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Hilton
March 20, 1999, 11:54 AM
Fred Perrin "La Griffe" Review:
I recently received a Fred Perrin "La Griffe" knife, and a plexiglass trainer. The knife, the name of which translates to "the claw" in English, is the smallest of the four in Perrin’s line. The Claw (hey, I remember precious little of my 8th grade French), according to Perrin’s letter to me, is made of 1075 carbon steel, selectively oil quenched. The stock is 1/8" thick, with a chisel ground curved spear pointed cutting edge of 1.75" and overall length of 4.75". The handle sports a 1" finger hole, followed by just over 2" of a curved handle with four skeletonizing holes and filework on the spine. It is sheathed in a thin (about 1/16", by the only ruler available here) Kydex neck style sheath with adjustable cord lanyard. The finish is a high polish, and appears to be a hard chrome. The Croc, Tanto, and Raptor are the other three knives in Perrin’s line, with 2" curved spear point, 2.5" tanto, and 3" straight spear point blades respectively. All are neck style knives with 1" finger holes in the short curved handles. The supplied trainer is cut from ¼" clear plexiglass, and also sports the finger hole. Perrin describes the Claw as his "vision of small weapon and high utility knife" [sic].

Upon first handling the knife, it reminded me of the various Indonesian kerambit finger knives. It fits in the closed fist with the index finger through the finger hole and the blade protruding, edge out, of the top of the hand. It suits itself well to gunting strikes that could normally be done with just the knuckles or with a forward grip knife. The handle of the knife is too short to allow a secure reverse grip. The sheath, composed of one folded sheet of Kydex, is closed at the blade edge side with four brass rivets. The retention lip of the sheath extends about halfway over the finger hole, allowing one to insert the index finger and draw the knife.

Initial impressions of the Claw and the trainer:

Positive points:
-Lightweight. I barely noticed it when worn around my neck.
-Easy to draw due to the exposed finger hole.
-Well suited to gunting strikes.
-Accompanying trainer was handy for experimentation.

Negative points:
-Craftsmanship of the Claw was rather mediocre. The profile grinds at the blade spine and edge were not straight, but were somewhat irregular. The surface finish, while very smooth on most of the knife, showed the pebbled surface of the sheet stock, which apparently had not yet been fully removed. The finger hole showed tool marks on the inside, while all of the holes showed an uneven amount of edge chamfering from side to side and hole to hole. The file work pattern on the spine was irregular and the large scallops were rather roughly finished.
-Craftsmanship of the trainer was extremely poor. All of the edges were uneven both in profile and along the width. The buffing of the edges was uneven, and showed rough sander marks where the buffing was incomplete. Everyone that examined the trainer commented first on the finger hole, which was uneven and very rough, with the appearance that it had been finished with a hand saw or rasp. The forward edge of the hole was very sharp. The use of plexiglass, with its brittle nature and sharpness of broken edges, did not strike me as the safest option for a trainer.
-The sheath, while quick to deploy, was nearly impossible for resheathing due to the extremely thin aperture left for the blade at the section where the Kydex closes inside the finger hole. Under any amount of pressure or in the dark, this sheath would be very hazardous to the wearer - very easy to miss the sheath with the knife tip. The sheath’s use of rivets seems a bit redundant, due to the light weight of the knife. The uneven placement of the rivets is not very aesthetically pleasing. The lanyard appears to be composed of an inexpensive boot lace, and is tied with only a single simple knot at each juncture. Very little spare material is left at each knot closure, leaving the possibility of the knot coming loose with time.
-Thrusting with the knife was painful, as the index finger would either run into the front of the finger hole or the end of the handle would run into my palm.
-While the knife would easily shave hair and slice paper when I received it, the knife started ripping the paper before I got through slicing a single 5"x9" sheet of steno pad paper. That was about 20 cuts of less than 5" each. The knife was able to cut adequately on a cardboard tissue box and a plastic drink bottle subsequent to this.

Extended revew:
I’ve played with the knife over the last few weeks, and have continued to try to let it "show me the stuff." I used it during some food prep, in which I was trimming some pieces of chicken. The blade was easy to hold on to thanks to the finger hole, no matter how greasy my hands got. I tried slashing at the meat, and the knife was disappointing in effect, leaving only channels about 1/8" deep. The edge was not very aggressive when slicing the meat and trimming fat. Later, I noticed was a brownish patina that formed on the thumb area and edge of the knife. I suppose there isn’t a hard chrome finish on the blade after all. The patina was not outright rust, so it wasn’t a structural problem. I was able to make 10 cuts each in 550 paracord and 3/8" clothesline without any problem. With due caution, it was possible to hold the knife in one hand, letting the index finger extend through the hole, and perform simple knot tying on paracord. With some degree of effort, it was possible to make 5 sets of cuts through ½" climbing rope by using a sawing motion. An attempt was made to cut through 3/8" manila rope, but the knife would not penetrate the rope after repeated sawing and slicing attempts, so the test was abandoned. I then tried using the knife on my cutting dummy, which is wood covered with duct tape "skin" and foam. The knife tip easily penetrated the tape skin on thrusts, but would only lightly score or crease the surface of the tape on quick, fluid slashes. It was possible to cut through the skin and about ½" of foam by using a more deliberate slash, more like a right cross in deliberation and power. I noticed that my thumb began to grow a little tender during this extended session, due to the increased load on the finger from the file work and thin blade profile. Next, I wrapped an old t-shirt around the arm of the dummy to see how the knife fared against fabric. With the quick, fluid slashes, the knife would not penetrate the fabric at all. With a very deliberate full power cut, it was able to cut a 1" swath in one or two layers. Perplexed, I retrieved my Spyderco Delica and attempted the same task. The Delica sailed through three or four layers of fabric, making a 2-4" swath in the cloth. I suppose the Claw would need to have a popping fresh edge for improved performance. The knife was downright painful on the palm and index fingers when thrusting against the firmer parts of the dummy. Lastly, I tested the knife again on notebook paper, and found that it would only tear the paper at this point. The edge had degraded noticeably during the tasks above.

