LionSteel_TM1_1.png

LIONSTEEL

TM1


There is no denying that I love LionSteel knives. To me, they represent a new breed of modern knife makers, pushing the envelope on both technology and design. I love many of their styles, especially the Molletta designs, such as the SR1 which I reviewed here. His aesthetic is 100% compatible with my taste in knife design - simple, functional and above all else incredibly robust and well-built. Above all else, their creative drive to enhance and discover means LionSteel constantly are spitting out new ground breaking inventions to look forward to. 

TM1 is part of the so-called SOLID® Knife line-up which counts previous designs such as Ti-Spine and SR1 and 2. This means the entire grip portion of the knife is 4D machined from a solid piece of material - in this case Micarta. For you guys and girls out there with swollen wallets, you also have the option to get the TM1 in a one-piece carbon fiber version.

 Image from  LionSteel

Image from LionSteel

The design work gone into the shaping of the grip is breathtaking - for instance the subtle curvy grooves as seen in the scales of their recent fixed blades M3 and M7. You can hardly tell at a glance, but these details make all the difference when inspected in person. You can tell that Molletta knows his shit.

The steel used for the TM1 blade is Swedish-made Sleipner. As you may have gathered, I am not a steel expert, so I lifted this description off manufacturer Uddeholm's web site:

"Uddeholm's modern version of the classic D2 tool steel, with improved toughness to better fit active knife use. Even though this is not a PM steel, the finer steel structure in Uddeholm Sleipner gives better machinabilty, polishabilty and edge retention. The hardness range is 58-64 HRC." 

The blade shape is described as "reversed tanto" which allows for uninterrupted use of the entire cutting surface (unlike a classic tanto blade) while still ending in an astute, strong and sharp point.

There is no jimping on the spine of the blade; instead LionSteel used a similar thumb disc concept which they incorporated in their Pohl Force collaborations on Mike One and the Foxtrot One. The disc allows for smooth one-handed opening of the blade and gives the user a flat area on the back of the blade to push or rest his/her thumb for extra force/control while cutting. 

The blade movement is smooth as schmelted butter thanks to the use of the silky IKBS bearings - the TM1 being the first LionSteel knife to incorporate these. I'd make sweet love to the person who invented IKBS. They are that good.

 

 

BEHIND THE SCENES

I asked Michele "Molletta" Pensato for a bit of background:

 Early TM1 prototypes

Early TM1 prototypes

"For the TM1, Gianni and I tried to go back to the roots of the back lock folder and try to fix some of the problems that have long haunted these types of locking mechanisms - mainly involving blade play, making the knife unsafe.

To do so we thought we would start from a monolithic structure designed with sufficiently fine tolerances and enough clearance to support the width of the locking block. To provide additional stability we used IKBS bearings. The TM1 is the first back lock in the world to have bearings.

The design of the handle and the blade was made taking into account that the knife was designed to be used in heavy-duty settings.  On this model we are working on developing other handle materials as well, including titanium built using additive manufacturing technology."

 

Lion Steel Knives was founded in in 1969 in Maniago, Italy by Gino Pauletta and his wife Cesarina. The company continues today under the direction of their sons; Gianni, Daniele and Massimo. The brand Lionsteel was inspired from a lion steel sculpture, handmade by Gino’s grandfather.
— LionSteel official site
 

Quick Tip:

The TM1 fits perfectly in Maxpedition's Single Sheath

 Detail from satin version with satin clip - photo courtesy of  LionSteel

Detail from satin version with satin clip - photo courtesy of LionSteel

 Ultra deep, discrete carry - extra points for black clip. Minus points for being too pointy.

Ultra deep, discrete carry - extra points for black clip. Minus points for being too pointy.

 The satin blade version -  photo courtesy of  LionSteel

The satin blade version -  photo courtesy of LionSteel

AESTHETICS

★★★★

TM1 is a beautiful knife - the shape of the handle scales is difficult to figure out; lots of subtle detailing around the butt of the knife and a slight grooved pattern wrapping around the sides. The micarta layer effect is not my favorite, but the fact that it is at least monochrome helps give the handles a "cartographic map effect".

