torsdag 12 oktober 2017

Knife review Extrema Ratio BF2 CD

- good looks isn't everything

Extrema Ratio is a well known brand in some areas of the knifeuniverse while being close to totally unknown in others. When come to think about it, it isn't that strange since they are a rather polarizing brand with their "tacticool" marketing. It's black, it's overbuilt and most stuff in their line-up looks brutal. I don't think they categorize themselves that way since they claim to aim at groups such as police, military and first responders and the like. Considering price point I'll guess that most of their customeras are to be found elsewhere unless they heavily subidize those groups.

Anyhow, they are interesting and I was rather curious about what could be found hiding behind the camouflage paint. Therefore I got hold of this particular knife!

Extrema Ratio BF2 CD

At first glance the BF2 CD från Extrema Ratio looks exactly as black and brutal as can be expected. But behind the mask a rather straight forward and likable EDC-knife can be found. But there are a number of areas in which this knife deviates from the current norm. 

The handle can serve as a good example of this since it like most of the other knives in Extremas catalogue are made out of aluminum instead of the nowadays so cherished titanium. Since it's European made knives we are talking about they're not featuring well known American or even Japanese steels either. Instead Extrema Ratio often uses Böhlers N690 as their "go to" steel. The so favored framelocks are replaced by liner- and backlocks. If my memory serves me correctly I think Extrema Ratio had realeased only one framelock in limited edition so far.

So neither the company nor this model, BF2 are mainstream!

Behind the tacticool facade hides a rather likable EDC-knife

On top of everything else this knife offers a secondary lock, a unique clip, a rare bladeshape and last but not least a distinct design language that can be seen throughout the entire production from Italian Prato where these knives are made. 

Twitterversion: Extrema Ratio BF2 CD - Tactical but practical!


What do we have here? And oddball no doubt. By definition this blade is a droppoint but the way it's implemented here it points in another direction as well. This is as much American tanto as it gets without the secondary tip and the angular shape normally associated with that concept.

Compared with a straightforward tanto you obtain a small belly but the trade off is loss of the marginal advantage with having a secondary tip on your blade. The result is a bit weird looking but if you prefer a pure tanto this model can be had in that configuration as well.

The bladeshape offers a long and straight edge to work with. It also gives you what almost can be described as a secondary short edge that is also sharpened at a more obtuse angle than rest of the blade. If that is done on purpose or is a mistake by the person who sharpened this knife is a question I leave open for discussion.  

The blade shape is quite unique with it's almost tanto-ish appearance

What you do loose is a pointy tip. In this regard the BF2 reminds me about some models from Jesper Voxnaes that also offers a lot of straight edge, short pronounced belly and a not so pointy tip. To be honest that is not my favorite way of designing blades since just a little less extreme curve gives a fully capable snout without interfering with the design and overall appearance too much. I happen to like my pointy knife tips. Personally I have more use for something thin and pointy to poke with than a chisel or pry bar. But that is of course a matter of taste and maybe needs.

The alleged length of the blade is 87 mm but that depends on how it's measured. Anyway it's around nine centimeters all in all. The height is 30 mm and the bladestock is 3 mm thick. The surface is treated with a black coating of for me unknown type with the purpose of protect against corrosion. That and to look cool of course but that isn't exactly stated in the description. 

The steel is Böhlers N690 hardened to 58 HRC. A detail you never have to be uncertain of since Extrema Ratio on many of their knives made it a gimmick to have it printed all over the blade in bill board sized letters. The antithesis of a discrete blade that is. To me this seems a bit strange and contraproductive since it can be found on the knives that otherwise are the most "tactical" in design and intended use. 

The marking on this specific model on the other hand are much more restrained. On one side of the tang you'll find "Extrema Ratio" and on the opposite side "Made in Italy" written in white. 

The blade offers a long straight edge and the markings are remarkable discrete especially for being an Extrema Ratio

The grind is a full flat from modest bladestock, the edge long and straight and the sharpening excellent from the factory. This leads your thoughts in a certain direction doesn't it?

Well, the BF2 CD is exactly as practical as I hoped for. Before the actual buy I certainly read all the technical specs available and according to them that should be the case. But it's not always theory and practice coincede in our area of interest as you all are well aware of. By the way, I have some knowledge about Extremas "Heavy Duty"-series and how they are shaped. How about 6 mm over the neck combined with a low saber grind with a primary edge of some half inch at that. The result is a knife like object that isn't exactly what you call a slicer. But they can be hammered through a door without a problem or so I've heard. But that wasn't what I had in mind for a first experience with this brand so those models where out of the question.

