STEEL WILL

GEKKO 1500


New company, new knife, new unexplored lands of wonder! A surge of excitement came over me when I first heard of Steel Will and their huge new lineup of knives for every purpose and need. I was lucky to get my hand on one of the first production models of their folding knife in the Gekko family - part of the Outdoor line.

Steel Will is run by SMG Inc, a US company which are also producing pneumatic guns under the name 'Gletcher'. And it is clear that SMG mean business with Steel Will right out the gate - their brand identity is already very well defined, the product lines are cohesive and on the face of it, it looks like the quality is there.

The Gekko comes in an oversized, expensively designed box. I know some companies take great pride in not "wasting" money on fancy packaging, but being a designer myself it is refreshing to see that companies are starting to see the value in differentiating themselves wherever/however they can.

Unboxing the Gekko is a satisfying experience, though I am not sure the overwhelming amount of packaging is necessary. Once you've unbuckled the thing from its funky velcro fasteners, you get your hands on the freshly ground micarta scales, so fresh in fact, it feels like they are covered in a thin sprinkle of talcum powder. This is my favorite type of micarta, really raw canvas, rough to the touch, just begging to get dirty and oily.

My first reaction, as I flipped it open, was how similar it feels to the Viper Start. The size, blade shape, lockback, rounded back, liners, micarta scales and steel material AND Italian made as well. The Gekko, however, seems beefier and a little less hazardous (I have cut myself on the Start so many times while closing it).

The knife came extremely sharp but I am sad to say the blade was a little off-center while closed. No blade play, though (my Viper Start was guilty of that...).

Gekko 1500 is a sturdy medium-large sized folder and is on the heavy side. I don't mind weight in folding knives, in fact I prefer it, but this is not a light weight EDC piece. It is meant for camping trips, food prep, slicing a pear, stabbing a bear.

I was very curious to know more about Steel Will  but at this time (December 2014) there is almost no material available about this company. So I tracked down their Director of Business Development, Boris Shekhman and asked him a couple of questions.

 

What is your involvement with Steel Will?

I am the Director of Business Development. My responsibilities include operations and sales for the North American market.

 

Who designs your knives?

We have an internal design department with a few, very talented, young knife designers.

  

Why did you guys decide to make such a huge lineup of designs right out the gates? Why not just a few knives to start?

SMG Inc.’s vision for the Steel Will brand is to provide customers with high quality, extremely practical knives for any purpose. As we know, there is no one knife that is ideal for every task. In introducing Steel Will to the market, we wanted to have a diverse offering right out of the gate so anyone looking for a blade for their specific task could find it in our 2015 lineup.

 

I see your knives are available in Germany. When will they be available in the US?

We are in the process of launching Steel Will in the next few weeks [end of 2014]. At launch, we expect to have 17 models in stock for the US market. More will follow shortly thereafter. The Gekko 1500 will also be available in the US in just a few weeks.

 

What market is your target audience?

We are trying not to alienate any buyer or demographic. Although all of our knives will appeal to knife purveyors and collectors, our knives are made to be used. As such, knife series like our Druids have an approachable price point and are ideal knives to be used in the field. We see our knives being used by people looking for EDC folders, hunters, campers, hikers, and anyone who has a passion for the outdoors. Those that appreciate tactical knives will also find that we have unique designs that are meant to be practical for everyday (hard) use.

 

What price will the Gekko 1500 sell at in the US? ( ..and from where?)

The Gekko 1500 will have an MSRP of $289.99 and will be available to purchase from our website: www.steelwillknives.com. We are currently seeking Manufacturers reps and Sales representation throughout the United States and hope to have these knives on the shelves of local retailers as well in the coming months.

 

Exciting times. Let's get back to the Gekko and take it through the paces. After this endless stream of photographs.

Our goal was to create the best knives in the world. In doing so, we’ve carefully chosen the best time-tested steel from the US, Japan, Austria, and other countries to ensure each knife achieves the distinct properties for which it was created.
— Steel Will
The “Outdoor” series is a line of first class knives created for use outside the metropolis. These high-quality knives will become an indispensable tool for fishermen, hunters, hikers, climbers, and all other outdoorsmen. Each knife from this line was created for its own specific goals and objectives, beginning from a compact Skinner and ending with a huge Chopper. Impeccable design combined with practical sheaths makes Steel Will “Outdoor” Knives a great companion for any outdoorsmen.
— Steel Will
 

AESTHETICS

★★★★

I have always been fond of micarta, especially the "coarse" variety - the kind you will see on ESEE and Winkler knives. This particular finish sucks up dirt and sweat, creating a very hard use-looking patina that adds a bit of real world grit and soul.

