Medford 187 RMP Review
by Matt, 3/4/2016
Medford was a brand I had heard a lot about but had no first hand experience with. A lot of what I had heard seemed to be riddled in hype, hearsay and controversy - mostly centered around owner’s online video antics.
When this 187RMP came up in the Australian Blade Forums exchange I jumped at the opportunity (many thanks to the esteemed member who let this one go). I have been carrying it exclusively most days since it arrived in the post several weeks ago (March 2016).
From what I understand the 187 series is the ‘cheap’ line from Medford, however, the list price from these is still in the order of $400 USD.
The RMP has a blade length of 85mm, a handle length of 106mm, an overall length of 191mm and it weighs around 150 grams.
The 187 in the name refers to the 3/16” stock used for the blade and the handle slabs which make this knife by far the fattest of my folders coming in at about 15mm wide.
The blade on the RMP is a sort of modified drop point and has a shallow hollow grind.
Personally I really like the blade shape, I like my main utility blade to have a little bit of belly, but, not too much. It has performed well for my utility cutting exercises and some heavier duty notching of timber.
It should be noted how much blade Medford managed to pack relative to the handle size. None of my other folders with similar sized handles seem to come close. Part of this seems to be due to how far forward the pivot is in the handle.
However, for such a fat blade stock, the tip strength leaves something to be desired. The hollow grind gets quite thin towards the tip and I don't think I'll be prying with this sharpened pry bar any time soon if I can help it. It also isn’t the keenest slicer and binds up a lot when cutting certain materials like sheets of cardboard or plastic... however, that is probably to be expected.
It should be noted that this was one of, if not the sharpest knife from the factory that has been through my hands. The edge was highly polished and I sliced my fingers on it more than once during the break-in period. More on that later.
The steel on the RMP is D2. It could (and IMO should) be argued that D2 is a bit low end for the price they are asking. Ignoring the price point, I am not generally fussy on blade steel and prefer ease of sharpening over outright edge holding.
The heat treatment on the Medford seems pretty decent, it responds to sharpening well and holds a fine edge for a good long time. However, it should be noted that D2 it isn’t fully stainless (but pretty close) and the ‘vulcan’ blade finish (i.e. not cleaned up after heat treat) while looking cool seems to attract little rust spots quite easy.
In day to day use the steel has performed well, but has chipped out on me once near the tip after I accidentally skimmed a brick when cutting something in a tight space. I also snapped off the very end of the tip in a similar situation which was disappointing given the 'hard-use' this knife is build for.
In hand the RMP feels quite balanced and light due to the balance point being just behind the pivot where your forefinger sits in the choil. The thickness of the knife and the finger grooves make the RMP comfortable in hand and offer great control in the regular grip. However, the design of the front finger choil does mean that your forefinger can side forward towards the edge under heavy use. Likewise, I was nicked more than once by the back corner of the blade when closing the knife and I didn't get my fingers out of the way quickly enough.
The jimping is pretty mild but still gives a little bit of grip but the G-10 and the handle grooves make up for the mild jimping. I do wish that the peaks of the handle grooves were a little less pronounced (or the handle was a simpler design) as the handle wasn't as comfortable as it could have been in certain grips.
Most of my heavy use has been with gloves on and the knife goes great. Without gloves I still find it comfortable, however, I had to round off the corner of the lock cut-out in the finger groove as it was kind of sharp and annoying.
Also, I noticed that the handle screws were tapped directly into the titanium. In my experience this isn't my preferred option, and I've had several knives with similar construction arrive with stripped screws, which I don't think would have happened if the screws were going into a steel stand-off.
The clip is great (as long as you are right handed and like tip up carry) and has been machined from a solid piece of titanium. It is unobtrusive when in hand and slides in and out of the pocket well. It also holds the knife in the pocket like a champ.
One thing I would like is for the clip to function as a over travel stop (a feature that this knife lacks), it is positioned close to where it could function that way but it appears it is a couple of mm off.
In pocket, the knife's width means it doesn't disapear, but, overall, the knife is ok to carry. It seems to stay out of the way in the corner of my pocket and isn’t so bulky as to be too noticeable when I’m walking around. I really like the jimping either side of the base of the handle which make it easy to get a grip on the knife to withdraw it from the pocket.
The RMP is deployed via the massive thumb hole measuring 20mm x 12mm. When opening the RMP has a really satisfying clunk unlike any of my other knives. The Strider SMF probably comes the closest. The best way to describe it is to compare it with the feeling you get when closing a Volkswagen door. You just know it is built well.
The blade uses press fit stop pins in the blade much like a Strider. There is some really neat machining on the handle so these are hidden when the knife is open. Unlike a Strider, there is no way you can use these as thumbstuds even if you wanted to as they are half tucked away in a handle recess when closed.
At first deployment was really slow and stiff, then a week later it was slow, stiff and squeaky like a rusty gate (so much so my wife told me to ‘throw out that piece of junk’). However, after a couple weeks of break-in the ceramic detent ball has worn a track in the blade coating and deployment is now buttery smooth. It is in fact one of the smoothest opening knives I own. The blade just glides open on the bronze washers like glass.
It should be noted that apparently (according to the literature included with the knife) Medford knives use some space age lubricant and only requires a wash and blow out with compressed air. At first I scoffed at this, but seems to have held true so far and I have not needed to oil the pivot.
When the knife arrived the lockup was insanely early (5% if that), thereafter proceeded the worst two weeks of lock break-in I have experienced… ever. Two hands to disengage the lock was mandatory. Many slicings of the fingers were endured due to the force applied when trying to disengage the stuck lock. Now, the lock has settled in at 40 – 50% and my fingers have healed. The lock is now super solid, smooth and easy to operate with one hand.
In my opinion - after you get to a certain price point, it gets less about functionality and more about what makes you smile. The Medford made me smile.
I didn’t think it would, it is pretty much the antithesis of the knives I typically like. It doesn't cut that great. But, the build quality is exceptional. It clunks open like no body’s business and feels like a solid block in hand... to sum it up, it has character, and feels unbreakable.
One really annoying this is that the warranty is void if the knife is disassembled. I feel that is pretty ridiculous for a 'hard use' knife which is intended to get full of crap and dirt.
SIX MONTHS LATER
I ended up selling the 187. Loved the construction and the chunkyness in hand. The steel performed great.
However, I grew tired of the poor cutting performance from the shallow hollow grind. The knife bound up on everything. Also, the grind made the tip way too thin, so much so that I worried about using my sharpened pry bar to pry stuff.
If medford started doing these in 3/4 flat grinds like Strider uses I'd be considering getting another (or the 187DP) .
Also I feel that the handle design isn't as refined as it could be, primarily around the forward finger choil, the sharp lock cut out, and the high peaks of the handle which restrict some grips.
As it stands I believe Striders and Hinderers are the superior hard use folder for around the same price. Plus taking them apart doesn't void the warranty.
That being said, I have a Medford Marauder on order from the factory which I am really looking forward to!
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