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Knives function differently in a collector’s life than a normal person’s. They serve as a connection between people, a stress reliever, a sense of importance, a focus of learning, and yes, even sometimes a tool. Microtech, I think, is an excellent example of something that can occupy all of these roles. There’s nothing more satisfying than (safely) using an OTF as a fidget tool. There’s nothing more connecting (or dividing) than a room full of Microtech fanboys. The knives offer a depth and breadth of legitimate cutlery history for one to dive into. They are also very capable tools when used properly, we’ll get more into that later.
The Microtech UTX-85 is a smaller version of the long praised Ultratech. I believe the name comes from it being 85% of an Ultratech. As someone that always found the Ultratech to be slightly too large for my uses, I knew I needed to try it out.
Before we get too deep here, let’s go over some specs:
(All Measurements are my personal measurements and may differ from manufacturers specs)
- Blade: 3”
- OAL: 7.5”
- Thickness: .696” with the clip
- Blade Thickness: .126”
- Steel: M390
- Weight: 3.1oz
- Lock: Out-the-front Automatic
The UTX-85 that I opted for has the traditional drop point blade shape. I’ve seen versions with tanto blades, double-edged daggers, serrations, and probably some I’m missing. I like the way the tanto looks, but for daily carry, I have found the drop point to be the most useful. It’s ground to a nice fine tip that should allow for detailed work, whereas the cutting edge is long enough to allow for effective draw cuts.
When it comes to practicality, this will be a lighter duty knife. So I’m more interested in sharpness and edge retention (I wound up putting my own edge on it) than I am robust/thickness of the blade. You won’t be prying, chopping, carving, etc. with this particular knife. It’s just not meant for that.
We’ve covered M390 in the past, but for those just joining us. I love this stuff. It’s not that dissimilar from 20CV or CTS-204P. After running mine through my Wicked Edge, I can attest that, while the initial bevel was tough to set, it took an excellent edge and has maintained it for a long time. It’s also famous for its stain and rust resistance. This is a superior all-around steel.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
Microtech both nails and flubs on ergonomics, in my opinion. On the one hand, everything feels extremely functional but, the texturing and surface finish of the handle itself could be done better. I find the ridges milled into the top and bottom of the handle in place of gimping to be overly sharp. They do a good job of locking the knife in your hand but can be uncomfortable after extended use.
The anodized aluminum handles look great when the knife first arrives, however any bump or ding in the surface will leave behind a starkly contrasting scuff or scratch. This may or may not bother you, depending on your mindset regarding pocketknives. But I think it’s safe to assume that folks spending ~$250 on a tool like this enjoy it looking nice as much as they do it being capable.
In the same vein, Microtech uses a large bent steel clip on their OTFs. These function great (in my experience) and really remind me of the Chris Reeve clip with their dual detent style retention. The unfortunate thing about these clips, however, are that they are MASSIVE. The clip measures 0.4” wide and just over 2.5” long. The flare on the end also sticks up a decent amount as well and looks like it just wants to scratch your car.
Deployment and Lock
Microtech OTF’s are peculiar. Really, all OTF’s are unusual if you’re coming from a strictly “locking-knife,” background. They don’t have something that you disengage to close it. Instead, you “activate” the closing mechanism. From what I understand, the springs in Microtech OTF’s are not under tension apart from when you retract or extend the blade. The rest of the time, the spring is in a resting state. So, you’re essentially cocking and firing the blade in both directions during regular use. That’s cool. It’s hugely satisfying to play with, although it will drive your partner, roommate, pet, or anyone else in your immediate orbit insane after a short time.
Microtech has also come a long way with how this mechanism feels. I’ve owned several knives that used this OTF assembly, and the earlier ones were EXTREMELY difficult to actuate. The amount of force it took to withdraw and extend the blade would quickly make your wrist and hand sore. This is no longer the case; however, the UTX-85 has a much easier mechanism to operate.
It’s also worth pointing if you’re not familiar with Microtech’s double-action autos that these knives will disconnect if they encounter resistance while deploying. Then you have to pull the blade all the way to get it back on track again. These won’t deploy, “into,” something like a single action could (potentially).
Microtech UTX-85 Review – Final Thoughts
In the end, I think that the UTX-85 is an excellent choice for someone wanting to get into Microtech autos. They’re reasonably affordable, by comparison, and they’re made very well. I also personally prefer the size over the classic Ultratech. The Ultratech clocks in with a 3.4” blade vs. the 85’s 3”. It’s just a little more pocket-friendly for me and slightly less scary to civilians.
I think one competitive option that would be worth checking out with be one of the new OTF’s from Benchmade, the Phaeton. These are 3.45” OTF’s that also feature aluminum handles, S30V blades, and a reversible pocket clip. I’ve had the opportunity to handle both, and I think the action on the Benchmade’s is a little superior. The price, however, is also higher at around $323 on BladeHQ.
In the world of production automatics Microtech really has made a name for themselves. I’ve had the opportunity to own several of their models, and I can say that the UTX-85 feels the most EDC-practical to me. The blade size is right for daily tasks, but it also doesn’t make me feel like an assassin every time I pull it out to use. That may be what you’re going for, but I’m more a practical over tactical type gear-nerd. One of the beautiful things about how Microtech produces their knives is that they offer a ton of variety. Their models are generally available in a spectrum of blade shapes as well as blade steels.
The Microtech UTX-85 can be found from our favorite online knife retailer BladeHQ. At the time of this writing, they’re sitting around $250 give or take configuration. For more information check out microtechknives.com or bladehq.com
Microtech UTX-85 – From $247.00