Tactical Duty Knife: Extrema Ratio Glauca B1

 

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Extrema Ratio- Glauca B1 Review by Ian von Gordon

 

by Ian von Gordon

What makes a good knife for law enforcement?  This is a question I ask myself on a daily basis.  However, due to the broad nature of law enforcement both within a department and across borders, the answer can vary widely.  For example, the needs of a patrol officer who may mainly work in traffic will be prioritized differently than a special tactics officer.  Likewise, the rules and customs of a specific jurisdiction may dictate or prevent certain features.  While I understand the former, the later has long been a source of contention for me.  To that end, I tend to focus my question more narrowly: what is a good knife for me as a law enforcement officer?

 

Notice how I say, “good knife.”  While an excellent knife or ideal knife would be preferable, I have yet to find anything that comes close.  To qualify my standards, let me list some of the characteristics I look for when selecting a duty knife (in no particular order):

– Extreme durability
– Lightweight
– Low profile (color, physical size, ability to carry)
– Blade steel which can hold and extremely sharp edge
– Easy to sharpen
– Ability to open and close with one (compromised) hand
– Ability to securely stay locked open
– Suitable geometry for fighting (based on my preferred techniques)
– A serrated portion for cutting line, paracord, rope, seat belts, etc.
– Can cut adhesive tape without gumming-up the blade, or is easily cleaned thereafter
– Minimal effort glass breaker of some sort
– *Cost

*I look at cost in terms of a cost/benefit ratio.  That is to say, does the quality, materials, and function justify the price?  The other side of that coin is that if the knife is used in a fight, it may be condemned to an evidence locker, and as few departments have generous budgets and enlightened commands, this can be a huge factor for a law enforcement officer who is forced to purchase equipment at his/her own expense.

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The Glauca B1 was developed in consultation with the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, a special operations force of the French military.

So, when Extrema Ratio announced their Glauca B1, designed in consultation with France’s venerable Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, I was intrigued. Extrema Ratio knives are serious knives, and as such, they come at a serious cost. Fortunately, some of their dealers offer special pricing for law enforcement officers, and with the help of their main offices in Italy, I obtained one in short order.

The Glauca B1 arrived in Extrema Ratio’s signature black box, and included a sheath (and straps) that can be used to carry the knife in the locked-open position.  The sheath seems optimized for outside calf carry, which is a position few LEOs will find useful.  The size and the shape of the sheath make it cumbersome to mount on a tactical vest, and the real-estate it requires is rather greedy.  While some custom Kydex can solve the problem, it is a little frustrating to have to make further investments for a knife that retails at over $600 USD.

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The Glauca B1 can be deployed as a fixed blade and attached to tactical gear or clothing.

The knife itself is sturdy and relatively large for its purpose.   It is 268 mm open, and 157 mm closed.  These dimensions make it comfortable in the hand, and possible to carry in a deep pocket.  However, the rough outside texture and extremely tight carry clip make it an unreasonable chore to clip and unclip from a duty pocket.  I am concerned that over time, it will damage my uniform. The knife came in tip-up carry position, but the pocket clip is reversible.  While I normally prefer tip-up carry, the guards on the blade make that uncomfortable for me when carried in a front trouser pocket.

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Glauca B1 spine view.


Where the Glauca really distinguishes itself is the blade.  It is made of N690 cobalt stainless steel rated at 58 HRC, and the geometry is very well thought-out.  The shape is basically a modified tanto, with three sharpened edges and a serrated portion towards the guard.  This combination makes it excellent for utility jobs, and a better-than-average fighter.  Razor sharp edges have held-up under normal use with no complaints.  The thinness of the blade (5 mm at its widest) makes me squeamish about using it as a prying tool.  The blade finish is burnished Mil-C-13924 which is inexpensive and more “decorative” than functional, but certainly preferable to bare metal for LE use.  The locking lever is not perfectly smooth or sturdy, but I am confident that the blade will stay opened.  The liner lock is unremarkable.  One-handed opening is possible with a flick of your index finger on the top guard and a little wrist snap — I am able to perform it efficiently with either hand.  It is not ideal, but I have experienced much worse.

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A flip-up guard reveals a flex-cuff and seatbelt cutter.

Along the spine is the knife’s second best feature — efficient flex-cuff cutters!  Easily opened with a finger, this cuff cutter works great and regularly comes in handy.  It also excuses me from carrying an extra tool, a much-appreciated personal goal.  I like to keep my gear light and unobtrusive.  The effective and well-placed glass-breaker completes the package.

