not so with the thumb hole, which is entirely useless. The opening is obscured by the handle, and it’s way too narrow and the detent strength is far too high to use it, either on the front or on the rear with a middle finger flick. The only way I could get the blade to open with the thumb hole was by pinching it with my thumb and forefinger and flicking the handle down, like an extra from West Side Story.
Lockup is via an integral framelock with a bolt-in hardened steel lockbar stabilizer. This steel insert prevents the titanium lockbar from galling from impact with the steel blade tang, which gives you a longer functional life of the lock along with less chance for lock-stick, which used to be the bane of titanium framelock existence. It also has a vertical protrusion that acts as an overtravel stop, to prevent you from pushing the lock bar too far out and fatiguing the metal cutout – an innovation credited to Rick Hinderer. Lockup is very solid, exhibiting no vertical or horizontal blade play even after disassembling the knife to clean and inspect the internals. The Splint Ti uses an internal stop pin to locate the blade in the open and closed positions – a pin that’s anchored in the blade itself rotates in a channel cut out of the inside of the scales, the channel creating the upper and lower limits to travel. This is generally less strong than an external stop pin setup (where a hardened steel bar is anchored to the two liners and the blade tang contacts it) so that’s something to keep in mind with how you use the knife.
Features, Fit & Finish
The Ti Splint – and the rest of the O’Knife lineup, as a matter of fact – is a collaboration between O’Light and Kizer Knives, and Kizer generally knows a thing or two about building knives. Despite that, there were a few fit and finish foibles to mention on the blade. The grind along the spine is asymmetrical, with the peak where it transitions in the concave shape that forms the clip point being slightly crooked, as are the two sides of the choil. The edge grind at the very tip is also slightly off to one side. No such issues with the titanium handles, though. The rest of the knife, aside from some blade details that will only be noticed by the most OCD, is very nice. The handles feel like a river stone, smoothed and contoured and super nice to the touch. There are some details to notice if you really get out your magnifying glass, like the lines cut into the area where your thumb lands on the lockbar release for extra traction, or the faint diagonal milling pattern on the relief of the show side scale.
The blue pivot hardware brings a spark of color into this otherwise greyscale looking knife, with a nice shimmering purplish anodization. Body hardware on the Splint is your usual fare, T6 Torx screws for the body and clip screws, and a T8 screw for the Chicago-style pivot. As far as assembly goes, the Splint’s pivot is keyed to the frame on the show side so that it doesn’t rotate while you’re loosening or tightening the pivot screw, and no second tool is required to counter-hold the pivot, which is nice. the insides of the Splint are skeletonized to reduce weight, and the two scales are held in place by hourglass shaped stainless standoffs with body screws that thread in from both sides. The pocket clip is a 3D-machined titanium affair, configured for right-hand tip up carry only, secured by two T6 torx screws. O’Knife have fit a lot of branding on the blade of this knife but it’s all quite small – the O’Knife logo and the blade steel on the show side and Yue Dong’s logo (the designer) along with the model number (KN9394) and “Splint” on the other. Worth noting: Yue Dong has left Kizer at the beginning of this year but can still be found on Instagram at Doctor_EDC.
I really enjoyed carrying the Splint Ti for this test. It hits the sweet spot for an EDC knife size, along with checking off some of the boxes for what makes a knife enjoyable to carry for me. First though, the size: with a 3” blade and measuring only 4” when closed, the Splint Ti is small enough to share pocket space with your cell phone or earbuds. It’s only 2.3 ounces as well, so you hardly notice it’s in your pocket. I’m not a huge fan of 3D machined titanium clips, and this one’s no exception: it doesn’t offer as much spring tension as a traditional bent steel pocket clip, and it gets quite scratched up after a few weeks of daily use in the shop coming in contact with abrasive surfaces. This clip has a good shape to the open end which allows you to slide it easily into your pocket, but it does stick out quite a bit and tend to scrape on things you pass by. It also worked itself loose after a few weeks of carrying, which seems to be a trend with machined clips like this. I understand that these clips are de rigueur on more expensive production knives, but they just don’t work as well as traditional clips. Still, art-clip hate aside, this guy disappears into your pocket, and if you don’t like the clip you can just remove it and slip it down into your pocket without it. Ergonomics on the Splint are good, offering a full four-finger rearward grip, a thumb ramp on the spine with jimping for solid traction, a relief cutout making it easy to get to the lock release, and rounded handles that feel great in your palm.
