Boker Revives South African Front Flipper

At first glance, the new Boker Plus A2 might not look unusual. The knife, a just-released folder designed by fellow South Africans Andre Van Heerden and Andre Thorburn, offers features found on many modern tactical folders. A bearing pivot, anodized titanium liners, and sculpted G10 scales are all included in this attractive package. A closer look at the A2, however, raises an obvious question: how do you get it open? The answer is the South African flipper, an obscure one handed opening method that hasn’t yet found a foothold in the marketplace.

The so-called ‘front flipper’ originates in South Africa, where a handful of custom makers have been using it on their knives for years. A South African front flipper uses an extension of the blade tang that extends out in front of the pivot. Gareth Bull, Andre Thorburn, and Fred Burger, among others, all use the South African flipper – here Bull demonstrates how to use it to open his Shamwari design.

Action of the Gen4 Shamwari (3.5″) #garethbullknives #knives #knifeporn #framelock #mokuti #shamwari #knifesale

A video posted by Gareth Bull (@garethbullknives) on

Like a conventional flipper, the South African flipper eliminates the necessity for a thumb stud, hole, or disk to open the knife, allowing for a clean, unobstructed blade. And, unlike a conventional flipper design, the opening tab on a front flipper disappears completely within the handle when opened. Also, front flippers have the advantage of being able to be rolled open deliberately like a thumb stud knife, for those environments when lightning-fast flipper deployment isn’t necessary or desirable.

Despite the merits of the South African flipper design, the negatives may outweigh the positives. Boker manufactures the only other South African flipper currently on the market – the Exskelibur series, based on a custom design by Mike Skellern and Fred Burger. The opening mechanism is cumbersome and counterintuitive compared to mainstream one handed opening methods. There is enough clumsiness involved that novices often bypass the flipper altogether and simply pinch the blade open with their second hand. On smaller knives, the problems of South African flippers are so pronounced that Boker felt it needed to cut a nail nick into the blade of the smaller Exskelibur II.

If there’s a reason to buy the Boker Plus A2 Front Flipper, it’s because Boker translated the full potential of Thorburn and Van Heerden’s original A2 custom design (as shown in YouTube video below) into this production knife. The Boker re-creation is very faithful, right down to the sculpted G10 pocket clip, distinctive back spacer, ‘3D handle scales’, anodized titanium liner, and IKBS bearing pivot.

Knife featured in image: Boker Plus A2

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