Puma SGB Blacktail and Blackcat 45 Drop
My knife reviews, until now, have featured some fine steel and artistic construction and the prices ($250-$475) have been commensurate with the products. This review introduces two nice blades from Puma Knife Company, a well-known knife maker since 1769, that will get the job done, are constructed with German-made steel and are priced under $45. Less online.
I’m referring to their SGB line-up which were introduced in 2010. They are manufactured in China from German steel blades, look good and get the job done. In fact, I grab one of these more often than my expensive knives, which languish in their boxes to be admired but not used. Motorcyclists will appreciate these blades, whether the folding Blackcat or the fixed-blade Blacktail and save money for titanium farkles.
Puma says, “In our 440A steel, we add about 1% carbon for a great edge and about 17% chromium to maintain the temper but inhibit rust. About 0.35% Silicon is also added to the base alloy to deoxidize the steel and further stabilize the blade. Additionally, other trace elements such as manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, and molybdenum are added to increase the ability of the steel to form an edge and hold it once formed. These trace elements cause the molecules to align more evenly when cooling to give better structural strength and consistency. This is a more expensive way to make knives, but we know that every knife that bears the PUMA proof mark really does deliver the promise of the best knife blade in the world.” 400 series steel is a popular choice for knife makers because it’s easy to sharpen and resistant to corrosion.
Puma not only inspects every knife they make but they test them as well. They are proud of the Rockwell hardness tester proof mark on the right side of each blade ensuring they meet the claimed hardness rating. These two knives are HRC 55-57 and have very sharp edges.
The SGB Blackcat 45 Drop is a spring-assisted, drop point shaped, liner lock folder with a flipper typically positioned along the spine of the scales, which are G10 material with an embossed carbon fiber-like pattern with finger indentations. The spring and opening action is silky-smooth and responds to the easiest flick. It may not be an automatic (switchblade) but it is just as easy to open and legal here in California. There are thumb studs on both sides of the blade but I question the need for this alternative method of deployment.
The G10 scales are baked fiberglass based, good looking and feeling laminate which is often textured as it is here. It is quite hard, lightweight, strong and rugged and just right for tactical folders.
The Blackcat 45 has a 3.5-inch blade length and is available in a Tanto shaped blade as well as the Blackcat 55 series with a 4.5-inch blade in both drop point and Tanto. I like the smaller knife when traveling on my bike. I’m not chopping wood or doing major jobs with it – but I could. Blade thickness is nicely proportioned to the width and handle size and I’ve listed the pertinent specifications for both knives below.
Pivot action is smooth and strong and, while I didn’t try to table-test the knife or try to destroy it, I did press the blade in directions it was not meant to go and the frame withstood the pressure and did not deform or flex laterally. All frame components are held by common size Torx bolts.
A pocket clip is included and can be switched for point-up or point-down carry but only on the one side. Sorry lefties. There is also a lanyard hole for those inclined to make a paracord, or other, keeper. I like to clip it to one of the sleeve adjusters on my ADV jacket, as seen in one of my photos accompanying this review.
The SGB Blacktail is a fixed blade knife with full tang construction and black micarta scales. I like the look of micarta very much and it’s been around for decades. It is not unlike G10 in that layers of linen cloth are soaked in resin, compressed and baked and, in this knife, one can see the linen texture even though the scales are polished smooth.
Most knife recommendations I make for riders are for folding knives due to their smaller size. In the case of the Blacktail, its 3.2-inch blade and 7-inch overall length are acceptable to me and, perhaps, you too. It comes in a tailored ballistic nylon sheath which can be worn on the belt, attached to gear or stashed in your tankbag or anywhere else.
The size fits in my hand nicely with my pinkie hanging off the end. Obviously, I will not be chopping logs with this blade but there isn’t much it can’t do while traveling and camping. There is a lanyard hold in the handle and the scales are nicely attached with two rivets with a small Puma roundel is inlaid into the scales on the left side. The guard appears to be thinly chromed brass as it has a slight glod tint but its composition and method of attachment is unknown. I have taken this knif on a few trips and beaten it up pretty well and it is none-the-worse for the wear.