Great blade shape on the Splint, too: a long, continuous curve to the tip makes it smooth at roll cuts or light food prep. That super sharp tip is also fantastic for piercing tough materials like plastic clamshell packaging. The tip being higher than the centerline of the blade does make some jobs more awkward than they would be with a drop point, but the finer tip that a clip point shape offers is a trade-off worth considering here. I think that Kizer might run their S35VN at a lower hardness than some others do, because I found myself having to resharpen it earlier than I expected to and had less of a struggle getting a good edge than is to be expected with this steel. There were no chips or major damage, just not as crisp of an edge as I like.
The Splint is easy to break down and maintain if you’re into that. The standard Torx construction means you just need two bits to pull the knife apart and clean it, and on reassembly there’s no “tuning” to worry about: you just tighten the pivot screw down until you feel it cinch in place and it’s perfect, no blade play or lock rock. The knife ended up being a joy to carry and use due to the light weight, small profile, high fidget factor, and useful blade shape.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.The Splint Ti reminds me of the Justin Lundquist-designed Feist front flipper, which I reviewed for Knife Informer a number of years ago. Its minimalistic lines are either a bland bar of soap or a wonderful breath of fresh air in the knife market depending on your preferences. It’s similar to the Splint Ti in a lot of ways, primarily in materials, size and price: both knives are currently for sale at time of writing for ~$170 on BladeHQ. They both have titanium framelock handles and CPM S35VN steel blades, they both use front flippers, and they both have machined titanium pocket clips. Which you like better really depends on your preferences, but I like the Splint Ti’s detent better, as well as the option of a finger flipper, it’s 0.4 ounces lighter, and the ergonomics are also a step up to me. I have heard that newer model Feist flippers have better action, which wouldn’t surprise me with how quickly Kizer’s production has advanced in the past few years.
If you want something even stranger than the Splint, the Bestech Ivy is sufficiently wild. Designed by Ostap Hel (who penned the Real Steel G6 Metamorph), it uses organic lines inspired by an ivy vine to combine a 3” modified hawkbill with a shallow curve with a front flipper. It has similar materials (titanium handles, S35VN blade, ball bearing pivot) but a higher price point of ~$200 retail. Similar dimensions as well, coming in at 2.37 ounces with a 3” blade and 7” overall just like the Splint. A very cool piece of functional modern design.
We’d be remiss not to mention the 600lb gorilla in the room at this price point: the new WE Knife Elementum, an upscale variant of the super popular Civivi Elementum. It features the familiar profile of the knife we reviewed before, just with everything turned up to 11. It features a 3” flat ground drop point blade in super-premium CPM 20CV steel, and colorful anodized titanium scales. It’s heavier than the others at 3.31 ounces, but that’s not going to drag your pocket down by any means. At $175 it actually offers even more value for money than the Kizer or O’Knife thanks to the upgraded blade steel, and it also uses a spring style deep carry titanium pocket clip, which is a win in my book.
I had a great time carrying and reviewing the Splint Ti, and honestly my biggest struggle was remembering to refer to it as an O’Knife and not a Kizer. To be fair, it has a Kizer model number (KN9394) etched on the side of the blade, and it’s co-designed and produced by Kizer. As they say, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck. Having Kizer build your knives isn’t a thing to complain about, in much the same way that having BMW build your Supra isn’t either. Kizer knows how to make knives.
This is an excellent one, probably one of my favorites made by Kizer, but my only struggle is identifying what exactly makes this an O’Knife product. It’s built by Kizer, designed by Yue Dong, and I suppose I’d rather that O’Light stick to actually building lights since that’s what they know how to do. Still, confusing branding aside, this is a great knife with some very minor gripes. If you’re looking for a fidget-friendly titanium EDC trinket, this one fits the bill.
- Kizer designed and built, excellent flipper action, lovely titanium scales, a fidgeter’s favorite item, light and pocketable, useful blade shape, reasonable pricing
- Minor QC foibles, front flipper learning curve, thumb hole useless, not a fan of machined titanium clips, confusing branding exercise.