I personally prefer the plain satin blade version, but the blacked out blade is very well done as well. Little details like pivot screws and the thumb rest ooze attention to detail.

 

ERGONOMICS

★★★★½

The favorite thing with this knife, except for the IKBS bearings is the exaggerated finger guard. To me this is essential in a hard use knife.

The handles are perfectly shaped for a great grip. There is a bit of hot spotting on the underside of the grip, where I personally would have rounded the inside of the opening edges to be less sharp. But this is obviously a common problem in pocket knives.

The thumb disc works great flipping the blade open, but also for resting your thumb when push cutting.

The only problem I found was the fact that the protruding pocket clip is a bit of a hotspot when using the knife over time. 

 

FIT & FINISH

★★★★★

Fashioned from one solid block of micarta (the more expensive sibling is cut from one solid block of carbon fiber), this knife is built to last.

This is the top example of what you can do with micarta - I struggle to think of other knife makers this advanced, using technology and design to sculpt their knives this beautifully.

My only gripe is the pointy tip of the pocket clip, which snags on to stuff when clipped to your pocket. Don't get too close to your car with that thing sticking out. I have twice had the clip grip onto door frames, bending it out of shape.

 

 

 

RUGGEDNESS

★★★★½

It is not a tank like, say, some Extrema Ratio knives, but since it is made out of one piece of material, you have less moving parts and less "bit wear" to worry about.

No blade wriggle, perfectly centered. Very sturdy back lock. The blade is made of Sleipner steel hardened to 61RC.

 

USEFULNESS

★★★★

This knife is pretty chubby, but it sits very deep in your pocket and is lightweight. I wouldn't call it the perfect EDC piece - it is just a little too bulky, but it is an incredibly versatile knife with a perfect blade length and shape for most tasks. Sharp and safe. The lanyard hole is an extra bonus.

The design and placement of the pocket clip itself is ingenious, allowing for very deep, discrete carry. The carbide window breaker is extra useful for smashing in windows if that is your thing.

 

FONDLE FACTOR

★★★★

I am not a fan of micarta scales if they are not lined with with aluminum or titanium. For some reason I don't trust that a composite material will hold up as well as a piece of steel - I don't like the sound that unlined micarta makes, the hollow plasticky 'tap'. 

Having said all this - the TM1 is a beautiful knife, it feels great, it flips so incredibly smoothly on those bearings. The only knife I own that flips more satisfyingly is the ZT 0560 which I suspect is due to the heavier blade and the flipper.

The lockback design forces you to change your grip - but with a little practice you can close it one handed without cutting off your index finger.

The sound of the lock engaging I'd rate 7 out of 10. Not exactly the sound of a cathedral door slamming shut, but enough to make you feel good about having shelled out $289, if just for a second.


PIVOT SCORE

★★★★½

A close to perfect knife. Beautifully finished, sleek, smooth and crazy sharp. A little too bulky for carrying all day, err' day, but perfect for nearly everything else.

My issue with micarta as a structural element is solved in the one-piece carbon fiber version. Unfortunately that option is almost $400 - then again, that knife will last you a lifetime - a piece to be treasured by generations

At a glance:

  • Blade Length: 3.5"

  • Blade Thickness: .18"

  • Blade Steel: Sleipner

  • Overall Length: 8.125"

  • Hardness: 61RC

  • Blade Style: Reverse tanto

  • Handle Material: One piece of solid black micarta

  • Locking Mechanism: Lockback

  • Pocket Clip: Right/left, tip-up

  • Opener: Thumb disc

  • Weight: 5.11 oz

  • Made in Maniago Italy

  • $289.00


More resources:


GOES WELL WITH

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 Review by Sir Rhinus Heathrow

Review by Sir Rhinus Heathrow


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