YouTube is a great resource to satisfy knife buyers hungry for information. Checking in with a trusted YouTube reviewer is a big part of the knife buying ritual for many. The influence of the video content platform has not gone unnoticed by knife makers either. Not only do they monitor what reviewers are saying, but they’ll sometimes incorporate feedback into future products. One recent example is how the 2nd generation of Schrade’s Sure-Lock knives were born after the original design failed the infamous ‘spine whack test’
A spine whack test involves striking the spine of a knife against an unyielding surface. Some believe it’s a good way to measure a lock’s resistance to shock, but others say it’s a demonstration that doesn’t reflect any real world scenarios. “There’s a lot of testing going on that is not always applicable to end use,” Jody Agnew, Vice President of Sales at Taylor Brands, told us. Still, Taylor Brands recognized that calling a locking mechanism the “Sure-Lock” generated certain expectations and customers weren’t going to be impressed after witnessing a failed test. “The ‘spine test’ has become a kind of benchmark in end consumer self testing,” he says.
When Schrade first introduced the Sure-Lock locking mechanism on the SCH503 series of knives, multiple rounds of safety testing indicated that it was strong and secure. It was first tested internally by Schrade, then again by SGS Materials Testing, an independent firm that companies rely on for unbiased confirmation of their claims.
Since neither Taylor Brands nor SGS Materials Testing included a spine whack test in their testing regimen, the company didn’t know that in such a test, upon impact inertia would move the locking release mechanism just enough to disengage the blade. The fix was simple: strengthen the locking release spring, holding it more firmly in place. Schrade put the new version of the SCH503 into reviewers’ hands for a second test, and this time the lock passed with flying colors.
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“End users have a real time voice these days and their perception good or bad will validate a company or product’s claims,” says Agnew. The 1st generation Sure-Lock was safe enough for all reasonable use, but the improvement to shock resistance was one Schrade wanted to make. It was important to the knife community, and according to Agnew, acknowledging end user feedback is an important aspect of design.”There was nothing faulty with the product, but due to some great end user insights it opened up the opportunity to make the product even better.”
Knife featured in image: Schrade Sure-Lock SCH503