Know Your Knives

Curious About Front Flipper Pocket Knives? This is the One to Get


The knife was one of the first tools created by man, but we’re still figuring out different ways to riff on the blade-plus-handle construction. One of the more recent trends in the pocket knife world is the come up of the front flipper. Like regular flippers — folding knives that feature a tab that juts out from the back when closed to allow a user to deploy the blade with the pointer finger — front flippers feature a flipper tab, but it’s situated on the blade’s spine and is more of an exposed corner of tang. The tab, in this case, is on the front instead of the back, hence the name front flipper.

Front flippers work in much the same way as flippers too, but instead of using a finger the user can deploy the blade with a sweep of the thumb. The construction is becoming more favored by designers because it leaves knife profiles smooth and unobstructed by extraneous tabs. Knifemaker Elijah Isham recently took advantage of the front flipper layout in his new Abstruse.

The Abstruse would be notable even if it weren’t a front flipper. It’s available in two lightweight options — a 2.4-ounce titanium scale version and a 2.26-ounce carbon fiber model — that both present a break from Isham’s typical work. His penchant for unique and often futuristic profiles is still on full display, but new angles and shapes make the Abstruse even more uncommon. The blade dominates the design in shape and size: it’s a modified sheepsfoot that, while only 2.8 inches in length, sits higher than and is nearly twice as large as its handle. That handle, though compact, is ergonomically-designed for solid in-hand feel and use.

Front flippers still aren’t mainstream, but Isham’s work provides the example for how the uninterrupted design has the potential to yield a range of unconventional pocket knives that are both beautiful and practical. The Abstruse is currently available for preorder and will ship to buyers mid-January.

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