Uh, oh. Looks like Steel Will is dispatching me to the Danger Zone! Following the success of the Druid and Cutjack, they’ve sent over a new wingman – The F15 Resident, a sleek blade with an aerodynamic aura. I spent several weeks flying with this titanium tango, trying my best to contain the need… The need for speed!
There, I crammed all of my Top Gun jokes into the opening lines. We can all move on before I embarrass myself any further. Armed with a carbon fiber and titanium chassis, this trim of the Resident retails for $85. Steel Will also offers an aluminum/liner-lock version for $60, but they opted to send me the pricier model for review. It’ll be jetting on to a few other reviewers shortly after this review goes live.
Last thing before takeoff – I know the photos here aren’t great. Something about the blade’s angles and finish don’t play well with light, natural or otherwise. This made the Resident a challenging knife to photograph, with many of the pictures coming off as muddy or unfocused. Sorry, all. It’s the best I could do.
If the puns above were too subtle, let me spell it out for you – There’s an aircraft/sports car swoopiness to the Resident’s design. Its official numerical designation is “F15-91,” which I assume is Steel Will’s riff on the F-15 Eagle. Anyway, here are the tech specs for this particular model.
Overall Length: 8.125”
Blade Length: 3.5″ (3.375” cutting edge)
Blade Thickness: 0.12”
Handle Length: 4.625”
Handle Thickness: 0.42”
Weight: 3.17 oz.
As mentioned above, the Resident is sided with titanium and carbon fiber. But the centerpiece of its design is a flat ground D2 blade, with a satin finish adorning its drop point profile. There’s an attractive, angular swedge running the length of is spine, veering off just to the fore of the thumb deployment disc. The tang of the blade protrudes a bit, as well, giving it the appearance of a front flipper. I’d avoid this practice, though. I made it work once, but nearly cut myself in the process.
Other features of the Resident include a trio of attractive blue standoffs and a deep carry pocket clip. This last item is four-way adjustable, courtesy of an interesting cutout and metal combo that fits around the blade. See?
Another nitpick – The pivot features screws on both sides, and it’s not D-shaped. This makes it a bit tricky to adjust, requiring a bit driver in either end.
In the hand, the Resident feels fairly sleek. It’s not the best grip I’ve ever encountered, but it doesn’t feel slippery, either. The blade is safe when stowed, never drawing too close to the edge of the scales. It’s another solid package from Steel Will.
Despite these qualities, however, my initial impression of the Resident wasn’t a good one. As we’ll discuss below, there was a bit of a learning curve when it came to opening the knife. There’s also some funkiness going on with the grind. Not the good kind, sadly. The plunge appears to miss the angled rear by almost a quarter inch, lending an unfinished feeling to the aft end of the blade. Lastly, the design just feels like it’s missing something. Another touch of color, such as a collar around the pivot (In blue, to match the standoffs) would really bring the piece together. It’s fine overall, but there’s a curious lack of personality here.
3.5 stars out of 5
Ok. So, I’m not head over heels with the Resident from an aesthetic standpoint. But how does it function as a tool? Same answer – It’s alright. Whoops. Wrong movie.
The blade is a little thick behind the edge, and the lockbar is super sensitive to pressure during deployment. I had to train myself to grip the knife by the pocket clip in order to flip it open. And because the body is only about an inch tall, my thumb always seems very close to the cutting edge. It’s not a big deal if you’re flicking the disc, but slow opening made me a little nervous. I’d recommend using two hands for discreet deployment. Unless, y’know… you’re looking to buzz the tower.
Speaking of stealth, the Resident rides especially well in the pocket. This is due in part to its aforementioned shortness, as well as its low weight and excellent deep-ride clip. This suits its ethos as a gentleman’s blade, though I still struggle with the idea of a pocket clip peeking out of a pair of dress slacks. Maybe a flight suit would be better.
Hmmm… What haven’t I talked about? There’s the lockup, which is solid. The knife also fits fairly well in my hand, though I tend to prefer knives on which the cutting edge isn’t so far above my knuckles. This comes into play in the kitchen, especially when chopping and dicing. Then there’s the detent, which is just soft enough to allow you to shake the blade out with a strong pitching motion.
It’s fine, dammit. Everything is just fine.
3.5 stars out of 5
Steel Will seems to have upped their warranty game. Provided you’re willing to pay shipping, they’ll happy send “screws, pocketclips, torsion bars, safety lock sets, the pivot bolt and screws, and handle screws.” This coverage, as with their replacement offer in the case of manufacturing or material defects, extends only to the first owner of the knife, and only if it was purchased in the USA. You can read the full details of their warranty here.
Coverage aside, the materials on the Resident appear to be solid. As with the Cutjack, I’m impressed with the strength of the torx screws. There was a bit of thread locker in use, but nothing as pernicious as the permanent stuff I encountered on the Cutjack.
Overall, there’s nothing here to suggest anything other than a long, happy life for the Resident. Its light-to-medium duty credentials are sound, and the fly-through… I mean, flow-through construction should be fairly easy to maintain.
4.5 stars out of 5
I’m ambivalent on the pricing here. Carbon fiber isn’t my thing, so my personal taste would probably lean toward the cheaper aluminum model. And, hey, this is a pretty interesting design at $60. But once you get above $80, I start to look for steels a little above D2. I’m not asking for M390 or anything, but I’d definitely like to see a step up.
More troubling than the steel itself is the missed blade grind. Again – It’s fine. But each time I flick it open… Man, I just lose that loving feeling. It’s an nagging blemish that hurts the Resident’s appeal as an object of art.
In the end, however, $85 isn’t totally out of line. The material quality is there, and the design is sure to turn a few heads.
3 stars out of 5
I feel the same way about this review as I do about the knife – Unsatisfied. I have so many interesting things on my desk at the moment, and the Resident just never seemed to click with me. It’s an interesting, elegant design let down by a few nagging flaws. A disassembly and thorough usage gave me a better respect for the blade, but it never overcame that sticky first impression.
In the end, this is a knife that’s agonizingly fine. So much so that I needed to resort to Tom Cruise and airplane jokes in order to get through the review. Part of the problem is me – It’s just not to my taste. But if you’re into angles and aircraft, the Resident might be the wingman you’ve been looking for. As for me, I’m looking forward to getting a second (and third) opinion from some of the other reviewers out there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be moving on to a wrist watch review that’s got me between the devil and… well, you know.