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I have a couple Manly knives for you today. That’s not a typo. Manly is a Bulgarian knife manufacturer. More recently they have started distributing knives in the USA through their aptly named Manly USA distributor.
A couple articles on Nemo Knives Review put their products on the map for me, and I quickly became attracted to their spare yet functional designs.
I reached out to their US Distributor, Lubo, and and was kind enough to provide these knives for review free of charge (full disclosure). What you are looking at is actually their Peak and Peak 2 models. The Peak features the thumb hole, while the Peak 2 is a two hand opening design. That’s the biggest difference so I’ve decided to put them both into one review. I also have their fixed blade, the Patriot, and will perform a write up on that later on.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Peak has an overall length of 8.66″, a 3.7″ blade, weighs 4.0 ounces, and is made in Bulgaria. This is a big work knife, but it’s slim and lightweight for its size. It reminds me of a beefed up Spyderco Endura, and strikes me as a hybrid between that knife and the Cold Steel Broken Skull.
The Peak came with a thin full flat grind, while The Peak 2 came with a partial flat grind. Both blades are cut from 3mm thick stock and share a similar elongated clip point profile. The long and thin blade profile provide plenty of cutting edge, some belly, and a fine tip. Manly included small sharpening choils on both models. The edges are evenly ground, and Manly states on their website that the edges are 15 degrees inclusive. It’s nice to see that information provided by the manufacturer. The blades are left with a light stonewashed finish.
Manly offers this knife in a variety of blade steels, including S90V and D2. My particular knives came in DIN 1.2379. DIN 1.2379 is a German steel and is equivalent to ANSI D2. Here is a link to the full data sheet for 1.2379 where you can review the chemical composition. Here is a link to DIN 1.2379 on the excellent ZKnives Steel Composition Chart. With a Chromium content of 12%, 1.2379 is more stainless than other variants of D2.
Lubo told me these knives were designed for use and asked me to put them through their paces. Right on. I so happened to have a couple large cardboard boxes at the house, and that is where I started. The Peak 1 was especially good at cutting through cardboard with its full flat grind, but both performed admirably. I also used the knives outside and whittled extensively with them. They aggressively removed large chunks of wood, and were handy for a morning of yard work. Finally I tested the knives on some apples. I try to have some fruit after dinner each night, and find cutting up an apple to be a good test of edge geometry and stain resistance. Both knives cut cleanly, although again the original Peak was a slightly better slicer due to that full flat grind.
Edge retention was good on both of my knives. Cardboard is an extremely abrasive material, and by the end of my box break down session both knives needed a tune up. Neither could shave hair. I used the coarse and fine rods on my Spyderco Sharpmaker and was able to freehand these back to shaving sharp in under a minute. This was surprising as D2 can be a notoriously tough steel to sharpen. I had no issues.
I also haven’t had any issues with staining, rust, or corrosion. I never cleaned this knife after cutting up fruit and I took the pictures after weeks of testing. The extra Chromium in this blend has to be why. Frankly, I would have never guessed the blade steel in this knife was an analog to D2. It behaves nothing like the steel on the Benchmade 710. In my opinion that is a good thing as I found the 710 tough to sharpen.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The Peak features full G10 handles with nested stainless steel liners, and a steel black lock. Everything is held together by a series of allen head fasteners. Fit and finish are good. The G10 has been crisply chamferred, all the hardware has been given the same bright stonewash of the blade, and all the parts line up neatly. This is like a reinforced version of the Endura.
Manly offers the Peak in 2 grades of G-10. A coarse peel-ply G10 shown with the black Peak 2, and a finer, less abrasive G-10 as featured on the orange Peak. Both offer good traction without being overly abrasive. In addition to the orange and black colorways, Manly offers these knives with desert camo G10 scales as well.
