Saturday, January 17, 2015

GTC Lefty Plasma Lite

WARNING : Pic Heavy Post
Best viewed from a big screen. An emphasis on aesthetics and craftsmanship.

Yup! 3rd time lucky in as many purchases recently....  Still can't quite believe what I'm holding in my hand now.

For the uninitiated... there's always Google to find out who/ what is GTC and the knives that bears this initial.

I'm normally not a fan of hard angular lines, designs that overtly or by influence of the machining conveys a "futuristic space age" looking blade, GTC folders are very much some or all of those. This one being a prime example. Yet when scrutinizing pics on the net sometimes back, I started to see something else in Gus works. This interest slowly but surely grew... An appreciation of utmost precision in the making of a blade.

Alerted to the availability of this on BF ... I was apprehensive about even clicking on the link that was sent to my phone. This definitely isn't going to be some $400-500 midtech. Reckon if the boat is missed it would be a long long simply don't see that many a GTC floating around, especially one like this.

Can't help thinking it looks like some techno-alien angler fish that just surfaced...

Saw my first Plasma CF with OF inserts here a while back but those pics staring back in the ad made me took a second was indeed a LEFTIE! Never knew they existed. A custom leftie in my favorite blade point. Harpoon! There's a special reason why I always wanted something like this... More on this later.

Long story short... Had great communication, learning more in the process than what I could online via a true fan of Gus on various GTC models and the Plasma finally arrived in the short span of just 5 days from half the world away.

With so much details, reflective surfaces and my sub par photography skills/equipment, getting pics to show up well isn't easy.  Gave it my very best shot today, still, under certain angles, some do no justice when compared to seeing it up close...

Highly detailed matching lattice-work filing instead of the usual wash-board jimping everywhere they appear on the Plasma. A little more aggressive "pineapple/ grenade" style file-work for the flipper tab . Aptly so as all the grip is really needed when firing the huge blade open. Torx screws holding the clip and one more on the thumb stud are all worked to give a triangulated profile. No details are spared right down to the screws.
A two toned clip that obviously has a significant amount of work put into it. Other Plasmas with colorful Mokuti ti clips are nice but me being me, a hardcore black/silver type.. I can't be happier. Nothing fancy in hue and pattern but the two tone bridges the carbon fiber and main titanium body nicely in my view, adding to the classiness of a dress knife. Notice how the carbon fiber on the handle and the blade lines up... 

Another easy to miss detail: Countersunk on both sides of the lanyard hole. Presumably easier to thread a lanyard. But it's probably the mark of a perfectionist...leaving nothing "raw". I should know better being one myself in building other things--but hopelessly lacking the skills to ever make any knife in my lifetime though ;)

Just about anytime of the day, the overall shape and light dancing thru the optic fiber inserts makes me think its more like having a mini alien spacecraft around the house.

Alien as alien can be... and the little Mokuti ti stud just adding an extra tad of mystery radiating around it...

Apart from capturing the engraving on the insides of the backspacer... this is probably the most difficult shot to capture>
Why? Despite the ridiculously tight tolerance when the blade is closed, it will just about fall back onto its own weight with the slightest movement once past the perpendicular. Not kidding but after the shot, all I did was lightly tap the table and as if by remote-- the blade snaps back down. I'm still mesmerized by this combination of tolerance and smoothness. About as close to perfection ever seen.

One more before a full flex out pose...

"Autobot transform..." Gotta love those little OF eye candies :)

Ok.. one more. Last one. Promise.

Just like the CF lining up perfectly on blade and handle... so are the tiny OF dots... Matching up the filed equilateral triangles on the Torx screws...


Getting it right on the perspective of the harpoon point took a few tries. At certain oblique angles it makes the blade look a little stumpy. This really is how it looks when holding in the hand. At 2" of the blade length (4 3/16") it is rather sizable. Though right below, nearer the pivot the actual length of the blade is a fraction shorter. With the cut-back at the top front end of the handle, extending an exposed blade length at ~5  1/16" mated with the harpoon at the other end..It is a bit of an illusion as only the top portion of the blade is longer but .that just draws out the sheer size of this knife at one glance.

I've complained about right handed framelock folders in the past. Now that I have a left hander... what's the verdict?