But this knife is far from that. It's a matt black supertactical cutting machine! It slices exactly as well as I hoped for and then some. The edge is sharpened all the way to the handle which is the way I prefer it. It gives good control both when putting some force behind the blade and when doing more detailed work. Another way of achieving that is of course a forward choil. I have mixed feelings towards that entire phenomena. Sure it can work but it requires good design an no matter of how you look at it it steals a lot of edge length from the blade. Choils also force the hand away from the egde when they are not used. So they have some serious drawbacks.  

In hand the knife speaks to me and says "hey ho, let's go!" So that is what I did and first stop even if it's beyond the comofort zone of this knife was the kitchen. Hotpot on the menu and therefore root vegetables to chop and meat to cut. Well, it exceeded my expectations. The carrots didn't hit the wall as they tend to do if you try to force a thicker blade through them no matter what level of sharpness. On the contrary the Basic Folder no 2 reveals itself and comes out as a softy. It actually handles kitchen duties with flying colors even if that's not what it is made for primarely. For being a folder I might add.

BF2 doesn't make a fool of itself in the kitchen thanks to a FFG and 3 mm thin blade stock

But more likely future tasks involves materials such as rope, plastic, cardboard, fabric and some wood. Fabric you might wonder? In this household lives two cyclists and that brings an almost industrial production of rags made out of old clothes fore cleaning bikes. And in that I truly miss a proper tip on this knife. In order to cut the blade must first penetrate the fabric and that is easier said than done with this blade shape. Why Extrema have opted for a semi-tanto with a so so grind is a mystery. Maybe it's because it gives a long edge to work with as I mentioned before but in that case I think I prefer a proper tanto since it offers a pointier tip. This version feels a bit pointless, pun intended.

Otherwise the BF2 is a good cutting tool. The blackness of it all makes it look less elegant which in turn attracts more and harder use. So there might be a point with the black color scheme even for me after all. And so far the coating held up well. No mayor scuff marks or scratches.


Initally I enumerated a number of deviant features of this knife. The handlematerial being one of them and the way the knife is constructed is a another.

At first glance it's a rather mainstream knife in that regard. You got your steel frame with two slabs of aluminum on the outside, an open back with two stand offs and a visible blade stop. Everything screwed together with torxheaded bolts for easy cleaning and maintanance. The adjustable pivotskrew are made for a standard flathead screwdriver or a coin. So far so good but at a closer look some deviances are visible.

The aluminum in this knife is said to have an "anti corrodal" coating. What that means exactly is hard to tell since I never experienced corrosion with any aluminumhandled knife no matter what anodizing used. Perhaps if you put the knife in some sort of acid or in extreme salty environmets that might be a problem. Anyhow the surface feels a bit "chalky" in the same way as ProTechs matt finish. It gives more traction than polished aluminum but is far from Kershaws "Trac-Tec" but that is cheating with rubber inserts on the other hand.

The finish is generally very good but a bit rough. It matches the look and intended use and somehow it seems right. It feels a bit like an Emerson knife in that regard meaning Extrema don't care if the transition between frame and handleslabs line up exactly. Instead the focus is on chamfering and rounded corners. Form follows function in a good way in this case. 

Despite the handle giving an angular impression it can be compared with some of the best in it's class

What makes this construction stand out from the crowd is that the BF2 have an asymmetrical handle. This is not unique for this knife but rare. What calls for this solution is mainly the locktype chosen. It demands it's lockbar in steel in order to work. Typically the solution is to equip aluminum handled knives with an internal frame or merge the lockbar into the handleside in some way. In this case the knife instead got a partial or rather one-sided frame, a single liner.

Another thing contributing to the assymetry is the housing for the secondary lock. In that area the handle measures 14 mm wide but the rest a mere 10 mm. 

The choice of going with a single liner and a secondary lock gives an asymmetric handle

There is no hole for a lanyard but if you prefer one there is no problem attaching a cord round the back of the clip instead. There are plenty of room for even 550-cord. A clever solution without drilling a lot holes in the handle.

The handle looks deceptively angular. But in fact this is a really ergonomic handle and I will go as far as claiming that it's one of the better among slender folders. In this regard you almost have to divide folders into two categories. One more pocketfriendly and one where this is of no concern and you simply don't care about "carryability". In the latter category you will find folders meant to be carried in sheaths for instance. Then you can increase the width of the handle considerably without take into accounthow it feels in pocket. 

