If you’ve ever had a chance to have a chat with Mark and Curtis from Spartan Blades, you must have noticed that they know more about combat knives than anyone could have learned from reading books or watching YouTube videos. These men are US Special Forces veterans and natural-born, badass operators who’ve seen more combat than they’re allowed to tell you about. So, when guys of this level come up with a tactical-utility knife like the Spartan Blades PALLAS, you better be prepared for much more than your ordinary EDC blade!
With a 3.7″ blade and 5″ handle, the Spartan Blades PALLAS Button Lock Knife is a full size knife with a handle meaty enough to give you plenty of grip. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Mark a couple of years ago about the PALLAS before it was released. While it is not the first folder offered by Spartan Blades, it was created from scratch with military personnel in mind. However, the PALLAS is not a true combat knife, but it could be used as such. Their Spartan/George V-14 Dagger would be a better choice if that is what you’re really after. The PALLAS is a heavy-duty service knife. The knife is carefully crafted in the United States with top quality materials and the original goal was to keep the MSRP under $300 to allow military service members to get one without breaking their wallet. If you consider that their flagship Akribis folder costs almost 50% more than the $285 PALLAS, it is clear that the goal has been achieved!
Now let us take a closer look at the knife’s overall construction. The CNC machined handle is made of 6061 aluminum aircraft alloy with black hard anodizing, which has pretty much standard for premium quality knives these days. The blade is a drop-point style made from CPM S35VN steel with a stonewashed finish. Stainless stand-offs and fully opened construction paired with Torx screws allow for easy maintenance and long-term care.
The blade runs on internal bearings so the flipping action is both quick and positive. The hefty blade locks with clear “CLICK” upon opening. Double sided thumb stud works great as well, which is not always a case on flippers – some companies pay less attention to thumb opening when designing flippers, but not Spartan. Actually I prefer to open my Pallas with thumb stud – it’s almost silent combined with button lock action, which might be important sometimes (I leave possible reasons up to your imagination). And finally the button lock – believe it or not but it was the most critical and time-consuming development process for Mark and Curtis to make Pallas right! Yeah, they told me everything about it… that was hard work, but the final result is clearly the strongest, smoothest and most reliable button lock I’ve seen in a long time.
I have carried my Spartan Blades PALLAS as a working knife for a couple of months now. It’s one of a very few folders that are fully ‘winter-proof’ in my opinion. It can be easily opened and closed with one hand even when wearing thick winter gloves. Try that with your typical liner lock – especially the closing part. Good luck! Also, mud and snow won’t effect the mechanics of the PALLAS thanks to open construction. Users won’t be worried about clogging or blocking. The 3D machined grooves and jimpings in the handle always give me positive, full control over this folder even when it is wet or covered in snow. What I really like most about the handle is the hefty size. The knife isn’t one of those super thin, urban oriented handles. Instead, it is quite meaty and feels great in my mid-size palm. It is actually quite refreshing for a change!
The blade and its heat treatment represent a soul of a knife. Spartan Blades decided to grind the blade in S35VN stainless steel, which is a great choice for utility blade. The teams works closely with Niagara Specialty Metals to get the most from this proven and modern blade material. There is simply no place for compromise or experimenting when your target consumer group is military and LEO. The PALLAS is an example of modern blade shape, a cross between clip and drop point with high saber grind and harpoon profile. The shape promises awesome penetration, but due to the grind geometry, it is also strong enough for any duty you would need your service folder for. The original cutting edge (at about a 40 degree inclusive angle) is optimized for hard work around the military facility, so it’s designed for opening ammo boxes, cutting webbing, rope, etc. It will definitely take a lot of abuse without chipping. I recently took the Spartan Blades PALLAS to task with a hemp rope. However, to make it more demanding, I took 1.5 inch diameter rope with an internal polypropylene core. Well, the 1.5-inch rope has a cross-section of more than twice as big as a standard 1-inch rope so it was quite a challenge. A shredded hemp rope was the end result…
The PALLAS is strong enough for real military duty. The thumb jimpings help to control the blade and the distinctive ‘harpoon’ shape is not just for show, it indexes the blade when you choke up on it with either your thumb or index finger supported on the ‘hump’. The blade of the PALLAS is stonewashed and the surface finish is very smooth with all areas rounded and chamfered – except the cutting edge, which is really sharp right out of the box. Tom Krein, one of my favorite knife makers, once told me, “… on a knife, the only sharp area should be cutting edge”. Truer words have never been spoken. Spartan Blades must have heard this too as the PALLAS follows this description to a “T”. The end result is that long use comfort is pretty much guaranteed. I will say that sharpening the PALLAS is moderately hard (58-60 HRC) and I used a Spyderco Triangle sharpener with diamond rods and white stones as finishing medium, set at 40 degrees of course. I didn’t want anything too fancy when sharpening the PALLAS as all I wanted was a sharp working tool. I opted to skip the super high grit wet stones, etc.