The lock. On the lock up, I've eyeballed it at ~55-60%. The framelock has no hollow out portion at the rear to act as a spring as commonly seen in many framelock models. No steel insert either. The whole closing action imparts a rather mechanical feel. A solid feel if I must add but just need that slight tad more assurance in operating than most out there when opening. Not flat not radial. A concave locking surface. That explains and so a smite of graphite/ dry lube from time to time should maintain it well and protect from wear. I should think so.

How many pieces of stick-it note can u slip in there? Barely one. And absolutely no contact of blade to handle at any point.
This apart from making the blade falls on its own weight also makes it easy to open such a big blade with a relatively small thumb stud so long as its not completely closed. No easy feat and this blade is now 4 years 1 month old.

Guess this really shows the tolerance placed beside another respectable blade and the massive width going almost all the way to the front. Note the grind on the tip.

I'm just bad with videos so just have to take my word for it... One.. with its size, thickness and width, the blade weight whether reduced by carbon fiber or not, is still gonna be relatively heavy. It will not snap open like some thinner  3ish" blade but respectable enough once your get the ergonomics of holding it right in the hand. For me that's holding it well back from my other flippers. More in line with how I would normally hold my balisongs in a closed position. This of course increase the load on the distal phalanx as the middle is now drawn back further away from the flipper tab.

Thus for those that love fast action, a knife this size is not really the one for you. It's not just the length. Width on this is ~30mm ( that's 1.18" for the metric challenged :-)  at where I estimated the CG of the blade to be when swinging out. While I do love some fast whipping actions like my F95, it's not a life and death thing. A split sec in deployment is not going to matter when what really matters is how fast I can actually get the knife out of my pocket in the first place.

Oh.. about it being leftie and a harpoon... Well I'm a South Paw, promise myself that I will one day get a worthy left hander piece. The that stems from the habit of feeling the raised end on my two decades old el cheapo in the pocket.

The Plasma wouldn't be something to carry everyday but when I do, most likely it's on occasions where it's a dress piece. It would be nice to have a certain familiarity in the pocket... especially during monotonous empty dinner conversations. Sure wouldn't mind my smile from fiddling with a nice folder in the pocket being mistaken for genuine interest about someone rambling on and on how their kid's napping schedule has changed recently.

Using it...
Slicing up some packaging, I noticed even more so how thick the blade really is.  It can slice but it really would be more of a stab/ thrust type of edge tool in my opinion. While its a dead strong looking tip and not having discernible play, I wouldn't be using this to do any sort of prying either. Nothing inherently wrong with the design. The blade itself can certainly take some force but the applied force on a long blade on the pivot/ bearings with relatively so little surrounding it would not be wise. A matter of understanding the simple physics of load, leverage and fulcrum to avoid messing things up.

Sounds!  Always tend to think its a bit superficial to note and mostly ignore in mentions. Clasped by titanium on both sides, yet it imparts an almost wooden sound effect. *Clok* on locking and unlocking... unlike the sharp hissing followed by a *click* in most knives I've handled. Being a wood/ bamboo-artifact junkie, it sure resonates well with me.

Some final thoughts....
Its easy to be distracted by the eye candies laid into this piece and miss out on a larger perspective at a casual glance. Or like looking at any nice knife, we tend to gravitate towards what kind of steel, edge, smoothness of deployment etc. Individually, the triangulations featured are looked at as details and effort put into the making. But I see them all as a whole.... the little thoughts by the maker as he is going through the process. A flow without being too overt but only to be "discovered" when looked at in it's entirety. Likewise with the lattice work jimping throughout the knife. Then again maybe I'm just over imaginative as usual....

Those who have been reading my blog on bike and other stuffs knows there's no aversion in me in opening up  much more complicated things to tinker or see what goes on inside some mechanism. Would really like to see those bearings in real time for once...How they fit and interface and the precision needed where their actions are apparent in the above mentions of tolerance to opening/ closing. Yet the simplicity of folding blades and one here with that kind of fitting precision makes me apprehensive about opening it up. Putting up the parts in the correct sequence would not be hard but tightening everything down to what it is now without messing up--- seriously for once I'm not so sure about my mechanical skill level now...

This is one item that will be used but well taken care and not abused for a long time to come.

"1st LEFTY LITE PLASMA ~ 12/2010 ~ S35Vn" Guess the engraving says it all....
Hard to capture but both sides of the handle internal surface are anodized in blue as well.

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