BF2 offers splendid ergonomics and that is achieved through simplicity. There are no hotspots in shape of unnecessary jimpings for instance. This so popularized shortcut to increased grip. What you got instead is a handle shaped the right way from the beginning. What I prefer might be clear by now. With very few exceptions I'm a adversary to prickly, thorny handles or "pine cones" as a friend calls them. I claim that ergonomics and sharp edges are contradictions even if they are put at an angle and called "jimpings".

The handle allows for all grips without favorizing any particular. There's no problem with baring down on the knife in hammer grip for instance. Noteworthy is how well shaped the clip is in this aspect. It really disappears when working with the knife. The secret can be found in the fact that it's placed low on the handle rather than in the middle or higher up. Because of that it hides in the cavity which forms when the fingers curl up. A really smart move that more manufacturers should mimic. But it requires a certain size of handle to be able to do.

On this handle it's also easy to choke up on the blade for increased control or move the hand backwards for more reach. Several details are well thought after. As example can serve the wide surface for the thumb constitueted by the secondary lock in sabergrip or how well the fingers fit in the grooves in the handleslabs when you place your index finger along the spine for precision cutting. Another from ER more pronounced finesse is the rest for the thumb on top of the clip in reversed grip. 

The handle is big enough even for those with large hands. The knife is well balanced and therefore feels nimble and easy to work with. The relatively low weight at under 150 g is a contributing factor.

The only potential hotspot on the entire handle is the little corner of the lockbar sticking out in order to release the lock. Otherwise I found the ergonomics to one big positive surprise. 

Opening and Lock

The knife opens via two-sided thumbstuds. They function as intended and have that extra positive attribute that they don't protrude outside the handle. It's a well designed detail that prevents the knife from gettting caught when pulled out of a pocket. For increased accessability there are recesses in the handle sides.

The opening and "walk" was decent upon arrival but no way near buttery smooth. After some use the knife has become much more pleasant to handle and is now really fast. A drop of oil didn't hurt either I've noticed. 

You can flick the blade open but it requires a certain precision. For best result and a hundred percent success rate I recommend a more firm and steady opening. 

The thumbstuds are reasonable easy to access despite not sticking outside the width of the handle

It has already been said that the BF2 CD is a linerlock. Considering that the lock is found on a knife that upon first glance looks like a "black murdery sort of thing" it's equipped with a rather thin lockbar measuring two millimeter. I might add that despite actual dimensions this is one of Extrema Ratios smaller knives. It has two smaller siblings in the catalogue but the rest of the family is bigger and beefier.

As far as functionality goes it's a very good lock but as noted, the first time you flinch. That's the impact the "overbuilt fad" have on us. Even I react with gut feeling and think it looks flimsy which it isn't. The lockbar falls into place every time and it do so with a somewhat muffled but satisfying "twack".

The lock is very secure and it doesn't slip even if provoked with strong negative load on the blade. There are no movement present in the blade at all, not side to side and certainly not up and down. Something I expected though to be honest from a brand known for high quality with knives built for tough use. So no unpleasant surprise there.  

The Basic Folder no 2 is equipped with a linerlock

The lock is somewhat harder to disengage. On this particular model almost the entire lockbar is hidden except from a small protruding tab. The design is no coincidence and is made for increased security especially if the knife are exposed to twisting motions which  are a potential threat to this kind of locks.

There are no real problems to reach the lockbar but it demands some getting used to and if you are trying to play with the knife for extended periods of time you're in for a serious case of "lockthumb". This knife is more of a tool than a play- or collectors item.

Something I'm not particular fond of is how the "click" from the detentball comes quite a bit later than the release of the lockbar, if you see what I mean. That gives a "double click", first one when the lock is released and after some movement the second. Sure it can be avoided by putting bigger pressure on lockbar during the closing. It's habitual and doesn't interfere with function. 

For the ones who likes extra security this knife features a secondary lock

This knife also comes with a secondary lock which in function reminds a bit of CRKTs "LAWKS" even if this version is designed by Carter.

According to me this kind of features are totally unnecessary but this version is the best one I've encountered so far. Foremost it's not in the way when using the knife. It's also easy to engage and disengage which of course is a plus. What it actually does is preventing the lockbar from travelling sideways. In order to fold with the extra lock engaged either the lockbar must brake or the entire handle fail. Something that might be possible in a test arranged by Cold Steel but not in actual use. So I don't mind the security aspect of it.

But how lovely inconsistent isn't the colouration of the activation button? It's bright red on a otherwise matt black knife. I personally don't mind especially not since it very photogenic. But what's the logic?

To Carry

BF2 is a relatively large knife that fits very nicely in a pocket despite size. A smooth well rounded handle in aluminum, no protruding parts, a weight under 150 g and a close to anorectic back are the explanation. Add a good clip to the mix and you have an knife that despite a folded lenght of 12 centimeter really shines in pocket.

