A Look at the Eric Ochs Oni Tanto
Eric Ochs is a Pacific Northwest based knife maker known for his organic styling and unusual design language. Eric started carrying a pocket knife when he was six years old, and has been involved in the cutlery world since the late 80's. In the 90's Ochs went through a fairly major hunting/outdoorsy period in his life, and that sparked him making some knives by hand with files. In 2007 Eric began to take his craft seriously and the following year started Ochs Sherworx; from here he began to make knives for the people in his life that wanted them. The year after that, in 2009, he attended the Eugene Oregon Knife Show and started selling knives on the forums. Finally in 2011 it was time to make the jump to full time knife making and dive head first into folders.
My particular Ochs order came from 2013 when he opened his order books up for a small amount of spots on September 11th to commemorate those that had fallen in 2001. After a pretty respectable wait, that order spot finally came up. I chose the Oni Tanto from Eric's lineup, largely because I've always been a sucker for Japanese styled convexed tantos. Eric is also known for doing inlays of copper or other materials in raised dot patterns, so I went with that as well... Before we get too far into that, let's go over some specs:
- Blade Length: 3.25” blade with a 3” cutting edge
- Overall Length: 7.75”
- Thickness: .617” including the clip
- Steel: Elmax
- Weight: 5.5oz
The Oni Tanto blade is what drew me to this model to begin with. It’s a sweeping negative angle blade that terminates in a convex ground tanto point. The primary edge is ground very very thin, my calipers show it at around .017 before the bevel is put on. What all this adds up to is essentially a knife that is an excellent slicer, ground thin, but with a reinforced point that would stand up to any piercing needs that you might encounter. I asked for the blade to be stonewashed, this is largely to repel any light wear marks that would normally appear on a polished or satin blade. It’s applied very evenly with a granular almost jewel-like quality to the finish when it moves in the light. The spine of the blade is crowned (rounded) and polished. Nothing, I repeat nothing, classes up a knife more than crowning the spine. Chris Reeve does it, Eric Ochs does it, and it’s easily one of my favorite features of the entire piece.
The handle on the Oni is a coffin style handle that taper suddenly towards the pivot to create a little landing area for your index finger and thumb, after which it flares dramatically into almost a finger guard type arrangement. It’s a very unique handle style that culminates into a knife that is comfortable to hold and use.
The handle itself is inlayed with copper pins, that are slightly raised the show side, and fit flush on the lockside. The reason for the difference is simply so that the copper inlays don't interfere with using the pocket clip. I think this style of inlay is fairly unique to Eric’s work, I’m not familiar with anyone else that is doing something similar.
The pocket clip is a milled Titanium clip with a copper dot inlayed into the end. It’s very well done, with just the right amount of spring tension to be functional. It carries the knife just at the right height leaving enough exposed to make it easy to grab, but not so much that it’s overly noticeable to those around you.
Eric has the action on his folders dialed in. I’ve had the privilege to handle quite a few knives from him, and they all have a consistent action. It’s not an overly strong detent, but once it breaks the blade swings open with no hesitation. With some custom pocket knives you might not always be able to get them to flip or open the way you want them to, but not an Ochs. The actual movement of the blade feels like it’s running across glass. The blade doesn’t free fall when you’re closing it, but it’s a very smooth motion, with a sucking detent when you at the end.
Custom knives are difficult to review for a variety of reasons. Largely among them is the factor of limited availability. Unless you’re already on Eric’s books, the likelihood that you’re going to be able to get one direct is very low, outside of some place like Blade Show. That’s why this is less of a review, and more of a summary of my time with the knife.
With that said, as a custom knife collector, Eric’s work represents something that is unique in the knife world. His knives look distinct when laid out on a table with other custom maker’s work. From his organic shapes and interesting choices of materials to his unique inlays and consistently high quality; Eric is doing stuff that other makers are not in the larger custom knife community. I can’t recommend his work more.