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Let's talk about Hogue knives.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Comeuppance, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    If you're not familiar with Hogue, they were initially a gun accessory company that recently (if 2010 is recent) began to produce knives designed by renowned knifemaker Allen Elishewitz, who was the youngest member to join the American Knifemaker's Guild and is currently the director of the board. I have owned some of his custom knives and they are of incredible quality, and I have even been in (brief) contact with him and my impression is that he is a genuinely exceptional person in both character and exploits.

    I mention his customs and dedication to high-quality knives because Hogue has done an excellent job of reproducing that same feeling with their production knives. Every single one I have held has had flawless lockup and centering, and they even come from the factory with a screaming sharp polished edge.

    I've owned a representative sample of Hogue knives, and I’ve probably owned a higher percentage of the company’s catalog than any other company:
    - EX-01 3.5" and 4" tanto and drop point
    - EX-02 tanto and spear-point and a limited-edition EX-02 with blue G10 handles
    - EX-A01 4" tanto
    - both blade styles of EX-04 (that were tragically tip-down only)
    While all were mechanically and practically perfect, I've since traded, sold, or given away all of those knives due to ever-changing interests - never due to dis-satisfaction. In fact, the EX-01 Drop Point 3.5” that I gave to a friend was the crystallizing moment that led him to becoming a true knifebro who is, as I type this, trying to convince his wife that a Spyderco Smock is a justifiable purchase.

    Recently, within just a few days time, I purchased a BNIB Wharncliffe X5 and a used Spearpoint X5 from two different individuals. Both have 4" blackout CPM154 blades, and black aluminum handles with G-Mascus inserts.

    The Spearpoint X5 I purchased was not just heavily used, but the previous owner was also exceptionally neglectful of the knife, with a disproportionate amount of wear on the flipper tab, loads of of debris in the pivot and handle, and a pretty notable ding on the spine of the knife (which was all frustrating given the “93%” condition rating by the eBay seller). I did a full takedown of the knife to give it a much-needed deep clean… and was blown away by the quality and design of the knife.

    This knife is an absolute marvel of engineering and design. It's assisted but doesn't have a spring, which they accomplished by milling a sloped track for the detent ball into the pivot area of the blade. It has no washers but flies open with ease because of the low-friction nature of a button lock and the tight manufacturing tolerances (adjusting the pivot did not change the centering or introduce blade play)

    It seems closer to a $400 mid-tech than a ~$200 production knife. I have handled multiple bearing pivot knives with action inferior to this washer-less knife. That both knives were dead center and flew open to perfect lockup despite being in drastically different conditions is a testament to the quality of Hogue’s manufacturing and Elishewitz’s design.

    So, that’s a long-form way of saying Hogue knives are well-made and I wish their catalog was larger. The prices may seem high, but (1) a little bit of shopping around on the secondary market makes them a lot more affordable and (2) they’re worth list price anyway just due to the quality.
    TheChunk91 and onionfan like this.
  2. ErocSD

    ErocSD Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 21, 2019
    Thanks for the input, I really want a EX03 but $200 for an aluminum handle just irks me I'd rather have G10, but even at that cost it seems insane to me.
  3. kylemiller


    May 18, 2016
    They've had my interest for a while. I'm just waiting for a thinner overall package from them. I've had them in my cart many times. I just don't like a lot of air between the blade and scales when closed.

    I love the polished edge I've seen people get from the factory though. I haven't owned one, but they are high on the list of American makers that I respect.
    jux t and mdrgn79 like this.
  4. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    I’ve handled a ton of them, but always passed because I can’t get into Allen’s designs. The build quality is definitely there, and their factory edges are consistently among the best you’ll find. For casual buyers/users/collectors, that may mean that you never need to put them on stone, and can get by with a strop.

    I’ve had the opportunities to carry and use the RSK and Exemplar models, and reviewed each. The Exemplar is well done. The RSK is awesome.
  5. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    I’ve owned 3 folders from them and each one has been absolutely flawless.

    My only gripe is I don’t like Eleshwitz designs so I wish they would broaden their range of designers or knives they produce. I know they have their Griptillian clone and HK line up now but I don’t really like those designs either.

    Everything about their knives is well built but too bulky I find. With their build quality if they built something slimmer and more pocket friendly I would be all over that. Also that spoon clip on those first knives (Ex 1,3,4) is actually so ugly it offended me.

    I know they are a relatively new knife company so hopefully they will build something I like in the near future. They already build great linerless gmascus knives. A slim button lock knife with a nice straight handle made out of carbon fibre would be amazing.
    jux t likes this.
  6. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    They quality is excellent, but I can't bring myself to support cloners when there are so many great options available.
  7. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    "Cloners" is a pretty charged term to describe Doug Ritter's RSK being discontinued by Benchmade, leading to him shopping his design around and deciding to produce it with Hogue.

    In case you were referring to HK, basically the same thing happened there as well.

    Just because you associate something with Benchmade doesn't make it forever theirs. The axis lock is no longer patented and Doug Ritter holds the IP rights to the RSK.

    Aye, the knives do tend to be a bit chunky. While the X5 isn't particularly thick, it's also pretty wide. A wider catalog with a little more variety in size/shape would be nice. Hogue has only recently (in the past few years) started working with makers other than Elishewitz, and primarily in the form of just acquiring the manufacturing rights of brands with pre-existing models. Only time will tell if they are going to expand those lines with new products.

    There are some makers/designers I would like to see them work with, like G&G Hawk and Liong Mah. They seem like good fits for reasons I would struggle to express coherently.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  8. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    I don't have strong feelings about Hogue one way or the other.

