Hogue, Inc. has long been known for their pistol grips and rifle stocks. There was a time when virtually every handgun I owned had aftermarket Hogue grips installed. The ones I still own still do. What many people may not realize is that Hogue got into the cutlery business in 2009 when they introduced their own line of tactical folding and fixed blade knives. A collaboration between renowned custom knifemaker Allen Elishewitz as expressed through Hogue’s state-of-the-art manufacturing process has resulted in a fine lineup of edged tools that will leave you wondering why they didn’t think of it before.
I met up with one of Hogue’s marketing representatives during the 2016 Shot Show and got the inside scoop on Hogue’s knife production vision. I was also given the opportunity to evaluate and review one of Hogue’s tactical folders. Being that I live in the part of the country where men and women are still free, the kind Hogue representative found it in their interest to send me one of their automatic opening knives, the EX-A01 Auto (Model 34130) from their Extreme Series.
The EX-A01 Auto is the automatic opening variation of the EX-01. This 8” knife has a razor sharp 3.5” drop point blade made of cryogenically treated (a freeze treatment performed after quenching to optimize the amount of martensitic iron) Crucible 154-CM stainless steel. The black matte 6061-T6 machined aluminum handle has a Hardcoat Type III finish for durability and aesthetics.
The action of the EX-A01 is very smooth and the knife fires reliably hard. Don’t be caught off guard opening this one or it just might jump out of your hand. The push-button acts as both the firing mechanism and the locking mechanism. A sliding manual safety provides a positive detent that blocks the locking button to prevent accidental firing or unlocking. This knife has a solid lockup with a lot of button material contacting the locking groove. The deep detent in the tang also ensures that the knife will not open unless intended.
The EX-A01 has an oversized spoon-style pocket clip that can be reconfigured for either tip up or tip down carry. This is one of the few pocket clips out there that won’t tear up the outer seam of your pocket the way most knife clips will. Of course, being a push-button auto-opener, this knife is set up for predominantly right-handed carry and deployment, so mounting the pocket clip on the left side is not an option. It can still be operated left-handed using the index finger, it just can’t be carried with the blade forward on the left side.
The handle of the knife is compact, but quite ergonomic. It handled very well and fit comfortably in my hand in both forward and reverse grip, edge-outward configurations. The finger grove is a nice touch that adds to the comfort level. The back portion of the spine has some deep jimping that enhances controllability when performing precise cutting using a thumb-supported grip. Additionally, the top front portion of the handle has similar jimping, which increases positive thumb contact when using a saber-grip for a more extended hold on the knife.
The overall aesthetics of the knife are extremely pleasing. The subdued silver of the button, slide-lock, pivot pin, lanyard pin, and locking bar contrast nicely with the clean, matte black finish of the frame and blade. The detailed laser engraving of the Hougue logo on the pocket clip and the Elishewitz name and logo along the swedge add a beautiful touch as well. From the moment you open the padded, nylon zippered pouch, this knife just screams quality.
I was extremely impressed and genuinely pleased with the quality, feel, and function of the Hogue Extreme Series Auto Folder. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at the thought of a company known for handgun grips and rifle stocks getting into the knife business, but I must say that the production quality of Hogue’s knives are hands down second to none. I would not hesitate to recommend their knives to anyone looking for a high-quality, multipurpose tactical knife.
The EX-A01 retails for $249.95. Keep in mind that automatic knives are not legal in every state, so check your local laws before purchasing. If you are not sure about your state’s knife laws, then I recommend visiting www.kniferights.org to find out about your rights and your states restrictions.
Hogue is a family-run business owned out of Paso Robles, CA that has been around since 1968. Hogue’s knives are 100% made in the USA by American craftsmen using all American-made materials. As I mentioned before, Hogue makes more than just knives, so go check out their entire product line at www.hogueinc.com. Be sure to keep an eye out on Black Sheep Warrior for some of the other Hogue products we will be covering in the very near future.
Photo Credits: Chad McBroom