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Copyright © 2003-2004 Phil Elmore, all rights reserved.
Valois Belt Knife
A Product Review by Phil Elmore
After I reviewed the Bowen Belt Knife, a reader contacted me about A. Daniel Valois. Mr. Valois is a well-known knifemaker based in Lehighton, PA, who makes (among many other things, including some fairly inventive canes) a belt knife the reader thought I might like to check out.
The Valois belt knife attached to a canvas "sport" belt.
I contacted Mr. Valois, who was happy to send out a sample of the knife in question. What I received was a conventional canvas "sport" belt (of the same type commonly found in military surplus stores) bearing a very classy laminated wood handle.
The hand-forged knife attached to the wood handle is made of 440A stainless, cryogenically treated. (Mr. Valois also offers the knife in titanium.) The cutting edge (ground on both sides) is roughly 2.25 inches. The blade extends about 3.5 inches from the curved handle. Overall length is 7 inches, depending on how you measure the curved length.
The knife shipped with a nice sharp edge, ground on both sides. Despite the curved handle I found the blade comfortable to hold and to use for utility (which I did, accomplishing a variety of mundane chores without difficulty or incident). A finger groove below the edge provides purchase for the index finger, while nicely cut thumb grooves are cut into the spine just forward of the handle. The inner surface of the tang is marked "Valois U.S.A. Utila-Knife™."
The knife is designed to fit into a Kydex holster that is an integral part of the belt. Two metal hooks on the buckle mate with Kydex flaps on the belt. Inserting the buckle into the belt is a simple metter of pressing inward as you sheath the blade, which allows the hooks to slip into their holders.
The belt itself has a metal hook that fits into a hole on a metal retainer at the opposite end of the belt. This is what makes the belt function as such. The user simply adjusts the position of the retainer (which can be moved along the beltline by releasing a clamp affixed to it) to fit the belt for proper tightness around the waist. "Buckling" the belt requires only inserting the hook into the retainer. The wearer pops out the hook to unbuckle the belt. There were times when I accidentally hooked the belt in one of the slots on either side of the retainer, but for the most part I didn't find it difficult to secure and release the belt.
The hook that is the foundation of the belt knife's "buckle."
The retainer (left) shows scratches from repeated buckling and unbuckling,
but this is normal wear. To buckle the belt, you adjust the retainer...
...Along the beltline for tension, then hook the buckle prong in the hole.
There's no denying that the Valois belt buckle knife has a very subtle, almost classy appearance. No one with whom I interacted had any idea I was wearing a knife on those days that I tested this blade. Thanks to the design, the knife deploys extremely quickly, too – surprising more than one of my friends and family, who should really know by now to expect me to have a knife readily at hand. The draws smoothly and easily with a faint "click" and is easily replaced (though you have to press inward to make sure the hooks mate with the kydex flaps in the sheath portion of the belt).
The Valois belt knife has an understated
and attractive appearance.
The knife draws quickly and is ready in a flash.
A belt knife like this is a specialty piece -- a hideout knife that is intended to stay concealed until needed. In today's society you'll run very real risks wearing this on a day to day basis (the knife is one of those regularly profiled in compilations of airline screening materials I've seen) and, if you're caught with it, you could well be charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Keep that in mind and make sure you stay legal.
I was pleased with the Valois belt knife.
As of this writing I've had the chance to test more than one belt buckle knife. This one definitely has good features for such a rig: a fast, smooth draw that is independent of the "belt" function, ease of resheathing, good looks, and good workmanship.
Mr. Valois has made something that will hold up your pants while it's saving your behind.