The scales are made of solid slabs of “anticorodal” aluminum, which I believe add unnecessary weight.  The rough finish is stealthy, but as mentioned above, can take a toll on your uniform.  My example includes a painted white GIGN crest on both sides, and aside from the serial number displayed near the locking mechanism, and the subtle admonition against using the cutters on metal, it is relatively sterile when closed.  When opened, minimal text is visible on the blade.

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Close up view of the glass breaker.

In short, Extrema Ratio offers a better than average LE knife at a higher than average price.  The blade shape is one of the best I have seen, and the superb cuff cutter and glass-breaker makes it part of my regular duty gear.  I have had a glass-breaker snap off a Surefire knife several years ago, and that has left a lasting impression on me.  The tasteful and relatively stealthy looks check-off another few of my requirements.  On the downside, it is unnecessarily heavy, and the finish and sheath are suboptimal for comfortable and/or convenient carry.  To date, this has been the most reliable LE knife to find its way into my duty gear, and though it could stand some improvements, I am generally happy with it.

Pros:
– Innovative and functional geometry
– Sharp reliable blade
– Cuff-cutter and sturdy glass breaker
– Relatively subtle good looks

Cons:
– Price
– Abrasive finish
– Needlessly heavy
– Suboptimal carry

Stats (provided by distributor):
MSRP: $636 U.S.D.
Length Opened – Knife Only: 268 mm
Length Closed: 157 mm
Total Length of Sheath and Inserted Knife: 311.15 mm
Blade Length: 115 mm
Weight – Knife Only: 198 gr
Weight – Knife and Sheath: 419.57 gr
Blade Thickness (Thickest Section): 5 mm
Blade Width (Widest Section): 30.31 mm
Blade Steel: N690 cobalt stainless steel
Blade Hardness: Rockwell 58 HRC
Serrations: Partially serrated blade – 22.03 mm
Locking System: Liner lock
Handle: “Anticorodal” aluminum

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Ian von Gordon is a former Port Security diver, a 12 year U.S. Coast Guard veteran, and currently works as a LEO in Ohio.  He’s also been my best friend for going on 25 years.  – HCA

comments

  1. billdeserthills says:

    Folks have been tricked into buying weapons from France in the past, I would steer clear as I only buy weapons that have been dropped once or twice from France.

  2. SigGuy says:

    That is one hell of a knife! Personally my main concern about carrying a knife of that cost daily would be loosing it.

  3. GC says:

    Extrema Ratio is one of my favorite knife manufacturers. The quality shows through all parts of their products: the packaging, the knife and the sheath. I own two of the Glauca B1’s cousins from the medium folder series and my only complaint is with the liner lock, which I’ve found can be difficult to disengage with one hand.

  4. DrewN says:

    Man, $650? My sidearm cost less than that. I’ve had good luck with my MOD Mark 1, it’s taken quite a few years of abuse at this point and has most of the features you like (easy open, positive lock, nonstick coating, glass breaker, hook knife, partial serrations, kydex and nylon sheaths). It’s a uniform wrecker to be sure however, all my pants have clip fraying. Still, less than half the price. Plus the Blackhawk polymer knockoff is only $99.

  5. Tom in Oregon says:

    I really like this knife. But geez, the price is like it’s for government issue.
    Oh wait.

  6. billdeserthills says:

    I don’t like that if this comes from France, there is a chance that it was assembled by a muslim, but I guess I haven’t cancelled my Target credit card yet either…

  7. NavyRetGold says:

    To anyone who wants to throw down $636 on a weirdly geometric design knife like this, I say go for it! I would personally rather spend 1/3 the cost on a USA built hard use knife like any of the Zero Tolerance models. A ZT 0300 model would be much more likely to survive pry bar use than the knife I see in this picture. Is N690 blade steel worth $400 more than S30V? I own a ZT 0301 and I can’t see any benefit in in the Extrema Ratio over it. The ZT I carry does not have a glass breaker, but the partial serrations on the ZT’s seem better than the Extrema, and some models of ZT do have a glass breaker. ZT’s mostly use titanium frame locks vs the Extrema’s cheaper and less robust liner lock. This makes no sense to me, as my primary reason for carrying a knife (or two) is self defense (backup to a gun), along with the utility of having a blade for a tool. Perhaps I’m just a country redneck and can’t see the value of such a high dollar pig sticker. So be it.

