The SWAT Brass Tiger Balisong
"A Balisong should be heavy, because youíre using it...as a flail, as an impact device. So, you want it to have some weight, the more substantial, the better I like it. Because then when I use the handle as a striking device I can get more impact."
From the [Discontinued] Comtech Videotape "Auto Knives & Balisongs" by James A. Keating
Well, Iím here to tell you, the SWAT Brass Tiger is probably a Balisong that James Keating would love. This Batangas Latch Balisong weighs, if my source [C.G.] is correct, 9.1 ounces. Thatís a hefty Balisong! At 10.75 inches in overall length with a 5 inch blade [154-CM], it is a visually impressive Balisong as well.
This Balisong is interesting on several different levels...
People refer to this blade as a Bowie, but to me, it is just an upswept fighter with a swedge. It just does not scream "Bowie Blade" to me. The blade is flat ground and out of the ziplock baggy it came in, had a more than slightly rolled over edge from the factory. Along the entire length of the edge you could feel the burr on one side. A few strokes on a white Spyderco Pro-Filer ceramic and brushing it off on a leather strop made for an absolutely frightening edge. The combination of the thin blade and flat grind makes this blade an incredible slasher. [Pic.1]
Thatís the only negative thing about this Balisong and the people at SWAT who made it, they should have just brushed the blade up before it left the shop, thatís it! It should not have been shipped with the edge rolled over, even slightly. SWAT is hardly the only Manufacturer that slips up and does this, so, they should not be chastised THAT badly...
Everything that comes after that is all personal preference to me. I have not read a bad Customer Review on this Balisong yet and I simply cannot write one either. It is a very well made Balisong. The phrase, "tough as nails" comes to mind. I think the only improvement that could be made to it is making the blade a bit thicker to try and balance it out more and make it a bit tougher as well.
The construction of the handles is Open Edge, not milled or cast "solids," but does not rely on regular pins. This Balisong is all screwed together and is very solid. Iím not a fan of that method of construction, but if you are going to make a Balisong with Open Edge construction, this is most certainly the way to go about doing it. [Pic.2]
The SWAT Tiger Balisongs have a pin that acts like the Latch Gate on the newer Benchmade Balisongs. This keeps the point from being damaged during manipulation, from Latch Slap. It works as intended and this is a feature expected and almost demanded by Balisong Enthusiasts now. SWAT apparently listens to The Balisong Market.
The first things you notice when you grasp the Balisong is the nicely sculpted latch. Not "Artsy," just nice, adds a little flair to the knife. [Pic.3]
The tang and ricasso are beadblasted. Then, where the flat grind begins, the blade is satin finished on that portion all the way to the point. Nice touch actually. The ends of the tang pins are likewise polished which is a nice contrast with the beadblasted area.
After owning the knife for a few months and handling it, cutting with it and manipulating it, a few small areas of spot rust have formed on the bead blasted area. This is absolutely puzzling to me as the first thing I did when I opened the package was flip it a few times and then apply BreakFree CLP to the joints and wiped the blade down. I know all about bead blasting and the negative aspects of it, apparently I just did not pay enough attention to this Balisong. After receiving some Militec-1, I applied that! And the bead blasted areas still show the little rust areas. Iím sure they can be removed with some very fine steel wool and with a more careful eye in the future, be avoided. This picture is not the greatest in the world, I do not know if the rust spots will show up when this is actually on the Website or not, but you can see the mysterious rust spots, just not very clear [Iím not a good photographer]. [Pic.4] I call them "mysterious" because I cannot believe as well as I lubricated this knife, that they even formed!
A Knuckle Buster!
The pockets where the tang pins rest are precision machined and deep, which has led to some people being pinched by this monster. I have not been pinched once manipulating it in forward grip and only pinched once in reverse grip. If you choke up on this knife while manipulating it, meaning your hand is closer to the pivot area, it will bite you. The handles are long enough that you can find a great place for your hand anyway! The knife is large!
Manipulating this knife is fun for me. It is so entirely different from any other Balisong that I own, I find myself picking it up just to play with it. If you get carried away with this monster, it will bust your knuckles for you. This is not a negative observation, it is just the truth. It can bust you up if you do not respect it.
Parts of this mini-review were written within days of receiving the knife. I was enthusiastic about it! While manipulating it, I started to hear the blade sliding inside the handles during flipping and I wanted to hold off on the review for a couple months and flip it some more and that way, the review would be more honest in my opinion.
After three months, there are some scratches, from the tip to about one quarter of an inch behind the tip, that area is lightly scuffed from the sliding. Perhaps bushings that are twice as thick [?] would solve that problem. It is minor, this is not a Custom Knife. It is a Limited Production Knife, so it is not a horrible concern in my sometimes picky opinion. I did want to see how bad it would get as the knife broke in, but so far, this is all that has happened. My fear was that the blade would become scuffed all along the length which would have been horrible. It has not happened.
