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Al Mar SERT Automatic Folder

Based in Oregon, Al Mar Knives is a production knife maker with a reputation for innovative tactical knife designs. Mar was a First Group Special Forces officer who served in Vietnam prior to 1960. After serving in the Army, Mar earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design and by 1968 became the head of knife design for Gerber Legendary Blades.

In 1979, Mar formed his own company. Knives of his design were manufactured in a 1,000-year-old sword making facility in Seki City, Japan. Al Mar passed away in 1992 and was inducted into the

Blade Magazine

Cutlery Hall of Fame in 2009. Mar is widely considered the father of the tactical folder. He pioneered the trend of using custom quality and design in a mass-produced knife.

As a lifelong martial artist with black belt rankings in judo and kendo, and his service as a Green Beret, the majority of Al Mar Knives early knives were designed for the military and police use. For example, Al Mar’s SERE™ folder was designed by Al Mar and Special Forces Colonel Nick Rowe in the 1980s. This was the first knife accepted for use by the Army’s SERE (Search Evasion Resistance Escape) Instructor School at Camp Mackall, N.C.


SERT Automatic Folder

Al Mar Knives makes dozens of different fixed and folding knives. New for 2015 is the SERT (Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team). The SERT automatic tactical folder is huge for Al Mar Knives for a number of reasons.

First, it is a modern version, an updated version, of an extremely small one-time run of specialty knives years ago. Second, it is a fully automatic folder from a company known for finely honed manual folders. Third, this Al Mar knife is almost entirely U.S.-made. Finally, it is a virtually custom made knife that is priced like a production knife. It is an Al Mar that you don’t have to be a knife enthusiast to want to own.

The SERT uses the original design concepts but modern blade technology, manufacturing and quality standards. However, the SERT is still true to the Al Mar heritage. Every single knife is hand-assembled, hand-finished, hand-fitted, and hand-sharpened in the USA. The SERT really is made by custom knife-makers. They just happen to work for Al Mar Knives.

The SERT is a fully automatic knife that is fully ambidextrous. It can be opened with the thumb or index finger of either hand. The SERT was repeatedly opened with sweaty, wet, bare hands and with Hatch Patrolman gloves. It opened, with a vengeance, every time on the first press. Auto-opening knives are restricted by state and local laws. As a rule, these restrictions generally have a first responder (police, fire, EMS) exception. Check to be sure.

The SERT has a number of internal design features that you just never see. All you know is that the knife opens smoothly and locks solidly. In fact, the power to flash the blade open with such surprising force comes from the most respected spring maker in all of the firearms industry: Wolff Gunsprings. This legend in custom gunsmithing is a part of the new heritage of Al Mar Knives. Wolff Gunsprings coil springs is the slam-dunk answer to the question of how well the Al Mar SERT opens and locks.


S30V Blade Alloy

Importantly, the SERT uses today’s best production blade alloy, S30V. This is one example of the modern technology in the updated SERT. The First Production Run knives used ATS-34. The newer S30V alloy is a cut above stainless-steel alloys like 154CM/ATS-34 and many cuts above the softer AUS and 420/440 steels. As it stands now, S30V is the best balance of hardness, toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance and sharpenability. Yes, S30V can be sharpened, but it rarely needs it.

The SERT blade is 3.3 inches long and 0.125-inch thick. Yes, the blade is thinner at the clip point. No, you are not going to break the tip off of this S30V alloy blade. Yet you have all of the advantages of the clip point—you can get it fully into the smallest openings.

In this initial re-release, the SERT only comes one way…a 3.3-inch, straight-edge blade with a clip point in satin finish. The First Production Run knife had a black finish. Additional blade styles, blade edges, and finishes are under consideration.

The handles are made from 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum. This gives the whole knife structural rigidity. The aluminum is hard anodized, a surface conversion treatment. That gives it a slight texture and near-total corrosion resistance. The updated SERT has the same grip profile and subtle index finger groove from the original run.

Of course, the machined grooves in the handles also add to the ability to hold tightly to the knife under difficult maneuvers.

Also upgraded is the ambidextrous pocket clip, now made from heat-treated stainless steel. The new clip is a Deep Pocket Clip™ that puts the knife visually out of sight.

Aluminum handles are slightly heavier than G10 or Micarta, but the 3.3-inch SERT weighs just 4 ounces. Part of the reason for the light weight is that one of the handles isn’t a handle, it is the frame.


Everyday Carry

We carried the SERT effortlessly due in part to the Deep Pocket Clip. For two months, we cut everything patrol officers normally cut, and used and abused it as if it were not an Al Mar. At no time did the S30V blade need sharpening. No dulled edge. No chipped blade. No broken tip. And yes, one time we used it as an impromptu Phillips screwdriver.

OK, we treated the SERT like an Al Mar in at least one way…we were very careful not to lose it.

Arguably, the best part of the Al Mar SERT is the MSRP of $240. Remember now, Al Mar was the first “production” folder to have an MSRP of over $400 and they are proud of that. Internet pricing is sure to be well under $200. Getting such a tactically capable, custom-finished Al Mar for this price is a step up that many patrol officers can afford. It will last four times as long as the dull edge folder clipped in your pocket right now.

Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2015

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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