A hard use frame lock with multi-tool capabilities, the DPx HEST is a unique offering from a small company with an interesting pedigree. The HEST is designed by journalist Robert Young Pelton, who is known for traveling to dangerous places and going after the stories few journalists dare to pursue. RYP designed the HEST for those kinds of dangerous excursions and his adventurous spirit is reflected in nearly every aspect of the knife. In fact, DPx stands for “Dangerous Places Extreme” and HEST stands for “Hostile Environment Survival Tool.”
While I can’t say that I took my HEST 2.0 to any dangerous places or particularly hostile environments, but I did EDC the knife for a while. So with that in mind I’ll attempt to uncover some of the nuances of this unique offering from DPx.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The HEST has an overall length of 7.63″, has a 3.1″ blade, and it weighs 5.1 ounces. 5.1 ounces may seem kind of chunky on paper, but honestly the HEST feels fairly light for it’s size. Or maybe I’ve just been spending too much time playing around with incredibly beefy Zero Tolerance folders… either way I think the HEST is not too big for EDC although it’s definitely billed as a hard use tool and will be overkill for most typical urban and suburban EDC tasks. I also want to mention that the HEST has been manufactured by LionSteel, an Italian knife manufacturer known for their innovative designs and high quality cutlery.
The blade is a modified drop point defined by a massive belly forming a needle sharp tip. I like the bold and aggressive lines – it’s a unique shape for sure. Adding further interest to the knife is the 5mm thick blade stock. This is quite impressive for a medium sized folding knife, and reinforces the hard use mantra RYP ascribes to. The knife has been given a high flat grind, so it’s still a decent slicer. Rounding things off is a bottle opener. I typically carry a small bottle opener on my keys, but you can never have too many cap lifters and it’s inclusion makes for a memorable blade shape.
DPx selected D2 tool steel for the HEST, and I like their choice. D2 is often referred to as a “semi-stainless” steel. It’s actually a high carbon tool steel, but it will not rust as easily as say, 1095. What I like about D2 is the great combination of edge retention and toughness it offers. It will still rust however, so I’m glad DPx went with a high quality Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) blade coating – it both looks good and will make maintenance a little easier.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The HEST features a thick olive drab G10 scale on one side of the handle. On the other side, the HEST has a full titanium slab which doubles as the frame lock. I really like the way the handle has been finished. The G10 has been crisply contoured and the titanium slab has been given a beautiful stonewash. Everything bolts together with a partial backspacer. The handle slabs are nice and thick, and there is a real feeling of quality with the way this handle has been put together.
The DPx HEST benefits from a solid ergonomic plan. First of all, the handle is a good size and it’s shaped in a way to capture your fingers. There is also a nice thumb ramp with excellent jimping that doubles as a set of wire strippers. I’m not sure how well it actually strips wire, but it does a great job of holding your thumb in place. The G10 is roughly textured but the knife feels very comfortable thanks to the well contoured edges.
The knife feels good in reverse grip too, provided you do not have the optional glass breaker in place. The glass breaker actually holds the pocket clip in place, so DPx also includes a flat replacement screw and a little one piece multi-tool that works to replace the glass breaker, remove the pocket clip and adjust the pivot screw. I’d recommend swapping out the glass breaker if you plan on using this knife in reverse grip a lot.
Speaking of pocket clips, the HEST has a nice deep carry clip. I’m not a huge fan of how the “H.E.S.T.” insignia is emblazoned on the clip, but the hardened stainless steel clip is nicely stonewashed to match the handle slab and does offer great retention in the pocket. As for mounting options, it’s right side tip up carry only. DPx also offers a left-handed version for southpaws like myself.
Deployment and Lockup
The HEST makes use of ambidextrous thumb studs for deployment, which are large and easy to get at. DPx also selected teflon washers for the knife, which personally I’m not a huge fan of. Now, I’ve received some interesting feedback from readers in defense of the teflon washers, and I agree that they do make for a smooth deployment. I prefer phosphor bronze washers because they are more durable, only get smoother with time, and generally like to flick open faster. But I also acknowledge that some people prefer teflon, and they are found in a good number of high end knives (especially Japanese and European folders). So teflon washers must be good for something, right? So I will leave this as an “it is what it is” situation. If you like teflon washers then you will love the HEST 2.0.
Unfortunately, lockup also raises a couple issues with the HEST. One thing I noticed about my particular knife is that the lock sticks a little. It’s mildly annoying, but in my opinion it’s better than blade play (or even worse, total failure of the lock). After posting my video review of the knife I received a couple suggestions to apply graphite to the lock face. This actually eliminated my sticky lock issue, which is great, but I wonder how long this fix will last. So far so good, but I can’t say the initial lockup inspired a ton of confidence. For this reason, I avoid using the bottle opener feature as a wave to rapidly deploy the knife. Given my already shaky experience with the lock I didn’t feel like the knife was really designed for the stress of being repeatedly waved open. I know some (many?) will disagree, and that is fine.
I also noticed that several people have mentioned that their HEST 2.0′s exhibit some blade play. I didn’t experience that with my knife, but having noticed that my lock sticks a little I could see how play might develop. I know some people like to use the bottle opener as a wave feature – guys, I do not recommend waving this knife or being overly rough with deployment. Most framelocks can’t take being flicked open repeatedly and I don’t think repeatedly subjecting your HEST to the force of waving the knife open is a good idea if you want your frame lock to go the distance.
Finally, I wanted to mention the RotoBlock, which is a cool innovation from LionSteel. Basically it acts as a lockbar stabilizer (which prevents over-extension of the lock upon disengagement), but it can also be cinched down to keep the lock from accidentally disengaging. This is a neat little invention and I’m happy to see it on the knife.
DPx HEST 2.0 – Final Thoughts
All in all I like the HEST 2.0. When you consider the high quality materials, interesting design and beautiful finishes it’s almost hard to believe the knife can be had for $175 brand new. There are a lot of little things that set the HEST apart from the pack, and I like the bold lines and aggressive look of this knife. One thing I don’t normally talk about is the packaging. The HEST comes in a beautiful box with a nice manual. The inclusion of the little skull multi-tool is another nice touch. It’s obvious a lot of pride went into the design and implementation of this knife.
However, I have to admit I’m somewhat concerned about my lock. A sticky lock isn’t dangerous, but it is annoying. I was able to stop the lock from sticking by adding some graphite to the lock face, but am not sure how great of a fix this is. I’m also suspicious of blade play developing, as I’ve heard that is possible from a couple reputable sources.
So the HEST is a cool knife, but it’s not perfect. If an extremely consistent frame lock is important to you, I might recommend something like the rock-solid Zero Tolerance 0550 or the wonderfully done Spyderco Sage 2 instead. Or if you are in love with the design, perhaps consider one of the many cool fixed blade versions of the knife. That said, I still think that the HEST has its merits. If you like the design it’s a cool knife and that is worth considering.
DPx Gear HEST 2.0 – $175.00
Retail Price: $218.75
You Save: $43.75