I like the "shaved" look of the scales which in turn gives you a better fitted grip on the knife. 

The blade shape is my favorite spear point design with a piercing-enhancing swedge. All in all a very functional and elegant blade, all nicely proportionate. Everything is nice and minimalist - my least favorite part is the oversized pocket clip.

 

 

ERGONOMICS

★★★★

The Gekko feels good in the hand, beefy, heavy, secure. The contours of the scales give you a good grip on it - though I wouldn't say it is the best tailored fit in my collection (an honor that goes to ZT560 and Pohl Force Mike One). 

There are no hot spots to speak of - maybe except for the pocket clip - it is enormous and I found it helped a great deal moving it to the other side of the knife (ambidextrous clip screw holes). The closed back is rounded, some good, aggressive jimping on lock and thumb rest. 

Great size for a knife, big enough for a comfortable grip, even for large hands. 

 

 

FIT & FINISH

★★★★

Produced in Italy. Flawless, except on this specimen the blade is a bit off-center when closed. Good materials, awesome, tactile micarta and nice round edges everywhere.. The coating on the pocket clip doesn't hold up well, though. 

RUGGEDNESS

★★★★

This is a knife that will age well, and could hold up well to some amount of abuse. I love steel liners, even if they add to the weight - I just often feel the lack of liners sometimes make a knife seem unfinished. 

The lockback seems secure, though I haven't pressed it to its limits. The Gekko blade is ground from a piece of quality Austrian N690Co steel.

 

 

USEFULNESS

★★★★

Overall, the knife is a little too large and heavy to be carried all day, every day, but the blade shape makes it useful in many situations. This is an ideal knife for food prep and rougher tasks. I think it is a little too aggressive for apple slicing in the playground.

The pocket clip rides very high (see above), so it is not a fantastically discrete piece to lug around.

 

 

FONDLE FACTOR

★★★★

This is not a show stopping flipping monster, though opening and closing is smooth and even. I like to rate the sound of opening the folding knives I review here and this one would get a 5/10... a little on the cautious side of the sound spectrum. It is, however, quiet and discrete.

Nice and heavy... and the micarta is a winner - very grippy, very tactile. 

 


PIVOT SCORE

★★★★

I am fascinated with the way Steel Will are entering the market. In the US you now have a very broad choice of both American-made and imported folders and fixed blades. Competition is fierce - man only needs so much cutlery (except for those of us with an insatiable appetite #usnfollow), so no wonder Steel Will and SMG are keeping their cards close just before such a huge, daunting launch. If their knives are consistently of the quality of the Gekko 1500, I think they have a good chance of making a mark.

Some other Steel Will knives have now grabbed my attention, namely the Druid 200, Sentence 100 and Cager 1410 and Gekko 1530 - all full sized fixed blades.

With an MSRP at roughly $289.99 I'd expect actual retail prices to end up floating around $240 which I find reasonable for this level of quality in design, steel, polish and packaging (and marketing). Having said that, you can get a lot of knife at that price point - quite a few proven quality knives come to mind - Spyderco Southard, Spyderco Farid Mehr, Lionsteel TM1, plenty of Zero Tolerance etc..

Hitting the scene with 3 product lines and 17 models in one fell swoop is ambitious at any rate, but Steel Will's launch of the Gekko is a pretty impressive first stab.

Pardon the pun.

At a glance:

  • Model: Gekko 1500

  • Overall Length: 8.98"

  • Closed Length: 4.89"

  • Blade Length: 3.94"

  • Blade thickness: 0.14"

  • Blade material: N690Co

  • Blade Style: Spear point

  • Blade Finish: Satin

  • Edge Type: Plain

  • Handle: Micarta

  • Liner: Stainless steel

  • Pocket Clip: Right/left hand, tip-up

  • Lock Type: Backlock

  • MSRP $289.99

 

More resources:


GOES WELL WITH


 Review by Sir Hermes "Sticky Fingers"  DuPonte

Review by Sir Hermes "Sticky Fingers"  DuPonte


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