LAPG TBFK S35VN EDC Folding Knife Review
Picking out the right pocket knife is all about finding the right balance of features for a given price point. These days there are literally hundreds of choices just a website order away. LAPG has been marketing in-house designs for the last few years with the goal of cutting out the middle man to provide a really competitive value to the end-user, as seen with the TBFK S35VN EDC Folding Knife.
It is clear from the name that one of the bragging points of this knife is a blade made from S35VN steel. This is obviously a marketing point as knives in this price bracket usually come with something along the lines of D2, 420HC, or AUS-8 blades. S35VN does not usually show up until you get into the eighty to a hundred and twenty dollar price range and above. While no knife steel is “magic”, S35VN is high-end stainless steel that mixes in about a dozen different ingredients such as carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and nickel. Geometry and heat treating have to be taken into account, however, S35VN can produce blades that are generally as tough as the more common D2, while potentially holding an edge better, being easier to sharpen, and with higher corrosion resistance. S35VN is basically the next evolutionary step over S30V with added niobium replacing a bit of the vanadium to produce more toughness. All of this adds up to one of the best all-around blade steels available today for a knife that might be needed in an emergency.
The TBFK’s drop point blade apparently ships from LAPG shaving sharp. While certainly not the only knife that we’ve ever worked with to pull this off, it is a good sign of attention to detail. This is always a potential concern in the modern era of imports and mass production.
There are other details that point to quality assembly. The blade showed up almost perfectly centered between the liners without the need for an adjustment. Also, the liner lock has excellent engagement with the blade, all the screws are tight in the hourglassed standoffs and the ball bearing assisted flipper easily opened the knife with a nice “click” on the first try.
There are two blade deployment options with both a flipper and thumb studs. Over time, most users will probably develop a personal preference for the snappy flipper opening or the controlled thumb rotation. You could argue that having both options is unnecessary, as either one would be enough. But, this is where we get into design tradeoffs. The TBFK is not a minimalist design but also avoids going too far down the path towards a “pocket monster” that does not leave room for your keys. It is thicker than something like a Spyderco Delica, with shaped G10 scales which makes the TBFK more pleasant in the hand at the cost of being a little heavier in the pocket at 4.9 ounces. The TBFK is four and a half inches long when folded and opens to eight inches, total. The blade is just under three and a half inches long and just under 0.12 inches thick.
After carrying around the TBFK for a few weeks, it does well at one of a folding knife’s main jobs of disappearing into a pocket and not being a nuisance. The pocket clip is low profile enough to not draw attention. The TBFK is designed for tip-up carry, which puts the opening mechanism near your fingers and thumb when needed quickly. If you insist on carrying tip-down, then this is not the knife for you, as the pocket clip is not reversible.
LAPG’s TBFK S35VN EDC Folding Knife is one of the best bang for the buck options at the ~$50 price point that we have seen. There are not many options in that range with the kinds of higher-level material choices found in the TBFK. It is not the perfect knife for everyone in the world, as no such animal exists. But, the TBFK is a really good execution on balancing out features. It has been assembled by someone who actually cared about their work and is sharp enough out of the box to shave up a nice pile of paper-thin fatwood curls for starting an emergency fire. This knife is also comfortable to use and easy to carry. LAPG has also actually listened to their customers’ suggested tweaks over the last few years leading to this latest version. If you are in the market for a solid knife in the fifty-dollar range, the TBFK is definitely worth a look and can be found direct from LAPG or on Amazon.