The Peak is a simple design. What it lacks in finger choils and curves, it makes up for with a simple handle design that is sure to accommodate most hands. It doesn’t get much more basic than this, with the gentle curve of the handle meeting easily with the palm of your hand. The corrugated G10 provides plenty of traction, and the inclusion of a short run of jimping on the bottom of the handle works perfectly for capturing your index finger. You don’t see jimping placed here on most folding knives, but I like it. It doesn’t wear out your thumb, but it also prevents your fingers from slipping forward on the blade. Smart.
The pocket clip is yet another example of simple, practical design. The pocket clip is a fold over deep carry clip, mounted on the very edge of the handle to ensure the knife buries as deeply and discreetly as possible. It’s swappable for tip up right or left hand carry, and a “filler tab” a-la Hinderer Knives is included to fill the space for the side you aren’t using.
In practice the Peak and Peak 2 both carry well. They are relatively thin and light knives, and the strong pocket clip anchors them securely in your pocket. The only possible issue is the prominent inclusion of the word “manly” on the clip. More self conscious readers may find that to be a message they would rather not broadcast from their hip, but like every other aspect of the knife, I think the branding has been done tastefully and I don’t mind it.
Deployment and Lockup
For deployment you have your choice of the thumb hole clad Peak, or the two hand opening Peak 2. Your choice will of course depend on your preference, but also perhaps where you live. As a Bulgarian company I am sure Manly has many European customers, and some of these countries don’t allow one hand opening knives. As an American who has grown quite fond of the one-hand-opening feature of modern folding knives, I tend to prefer the Peak, but the Peak 2 is kind of fun in its own way.
For the Peak, the thumb hole is actually a slight oval. In speaking with Lubo, my understanding is that this is done in part to avoid any issues with Spyderco and their Round Hole trademark. It works well, and you can easily snap the blade open with your thumb. However, the strong back lock will prevent you from flicking the blade open.
And on the subject of Spyderco, here is a shot of the Peak vs. my Paramilitary 2:
The Peak 2 is easy enough to unfold with two hands. There is plenty of room to grab the blade, and both knives are equipped with phosphor bronze washers. They operate smoothly.
For lockup we have the tried and true back lock. This is one of man kind’s oldest locks, and it remains relevant for good reason. It’s simply, sturdy, and secure. Here the lock back has been executed crisply. The spring is strong and the blade locks in place with a satisfying “snap”. There is no blade play on either of my knives. When it’s time to close the knife back up, the lock is easy enough to disengage with your thumb. All in all there is little to complain about when it comes to the lock on these Peak knives.
Blade centering is a mm or so off on my Peak, and perfectly centered on my Peak 2. No complaints given the price point.
Manly Peak Review – Final Thoughts
The Peak and Peak 2 are charming every man folders from Manly. I like the simple design. The knives are left with everything you need and nothing you don’t. They are built nicely from quality materials. All of this adds up to no-nonsense work knives. These may not win the “Most Innovative Knife of the Year” award any time soon, but they are comfortable in hand and cut really well.
Long time readers know I’m a fan of no-nonsense work knives like the Cold Steel American Lawman, and ESEE Zancudo. Humble work knives that get the job done. This Manly Peak is cut from the same cloth. But it’s also a very thoughtful design. Elegant, really.
I thought I would enjoy the Peak, otherwise I wouldn’t have requested a review sample, but I was surprised at exactly how much I enjoyed it. It’s hard to believe a simple knife like this didn’t already exist in a market crowded by thousands of models. I’m glad I checked it out.
These knives start at $80, and top out around $120 if you want S90V blade steel. I think Manly is offering good value for money here. $80 isn’t much more than what an Endura will run you these days, and in this case you get a superior steel, a deep carry pocket clip, and a full G-10 handle.
I like and recommend both these knives.
My understanding is that Manly Knives are mostly sold through their distributors at this point. So I recommend purchasing the Manly Peak and Peak 2 at ManlyUSA if you live in the States or Manly Canada if you are in Canada.
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