The Boker Plus Exskelibur line of knives has been a mainstay of the Boker catalogue, and for good reason. This Burger/Skellern custom design features unique quirks that no other production knife has (more on this later) with solid ergonomics and way, way above average cutting performance.
The variant I have of the Exskelibur I happens to be in titanium. The Exskelibur comes on a whole bunch of different flavours from carbon fiber to wood and G10 – so you definitely have options here to suit your wants/needs. I will be discussing the “high end” titanium version exclusively because – that’s the one I’ve got! But of course, beyond material/steel choice, the relative features and performance will be the same across all variants of the Exskelibur.
Interestingly, this happens to be a pretty damn large knife. I didn’t expect it to have quite as much blade as it does, but with 3.5 inches of edge – this is certainly in the large knife category. Unlike the Benchmade 940, it looks the part. Both have a similar amount of blade (talkin’ length only), but the Exskelibur feels significantly larger.
I know it’s a weird comparison to make. The clean, austere Boker and the weirdly modern Benchmade, but holding both in your hands, the similarities are striking.
Both the Exskelibur and the Osborne are lightweight/slim EDC knives with premium materials, and both are designed by custom knife makers for world renowned production knife manufacturers. So I think the comparison is pretty on point.
When it comes to the specifications, the Exskelibur I is is a barebones knife in all the best ways. If you have been looking for a new knife with absolutely zero gimmicks or technology, this is it. Super clean and nicely contoured titanium scales, S35VN blade steel and the most orthodox blade shape I think you could dream up: This is a knife for people who want just a knife, if you know what I mean.
Can we also take a moment to mention how thin the scales are?
0.31 inch handle thickness. Holy crap this is a slimline option. It does feel very natural in the hands and the weight, at a touch over 3 ounces, is remarkable. I don’t know if a premium titanium framelock exists that offers more cutting power per pound than this folder. Please inform me in the comments if I am wrong, but I very much doubt it.
So far so good right? So why isn’t it more popular? I suspect the core issue people have with the Exskelibur line of knives is the deployment system. It’s not a flipper, but rather the heel of the blade sticks out and you grab its jimping and pull. Like a weirdly positioned thumbstud.
Obviously this is a weird movement for most knife folk. We are definitely not used to such systems. After using it every day for 3-4 weeks, I’m happy to say it’s rock solid and very reliable. I wouldn’t trade a Spyderhole for it, but I certainly don’t feel like it’s sub par either – even after only a few days of getting used to it.
Another thing to note is that the lack of a hole, nail nick, thumb stud, flipper, etc. means that the knife can keep its hyper-clean styling. Minimal with a capital M folks. Sharpening to a ridiculously acute angle is also trivial due to the lack of thumbstud getting in the way and I do think it does make the knife “seem” far more harmless.
On the surface, the Exskelibur I is a 3.5 inch titanium framelock with a very sharp grind as well as a pretty wicked tip, but in my experience, people do not react to it the same way as a Spyderco Paramilitary.
As a side note, I use my thumb, but many others use their pointer finger to deploy the blade. I shan’t say which is the best way, as I think personal bias will impact the decision far more than what’s objectively best. At the end of the day, do what works for you.
I like to think of the Boker Plus Exskelibur I as a modern day Buck 110. It’s a workhorse, but its styling is socially palatable for the masses. It feels like a knife designed to cut things and that does not worry too much about aggressive styling or being trendy. From what I understand, this falls right in line with the philosophy of the designers who make knives for working, not displaying.
On another interesting note, the pivot washers are Teflon. I know this may come as a shock to some of you (certainly was a surprise to me!), but honestly, this is one of the smoothest knives I have ever owned. Ridiculously easy to deploy even with a quick pinch like you can see below.
I am not sure why Boker/the designers chose to go with Teflon, but hell, it works and I have absolutely zero complaints with it.
I think this is one of these situations where stereotypes have come to define an industry. In the past Teflon washers were for cheap knives and bronze phosphor for the good, expensive stuff, and so manufacturers have shifted away from Teflon.
