GT-110 in ATS-34, aluminum alloy
So this one's kind of interesting.
The official sticker price on these is $250 but that's clearly beyond aspirational -- I decided to check them out when I saw these available online for around $60 or so. They're made in the US and owned by a large umbrella company that bought it from the original GT owners, who apparently still work in the shop. Nothing's done by hand, it's all CNC milling. ATS-34 is a good, good steel that takes an incredibly sharp edge. Aircraft aluminum, ATS-34 -- I thought to myself 'how's it available for this discount?' but decided to give it a shot, see if I could learn anything about the manufacturer.
So first things first, out of the box it's impossible to flip. That brass circle is a pivot button; unless you've depressed it, the blade is locked in place. The physics of the grip are such that in order to depress the button, you really have no leverage to flip the blade. I was able to flip it partially open eventually by pressing the button from the top and flicking the blade from the bottom with my middle finger, but it wasn't going well. A lot of grating.
The second thing is I noticed it had blade play. Real blade play. And at that point I just set the knife back down and was almost done with it. American manufacturing, CNC and the blade wobbles? I dunno if that's a brand I gotta check out, I expect made in the US stuff to be good out of the box, know what I mean? I looked and saw that there was apparently no way to adjust the pivot and just thought to myself 'what a piece of crap'. I mean, you go looking for bargains in the knife industry, you'll find many knives you discover that you don't actually want. So I put it down and went and did something else for a while.
After a while I came back and looked at it and decided 'what the hell, take it apart and see if you can fettle it into better shape.
And that's where this knife got interesting.
So first things first, it didn't have a smooth flip because there are no washers in this design. You have CNCed aluminum, brass and ATS-34 all in flat-to-flat contact -- this is not meant to be a flipper, this is meant to be a rugged work knife.
Second -- doesn't look like it should wobble, does it, with all this flat-to-flat contact?
Looks are deceptive. For a knife like this, because there's no washers or bearings designed to slip along a rotational surface, the difference between 'too tight to move at all' and 'wobbly' is literally less than 10 degrees of turn on a single Torx connector. Also because you have solid milled handles, the degree to which the back two Torx connectors are dogged down are also going to have an impact, not just how tight you have the nearest Torx fastener. BTW these fasteners are T10 sized, so be aware you need that size of a bit or wrench to disassemble the knife.
Third: I looked at the surfaces and saw that they'd been adequately machined but hadn't had much in the way of finishing touches. There were burrs and flashing and whatnot -- it could still benefit from a little work with files and sandpaper.
Fourth: this is a pretty cool pivot.
It's simple enough. You have a brass plate, a brass plunger button, a lockbar made out of hardened steel, and a spring. The tang of the knife fits between the flat of the plate and the opposite aluminum scale, and rotates around the ring in the center. Notches in the tang allow the lockbar to pop back up when it's fully closed or open, hence locking the blade.
So with some light, careful sanding -- I looked carefully for signs of wear and very gently eased them a bit with a file and then wet sanding I got this knife to the point where I was not only happy with it again, but I could, with quite a bit of wrist, grav flip it open by depressing the button and giving it a good snap, all without any blade play. It took about 15 minutes of careful adjustments of the tension on the three Torx fasteners, and some Blue lube, but it's where it needs to be now, and I find that satisfying. If I had paid sticker price for this knife I'd have been furious that I had to do all this to get it into fighting trim, but I knew I was taking a flyer for $60 - it's all good.
Last: it has a clip made of the same material as the handle.
Not so many knife manufacturers do this. More should - it can be a good look. It came tip down, and I reinstalled it tip up.
For whatever reason they didn't drill holes on the face to make it lefty friendly -- probably to preserve the look. The holes do look a little crude compared to the milled surface. So lefties, as usual, beware -- this knife isn't lefty friendly.
I'll be keeping an eye on GT knives. I tend to like folding knives with bushings that let them flip much more than I like knives you use two hands to open, and I tend to use fixed blades for the sort of rugged tasks instead of something like this, so the GT110 really isn't in my wheelhouse, and if I hadn't bothered taking it apart I might have dismissed the brand altogether when the blade wobbled out of the box. But I did see some things I liked when I took it apart and after some benchwork, there's a lot more to like about it. I do think the CNCed flats could be milled juuuuuuust a bit smoother considering that there's no washers or the like in this knife. I know American manufacturing has to cut unnecessary labor and toil to be competitive, but the owners of GT might want to allow for just a little more finishing work in their budget if they found this knife didn't sell nearly as well as they expected. It didn't take much for me to take this knife from having a grating open to being flippable -- just some smoothing and lube. There was really only just a couple spots that showed they were rubbing. That work made a TON of difference in the knife once it was back together, though.