The titanium ‘arrow’ clip is simple, but quite effective. It is held by two Torx screws and inset into the metal handle for superb stability. The tension of the clip was just right for me, but of course it can be easily adjusted if you have a Torx-6 screwdriver lying around. A thong hole should be a standard on any duty knife, so no surprise here that the PALLAS has one. I attached a short lanyard to my PALLAS to make the draw easier, especially in heavy gloves. One thing I would also like to point out is that I really liked the how the grooves of handle catch my thumb when I draw from my pocket.
I’ve been using the PALLAS basically as my outdoor EDC (and occasional urban companion) from mid-December to the end of February. It’s been my winter carry folder and really used in a lot of unfriendly, frosty, snowy, and harsh sub-zero conditions. As I pointed out earlier, most of that time was spent wearing gloves as well. These are not easy conditions for a fixed blade, let alone a folder. With regard to the overall ergonomics, I would say that the PALLAS is very good. It is just right in size. It’s not too big, but it works well and makes a perfect front guard when opened. The flick is smooth, but you’ll need to give it a healthy kick with your index finger and wrist. I can also tell you that when you flick it open, people take notice. This is why sometimes I prefer the silent thumb stud opening method, but having a choice is always good.
Like I already mentioned, the PALLAS is not your typical bushcraft knife so don’t expect the whittling experience of a scandi blade with a zero edge. Sure, it’s not a problem to resharpen it to 35 degree inclusive for camp or outdoor kitchen use, but I decided to keep mine at a 40 degree. It makes the edge more durable and also makes sharpening on a Spyderco Triangle a breeze. It’s no slouch either. Check out the long, fat and curly shavings from frozen mountain spruce. Cutting through this branch took me just seconds and sharpening it was quick job too. Keep in mind that all of this was done at -9 degrees Celsius so I was literally just shaving frozen wood – not an easy task. I would say it did surprisingly well for a military oriented blade.
You can cut metal tape on an Army ammo box with your PALLAS and it will still maintain a good, usable cutting edge. Try doing that with a fine scandal edge. It would kill it instantly. The PALLAS perfectly cuts rope (even power cord!), will whittle sticks, cut ziplocks, flesh & bones – you name it. It is a hard use tool for military people so you won’t find a hair-splitting zero ground edge that requires constant maintenance with flat water stones. Basic camp and bush jobs are easy for the PALLAS. Pair it with a small folding saw and the two of them are enough to give you a live fire in just about every situation, including the dead of winter. Cut or break a couple of 1-2 inch diameter branches, and then use the PALLAS to split them into pieces to fine the dry wood inside. This dry wood trick works really well, even after a heavy rain. Sure, batoning any folder is never recommended, but sometimes there might be no choice when you’re out of options. A word of advice though if you ever have to go down that road … just be sure disengage the lock prior to batoning. It is very important! As you can from the images, the PALLAS is a solid workhorse.
Any there any downsides to the knife? Well, yes of course there are just as there would be with any knife. First of all, the PALLAS is clearly a right-hand carry folder. It can be opened easily with either hand, but the clip is not reversible so you should either carry it in right pocket or in a sheath if you prefer left-hand carry. Clipping it inside the left hand pocket would result in reverse carry, which is both dangerous and also cumbersome to draw and open. The next thing I would mention is the price. As I mentioned before, I think the price is fair in my opinion, but it is still not cheap at $285. For the record and just to be clear, I bought the PALLAS with my own hard-earned money. I think it was money well spent, but there are many knives available in this price range so you’d be best served by figuring out what your needs and wants are prior to buying a blade. Also, I should point out that full metal handle requires using gloves in sub-zero weather. That being said, who on earth would work in such conditions with bare hands? You’d be out of your mind. I’ve been using PALLAS for three solid winter months, mostly in the outdoors in very harsh conditions so that is my reference point.
Is the Spartan Blades PALLAS my only folder? Far from it! That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on any of my adventures as the my only knife. If you end up deciding to put a PALLAS in your pocket, I will take care of you in good times and bad! It is the kind of folder you want to have around when shit hits the fan. Screw bushcraft – this is a soldier’s knife!
For more information on the PALLAS and to see the full lineup of knifes by Spartan Blades, please check out their website.