Birk 75 is a knife which has been on my radar for quite some time. Ever since it was released actually and that is now some five years ago. What attracted me from the beginning was the clean simple looks and the possibility to get it with a Scandigrind. My interest for folders with that type of grind did not decrease after the purchase of FinnWolf from Cold Steel earlier this year who share that property with Birk. I think my childhoods Moras has given me a special relationship to that kind of edge.
EnZo Birk 75
To continue walk down that "Finnish trail" it therefore only felt natural to add another knife to the collection that is actually designed in our neighbouring country. The design language is by the way a direct translation from a traditional "Puuko", a word that simply means "Knife" in Finnish, to the folder format. The brand is EnZo which is the finnish company Brisas own housebrand. Otherwise they sell everything that has to do with knifemaking and crafts.
Classical Puuko lines in a folder
I consciously wrote "designed" in Finland for the simple reason that the knife isn't made there. Like many other quality knives these days, such as Cold Steel and many Spydercomodels it's made in Taiwan.
The blade always a mirrors the soul of a knife but even more so here since it more or less defines Birk. The shape reveals where it belongs geografically and historically, and what type of knife it's all about.
Sometimes a blade speaks more than a thousand words - this time in a low key
The "well-spoken" blade is what sometimes is referred to as a "normal" or straight back blade. In this case it is 2 7/8" long with a stock thickness of 3 mm. The blade is perceived as slightly larger much because it's relatively sturdy neck. Compared with for instance knives from SRM which often have this bladelength with a bladthickness of 2 mm as standard and the same goes for the more famous Opinels. More extreme is EKA Swede 88 with it's 1,7 mm thin blade.
The blade is three millimeter thick but is perceived as thicker
The type of blade also means that it relative to say a high hollowgrind clippoint with a top swedge both feels and is much more robust. It simply has more material throughout the blade.
But the bladeshape combined with the grind was the main reason for my interest in this particular knife. Birk 75 can also be had with a full flat ground for those who prefer that bladestyle. Both grinds have their pros and cons.
The blade have a really nice satinfinish and an appropriate amount of text. That is almost nothing. The EnZo logo and a minute text telling us which steel is used - D2. I prefer blade as sterile as possible. I'm not fond of billboards.
D2 - a very hard toolsteel
That bring us to the subject of steelchoice. D2 is a toolsteel that isn't stainless even if it sometimes refers to as "semi-stainless". If you want your knife more corrosionresistant you can have your choice of Birk 75 in CPM S30V instead. Despite all my knives D2 is a relatively new acquaintance to me and it is going to be interesting to see how this version performs over time, how well it takes and holds an edge and of course how hard it is to sharpen. As usual heat treatment and geometry are paramount and more often than not as important factors as the steel itself for a knifes performance.
I haven't resharpened the knife yet, only stropped it from time to time but that can be probably be a bit challenging since it's about 60-61HRC and true Scandis have broad bevels. But with this hardness it's going to last quite some time.
One of the sharpest factory edges I have encountered. A detail that always enhances first impressions
The factory edge on Birk 75 was extremely good. One of the sharpest out of box I've encountered actually. It shaved armhair with ease and shredded thin paper with an appetite for more. To cut paper is of course no challenge for a good knife but the sound when it does is most revealing. But I must admit that the egde arrived a bit coarse so a couple of strokes on a strop were needed.
Initial "I-have-a-new-knife-and-must-test-the-edge-on-everything" tasks passed with flying colors. But the area where it really shines is unsurprisingly carving and whittling of different kinds. It's easy to control the angle towards the wood with this kind of grind and how deep the cut will be. The steel feels adequate in this context and haven't developed any patina yet but then I also oiled it to prevent stains.
The back of the blade forms a ninety degree angel which gives a more distinct visual appearence but also makes it suitable to combine with firesteels which is popular to point out in reviews nowadays. I myself often use firesteels but with the supplied scraper instead.
The squarish back makes for a little sore thumb after a while when working with the knife.
As is so often the case with modern foldning knives Birk can be had in several different variations. You can have your choice of handle materials: black or green micarta, polished G10, wood and in this case carbon fiber. There are also bolstered versions. One thing that distinguishes this knife from others is that is possible to change the scales without having them custom made. Brisa is after all supplier of knifemaking materials and it shows.
This is the carbon fiber version
The surface of the carbon fiber looks "woven" and isn't completely smooth but somewhat rough which gives increased traction. The feeling is very similar to that of a Spyderderco Sage 1. So much so that if you compare the two knives side by side you can arrive at the conclusion that they are made in the same facility. It's the way they are put together, the polishing of the frames, how the standoffs are shaped and other details that gives that impression.
The design of the handle is simple and well proven with carbon fiber scales over sturdy 1,2 mm thick stainless steel liners. They are attached with four torxhead screws. The construction is open with as many as four standoffs apart from the pivot. The pivot is adjustable but since it hidden under the scale part of the knife must be dissasembled before it can be accessed. It makes for a cleaner look even if the maintenance becomes a little more fiddly. But on the other hand a well tuned knife doesn't need that much maintanence.
This is generation two of this model and unlike the first the frame is no longer standing proud of the scales and the thumbstuds are now more easy to reach since the scales now have cutouts for that purpose.
