A few Sundays ago after church, Caleb, a 19-year old college student, strode up to me in the parking lot and politely asked, “Hey Mr. Kakkuri, can I show you my latest knife?” He’s a smart kid, very responsible, and in the middle of a knife-collecting fetish. So, he has my instant approval. But since I’m something of an overgrown boy scout, I already know what Caleb’s got. His knife — a well-known, assisted-opening, tactical folder that could do double-duty as demolition pry bar — has been peering out of Caleb’s pocket all day. The knife’s enormous pocket clip and the end of its heavily textured handle (complete with pommel) has made my work of “tactical profiling” very easy.
Caleb finishes a brief intro along with demonstrating the speed and force of the assisted opening blade. Afterward, he asks if I’m carrying a knife. “Of course; it’s right here,” I say, patting my right hand pants pocket. Caleb looks and then looks closer. “Mr. Kakkuri, I thought you had a large paperclip on your pocket.” With an understanding smile I deftly extract a Spyderco Des Horn for his review.
“Des Horn” may be the name of Cape Horn, South Africa, dentist who’s been knifemaking since the 1960’s, but I tell Caleb it’s Latin for “small but super useful knife that’s so light weight you love to carry it instead of a large tactical folder.” Absorbing this bit of info with a nod and a “Hmm,” Caleb stares at the Des Horn. “It’s so small,” he says.
Not really. The Des Horn’s blade measures just over three inches and it’s overall length is just over seven inches. But weighing in at only two ounces, the Des Horn certainly feels small. Its CPM S30V blade is .118 of an inch thin and — to use a bit of Caleb’s vernacular — so sharp it’s ‘sick’ meaning cool or awesome. It sports a strong and reliable Michael Walker liner lock and tough G-10 scales. The Des Horn has an MSRP of $199.95 but you can find it on the street for well under that amount.
While I have no fear about the Des Horn’s durability or longevity, it’s not a tactical folder or a hunting knife. It is, however, an every day carry wonder with a functional design and unique look. The pocket clip allows for deep pocket carry.
I hand Caleb the Des Horn. He clicks it open and shut about 20 times, a manual operation using Spyderco’s classic round thumb hole and liner lock. “So smooth … really light.” Then, holding his tactical folder in one hand and the Spyderco Des Horn in the other, eyes going from one to the other, you can see Caleb doing a mental inventory.
“So Mr. Kakkuri, what do you like about the Des Horn?” Translated, Caleb is asking why I wouldn’t carry something larger, more robust. I tick off the benefits: Spyderco reputation, excellent steel, blah, blah blah. But I also mention my appreciation for lack of weight and the unique design — both when carried as well as when open and in use — and the fact that the Des Horn’s pocket clip doesn’t destroy my pants over time, like larger, heavily textured knives do.
Pocketing his knife, Caleb hands the Des Horn back. “Cool knife, Mr. Kakkuri. I like it a lot. I guess the difference is a decision between tactical and practical, right?”
— Mark Kakkuri