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Maxam produces an economy sailor knife resembling the UK MoD NATO pattern (VN21307).  The Maxam version is easily five times less expensive so it would be unfair to give the knives a side by side comparison. With that said, the Maxam “Sailor Tool Knife” is priced fairly but has a couple problems.

The knife is a direct copy British military clasp knife with a shackle key inserted between the sheepfoot blade and can opener.  All three blades rest in their own channel. A large marlin spike runs along the spine of the knife, making this a time honored traditional pattern rigging knife. The inner liners of blade should have formed an integrated screwdriver in the handle (We’ll get back to this later).

The sheepfoot blade has a nice profile and is supposedly 440C steel. There is no nail groove but it is also not needed as plenty of the blade is exposed allowing easy access.

I really like the shape of this marlin spike and that it stops in the half open as well as full open position. While the spike does not lock, it has a very strong spring, and stays in place reasonably well. It does a pretty good job at picking lines and loosening knots.

The shackle key is difficult to open due to be in the middle of all the blades. I would have placed on the opposite side of the sheepfoot. The non locking shackle key works well for small shackles and opening beer bottles but as I mentioned you’ll need a little practice getting your finger on it.

The can opener is pretty big and functional. It can also be used a bottle opener (but the shackle key works better). I’m thinking of grinding the inner curve of the opener in order to use it as a line cutter for small cords and also for stripping wire. This will vastly improve the opener.

The ends of the liners in between the blades form screwdriver heads at the top of the knife. However this gives the knife two screwdriver heads about 3/32nds of an inch apart; making both of them non-functional. Admittedly the manufacturer doesn’t list a screwdriver as part of the knife; however, anyone familiar with the pattern would expect the top of the knife to act as a screwdriver! I know I did.

The bail (lanyard ring) is nice but you’ll need to watch it as it has a tendency to get in the way of the main blade when you’re trying to close it. Rulers measuring up to 2 inches on the obverse and 5 cm on the reverse handle are a nice touch but are probably more eye candy than functional. Fit and finish is is pretty good and the satin finish is a very nice touch.. Blades are tight, a very slight wobble marlin spike when it is closed, and the rivets on the handle protrude slightly. All in all the finish is on par with most rigging knives of this pattern and better than expected at this price.

Aside from minor problem of the bail and bigger problem of the dual screwdriver heads, the knife functions remarkably well and the satin finish looks quite nice.  

The problem with two screwdriver heads was addressed with a little file work. Using a 1/2 inch triangular file I cut the tip off one of the blades and then using a smaller 1/4 file, I rounded off the tip until its profile matched that of the handles. It took about 15 to 20 minutes to accomplish this minor task. As can be expected, the triangular file hit the other screwdriver head a few times and scratched it. I used 1000 and 4000 grit sandpaper to buff out the these file marks. I now have a functioning integrated screwdriver instead of an annoying manufacturing flaw.


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Pattern:  180-219547 Sailor’s Tool
Origins: New Style British Military Pattern
Manufacturer: Maxam
Country: China
Closed Length: 3 ¾ inches
Implements: 4*
       1) Sheepfoot - 2 1/2 inch
       2) Marlin Spike - 3 inch
       3) Shackle Key - 1 ¾  inch
       4) Can opener
Blade Steel: 440C Stainless Steel
Handle: Stainless steel
Shield: none, handles scribed with rulers, obverse inches, reverse centimeters
Pins: Stainless steel
Liners: Stainless steel
Bail: Stainless Steel
Bolsters: None

* Mine also has a functional integrated screwdriver after modification.