A soft spoken designlanguage gives a functional handle
The shape of the handle gives a good grip but I think it's a little bit too squarish to use under extended periods of time. I was also a bit concerned over the open construction. Sometimes that causes hotspots but not on this knife.
I would have liked to see a bit more rounded back though. If I'm not misinformed that goes for the Micarta version and that was one of the reasons to why that knife was on the top of the list. But as often, this one showed up at a good price and I could not contain myself.
The knife is provided with a decent sized hole for lanyards. I suspect that the ever so popular 550-cord will fit just fine even though I haven't tested it.
Deployment and Lockup
Birk was relatively tough to deploy when new. Most likely due to a hard tightened pivot I thought. As is it's definetely not gritty but not entire smooth either. Later I found out that's because of the strong linerlock and the pressure from the detentball on the blade. If you release the lockbar it runs faster than a greased up ferret. If you apply the slightest pressure on the thumbstuds the blade deploys fast and with authority.
On this gen 2 the thumbstuds are easily accessable which makes for an easy opening
When the blade is open the tight tolerances and a well crafted liner-lock makes the knife extremely sturdy. There are no absolutely no play in any direction as expected on a knife in this price range. Many choose a RIL/framelock over linerlocks but sometimes I prefer Mr Walkers linerlock instead.
Much because they can be "hidden" and therefore are less visible. You do not have a "presentationside" and back of the knife. Functionwise I don't think they are that different if they are well made as in this case.
The lock is a really well executed linerlock in steel
The lock however, is relatively hard to release. The strong lockarm offers a wrestling game before giving up. Gen 2 has been provided with cut outs for easier access but it is still no big area for your thumb to push against. So this is no lock for the compulsively opener or a knife that you handles with wet and cold hands or with gloves on. I think that's a drawback for a knive of this type. But that can be balanced against the advantage with that configuration - there are no risk for accidental closing as a result of twisting motions when in use. The same thinking can be found on Spydercos "Gayle Bradley" for instance.
Another detail that is changed on this version is how the new placement of the clip makes for a much deeper position in the pocket. Something I really appreciate. Especially with a knife that measure under four inches folded. The balance and feel when you carry the knife is better that way.
The clip itself is a fold over spring steel variant that works well with even thick fabrics and keep the knife secure in pocket without being impossible do draw. It is not changeable however so the knife carries tip up right side only. So it's not for our lefthanded friends and there is another disadvantage that I will come back to.
The clip makes the knife disappear deep down in pocket, both safe and discreet
The weight on the knife differs slightly depending on configuraration between 3.8 oz and this version that weighs in at around 3.35 oz or 95 g. So it's not an boatanchor and not too far away for the "Golden Ratio of pocketknifes"7- 4-3-3 (7 inch overall length with 4 inch handle, 3 inch blade and a weight around 3 oz)
Small tolerances and a comparatively thick blade. Centering is perfect
Unfortenately the knife feels a tad bit bigger than it really is in pocket. It's the squarish shape and the thicknes of the handle that bothers a bit. The handle thickness is 0.51" and the clip ads quite a bit to that.
That's the trade off for having a handle that is more comfortable to work with. An ever-present balance that makers of folders have to take into consideration: Feel in hand VS "carriability". All in all our pocketknives spend more times in pocket than in hand to be honest.
Birk 75 is easy to draw and as easy to put away again after use. In that regard the clip is excellent.
This is a rather special knife since it and its bigger brother "Borka 90" partly fills a niche that is not subjected to such intense competition - folding knives with "Scandigrinds", yet I might add. That makes them suitable for "wood- and bushcraft" which nowadays seems to be the correct term in various forums for general outdoor use. Thus being a rather rare bird. The knives I can think of that competes in the segment are some models from Norwegian Helle and the 2015 realase "FinnWolf" from Cold Steel.*
With that being said I will argue that this knife is a division of it's own compared to them fit & finsh wise and in terms of materials used.
And that is the first thing that strikes you when you handle this knife. It's extremely well built with a fit and finish that is top notch. As previously stated the construction and buildquality much reminds of Spydercos Taichung made knives and that is a good thing.
Despite not being cheap the knife therefore feels affordable.
An elegant and yet sturdy pocketcompanion
Is it the ultimate pocketknife? In this respect I feel a bit ambivalent. It is a bit unique as a pocketknife since the grind makes it kind of specialized and the handle is a little bit bulky and squarish for me to be optimal.
But it is excellent as an outdoors knife dressed in a tuxedo. A more illustruos version in better materials of for instance "FinnWolf" even if Birks bigger brother "Borka" is closer in size.
This is a knife for the one who seeks a folder that is very sturdy and built to the highest standards for is extra well suited for woodworking of different sorts.
It's not a knife for you if you're looking for a more allround folder whose duties includes food preparation at home or outdoors.
Overall Length: 7"
Handle Length: 4"
Weight: 3.6 oz
Blade Lenght: 3"
Blade Thickness: 0.1"
Blade Steel: D2, 60-61HRC, satin
Handle Material: Carbon Fiber, stainless steel frame/liner
Produced by: EnZo, Finland - made in Taiwan
* Even Spyderco jumps on the bandwagon and releases the "Spyderwolf" in 2016.