REVIEW – My wife and I love to go trail hiking, especially up in the Appalachian Mountains. Some of the places we go are popular, and there are lots of other hikers; other trails, however, are remote, and we may not see anyone else for a couple of hours. Whenever we go hiking, I like to carry a knife with me, just in case. For the more remote trails, I’m looking for a blade that is larger than my everyday carry knife, one that is quick and easy to use. With this in mind, I am testing the F3 Charlie, a new knife from Tekto.
What is it?
The F3 is a folding knife intended for tactical operations. It features a large blade, a flipper opener, and a button lock. Tekto’s mission is to “design purpose-built knives for life’s most demanding missions,” and their knives are designed, tested, and assembled in the USA.
What’s in the box?
- Tekto F3 Charlie knife in a nylon belt pouch
- User manual
- A sticker and a Velcro patch
- Overall length: 9 inches
- Blade length: 3.8 inches
- Blade type: drop point, fine edge
- Blade material: D2 Steel
- Blade coating: Titanium
- Handle material: G10
- Handle colors: Black, gray, green, Damascus
- Weight: 4.5 ounces
- Opener type: Flipper
- Lock type: Button
Design and features
This is not a small or a subtle knife. At 9 inches long with the blade extended, the knife is (literally) a handful, and I can completely, firmly grip the handle. The guard allows me to choke up on the handle for an aggressive hold while still protecting my index finger. The blade is thicker than most pocket knives – Tekto describes it as oversized – and it tapers gently down to the drop point. The black coating on the blade combined with the Damascus styling on the handle gives this knife a “don’t mess with me” vibe. This design is perfect for what I have been looking for.
Installation and setup
Other than removing the knife from the box and slipping it out of its pouch, no setup is required. The knife comes super sharp and well-oiled.
The F3 is a front flipper knife, which means it uses a tab that extends from the front of the blade to open the blade. It’s a relatively new addition to the world of folding knives, first revealed in 2017. This type of opener allows me to rapidly deploy the knife with one hand, which could be critical in an emergency situation. The F3 does not use a spring to assist in opening, so a slight flick of the wrist is sometimes needed to fully extend the blade. The tab on the F3 has grooves for extra traction.
The F3 is also a button lock knife. The blade will remain locked in the open position until the button on the side of the handle is pressed. This type of lock has traditionally been found on automatic knives — think switch blade — but it has become popular on manual knives as well. The main benefit is that it’s quick and easy to close the knife with one hand. In one sense, a button lock is safer than other mechanisms, such as a liner lock, because I never have to put my fingers in the path of the blade to close it; in another sense, it could be less safe, because in a violent, self-defense situation, my thumb could be jostled and accidentally press button, thus closing the knife on my fingers. The button lock can also be used to open the knife with a firm flick of the wrist.
I created this short video showing how to open and close the F3 Charlie:
While I never want to be involved in a violent situation with another person, the blade on the F3 is well designed for this, should the need arise.
The blade is solid and thick with a sharp edge, and it also has a pointed tip. This allows me to defend myself either by slicing or piecing an attacker.
The grip on this knife is both good and bad. I chose the Damascus-styled handle for its looks – and I do like the way it looks – but I wish I had gotten one of the others. The G10 handle on the Damascus style is borderline slick, almost like it was made of some kind of metal. In my opinion, that’s a bad idea for a tactical knife, where the last thing I want is for the knife to slip in my hand. This handle is noticeably smoother than the G10 handles on the Nightshades that I have. Looking at the pictures on Tekto’s website, the black, gray, and green handles are different. Presumably, because they don’t have a pattern, they are much rougher- and grippier-looking. If you just want a knife that looks good, sure, get the Damascus style like I did, but if you actually want a knife for tactical situations, I would recommend getting one of the other three.
Thankfully, Tekto has added additional gripping in three other places on this knife to help me keep my hold on it. One, there is a small amount of jimping on the base of the blade, which is perfect if I use a grip where my thumb is up on the blade.
Two, there is an exposed liner with jimping in the finger choil on the top of the handle. It’s a bit subtle, but it does provide some extra grip.
Three, the base of the handle has a series of seven notches, and these supply the best grip on the handle via my ring and pinky fingers.
The non-reversible pocket clip is fairly high and reduces some visibility in the pocket. The F3 Charlie comes with a nylon belt pouch with a Velcro tab, though I prefer to keep the knife in my pocket. It also has a lanyard hole, if you prefer to keep it in your pocket. The blade is coated with titanium, which is designed to reduce rust.
What I like
- Larger knife
- Flipper opener and button lock
- Hefty, rugged feel
What I’d change
- Increase grip of Damascus style
I’ve been looking for a larger pocket knife to carry when my wife and I go hiking, especially on more remote trails, just in case we ever have an emergency, and the Tekto F3 Charlie is what I’ve been looking for. It has a larger handler that allows me to grasp it firmly and a stout blade good for slicing or piercing. I love the flipper opener, which is super smooth, and the push button lock, which is quick and easy. This is more knife than I would want for an EDC knife, but it’s perfect for handling problems in remote areas. If you’re looking for a tactical knife, I recommend taking a good look at the F3.