Final thoughts:
I evaluated the knife on craftmanship, utility, and application as a defensive tool. In the craftsmanship arena, the knife has a traditional/old fashioned look to it, with the various irregularities in fit and finish. For those that like a rustic flavor, it’s plenty functional, but I freely admit that I love high speed modern stuff, and the aesthetics didn’t do it for me. The knife was rather small and difficult to employ for general utility, and I feel that a Spyderco Delica is a more versatile knife for a blade of 2" or less. For defensive applications, the knife did not show itself to be highly aggressive on meat or fabric, as well as being uncomfortable on thrusts. The short blade makes for limited range and penetration. Again, a Spyderco Delica would likely perform the very same tasks.
After handling a number of neck knives of various sorts, I’ve been very disappointed with the overall utility of the itty bitty ones. I don’t care what whiz-bang design it is, if it’s got only 1-2" of blade, it’s ultimately no better than a Spyderco Ladybug or Delica. As for larger neck knives, I’m not big on them for general carry, as they tend to flop around and bop me in the chest. Yes, there are some very, very, narrow niches for various styles of neck knives, but for general carry, there are better options out there. Your mileage may vary.

Rich Lucibella
March 20, 1999, 12:53 PM
Images of the Perrin La Griffe may be seen at http://www.thefiringline.com/gif/griffe3.jpg and http://www.thefiringline.com/gif/Griffe9.jpg

Hilton,
Thanks much for taking the time to post this comprehensive review. I hope at least a few of our "gunnies" are edged weapons afficianados also.

For those of you who wish to submit product reviews (and they're always encouraged), Hilton's format and substance is the standard to try to meet.
Rich

SB
March 24, 1999, 10:36 AM
That was about the best review I've ever read for La Griffe. Thank you, Hilton.

I've always wondered about the design though. I could've sworn I've seen it elsewhere, but can't remember where. For example, I remember stumbling across a site where some American guy (don't recall the name) made the exact same design called, you guessed it, The Claw (but in English this time). And I vaguely could've sworn I've seen cheapola design of this exact knife much earlier before.

But alas, I could be wrong. Does anyone know where this knife originated from?

Doc4570
March 24, 1999, 04:29 PM
Hilton,
An excellent review.
Thanks for all the info.
Doc

Hilton
March 25, 1999, 07:25 AM
SB, Doc4570,
Glad I could be of assistance in reviewing the knife. It's good to see that the experience with that knife will benefit some other people out there.

I believe that Ernie Emerson has licensed the design, and is producing it. Not sure how his differs, but you should probably be able to peruse his site for more info. http://www.emersonknives.com/

SB
March 27, 1999, 12:34 AM
I vaguely recall that Fred Perrin and Ernie hooked up so Ernie can make the production version of La Griffe. Ernie, then, would not the original designer of this knife.

This entire issue is like a rock in my boots. If I had more time on my hands, I'd actually look into it. Until then, I'll let it go. :)

Rob Pincus
March 31, 1999, 02:04 AM
Thanks Hilton!..

Too bad it isn't a better knife, I've had one ordered since SHOT and I've been looking forward to getting it.... :(

Vanguard.45
April 3, 2002, 03:12 AM
Hopefully by now you've got a reliable .45 ACP Handgun tucked away on you somewhere and left the blades to more appropriate chores like fixing dinner or opening letters.

Knives are great fun when nothing else is available, but remember the great philosopher Han Solo- "Ancient weapons and hokey religions are fine- but nothig beats a good blaster at your side.";)

He who lives by the sword will probably be shot by those who do not!

Have fun with "La Griffe." I'll stick to "La .45."

Take care of yourself!

Vanguard.45

Erich
April 3, 2002, 03:18 PM
I just wanted to chime in to praise the review and thank you for it. Hilton, I wish that magazine writers could put together reviews that nice! Thanks!

Vanguard.45
April 7, 2002, 04:15 AM
I second Erich's praise of your review- It is first rate!:D

Kentucky Rifle
April 8, 2002, 09:15 AM
As a "knife lover" also, I enjoyed your review very much. It made me want to go out and purchase another neck knife.

KR