A narrow back and a lowriderclip givs the knife a very discrete profile in pocket

The clip design can be found on several knives from Extrema Ratio and is of "fold over" type. Typically that means a clip attached to the back of the handle. In this case it goes all the way around and is anchored at the opposite side instead. It's rather stout for being of this construction. The tip can be forced to move but you have to provoke it quite severe first. The clip has good spring to it which secure the knife in pockets with a firm grip. The surface of the aluminum contributes. It ads grip without eating fabric for breakfast.  

The finish is as it should matt black to match the rest of the knife and as a result it's also discrete. Well, at least if you're wearing dark pants. The knife rides as low as possible with nothing of the handle visible. Considering the inteded use it has little to do with being mr anonymous and more to do with preventing loss of your precious edged tool I guess. A small but well made detail is the "lip" of the clip. It's easy to get over fabrics, a minor but still important thing that often is a miss on many clips.

Despite being a lowrider there are now problems pulling the knife out of pockets. Or almost none I would say. The width of the clip combined with the three slightly protruding screwheads makes for a good grip. But there is a big disadvantage with the generous space under the loop formed by the clip. If you like me often carry the knife in the leg pocket of a pair of cargopants there is a significant risk that the fabric sneaks all the way under the clip and gets stuck. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever to loose your knife when it happens but getting it out is a fiddly two-handed affair.   

The clip can not be altered to tip down carry do to it's construction but can be shifted to left side. The knife can therefore be used by lefties but as per usual the lock is a bit tricky to release in that case.

This knife is also a good exampel of a knife that is likeable in another way. The BF2 has no protruding parts like flippers or long thumbstuds and the lack of sharp ricasso combined with a well rounded back allows the bearer to put ones hand in the pocket whitout getting it cut in half. Maybe a tad exaggerated but I don't care for knives that demands "pocket sovereignty". Sometimes you cant dedicate an entire pocket just for one single knife. 

To Conclude

Sometimes first impression not only lasts but deepens. It goes for people and life in general as well for more insignificant things, like knives in this case

The competition in this class is fierce and here you can find established brands like ZT and newcomers like Real Steel for instance

The Basic Folder no 2 oozes of quality and seems to say "I'm ready" to it's owner. If a knife can have confidence it does. 

It's based in for the intended purpose well chosen materials and a sound construction. Aluminum isn't a lesser material than titanium other than marginally and on a very theoretical level. You know, it's possible to build bikes, aeroplanes and space shuttles in aluminumalloys. Just saying since it sometimes looks like titanium is magical and the answer to everything in the knife industry these days. It's a clearly better material when making framelocks, I'll admit that. 

The same goes for bladesteel. N690 which is the case here is a decent steel but far from the most advanced knife steel there is. But with proper heat treat and a good geometry you'll get a very competent blade. Something that is emphasized on this knife by a sharp factory edge. Or almost sharp is closer to the truth. It is a bit steep towards the so called tip which makes me hesitant for the task of putting a new edge on it.  

I wrote "so called tip" because this knife has it weak point right there, or not so weak as it turns out. It's not as pointy as I prefer my EDC-knives in general. But, and its an important but, this knife cuts really well. 

Extrema BF2 CD - a knife for those who are looking for something more unique 

As far as build quality goes this knife feels solid and no shortcomings have appeared as of now. The centering is perfect, no screws have gotten lose and everything is in place. The action is getting there  and the lock does what it's supposed to. All in all the knife gets more than a pass. 

This is a knife that I can recommend for all those who seeks a robust and well built EDC-knife in the larger segment and wants something a bit more original than your Spyderco PM2 or average titanium framelock flipper. 

It's a knife that is easy to carry but foremost offers good ergonomics and cuts well. If you're into high end steels or like your knives very pointy look elsewhere. The same goes for all who don't care for night black as the dominant color scheme.

All others, give this knife a chance!  

Extrema Ratio BF2 CD


Overall Length : 8.39"
Folded Length:
Weight: 5.01 oz
Blade length: 3,23"
Stock thickness: 0.12"
Blade Steel: Böhler N690, 58 HRC
Handle: aluminum, with "anticorodal" treatment
Lock: Linerlock with a secondary lock

Produced by: Extrema Ratio, made in Prato, Italy

* Other examples of knives in this category is Cold Steels Code 4 and of course Spydercos Paramilitary 2.

/ J - likes my Italians

#knivesandbikes #aliaspostmortem #knivigtvarre 

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