    I've got a EX-A05 Auto that I only bought because it was heavily discounted. Like it mainly because it was cheap, it's a big knife and it's an auto. Well built and fires hard. One of 25 autos in my collection. It's the only Hogue that I own.

    Thought about buying a Hogue Ritter folder. Lots of good reviews of it, reasonably priced w/M390 steel, but nothing unique enough about it (as compared w/the other knives that I already own and others that I'd rather own) to compel me to buy it.
  9. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    I’m of a similar mind about the RSK. Hype alone has tempted me more than once, but I can’t really justify it since I have a Manix2 in S90V that pretty much fills the same role (and probably has better cutting geometry)
  10. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Charged or not, they copied a Mel Pardue design that's still in production by Benchmade and seemingly did it without permission from any of the principals apart from Mr. Ritter. I very sincerely doubt there's anything illegal about it, but there's not a damn thing that's ethical about it either. And I try to avoid companies that are comfortable compromising their ethics in that manner. It doesn't bother me in the least if others feel differently, but I see no difference between their RSK model and a Ganzo.
    kylemiller likes this.
  11. Cscotttsss

    Cscotttsss Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 3, 2015
    A Hogue Ritter folder is on my list of knives to buy, but I'm really holding out for a mini version.

    I'll more than likely grab a full size either way.
    mdrgn79 likes this.
  12. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    Aside from the handle being derivative, it’s not a copy of a product Benchmade currently sells. The Ritter blade shape is not offered by Benchmade - and if them making money off the handle design bothers you, what is your stance on companies like Flytanium selling custom handle scales?

    Edit: In fact, let’s take that a few steps farther into a hypothetical situation. Let’s imagine that Hogue just sold the blade, but no handle. Additionally, a company like Flytanium produces just a custom handle and spring, but no blade. If BladeHQ put the two together and sold them as a completed knife, would they be stealing from anyone? How is it different if all of those steps are contained within one company?
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    7east, Nautique, 357snubnose and 2 others like this.
  13. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    If they had put the Ritter blade shape on a handle of their own design I wouldn't have an issue with it. Putting it on a handle of Mel Pardue's design to precisely mimic an iteration of Benchmade's flagship model seems pretty damn shady to me.

    The Hogue RSK Griptilian clone is a direct competitor to the Grips. Flytantium products, if anything, encourage sales of the product as you must own one to install the handles in the first place.

    To be clear, I don't necessarily think less of anyone for buying one, but it's a factor that weighs heavily in my mind when Hogue comes up.
  14. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    This makes me wonder, then, if Ritter’s IP extends to utilization of the handle shape, and additionally whether Pardue designed the handle of the Griptilian.

    On one hand, Doug is trying to produce the product that his name was associated with. On the other hand, it has not been made clear who has offered whose blessings - or how much needs to be changed before a design is sufficiently original. You run into a bit of a ship of Theseus with the Hogue, since the lock looks similar but is constructed differently, the handle looks similar but is also visibly distinct from a Benchmade, and a third example would really help the flow of this sentence.

    I don’t know if I would say the RSK is any more direct competition to the Griptilian than any other similarly-sized knife, given that the blade shape, quality of manufacturing, and reputation of the companies are what typically determine which knife someone buys. Someone looking for a sheepsfoot knife wouldn’t buy an RSK, and someone who doesn’t like Benchmade’s QC isn’t going to buy a Benchmade.

    I don’t mean to dismiss your position, though, as I do understand what you are saying - the knife does look like a griptilian and functions similarly. I just also think that’s not particularly noteworthy given the IP rights involved and where the models are dissimilar in construction and design. I would call it derivative, but not a clone.
    Nautique likes this.
  15. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp I support the 3rd amendment! Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    I'm kind of on the fence about it. They certainly made some style changes, but the handle overall is definitely uncomfortably similar to the handle of a griptilian.

    I really wish they'd have used the handle from their Exemplar model with the RSK blade. It's a similar shape, but definitely unique to Hogue and I think better looking. Then at least there wouldn't be any ethics to question.
    jux t likes this.
  16. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    I'm a huge fan of Hogue, and I currently own one of their EX-01s with the aluminum handles and drop point blade, as well as an EXF-01.

    My feelings on them is that Hogue does what Emerson Knives claims to do (delivering a knife made for rough use) better and for less money. They deliver a knife with a better lock, better blade and cutting geometry, significantly better and tougher construction, the same approach to soft and tough blade steel (but often in CPM-154 rather than 154cm), all in my home county and at a competitive price. I look forward to owning more of their knives.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  17. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    I definitely agree that the Templar handle would have made the whole thing a lot clearer. As is, I don't have anything against the folks buying 'em, I just won't support them myself.
  18. BenchCo Spydermade

    BenchCo Spydermade

    Feb 10, 2014
    I love my Hogue X5. The button lock is great, but Id like it that much more if the button lock could release the blade as well. That said, the X5 has impressive machining and design. The handles come together without a backspacer and have open slots and beautiful 3d machining throughout.They put an almost mirror finish on the blade's bevel too. I would certainly like a few more Hogues in my collection.

    mdrgn79 and Readyeseve like this.
  19. Readyeseve


    Dec 29, 2012
    I dig the EX-04. Really good value IMO. I like the California Manufacturer aspect too.

    ErocSD likes this.
  20. jeepin

    jeepin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 20, 2003
    Hogue definitely needs to bring on a new designer. Most of the stuff Allen designed is kinda fugly.
    Lapedog likes this.

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