French knife makers Patrick Famin and Eric Demongivert are bringing their second collaborative effort to market, aiming to catch a new wave of demand for compact, legal-everywhere knives. The new friction folder, called the Vital, packs multiple tools into a tiny package, and the collaborators reckon if they play their cards right, the design has the potential to hit shelves in the future as a production model.
The stout but small Vital weighs 3 oz. with total length of just 4.5″. The extended tang used to open the blade also serves as a bottle opener and glass breaker. An optional backspacer adds a hex wrench, rasp, and mini screwdriver. Famin notes the 1.7” RWL-34 blade complies with proposed TSA knife regulations. Its size and multi-functional features make it part of what Famin says is an increasingly important category of product: small, civil, people-friendly blades. With knife laws in flux across the world, customers can rely on the Vital to remain legal in almost all jurisdictions. “These smaller knives will become really popular in the future,” he says.
The standard Vital is made of titanium but Famin says the duo plans on catering to collectors with Vitals in other premium materials down the line. “The standard configuration Vital will be a user for customers, but collectors are already asking us to make upgraded versions.” Famin goes on to explain that he and Demongivert can make about 20 Vitals a month, but are courting companies like Boker, CRKT, and Fox for a production collaboration. A factory version would compete directly with similar knives like the new Kershaw Pub. Famin tells us if there is any resemblance between the Vital and the Pub, it’s merely a coincidence. The Vital is based off a prototype he built six years ago.
Famin and Demongivert previously collaborated on the Zirconia Pivot System, which they’ve been using in their custom knives for the last year or so. The ZPS is a bushing pivot system built from zirconium oxide. Famin tells us it flips as smoothly as a ball bearing pivot without the need for any lubrication and resists wear and deformation.
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Since they first developed it, the plan had been to bring the ZPS to the masses, but Famin now confirms that is unlikely to happen any time soon. “We had plans for licensing the ZPS, but got really disappointing news,” he says. Difficulties with the current manufacturing process make it too expensive to implement in mass production. But Famin says that even if the ZPS never makes it outside of their respective custom lines, it was an important step for the team, leading directly to projects like the Vital.
Knife featured in image: Vital Friction Folder Knife