If this knife is any indication of Teflon performance, then maybe we need to revisit this stereotype.
Honestly folks, don’t be scared by the deployment system. It’s extremely simple and natural with almost no learning curve. I was apprehensive too, and I really shouldn’t have been. To pass on this knife just because the deployment system is unusual would be a damn shame.
Right, ergonomics. Now as I say, the scales are uber-thin. This is not a folding pry bar and consequently, it’s never going to fill your hand like the CRKT Hissatsu. With that said, the ergonomics are very neutral and comfort is better than many knives with much thicker scales. I think this is a huge win for Boker to have made such a comfortable slimline folder, and a lot of that is due to the excellent contouring.
This level of fit and finish is very unusual for a budget titanium framelock. Most of the time you get 2 slabs and a blade sandwiched together. Very little thought is spent on the end result and ergonomics tend to suffer.
With the Exskelibur, the contouring is so smooth and gradual that hotspots don’t occur outside of what you would expect from such a slimline knife (which is completely normal).
The only major bone I have to pick with the design is the guard. Now I know that the designers (Skellern and Burger) tend to do more traditional stuff and thus have not jumped on the choil bandwagon, but honestly, the choil is already on the blade as you can see below. Sadly, because of the guard you can’t access it.
What a shame. It’s quite likely that in the future I will grind that guard off and possibly enlarge the choil which will enable me to choke up on the blade very easily. Honestly, if Boker had done that from the factory I would have no criticisms outside of the name (the amount of time I have had to glance down at my notes to remember how to spell Exskelibur is super annoying).
On an unrelated note, the blade is technically a hollow ground, but the transition starts off so high (as you can see below) it’s almost a full flat ground. Cutting performance is absolutely ridiculous.
The advantage of having such a simple design means that everything just works. One pivot (adjustable on one side only) and two screws. The framelock is devoid of any newfangled inserts and instead is just nicely machined with clean grinds throughout.
The detent is of the old school ball bearing type, and it’s very, very crisp.
All in all, this feels a lot like a Klotzi to me. Very tight tolerances and zero frills, which for a knife that seems to scream “cut things, cut things,” is a very good thing.
This cracked me up. When is the last time you saw Phillip screws on your pocket clip? It’s funny to me to have this super modern knife in terms of materials and construction, and yet these deliberate decisions made with styling that are reminiscent of the early 90’s.
Tip up, tip down (thank God) with a super clean blue anodized titanium clip. Not deep carry, but then again, this knife is on the whole very discreet due to the sober design and finish. Very little bling, and that’s a good thing.
Oh yes, and in other news, my pants can’t seem to handle the amount of use I give my pocket knives –
Knives like the Boker Exskelibur are few and far between. This is a tool that was designed and conceived with a performance and ideal that is devoid of commercial bias. I don’t think Burger and Skellern pay any attention to knife trends and the result is a tool that is so perfectly sensible that I am at a loss for how to really review it.
It’s pretty in the sense that it isn’t ugly if you catch my drift. A lot of the curves and swoops are exaggerated and seem geared with performance in mind. The butt, for example, is extremely pronounced, which isn’t common these days with the choice being super thick, super chunky folding tanks or delicate needle-tipped gentleman knives. The Boker Exskelibur is quite literally the middle ground – it’s too large and “tool-like” to be a gentleman knife, but then again it’s too light and acute to be a true beater, unlike the Schrade SCH304.
Ultimately, for what you get, the value is crazy. The materials on the Exskelibur I are top notch, but not only that, they are machined to a really high standard too.
The blade is satin finished and everything about the knife feels considered and purposeful. As I sit here fondling it, I can’t think of a single part that feels like it was done by accident or to save time/money. This is a product that stems from a specific vision and despite my initial misgivings about the deployment system and my dislike for the guard – I inevitably have to respect it.
As far as a workhorse goes, this comes with a blade that will outcut 99% of knives on the market all with a solid high end titanium frame lock for roughly 130 bucks.
What more can I say?