The Blacktail is also available in Damascus steel with sandalwood scales (MSRP $79.99 with 3.0-inch blade and leather sheath) and with stag scales (MSRP $144.92 – priced now at $115.99 with 3.2-inch blade and leather sheath).
These knives may be purchased directly from http://pumaknifecompanyusa.com or through many online suppliers.
|Puma SGB Blackcat 45 Drop||Puma SGB Blacktail|
|Spring Assisted opening knife action
Country of Origin: German Blade – black coating, assembled in China
Knife Type: Folding
Blade Steel: 440A German stainless
Blade Length in/mm: 3.5/90
Blade Thickness in/mm: 0.11/2.7
Closed Length in/mm: 4.5/115
Total Length in/mm: 7.9/200
Weight oz/gr: 4.7/135
Pocket Clip: Yes
Rockwell Hardness: 55-57
Lock Type: Linerlock
|Country of Origin: German Blade, assembled in China
Knife Type: Fixed
Blade material: 440A German stainless
Blade Length in/mm: 3.2/82
Blade Thickness in/mm: 0.12/3
Total Length in/mm: 7/178
Weight oz/gr: 2.9/83
Scales: Black Micarta – polished
Rockwell Hardness: 55-57
Includes ballistic nylon sheath
Puma Knife Company Timeline
1769 – Johann Wilhelm Lauterjung registers his PUMA trademark with the Knifemaker’s Guild in Solingen and starts PUMA in a small shop on the Wupper river.
1855 – Nathaniel, Johann’s great grandson, moves PUMA to Solingen.
1876 Nathaniel’s son Otto Lauterjung (1855-1931) introduces pocket knives, stilettos, sabers, and hunting knives.
1900 – PUMA-WERK Lauterjung und Sohn” is written down on the Solingen register of companies.
1920 – Otto’s sons Eugen (1883-1969) and Franz (18888-1976) build a second plant in Solingen and develop the export market. PUMA becomes famous on the international market.
1936-1945 – PUMA production is put under the authority of the War Production board
1945 – Return to civilian production of pocket and household knives
1953 – Oswald von Frankenberg and Ludwigsdorf (1915-1986), the husband of Renate Lauterjung, increases the company’s focus on hunting, fishing, and outdoor knives. While working with the famous German forester Walter Frevert, numerous PUMA classics such as the Waidbesteck, Jagdnicker, Waidmesser, and Saufeder (hog spear) are developed. The famous bloodhound hunter Tassius designs the Rudemann and the Wildtoter.
1956 – The White Hunter knife is developed in conjuction with the East African Professional Hunter’s Association.
1957 – Kurt Gutmann of Gutmann Cutlery Company in New York becomes the U.S. distributor.
1964 – Military Series introduced.
1965 – PUMA incorporates date codes on its knives that indicate when each knife was made.
1967 – Renate von Frankenberg becomes the General Manager of PUMA-Werk
1969 – Much of the PUMA factory is destroyed by fire. Many old records and tools are lost.
1986 – Oswald von Frankenberg and Ludwigsdorf dies, leaving a healthy and growing company behind.1991 – PUMA-Werk is sold to the Hindrichs family of Solingen.
1995 – Harald Lauer becomes Managing Director of PUMA-Werk. Harald has been instrumental in PUMA’s growth since the late 1970s and introduces new production methods including CNC controllers and laser technology.
1998 PUMA-Werk is sold to Heiner Hiepass-Aryus and moved to the modern Solingen industrial park “Aufderhohe”.
2009 – PUMA Knife Company U.S.A. of Lenexa Kansas becomes the North American distributor of PUMA.
2010 – SGB German Blade line of knives is introduced.