A Steel Will GEKKO 1500 review, with photos and description of this knife.
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- Overall: 22.8 cm (8.98 in)
- Weight: 182.8 g (6.45 oz)
- Blade Length: 10.0 cm (3.94 in)
- Thickness: 3.5 mm (0.16 in)
- Material: N690Co
- Blade HRC: 58-60
- Finish: Satin
- Grind: Flat
- Style: Drop Point
- Edge: Plain, with swedge on spine
- Deployment: Thumb Stud, ambidextrous
- Lock Type: Lockback
- Material: Micarta
- Length: 12.4 cm (4.89 in)
My recent purchases of folding knives in the region of US$200 and beyond, namely the Hogue EX-04, Reate District 9A and LionSteel TM1 Molletta, certainly didn’t disappoint, and it was kind of expected that getting another at this price level shouldn’t as well. Sure enough, the Steel Will GEKKO 1500 which retails for US$229.95 is in many aspects an impressive knife – well designed with the use of good materials with excellent balance and great ergonomics. Instilling confidence, there is somehow a very military feel about this folder.
The following Steel Will GEKKO 1500 review sheds some light on this formidable knife.
Prior to purchase, I noticed from online photos that the Steel Will GEKKO 1500 was shipped in a drawer-style box with its blade open (see right). This of course made the box larger than it’s necessary, and I was worried that it may lead to higher shipping and packaging costs. Barely discouraged, I placed an order, and when the knife finally arrived, I was glad that Steel Will had altered the decision to use a smaller box (see below). Nevertheless, the box was still big, much bigger than the packaging for any of the other knives just mentioned above, and while I understand the impact a large beautiful box would make, it would undoubtedly make shipping this knife internationally quite difficult. As it happened, with weight and all other parameters being equal, the box for my knife was squeezed into a smaller USPS box to keep shipping cost down. I think it is alright to use a smaller box – after all, good things come in small packages. There was definitely still too much air space in the box, and that will be my opening comment on this review.
Steel Will group their knives into three categories – outdoor, urban, and tactical series. These are indicated by the colour and design of the box that contains the knife:
True to its designation, the Steel Will GEKKO 1500 in its autumn-gold rock motif box falls in the Outdoor Series. Let’s start with the unboxing.
The first thing which caught my attention with the Steel Will GEKKO 1500 was its faded-khaki almost olive-green canvas Micarta handle scales. These scales appear rougher in texture than they really are. Visually they look very coarse due to the high-contrasting shades of dark interwoven over light green, but the handle is actually quite smooth to the touch in a typical Micarta kind of way. Even then, it has enough traction in the hands such that it will not slip wet or dry, though G-10 scales are definitely rougher and more grippy in general. Those who don’t fancy mundane G-10 will likely appreciate the more interesting pattern texturing on this Micarta. It definitely gives this knife its distinctive character.
As commented by two people who handled my GEKKO 1500 recently, the Micarta handle is beautiful, really draws attention, and gives the GEKKO 1500 its premium front.
I have to agree.
The hex pivot screw is somewhat ordinary and understated, resembling a grommet on the whole, but nevertheless matches the handle well. It remains inconspicuous – certainly won’t steal away any limelight like oversized pivot screws on some knives. Still, it allows tension on the blade swivel to be user-adjustable by means of a pair of hex keys.
With the pivot screw, the Micarta scales are further bolted down onto the steel liner by fully-flush flat torx screws at the middle and pommel end positions. The steel liner does add some weight to the overall knife, shifting the weight and balance biased towards the handle end. This provides a good overall feel when the open knife is held in the hands. The contours and slight curve on the handle allow the Steel Will GEKKO 1500 to rest well in the palm, lending it great ergonomics.
The blade follows a drop point design, a sleek profile that is more “long” than it is “wide”. The upper quarter section of the blade along its length has a couple of grinds, in a fashion that resembles the facets of a trigonal crystal. The half approaching the blade tip is ground to a steeper swedge as the blade thickness progressively decreases from handle to tip.
The satin-finished blade is made of N690Co steel, a premium grade stainless steel that is often compared favourably over 440C due to the addition of cobalt and vanadium which enhances the attributes of this steel alloy. Due to their production by Böhler in Austria, this steel is more commonly found on knives of European origin – Fox Cutlery from Maniago, Italy use this steel alloy extensively. Boker from Germany do with some of their knives as well. Spyderco which is based in the USA, use this steel in only a few of their models. US-based Steel Will, with many of their higher-end knives made in Italy, predominantly use N690Co steel in their Italian makes. True enough, the N690Co steel is seldom exploited by knife manufacturers in the US.
The N690Co steel heat-treated to a Rockwell Hardness of 58-60 has good edge retention and wear resistance properties like most good premium steels, with characteristics similar to VG-10 and 154CM. Vanadium in the alloy mix results in a finer grain structure, which allows the blade to be sharpened to a very fine edge. True to this attribute, the GEKKO 1500 slices open plastic packages and paper extremely well in my tests!
The surface of the blade is also uniformly finished with extremely fine unidirectional strokes in the lateral direction throughout (see photo at left closely). This gives the blade its satin finish, one which is matte in lustre but still reflects direct sunlight. While such finish hides minor wear and scratches, it still shows fingerprints rather well and doesn’t repel them like matte-finish stonewashed blades.
