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Last Updated: August 3, 2019
It has been a long time since I have examined a DPx Gear product. You may recall a review done on the HEST back in 2012. This was DPx’s first effort, and is the knife that put them on the map. The HEST is a solid tool and is well made, but there was a lot going on in terms of integrating various multi-tool features. There is nothing wrong with attempting to push the envelope and bring something new to the table, but the HEST was a DPx’s first crack at bringing a production knife to market.
The HEAT is a more recent offering. First of all, this is a knife, not a multi-tool. I happen to like that. The idea was to shrink down the HEST to something a little more gentrified and pocketable, yet retain the distinctive styling of the HEST. I have long had an affinity for “little big knives”, and I still enjoy pocket knives that are small but stout. Sadly I have little use for a knife like the HEST in my day to day dealings, but the HEAT is something I could get away with carrying. I suspect I am not alone with that dilemma, which is why I was curious to get my hands on a HEAT.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The HEAT has an overall length of 6.25″, a 2.375″ blade, weighs 4.15 ounces (4.35 for the full titanium version shown here), and is made in Maniago, Italy. The knife was made for DPx Gear by LionSteel. Clearly the HEAT was designed to fit into the role of an every day carry (EDC) piece, although it is very stout, and is not just built for opening up letters or slicing fruit. I have been carrying and using mind in as an EDC knife.
My particular knife is the full titanium 3-D machined version. The 3-D machined handles are stunning. DPx also offers the knife in a less expensive titanium/G10 combo and a titanium/carbon fiber version as well.
The blade is a simple drop point with a high flat grind and your choice of stonewashed or phosphate coated blade. Blade thickness is just shy of 4.6mm – very thick, especially for a sub 2.5″ blade. While the HEAT does not slice like an Alox Cadet, I found it plenty adequate to cut up apples, break down boxes, and even open the odd letter or two. Still, those expecting their pocket knife to produce translucent slices of tomato will have to look elsewhere – the HEAT is simply not that kind of knife. I’d say it slices better than a Strider SnG, but still remains below average in slicing ability. That said, the blade is above average in toughness and the integrated cap lifter / wave feature is a testament to that.
DPx went with Niolox steel, a steel I checked out in reviewing the Blackwater knives a few years ago (since discontinued under the Blackwater brand, but apparently rolled into DPx Gear’s regular lineup). When I tested those knives I found that Niolox held a good edge that was tough yet easy to maintain – an ideal balance for a largish fixed blade.
This is my first experience using Niolox on a folder. This is a servicable steel. It takes a very fine edge, holds it respectably, and is not difficult to sharpen. I might describe it as a tougher 154CM or CTS-XHP, which puts the steel in excellent company. A good choice for a tough little knife that doubles as a bottle opener. I had no issues with corrosion. Like all of my EDC knives, I find it is best to maintain the edge regularly rather than wait for the knife to dull completely. Between my strops and fine Sharpmaker stones, I have had no trouble maintaining a hair shaving edge on my HEAT/F.
I know the knife is also offered in Sleipner steel and D2. I have heard good things about Sleipner but confess that I do not have much hands on experience with it. D2 is perhaps a more well known US tool steel. It’s a hearty “semi stainless” steel that has high toughness but can be difficult to sharpen. I’d go for Niolox or Sliepner if I had the option.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The standard HEAT arrives with G10 and titanium handles. The lock side is full titanium, while the show side is your choice of green or black G10. My version features full 3-D machined titanium handles, featuring a beautiful diamond pattern. LionSteel is known for their ridiculous machining capabilities, and this all Ti version of the HEAT/F takes full advantage of that. The handles are curved, contoured, and wonderfully finished. Rounding things off are 3 standoffs (one for the pocket clip), an oversized pivot, and a removable carbide glassbreaker.
The HEAT is a comfortable knife. The handle is a good deal larger than the blade, which is a very practical way to design a smaller knife. I’d rather there be plenty of handle and a smaller blade than vice versa. The blade features an extended ricasso that helps form an integral guard, and the fingers rest naturally in the deep swooping finger choil. There is jimping on both the spine of the blade (very mild) and back of the handle (more aggressive, but still comfortable), and there is additional jimping towards the pommel for your ring and pinky finger. I used my HEAT for some fire prep. Now that things are starting to cool off a little in Florida, I tend to gravitate towards the back yard for fires and cigars. This knife is comfortable and you can get real work done with it.
DPx went with a deep carry pocket clip. Like the original HEST and many LionSteel folders, the clip is mounted on the absolute butt of the handle, and is configured for right side tip up carry only. I wish they would have allowed for ambidextrous carry. Being a lefty I always like to see ambidextrous clips, and think it could have been done without too much trouble with this style of clip. That said, the clip is precision machined into the handle, and the end result is seamless.
The clip has good retention and the knife buries deeply in the pocket. The HEAT carries well for a smaller, heavish knife. I quickly forget it is in my pocket until the time comes to use it. There is a small DPx skull logo on the clip, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but is no different from virtually every other clip in my collection (they almost all have logos). I don’t mind it. All things considered the clip and knife is discrete; just the way I like things.
Deployment and Lockup
The HEAT gives you the option of ambidextrous thumb studs or bottle opener / wave feature to get the blade open. The thumb studs are simple and situated so that it is easy to get the blade open, and the blade rides on teflon washers. The action is smooth and the blade snaps open with a crisp and satisfying feeling. The wave works well if you want it to and carry the knife in your right pocket. I carry the knife in my left pocket, so I generally do not make use of the wave. That said, as part of the review process I waved the knife open dozens of times. It works as you would expect it to, with no ill effects on the lock (more below).
The blade of the HEAT is secured by a titanium frame lock. My lock engages early (around 40%). There is a slight amount of stick – not enough to make disengaging the lock obnoxious, but enough to make for a snug and secure lockup. I detected zero blade play in any direction after weeks of carry and use. Although I am generally not a big fan of wave openers, I made a point to wave this knife open regularly and the lock shows no ill effects. Blade centering on my knife is close to perfect.
DPx HEAT Review – Final Thoughts
The HEAT is probably my favorite knife in DPx’s catalog. I am a sucker for small high quality knives. The HEAT strikes a good balance between being a carryable cutting tool, and being overbuilt and aggressively styled. Although Robert Young Pelton and DPx Gear are a relative newcomers to the cutlery industry, his eye for design is undeniable, and the lines of the HEAT flow pleasantly whether the blade is open or closed. This is an interesting riff on the original HEST/F design, and is a step forward if you ask me. The bells and whistles of the original HEST/F have been stripped away to showcase a well designed knife that retains both personality and performance.
That said, the HEAT will not appeal to everyone. The overbuilt blade and full titanium handles come at a cost – the knife has some heft to it, and it will not slice like a slip joint. This is for someone that enjoys overbuilt folders, but doesn’t want to be bogged down with a 3″+ blade and 5 ounce+ footprint. I enjoy the HEAT/F for what it is. It has been well considered, and beautifully executed. The fit and finish is excellent and the materials are top notch.
If you like small overbuilt knives, the HEAT is well worth considering. I am curious to see how DPx Gear will continue to evolve their line of folding knives.