Why the Holt Specter Will Put a Dent in the Knife Universe

By Kevin Cleary

As a knife reviewer, every once in a while you get something in hand and it just feels right. It’s not always easy to describe exactly why, but the quality, size, weight, and ease of use are all considerations. There are many good knives, and I enjoy them all, but the ones that are ‘just right’ are especially fun and exciting.

Recently, a viewer of my YouTube channel offered to ship his latest purchase to me for a review. The knife is called the Specter by Holt Bladeworks in Robins, Iowa – a maker that was totally unfamiliar to me.

The Holt Specter is one of the most perfect folders I have ever reviewed. It has the quality and refinement of a Chris Reeve, the weight and ease of carry of a Benchmade 940, the blade of a Spyderco, and all with the most refined action I have ever experienced.

The presentation and looks are both very good. But that’s not what makes a lasting impression. A Specter is usually considered something you can’t hold or grasp, but you’ll want to get this one in hand. It feels natural; light and agile, yet strong and confidence inspiring. The action is one of the best I’ve experienced and the detent is dialed in. Everything is comfortable, from the lock bar tension to the slight jimping on the unobtrusive flipper tab.

Holt Specter

The attention to detail and thoughtfulness that went into the design could only be appreciated upon closer inspection. The relief cut for the Lockbar is milled internally, strengthening the knife’s structure and elevating the aesthetics. The blade stock is a well balanced 0.130 thousandths thick flat ground to a slicey 0.019 thousandths behind the edge, with a plunge grind and sharpening choil that are masterfully executed. The crowned spine is comfortable as a finger rest and the extended jimping offers ample room for the thumb in a saber grip (it could be a little sharper).

One feature that shouldn’t be overlooked is the detent. Rather than using a detent ball, Holt employed a detent ramp which Brian Nadeau invented. All of these well-considered and executed details become even more impressive when you consider that this is Joe Holt’s first folder.

Holt Specter

Holt offers his knives in different grades of finish. The current production run of the Refined grade retails for $495, which is a great value for what you’re getting. The more luxurious Prestige class variants cost more but offer various options for inlays and blade upgrades. But what will really put a dent into the knife universe is a third option called the Utility. This version will have all the same hardware and action, outfitted with slab titanium scales and more durable finishes. These will come out with a price point of about $300.

The Utility line impresses because it takes a nearly perfect design with the impeccable action and quality of the high-end versions, and turns it into an EDC knife you won’t be afraid to use. A knife of this nature, at this price, made in the USA, would make buying most Zero Tolerance, WE, Reate or other high-end titanium frame lock flippers hard to justify. In my opinion, none of them are in the same league.

Kevin Cleary is a knife reviewer based in Ontario, Canada. You can find Kevin on his YouTube Channel, on Instagram, or by joining his Facebook Group.