The Hogue EX-A03 is my first venture into serious automatic knives. Prior to the Hogue, I had only owned some cheap, foreign-made knives of devious quality. The Hogue EX-A03 is a side opening, automatic knife that’s activated with the push of a button on the handle.
The blade feels like it’s being thrown out of the handle, and you feel the force from the power of the blade moving. It has some serious force, which I imagine is to make sure the knife keeps working even when the mechanism is filthy dirty. I did a first look here.
The Hogue EX-A03 – Priced to Sell
Shopping for automatic knives rarely means finding a combination of quality and price efficiency. The automatic function does command a premium from Knife makers, and it’s not uncommon for the basic models of these knives to be about 300 dollars. I purchased the Hogue EX-A03 for a little under a 150 dollars. This is an excellent price for such a high-quality knife.
The Run Down
The blade is made from 154CM, which is a tool steel that’s been used successfully for knives. The benefits of tool steel is a tough blade that doesn’t bend or break under pressure. This isn’t a pry bar, but it’s tough. It’s not difficult to sharpen, but it’s also not the easiest knife to sharpen. It’s a tough steel so a little effort is needed to get it nice and sharp, but it holds the blade well.
The EX A03 comes in two different designs, either a Tanto or Drop Point blade, and both are 3.5 inches long. I prefer the simpler drop point blade due to sharpening simplicity. I don’t feel I need a tanto on a folding knife anyway. The grip is polymer and what’s impressive is the fact it’s a single piece design. This is rare among folding knives and does add some strength to the grip.
In the Field (And the Pocket)
The Hogue EX-A03 has been my current EDC knife for over a month now. It’s been used for some simple tasks, and nothing too strenuous admittedly. It’s been used as a pocket knife and let’s face it, that’s what it is. If you are looking to cut through rope, twine, cardboard, and even stiff nylon this knife will work for you.
The knife isn’t balanced due to the lightweight handle, but it still functions fine for basic cutting and slicing tasks. When the blade is at it’s prime it glides through most tasks. Just today I was cutting a ¾ inch rope into a dozen pieces. I had sharpened the blade the night before and even without a serrated blade, it made short work of the ropes.
Due to this much cutting with a pocket knife in a short period of time did point out a weakness in the grip. While it fills my big hand, after that much work I was feeling the thin grip dig into my hand and cramps setting in. Needless to say, after I was done it was time to rest my hand a bit.
Why an Automatic?
Shot Show 2017 introduced me to a ton of different automatic knives from makers like Gerber, Benchmade, and Hogue. I found out I could legally carry one in my state, and my local gun store carried all Gerber, Benchmade, and Hogue knives.
After handling them over and over I decided on the Hogue due to its warranty, price, and design. With the advent of fast assisted opening knives is there really a point to a side opening automatic?
I could make something up, but to be honest, it’s just a handy feature to have. It’s a matter of convenience more than anything else. There’s no wrist flicking, no need to change grip to open the knife. The biggest advantage the auto functioning has had is working in close quarters when I have a handful of other goods. It’s brilliant in those situations.
I’d imagine in an encounter where I was rolling around the ground with an attacker the automatic function would be a lifesaver. That is highly unlikely but is an immediate advantage to an automatic knife.
If you want an automatic knife, and can carry one legally I’d say it’s well worth the price. It’s not overly expensive, it’s easy to use, and an automatic knife is like a fidget spinner for adults. It’s really hard to stop pushing that button. Check Hogue out for a little more info https://www.hogueinc.com/knives