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New knives! (Buck Sirus; Wenger Evolution S)

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A trip to Tijuana used to be required for the procurement of a blade like the Sirus, an “assisted-opening” knife made by Buck Knives (www.buckknives.com). But this pseudo-switchblade, which has a spring-loaded blade that flicks into position with the subtle nudge of a fingertip, is totally legal in most parts of the United States.

Indeed, Buck markets the Sirus ($93) and its other assisted-opening knives to campers, hunters and hikers, touting quick access to the blade as well as built-in safety measures to make sure it does not pop open unexpectedly.

Buck Knives' assisted-opening Sirus

The Sirus, which is among two new knife models I reviewed this month, has a colorful anodized aluminum handle complemented with laser-etched flames or decals. (Also available in black.) The handle is 4.5 inches long, and when open the knife measures more than 7 inches. It has a safety switch on the handle that locks the blade closed.

Buck Knives’ assisted-opening mechanism is undeniably cool. The Sirus feels solid and strong in the hand, and its spring-loaded inner workings are hidden from view. But with the release of the safety switch and the light touch of a finger on a small nub the 3.25-inch stainless steel blade flips open and locks into position, ready to whittle your fireside marshmallow roasting stick in the blink of an eye.

The second knife I tested this month is part of the Evolution S series by Wenger North America, the U.S. distributor of the Swiss Army Knife (www.wengerna.com). What makes Evolution S series knife models unique are their locking blades — a feature that has never before been incorporated into a Swiss Army Knife.

Wenger's EVO S 557

I tried out the EVO S 557, a $65 model which, in Swiss Army Knife parlance, has 13 implements and 19 functions.

Of the many small and sharp items that fold out of the knife’s handle, a can opener, scissors, screwdriver (flat and Phillips), wire stripper, nail file, awl, and a pliers are all included. The requisite corkscrew, tweezers and plastic toothpick are present on the EVO S 557 as well.

The locking blade is 2.5 inches long, and it is a traditional jackknife blade with no serration. It locks open with a snap; a small lever on the handle releases the lock function to let you fold the blade back in.

The EVO S 557, which costs $65, is the most expensive of the company’s six locking-blade-equipped Evolution S series knives. The other models have different arrangements of implements, including tiny saws and smaller, non-locking blades. All Evolution S series knives have contoured, ergonomic handles and 2.5-inch locking blades. Prices start at $32 for the base model.

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