An Eerie Silence?
No, The Brass Tiger is not "silent." However, it is very, very quiet when lubricated. There is a slight click-clack that Balisong Fans will be familiar with of course, but the louder, sharper sounds normally associated with the Balisong Knife are not present. The Tiger has a "click-clack, click/slide-clack" sound to it. I donít quite know how to accurately describe the sound during manipulation, not silent, yet, so quiet...a distinct difference from Benchmade Balisongs. Part of the sound, the "slide," is from the blade rubbing the brass handles, as described above. Sort of like my Benchmade Model 45 that has misaligned handles. The "slide" actually sounds sort of ominous, like a Butcherís Steel sliding down a knife... Make no mistake though, all things considered, this is a very quiet Balisong. And looking at it while flipping and it being that quiet, seems rather ominous [shudder].
As a Self-Defense Weapon
This is not the most easy to carry Balisong due to the weight of it. As I stated in the opening of this review, this is a very heavy Balisong.
There are two basic groups of people when it comes to using the Balisong Knife as a "Fighting Folder."
Group One obviously uses the Balisong as a knife, a no-brainer, and the really skilled people realize that the Balisong Knife has many different, combative, attributes as well. The Balisong in the closed position is very useful as an Impact Weapon. The same movements for the Pocket Stick are 100% viable with a closed Balisong. There are pinching movements that can be performed with the handles using an unlatched (or latchless for that matter) Balisong as well. For those of you that focus more on striking with either end of the Balisong, more than joint manipulations with the length of the handles, this tang area provides an excellent striking/pinching area. [Pic.5]
Group Two believes everything that Group One believes, but they also add in flailing movements/attacks with the handles. James Keating is firmly in Group Two and I have to say, Iím right there with the rest of the controversial Balisongers.
I think, quite simply, if there is a portion on the knife that can be used to further your own defense...USE IT ALL, DO IT ALL. Flailing is not a primary technique, tactic or concern for me, but if it happens to work if I open it high, so be it. Iím not going to condemn it, thatís for sure.
If you have a very light Balisong like the newer Benchmades which are about 4 ounces...you would only be able to knock a tooth out or cause an involuntary flinch if the eye(s) were struck with the handle. The heavier steel Balisongs like Jody Samson Customs and brass Balisongs land with much more authority.
The SWAT Tiger Balisong is The King of The Flails! If you consider yourself to be in "Group Two," the SWAT Brass Tiger is definitely for you.
The nylon sheath is very simple and has a metal belt/boot clip like older Gerber boot knives used to come with. Simplicity might be The Mother of Invention and there is definitely something to be said for keeping something simple...but this knife really deserves a better sheath.
I have never flipped a Balisong like the SWAT Brass Tiger, and that is a GREAT thing. Even the Brass Manila Folders that are heavier than your average Balisong do not feel like the Brass Tiger. It is very unique knife that anyone who loves the Balisong can appreciate.
Itís an awesome Balisong for the Collector or the User.
When I first unwrapped the B-Tiger, I was playing around with it and I can get a Samson Custom Balisong going pretty darn fast, but this Tiger was so foreign to me...
When I started flipping it easy, it just felt like it was going to get away from me some how...it was like a runaway freight train. It really did feel like it was going to fly out of my hands it was so heavy compared to other Butterflies I am used to.
Before the Benchmade Model #42 came out, I was used to the #44, #45 and #48. I had a Samson Custom Bowie and Weehawk Tanto at one time which were heavier, but I did not flip them as much as the #45 and #48 and the #44 that I dulled/rounded for use in Training.
Here is the SWAT Brass Tiger flanked by a polished BM #42 [Ti] Weehawk and a BM #45S [Combo-Edge] Weehawk. [Pic.6]
When the #42 came out, I had one hell of a time getting used to it, it was so light! It has since grown on me and now, going back to Samson Customs, BM #45 and #48s really feels odd. I fluctuate back and forth between several Balisongs now. But it took quite a while to get used to the Brass Tiger. So...if you get one, take your time and get used to it. It is a very unique knife to say the least and it might feel terrible when you first get it, it all depends on what you are accustomed to. Give it a chance and flip it a while! I donít think you can go wrong with one.
Iím fairly impressed with this knife, enough to possibly give the Aluminum SWAT Balisong a try, even though the thought of Aluminum in a Balisong is NOT appealing to me whatsoever. The Aluminum SWAT Balisong is supposed to be the same size as the SWAT Brass Tiger Balisong, but [obviously] a whole lot lighter. That should be interesting...
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