Review Case Tribal Lock

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Eli Chaps, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    In my ongoing journey into the traditional knife world, I recently acquired a Case Tribal Lock in Burnt Amber Bone and TruSharp (420HC) steel.

    This is a knife I've drooled over many times but was always reluctant to pull the trigger on due to its size. To be clear, I carried a Spyderco Manix2 of some variation for a couple years so I'm not adverse to larger knives, but of course that one has a clip that keeps it snug in the side of the pocket. The Tribal Lock obviously does not. Further, I've carried a Large Stockman and Trapper and while I didn't find either of them overly burdensome, I did find them a touch too bulky.

    But I could wait no longer and bought one. And I am very, very glad I did! My example is excellent with well-matched scales on each side and excellent fit and finish. I will say the blade does have side-to-side play in the closed position but it doesn't touch the liners or cause any issues. Lock-up is rock solid. Like many of these knives, it did require a hot water and WD-40 flushing but then it smoothed right out and snaps smartly into position.


    For the past several months my primary EDC has been a Case Mini Copperlock (superb knife in its own right). These days my day-to-day knife requirements are pretty light. Fruits, berries, cordage, occasional package, and that sort of thing. Edge retention is not a high priority for my needs and I don't need a lot of blade.

    I've carried the Tribal Lock every day for about a week and am very pleased with it. Be it jeans or khakis, it was quite comfortable in my right front pocket with my keys and a foldable-glasses case about the size of a Zippo lighter:


    The overall thinness allows it to carry almost unnoticed and the length didn't bother me at all. The knife feels great in the hand and the genius of Tony Bose really shines in this design. It just fits and everyone who I asked to handle it, from small women to big dudes all felt that way. It is a very neutral design that allows hands of broad range in sizes to be comfortable. It also feels solid and I think could easily make a good working knife.

    The blase is a stated 3.125" I believe and only ~.060" thick so it is very, very slicey. Although the Spyderco Manix 2 has a blade length of 3.37", it only has a cutting edge of 2.88" and the Tribal Lock doesn't give up much to it:


    Some size comparisons... Spyderco Manix 2 LW, Tribal Lock, Spyderco Dragonfly, Case Mini Copperlock:


    Case Large Stockman, Trapper, Tribal Lock, Mini Copperlock, Mini Trapper:

    Same as above but showing thickness:

    I need to carry it for a while to see it if it will kick the Mini Copperlock out of the full-time position but it is currently giving it a run for its money and I'm in no rush to swap it out! I put the Mini Copperlock in the top five pocket knife designs I've ever encountered so, for me, that's really saying something.

    I suppose for a lot of people, the steel might be a hangup but again, it isn't for me. I honestly don't think Case's TruSharp is that bad and the blade geometries let it keep performing well beyond what other blades in the same steel are capable of. It's a beautiful, but still very functional, pocket knife that as of this writing comes in under $70. There's a good variety of scales out there too.

    Sorry the pics aren't the best but it is a rainy, cold, gray day out there today.

    If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to answer the best I can.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
    Don W, WalkTheEdge, vba and 6 others like this.
  2. Obcessed

    Obcessed Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 14, 2018
    The case Tribal lock is on of the finest knifes on the market. At a price point of $70 M/L there is nothing that comes close. I purchased the jigged bone and the smooth bone Tribal Locks. The back lock is great. The walk and talk is first rate. The fit and finish is very good, The centering on both blades is good.
    I have many other Case Knifes and the Tribal Lock is one of my favorites. As everyone is aware case has been around for many years and is made in the United States. I have other knifes made in Italy, Japan and Germany. Since I am a Vietnam era veteran I have a preference for American made knifes until I make the final field goal.
    vba and Eli Chaps like this.
  3. Pinemoon

    Pinemoon Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Nice review.
    I want one of these as it's a Tony Bose design and I hope to aquire all of them eventually.
    You're right, they seem to be a great value.
    Thanks for affirming this part of my wish-list :)
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  4. miso2

    miso2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2014
    Thanks for the nice review.
    I have wanted to give it a try for a while but never been able to pull the trigger myself.
    I need to look into it seriously.
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  5. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    @Pinemoon and @miso2 I do think this knife is a good value. Prior to the Manix 2, I carried a Delica 4, the same Delica 4 for years. That knife got used. My knife requirements then were much more demanding. While I do think the VG10 out paces the TruSharp in edge holding, I do not think the Tribal Lock overall gives up anything to the Delica. Where it may slip slightly behind it noses out in other areas. Truth be told, I personally would opt for the Tribal Lock. I love the neutral handle design. For me, the reality is, I rarely need one hand opening, and even if I do, I can actually do it with the Tribal Lock. Size wise I put them right together. So, if the steel isn't an issue for someone, which, again, I think you need to do quite a bit of cutting before you'd notice an actual difference, then this knife is a great choice.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
    vba, Pinemoon, miso2 and 1 other person like this.
  6. Professor

    Professor Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 1999
    I bought one of these a few weeks ago with the smooth bone handle and love it! Perfect size and a great drop-in-the-pocket-and-go folder for those occasions when you're just feeling more... traditional.

    Good ergonomics too, and the edge retention has impressed me so far. I did notice that a little pocket lint in the lock channel of the blade tang will introduce all kinds of play that takes a little tlc to correct, so if you're getting one, a pocket slip sheath would be my recommendation.

    Great looking too!
    J D Wijbenga and Eli Chaps like this.

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