The c05, c19 and c22 Folding Knives from Coast Products
By Chuck Hawks
Coast Products in Portland, Oregon (www.coastportland.com) is a third generation, family owned business. Known for many years in the knife trade as Coast Cutlery, they have long been an importer and distributor of serviceable "working" knives. Their knives have traditionally been long on value and reasonably priced. Not dirt-cheap $5 knives, you understand, but a lot of knife at a very moderate cost. I remember buying a Coast Cutlery hunting knife shortly after moving to Oregon, which was a long time ago, and using it for many years. I would probably still have it if I hadn't loaned it to a friend, who lost it.
My friends at Coast recently provided three of their folding knives for this Guns and Shooting Online article. Two are from the "Professional" line (Models c05 and c22), while one is from the "Tactical" line (Model c19).
c19 Tactical Knife
The c19 Tactical knife features a titanium coated, 440C stainless steel, hollow ground, drop point blade. The front half of the unsharpened (back) side of the blade is beveled to create something akin to a spear point shape. The cutting edge has a gentle upward curve toward the tip that should make it useful for most cutting chores. Interestingly, the c19 was the sharpest of the three knives as supplied, although all three were reasonably sharp. Although its "tactical" designation implies a weapon orientation, the c19 would make an equally useful general purpose or hunting knife. I would have no qualms about using it to field dress a deer, for example.
There is an ambidextrous thumb stud for one-hand opening and a liner lock (like my old Boy Scout knife) to keep the 3.25" long blade from closing on your fingers while cutting. Or, as novelist and outdoor writer Donald Hamilton once put it, "To keep the blade from closing and cutting off your fingers if you hit bone on the way in." This blade is sharpened for almost its entire length; there is only about 1/8" left unsharpened at the root of the blade. There are thumb serrations on the back of the blade above the pivot so you can apply extra cutting pressure, if necessary. The blade is discretely marked "Titanium" and "Coast" on one side and "Stainless" plus "China" on the other.
A tiny shot of CLP Break Free on the pivot, plus normal opening and closing of the blade, resulted in a knife that is exceptionally easy to open. Actually, the blade action is so smooth that it can easily be flipped open with a twist of the wrist, although doing so is hard on the pivot pin. It is easier on the knife if you use the thumb stud for one-handed opening.
Since there is no back spring and very little friction to keep the knife closed, you should be careful how you carry it. The thumb studs protrude well beyond the handle on both sides of the knife, so inadvertently brushing against your shirt or the inside of your pocket can partially open the blade. This happened to me the first time I carried the c19 clipped to the waistband of my pants. No harm was done, but I was startled to find part of the cutting edge of the blade exposed after a couple hours of wear.
The pivot is tight and there is virtually no side-to-side blade wobble. The entire knife, including the pivot pin, is assembled with small machine screws, so everything can be tightened should it work loose. It is a very serviceable design. The c19 is 4.125" long with the blade closed and 7.375" overall with the blade open. It weighs only 2.9 ounces. The online price from Coast's preferred vender is $16.
The aluminum handle is skeletonized to reduce weight and both sides are checkered for a secure grip; steel grip liners provide extra strength. There is a Spyderco type belt clip secured by three screws on one side. The whole knife, except for the sharpened edge, wears a flat black finish. The c19 is a rather good-looking knife in a utilitarian, business-like way.
c05 Professional Button Lock
The c05 Professional knife, although only slightly smaller than the c19 Tactical, is a slicker and more refined looking tool. It is all stainless steel with a titanium coated 440C blade. The blade pivot pin is concealed beneath the handles and there are no exposed screws or rivets used in its basic construction. The two pins that secure the handles to the frame are perfectly fitted, ground flush and the knife's brushed finish makes them practically disappear. Checkered, black, Krayton polymer inlays in both sides of the brushed stainless steel handle give the knife a classy appearance, as does the contrasting dark titanium finish on the blade. A lanyard hole is provided in the end of the handle and a removable stainless steel belt clip is attached to one side of the handle by two machine screws. It is a handsome knife.
It gets its "Button Lock" designation from the unusual operation of its blade lock. It is actually a liner lock system, but the liner lock is concealed below the level of the handle. Instead of pressing the protruding top of the liner lock to the side to close the blade (as per the c19 and c22) a large, flush button in the handle opposite the belt clip is pressed inward. (Note button in handle in photo above.) Depressing this button moves the liner lock to the side so that the blade can be closed. It is a trick system, more elegant--although no more effective--than a conventional liner lock.
The clip point, hollow ground blade is 3" long. The usable (sharpened) area of the blade measures about 2.5" and it features a serrated edge over the inner half of that length. The cutting edge is shaped with a gentle upward curve, a good shape for all-around use. The serrations are cut from one side only, reminiscent of Spyderco serrated blades. Such serrations are useful for cutting things like polypropylene rope. The blade is marked "Coast 440 Stainless" and "Titanium" on one side and simply "China" on the other.
A knurled, right-hand thumb stud is attached to the blade by a small machine screw. This protrudes well beyond the width of the right side handle and could catch on clothing if the knife is worn inside the belt or waistband, resulting in a partially opened blade. There is a lot more friction keeping the c05's blade closed than is the case with the c19 Tactical knife, so the likelihood of inadvertent opening is considerably reduced. Nevertheless, if I were going to carry this knife on a daily basis, I would remove the thumb stud. You really don't need it to open the knife.
The overall length of the c05 is 4.125" with the blade folded and 7" with the blade open. It weighs 3.7 ounces and the online price is $16.
c22 Professional Z-Frame
The c22 is the smallest of the three knives reviewed here, although I consider all three to be medium size knives in the overall scheme of things. It measures 3.5" closed and 5.875" in overall length with the blade open. Like the c05 and c19, the online price from Coast's preferred vendor is $16.
The Coast Z-Frame's blade is crafted of 440C stainless steel with a dark titanium coating that contrasts nicely with the brushed silver handle. The handle is stainless steel and incorporates a liner lock to keep the blade open. There is a thumb stud provided for easy one-handed opening and my comments about this feature in the c05 section of this review apply equally to the c22. The "Z-Frame" designation refers to the pattern of the cutouts in the handles. (Note the photo above.)
The c22's drop point blade is proportionally wider than the other two knives reviewed here and consequently it has a more pronounced drop point than the c19. This gives the impression that the cutting edge is also more curved, but it is not. Actually, the c22's cutting edge has an almost identical curve to the c05 and somewhat less curve than the c19.
A spoon shaped belt clip is attached to one side of the handle. I was once skeptical about the usefulness of such clips, but I have changed my mind and now habitually carry any folding knife so equipped clipped inside the right side waist band of my pants, just behind my hip bone. This allows reasonably easy access, never gets in the way and leaves the right front pocket of my pants, where I used to carry my pocketknife, available for something else.
Coast Tactical and Professional knives come with a straightforward Lifetime Guarantee. Coast guarantees them to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the original purchaser. Wow, a well-made product at a reasonable price that is guaranteed for life! Can you spell "value"?
We were curious about the excessively easy opening of the blade on the c19 Tactical knife. A modest amount of disassembly and close examination revealed a slight misalignment. The liner lock has a small protrusion that is meant to engage a detent machined into the blade. These features are intended to hold the blade closed to prevent accidental opening. In the case of our review sample, the blade fetched up against another stop before the detent feature engaged. Just a smidgen more quality control might have detected this detail. Our c19 Tactical knife is likely a one-in-a-thousand case of misalignment and we were able to adjust it. The Coast folders are still a good value and, with the lifetime guarantee, they're definitely worth consideration.
Copyright 2009 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.