When I saw AL first time it was still a prototype. It was at BAKCA 2001 annual show. I've spent couple hours or more at Strider knives table observing their knives and photographing them. AL and another prototype, Duane Dwyer RK, really
caught my eye. Beautiful knives. Both of them were Duane Dwyer custom knives, not in Strider standard line. Obviously I've had to have them. So, without thinking for too long
I've placed an order for both of them, AL and RK. AL didn't even have the handle at the show, it was just a blank, but you could tell that it was gonna be a great piece :)
For the handle material I choose CF. I like it better than G10 and definitely better then the cord. So, I've placed an order in 09/01 and the waiting has begun.
It is an usual matter to wait for your custom piece for years. Not much fun, but that's the way it is and I am used to that. In 2002, when I went to next BAKCA knife show, and obviously stopped at Strider table too. Imagine my surprise when Duane told me that he brought both of the blades for me. I was really happy as you would guess :)
General- AL is a medium size fixed blade. For it's size, AL is relatively thin knife by Strider standards. I say relatively, because AL is 3/16 " thick, and generally very few people would call it thin, but compared to 1/4" thickness in other Strider knives is it thin :) As of the intended use, AL to me is an excellent all-around, utility blade. Very tough and versatile. Obviously it is not a good chopper, however as far as cutting goes it is a good performer, plus it can handle heavy prying/leveraging as well. If you look at the AL blade, you won't find a straight edge, it's al curves. Which makes it an efficient slicer. Well defined thumbramp is a welcomed addition for those cutting applications requiring extra force, and at the same time it is not too aggressive to become annoying.
Craftsmanship and execution were excellent. I didn't find any flaws. The edge was rather rough to my liking, but that's not a big deal for someone who sharpens all of his knives himself. The sheath is made of kydex and fits knife perfectly. No rattling, and the blade is secure in the sheath. As a special feature I'd have to mention small hole in the sheath. As Duane explained, it's there to let the dirt come out when the knife isn't clean.
As far as I am concerned Strider Knives names are abbreviations, mostly to honor someone. AL is the rare case when it is actually known. Officially AL was named after mountaineer Alex Lowe.
AL is a custom piece from Duane Dwyer therefore the numbers are limited. As Duane told me on BAKCA show he made 40 AL-s. I assume that includes all different modifications, such as different handles, blade finishes, etc.
Blade- 5 inches long, recurved blade has long clip point and features saber grind. Strider trademark tigerstripe finish looks very nice on this knife. Blade material - Latrobe BG-42 high alloy, vacuum melted, very clean steel. Heat treated by Paul Boss. In short it's a good steel treated by the best and ground by Duane Dwyer himself. What else would you want for your knife?
As of AL the geometry, it is interesting. Clip point, pronounced belly, and recurve makes an efficient slicer. It's comfortable enough for more delicate cutting tasks as well. And the thumbramp is helping with that too. I am not exactly sure if I would want a choil on this knife or not. I've tried to cut small things, or do some "fine cutting" so to say, and it worked ok as is. AL isn't that big to require the choil I guess.
Strength-wise I don't think I'll have any problems with 3/16" thick 5" long blade :) Especially considering who heat treated this knife. I've already done some wood splitting and snapping, as you can guess AL handled all that without a hiccup. So far I have not conducted any significant cutting tests, in other words I simply haven't used the knife all that much. Hence, don't have much to say yet.
Handle- When I first saw the AL prototype in 2001, it didn't even have the handle, it was a blank. I've asked Duane what were my options, and he said G10 and CF. I choose CF. It may not have as much of a grip as textured G10, but still enough for my needs and looks nicer than G10. For the record, there are couple wood handled AL out there. If you're lucky you might get your hand on one of them, who knows ;)
AL has rather thick handle, but it is nothing but comfortable, although nothing complicated. Just comfortable, practically in any grip. Carbon Fiber is nicely rounded on the corners. It is quite smooth, but I haven't had any problems so far with the grip security, even when I was cutting with wet hands. May be oil would make a difference, but I don't do that as usual and I'm not gonna chop with AL either. Well, if it becomes an issue for particular task, I'll use the glows I guess.
- Model: AL:
- Blade - 114.30mm(4.5")
- Thickness - 4.76mm
- OAL - 254.00mm(10")
- Steel - Latrobe BG-42 Stainless Steel;
- Handle: Carbon Fiber;
- Sheath: Kydex;
- Warranty: Unconditional Lifetime;
Last updated - 09/01/11