Deployment, Lockback and Jimping
The blade is deployed by means of ambidextrous thumb studs on both sides of the blade. The thumb stud is multi-tiered, which terminates in a narrow collar where it meets the blade surface. With a rounded apex and without any harsh edges, the thumb stud is easy on the thumbs and the blade can be comfortably opened in either hand.
A thumb ramp is found on the blade spine just above the thumb stud, and jimping on this ramp provides adequate traction for the thumb when the knife is held with the saber or stabbing grip.
Blade lock is achieved by means of a lockback, which is also ambidextrous by virtue of its design. My initial concern was that the knife will require a little more effort to close, or require the use of both hands to close, as the swivel does not run on a bearing system like my LionSteel TM1 Molletta. When I first got the knife, the swivel was indeed a little tight, and the blade will not fall so readily without a little shake, but over time as the knife is seasoned with numerous opening and closing, the blade now falls quite willingly when the lockback is disengaged fully. In fact, it falls with the right tension to a halt midway, after which the entire knife can be flipped around for the blade to be properly closed with the thumb – all with one hand.
One would appreciate the inherent strength and reliability of the lockback mechanism on the Steel Will GEKKO 1500. The lockback lever also sports jimping, which is more or less of equal length as the one found on the thumb ramp mentioned earlier.
The entire spine of the blade and handle, including the lockback lever bar, is rounded and chamfered to a curve that is gentle to the flesh. While this makes the knife comfortable to hold, it does rob away a little of the sharpness (and hence sleekness) from its overall appearance somewhat. Personally, I would have preferred a flat and flush surface across the entire spine from handle to blade tip – a “sharp” edgy appearance rather than a “blunted” soft one.
Pocket Clip and Lanyard Hole
The pocket clip is of bent steel type in matte grey, and is mounted on the handle by three small torx screws. One of these screws also serves to fasten the handle scales against the steel liner. The pocket clip may be removed and installed on the other side of the handle for left hand carry. Do note that it is only possible to clip this knife tip-up in the pocket.
The pocket clip widens as it approaches the tip, making it easy for a finger to get in to pry the clip open slightly during clip on and clip off if needed. The clip does bite a little tight, providing a secure hold on clothing fabric and pocket material.
The lanyard hole extends beyond the handle scales on the steel liner. This way, an attached lanyard will be more streamlined and doesn’t extend beyond the thickness of the handle. The pommel end is angular and terminates to a point, and a gentle tap on my head indicates that it can be used as a fairly effective weapon in strikes much like with a Kubotan.
The steel liner pommel isn’t as hard as a tungsten carbide tip, but my guess is it could also serve as a glass breaker, although some wear on the finish could probably be expected when the pommel is used in this fashion.
ABOUT STEEL WILL AND SMG
Established in 2008, Sport Manufacturing Group (SMG) Inc. is an American company which started out in the production and sales of premium pneumatic guns under the brand name Gletcher. In 2014, SMG launched a new brand – Steel Will – a full line of premium fixed-blade and folding knives thoughtfully crafted for a variety of outdoor tasks. The result of several years of design work, Steel Will knives are tools that create bonds with their owners; practical and beautiful blades that must be held to be fully appreciated.
The Steel Will advantage is a precise combination of all ingredients that are crucial for a fine knife. The creation of a knife entails seeking out a perfect balance between the variables that come together to make one of man’s oldest tools. The craftsman makes vital decisions in materials, balance, shape, feel and texture – the perfection of which will create a masterpiece. At Steel Will Knives, it is this harmony that inspires the designers and influences the birth of a new blade.
Based in USA with headquarters in New York, SMG Inc. team is comprised of outdoor enthusiasts whose mission is to give every client a flawless product accompanied by accessories that are equally remarkable and perfectly suited for their purpose.
– info sourced from Steel Will catalogue and SMG website.
Full Resolution Photos
– Steel Will
The term GEKKO in the model name would seem to be a deliberate faux spelling or eye dialect for the word Gecko, and rightly so in its design and choice of materials. From the scaly appearance of its lizard-skin-shedding green handles and jimping on the lockback and thumb ramp that resembles the spikes on a crested gecko, to the curved reptilian poise in the blade open position, GEKKO seems to be an apt model moniker for this knife.
The GEKKO 1500 comes with a super sharp factory-edge out of the box – amongst the sharpest of knives in my collection, the way it slices through plastic packaging material with nonchalant ease. While the satin finish on the blade is a plus, the way it catches fingerprints and stains too readily isn’t. Wiping them off dry isn’t exactly effortless as well. This is my only complaint, if only a minor one. While I do use my knives, I also like keeping them in exhibition showroom condition at all times.
The Steel Will GEKKO 1500 sports a rather long blade of just a tad under 4 inches, and with an overall open length of 9 inches, some may consider it too lengthy for an everyday carry. I have always preferred 4-inch blades for a daily companion, and the GEKKO 1500 suits me perfectly well as an EDC of choice – a truly utilitarian and dependable workhorse.
Discover more about Steel Will knives on their website.