The Rick Hinderer XM-18 has become a legendary EDC knife. Some people feel that it is the best EDC knife ever. It is worshiped and hyped on almost all the EDC knife forums. Part of the reason for the hype is that most people have never laid hands on one. It sells for around $800 if you can find one, and only Law Enforcement, Military and Fire/EMS personnel can buy one direct from Hinderer for about $400. The big question is is it worth it, or is it the most overrated, over priced EDC knife on the market?
This EDC knife is sometimes touted as a custom, but a ultra premium production knife is probably more accurate. The basic concept of the knife is to make it very strong and overbuild it wherever possible.
Blade and Frame
It is a titanium framelock design with a flipper deployment . There are also thumbstuds that are pressed into the blade. The frame is titanium with a G-10 scale on the opposite side. The blade is the Hinderer signature Spanto design, that offers maximum cutting potential in a blade that has a extra thickness for strength. The blade is made from premium CPM-S35VN (60-61 HRC) steel. This knife is the 3.5″ version, but a 3″ blade length is also available. The blade is fairly thick at .165″ and it could be used for prying in a pinch. The blade is delivered very sharp, especially for such a thick blade. The XM-18 features a Lock Bar Stabilizer that is an over travel stop, meaning it prevents the accidental over travel of the lock bar during closing of the EDC knife. This prevents the complete over springing of the lock bar that would prevent the lock from functioning.
So far, everything seems great. Unfortunately, when we wanted to take a look at the blade deployment we were very disappointed. The pivot of the blade was too stiff and not smooth. Maybe we got a bad one, but it is not the type of thing you expect on such an expensive blade. After multiple adjustments of the pivot screw, lubrication and disassembly and additional lubrication/adjustment, the deployment is finally passable.
With the flipper, you may sprain your finger to only get it to deploy halfway. Thumb studs work better, but this is a Hinderer, and it should work perfectly. After the adjustment to get the blade to deploy better, the centering of the blade is off and it is microns from rubbing the liner. After liberal application of grease, the blade finally deployed in an acceptable fashion on its teflon washers. This is unacceptable, especially when many other knives have smooth ball bearings that aid in smooth deployment. Once it’s deployed the knife feels beefy and locks up without any play. Testing some other examples of the XM-18 has shown that smooth deployment varies from knife to knife. For the price, this should be checked and adjusted from the factory.
The Hinderer XM-18 feels good in the hand. The G-10 scale has a pattern that is grippy without being too aggressive. The blade features aggressive jimping and the shape of the handle incorporated with the flipper tab provides an excellent grip and hand position. There is a choil area that can also be used if needed.
Fit and Finish
The stone washed frame and blade are ruggedly handsome and will hide wear well. The knife is assembled well with the exception of the smooth deployment. The look is premium without appearing delicate.
The use of titanium helps it maintain a moderate weight of 5.6 ounces, impressive for such a substantial EDC knife. It carries well in the pocket and feels like a smaller knife. While we are making adjustments, we need to adjust the pocket clip. Out of the box, it is so tight that it will bunch up the fabric on your pants as you draw the knife. This may be the best way to prevent the loss of the expensive EDC knife though.
Maybe the old saying “Never meet your heroes” rings true in this case.
If you like the Hinderer design, buy a Hinderer collaboration Zero Tolerance Knife. The models like the Zero Tolerance 550 and 560 series have Hinderer design elements except for the Spanto blade shape (they use a modified drop point) and function like they should at a much better price point. These knives also feature Titanium frames. In general, the XM-18 is not worth the hassle or the price that it takes to get one from a practical standpoint. Even with the exclusivity and cool factor, it will likely underwhelm you as an EDC knife.