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Hossom Gator Bolo
Custom Knife Review

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Gator Bolo

General - One more design of my own :) This bolo inspired blade was made by custom knifemaker Jerry Hossom. The entire project took several months, for that I've ordered another knife from Jerry, that was the smaller version of his Duelist. Later I've made a decision to get one more knife. And that's how the Gator was born :) I can proudly say, that Jerry named the design after me ;) My nick, to be precise. Jerry specializes in fighting/tactical knives (although he has a whole bunch of hunting and utility designs as well) and high-end steels, such as ATS-34, A2, M2, CPM 3V. I have more than one blade in each type of the steel listed here, I like all of them, except may be ATS-34, with the exception of the Strider MH. All but CPM 3V were already in my collection, obviously I've decided to go with this one. CPM 3V is an interesting alloy, that has many unique properties, I'll discuss some a little bit later. More importantly, Jerry Hossom is one of the few makers constantly working with this alloy and can be considered one of the greatest experts as far as CPM 3V in knife blades goes.
    Gator is a somewhat small bolo, with long back recurve, very lightweight, medium size, blade measures full 7 inches, with 12 1/4 " OAL. I have nothing but positive to say regarding the craftsmanship of both blades from Jerry. Close attention to every detail, no matter how small. Grind lines are very nice, everything matches and fits perfectly. No gaps or misaligned parts whatsoever. Sharpening job is also great. The Gator is the sharpest top edge I've ever seen out of the box :)

Blade

 - The geometry is somewhat complicated, it's not a pure Bolo as you can see, has back recurve, fully sharpened top edge, and the saber grind. In short it was a quite challenging task to make this one, and Jerry did it just great :) The bolo geometry has it's own advantages and disadvantages. It's preferable for chopping, and slicing. Though for finer cutting tasks one might find it less useful. The back recurve increases slicing ability of the blade, and the increase is rather significant, however adds to sharpening difficulty very significantly. Basically, I can't sharpen it on the standard whetstones, either trusty Edge-Pro Apex, or a belt grinder are the options. Gator is quite a curvy blade, the spine is slightly curved, and the edge is curved, basically is a set of long curves. Overall, Gator is a very good slicer, and for it's size and very light weight, a pretty good chopper too. When I was designing this knife I wasn't really looking for the chopper, but at the same time wanted a blade that'd do the job if necessary, with CPM 3V I'm confident it won't chip if I have to chop a branch or two, or something tougher ;). But, in general Gator is a slicer, has relatively thin, very aggressive edge, long recurve, light weight for more control and maneuverability, basically all you need for fast slicing and dicing.

Steel

 - As stated above, the Gator is made of CPM 3V high alloy steel. CPM 3V steel is produced by Crucible Industries, ref - exact chemical composition of CPM 3V steel. Simply put, CPM 3V is one of the toughest steel - S7, plus high content of vanadium and a dash of Tungsten(Wolfram). Vanadium compensates relatively low abrasive resistance of the S7. Well, things are not exactly like that, but as a simplified example this is close enough. For the curious minds, here it is, AISI S7 vs. CPM 3V steel composition comparison. CPM 3V is a very tough steel with good wear resistance. That all makes CPM 3V an excellent choice for large blades and swords. In short you can have a thinner blade which will offer equal lateral and impact strength as a thicker one, made out of A2 or some other steel, lighter weight, in turn allows to achieve greater speeds and maneuverability. A2 is a very good alloy for it's purpose, and to outperform it in its area is a tough job :) From what I know so far CPM 3V is definitely superior alloy. Although I think it's a great material for large and medium blades as well. Probably toughness(in other words - impact resistance) is much more important for heavy duty, large blades, swords and other fighting knives, but one shouldn't underestimate it's importance for any blade in general. After all you don't want your blade chipping anyways. Of course everything has its purpose, and with 3 inch folder you won't need extreme toughness, most likely you'll be looking for better wear resistance :) However, as I have discovered later on, CPM 3V makes excellent choice for small knives as well, at very high hardness, 62-63HRC. Phil Wilson Utility Scalpel, which was my experimental design, is made out of the same CPM 3V steel, at 62HRC and its edge holding ability is superb. And because of the thin blade cutting ability is super high. High toughness of the alloy definitely helps with the edge chipping and micro fracturing, even at very high hardness, and just wear resistance isn't the only deciding factor in edge holding, as I have learned during my years of knife collecting/experimenting. So, I can honestly say, my respect for CPM 3V has grown considerably during last years. Very versatile alloy in hands of an expert knife maker. In 2001, first the rumors appeared, and later they were confirmed by Chris Reeve Knives on the Bladeforums, that CRK was experimenting with CPM 3V as a future material for their one piece line. I found this news very interesting :) Unfortunately, the rumors remained as rumors, and those plans were never realized. Instead CRK ditched A2 tool steel and went with the CPM S30V and later with CPM S35VN alloys in their fixed blades(neither of which can match CPM 3V performance), while CRK One Piece Knives were discontinued altogether in 2010.

Handle

 - Unlike many, Jerry pays great attention to the handle design. He's got several of his exploits, and as usual tries to fit each knife to the owner, well when possible :) Both of the knives(Gator and Duelist) were custom fitted for my hands, he asked for several exact measurements of my palm and fingers, and have to admit the result is excellent. Fits my hands just perfect, I find it very comfortable and secure :) Material used - green micarta, which is both, durable and cool looking for the handle material. The original plan was to use snakewood, but it became to troublesome to get a decent piece, so Jerry suggested this one. Turned out to be a good choice after all :)

Specifications:

  • Blade - 177.80mm(7")
  • Thickness - 5.08mm
  • OAL - 311.15mm(12.25")
  • Steel - CPM 3V 60HRC
  • Handle - Micarta
  • Acquired - 05/2003 Price - 600.00$

Last updated - 09/01/11