What makes a great every day carry knife? Size? Weight? Durability? This of course is a question that will only have one answer – it depends. Each of us has our own reasons for picking our EDC and I’m one of those guys that can never make up my mind. I have at least 15 EDC knives that I switch between, some are longer, some are smaller, some I just think look cool.
When I first read the name on the box of the Böker Plus Elegance Nopal, I wasn’t sure what to expect. That name is quite a mouthful and “elegance” isn’t a term I’d associate with any of my knives. Sure, some of them look nice, but elegant? I think my Gerber BMF or Ka-Bar might have an issue with being called elegant. Intrigued, I opened the box and I slid the Nopal out of the bubble wrap sleeve it came in. What a quirky little shape. Not at all what I expected, it is small and almost oval shaped when closed. Many of my knives are impulse buys, often purchased based on their design alone. I’m sure I would have purchased the Nopal had I seen it at the local Outdoor World
The Nopal is a collaboration between Martin Knives and Böker. To get more information on the Nopal, I called Newton Martin, from Martin Knives, the original designer. The team at Martin Knives had been working on a fixed blade design but it wasn’t going anywhere so he decided to turn it into a folder. We talked about design and what his inspiration was for the Nopal and he told me that when he was in the Navy, the “box kickers” (guys that opened and cut up the boxes) always had the best pocket knives. He wanted to create something that his Navy box kickers would use, small, sturdy and sharp. (Editor’s note: I was in air cargo in the Air Force and we also were referred to as box kickers!)
Right out of the box, this knife has a nice feel. The three-fingered handle with deep choil fits comfortably in your hand and there is notching along almost the entire handle and spine. This provides a really secure grip and it looks pretty cool too. My hands are fairly large but over the 2-3 months I’ve used the Nopal, I’ve had zero issues with handling the knife.
The handle is G-10 (an epoxy filled glass fiber material) and has a nice etching pattern that isn’t too rough but provides some grip. The locking mechanism is a Liner Lock and easy to release but stiff and stable when open. The blade comes with a thumb stud to assist in opening the blade with one hand and Böker included a hex tool to remove the post if you are required to do so by law (some laws require that a blade which can be fixed in the open position NOT be opened with one hand). The Nopal comes with a pocket clip which can also be removed with the hex tool should you want to. I’ll give extra points to Böker for including a manual and hex tool. While the Böker Plus line is their mass-market line and made in China, it lived up to the Böker name.
The Nopal blade is 440C as you might expect and holds a decent edge and is easy to sharpen. There is a nice blade stamp of the Böker logo on one side of the blade and the Martin Knives logo on the other. The blade shape is a wharncliffe style and is chisel ground. Oddly enough with all the knives I own, I don’t have a single wharncliffe among them. The point (no pun intended) of the wharncliffe blade is to provide a flat edge and a point that allows for more precise handling.
I had to ask Newt where the name “Nopal” came from. He told me that the name actually was a last minute decision. Böker had worked with him on the design and was ready to launch the new knife but they asked him what the name was. He realized he hadn’t named it. He realized the shape of the knife (closed) reminded him of the Nopal Prickly Cactus of his home state of Texas and the Böker Plus Elegance Nopal was born. I’m still not sure about “Elegance” for a knife Böker puts in their “tactical” category.
I haven’t had a single knife that has been my true “every day carry” (EDC) before. I have a variety of Gerber, Swiss Army, CRKT, SOG, Kershaw, and other knives that rotate into the duty cycle as needed. I have one of those corporate jobs where I need to put on my “monkey suit” every day and carrying anything over 3 inches in my pocket just isn’t comfortable. Suit pants just weren’t designed to hold a decent pocket knife. The Nopal has been great. I removed the pocket clip and the rounded shape makes it almost undetectable in my pocket.
One test of Newts goal was to put the Nopal through its paces as a box cutter. Because of work, we end up with LOTS of cardboard at home and I usually spend about 30+ minutes each week cutting down boxes for recycling. Over the past 2-3 months I’ve cut down countless cardboard boxes, cut out a house design with my older son for his Architecture class (foam-core board) and a lot of other “every day carry” type tasks and in the true test of usefulness, the Böker Plus Elegance Nopal has earned it’s spot as my EDC. I misplaced it a week ago and rather than just grab one of the 10-15 others lying around on my desk, I spent 20 minutes looking for the Nopal as I’ve gotten so attached to it as my EDC.
If you are looking for a small, fun, cool looking, pocket folder, The Böker Plus Elegance Nopal sells for $54.95 direct from the Böker website but I found prices ranging from $29-45 online. It also makes a great Father’s Day or Graduation gift.
Blade length: 2 1/8″.
Overall length: 5 1/2″.
Weight: 3 oz.
Blade Geometry: Wharncliffe
Blade Grind: Chisel
Blade Finish: Satin
Lock: Liner Lock
Removable Pocket Clip & Thumb Post
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