  8. AW1Ed says:

    I’m with NavyRetGold. I have a zt0350ts. A great EDC, and it didn’t hit every branch as it fell out of the ugly tree, either, like this overpriced Frog blade did.

  9. MD says:

    To each their own, but I see no reason to spend $600 on an edc blade when there are so many good options at a far lower price point.

  10. Anthony says:

    Knife is like an extension of the hand. Definitely, I love this knife very much as It helps me a lot for everyday carry. But price is a big issue as there are many options to purchase various knives at low cost where it needs to high prices to purchase.

    BTW, Good review regarding the Glauca B1. Perhaps many want to get this knife at high cost.

  11. Samcro1963 says:

    It’s not FROM France. It is Italian. Made in cooperation with French Law Enforcement. Extrema Ratio Knives are built to survive. The heavy duty folders are made to carve-up a car…

  12. Bladeslady says:

    Sancro1963 is correct. The Extrema Ratio knives, including the Glauca B1, are made only in Italy. Some dishonest dealers will suggest that ER also makes knives in China. Not true!

    The $636 price is the MSRP and not the actual price that is being paid. It is much less than that on our website (http://www.xtremeknives.com/glb1eknandsh.html) as well as other websites. All dealers I have checked out sell the Glauca B1 for less than $636.

  13. Goodguys says:

    I own and utilize the B1 for its intended purposes. Couple of observations about the ‘cons’ that are noted in this review:

    * Price? No one (but a fool) purchases an item at full retail. I purchased my B1 on sale with an additional discount for $380. At this price you can easily compare it to other special-purpose, mostly hand-made knives in this elite class. And remember this is potentially both a life-saving tool and a damn fine weapon. Who among us considers purchasing the least expensive pistol available for their duty or personal sidearm? No one. The same logic should be utilized for a duty, special-purpose GTW knife. Do you kit up with only one knife?

    * Abrasive Finish? One is left to wonder if ER had made this knife in a smooth finish, if the criticism would have been, “The knife lacks a finish that allows it to be gripped when fluids are encountered” … The finish on this knife is superb (read just right), and is not as abrasive as the new, modern pistol grips one encounters on Tier 1 pistol handles. Seriously.

    * Needlessly Heavy? This statement lacks comparison. The B1 is not a heavy knife by any stretch of the imagination, especially given its length, which is NOT too long when you consider its intended use. You are aware of its intended use (as a penetrator)? And for those that think it too heavy, you need to pull out a scale that measures grams, and measure the other critical items in your kit that you consider ‘light’ weight? Get back to me when you realize that you have developed a new understanding of the weight of life-saving/fight stopping items relative to their ability to handle harsh environments, and the inevitable abuse that accompanies sub-optimal conditions.

    * Suboptimal Carry – Probably the only partially valid piece of criticism in your article, yet flawed again by a failure to understand the primary purposes of the B1. The B1 is not optimally designed for POCKET carry or EDC in your jeans front pocket. It is designed for carry in the included sheath, so that it is deployed as a fixed-blade. If one does not like that, one can buy a small, inadequate sub 3.5 inch folding lock blade. If you try to force the B1 into front or back pocket carry (tip up), and don’t modify your draw technique, you are likely to accidentally deploy the blade when you remove it from a too-tight pocket, and unintentionally slice something off. To draw the B1 from closed, stowed-in-clothing pocket carry, you first should consider reversing the pocket clip to tip down orientation. When you go to draw the knife from your pocket, your hand and fingers must enter your pocket in a manner that allows for the first articulation of both your index and middle fingers to grasp the opposite lobes of the hilt guards. This will prohibit accidental opening of the blade during the withdraw. Then you get to develop a technique to pivot the knife body and deploy the blade. Because of the ambit studs and dual hilt guards, this allows for personalization of deployment (a plus for those that know how to train with a knife). You can also tune the blade bolt so that it has slightly more tension – which is suggested if you plan to carry this in your pocket. And the B1 will NEVER be as comfortable to carry in your pocket as your favorite EDC with semi-smooth, sculptured handles. This is because the B1 was never, never, never designed for this purpose.

    This is a good article, but I believe that a failure to understand the true nature of the B1 causes a-lot of unwarranted criticism. ER is a fantastic company, and its blades are simply superb and amazing. We are lucky to be able to procure them here in the USA.

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Tactical Duty Knife: Extrema Ratio Glauca B1

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