It has long been known that the government was involved in experiments involving mind-control. Project “MK Ultra,” is probably one of the most widely recognized of these. It involved hypnosis, LSD administration, sensory deprivation, among other techniques.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how this correlates with Jake Hoback’s Kwaiken-style knife, dubbed the “MK Ultra”? Well, to answer that question, it doesn’t. See what I did there? Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about what this article is really about; the Hoback MK Ultra (MKU) and what makes it so special and sets it apart from other folding knives on the market.
First off, the designation “MK Ultra” on this knife is merely tongue and cheek humor, as put by Jake Hoback, the designer of the blade. It actually stands for “Mini Kwaiback,” and is the little brother to his initial offering of a Kwaiken-style knife, the Kwaiback. This knife looks to be designed as more of a gentleman’s folder, and it is easily understood when holding this refined piece of art.
The Kwaiken, or formerly Kaiken, originated in Japan and was carried by men and women (usually women) of the Samurai class, and was hidden in the kimono sleeve and literally means, “bosom knife”. It was expected to be carried by this class, and had many uses; from grooming, the cutting loose of threads, and in an emergency, self-defense. One of the most intriguing uses of this small blade was ritual suicide. If the husband, a Samurai was mortally wounded, his wife would cut his neck veins, and then hers to prevent the dishonor of being killed by the enemy.
Fast-forward to the present, the Kwaiken-style blade has become increasingly popular by many knife-makers, but not everyone has put the amount of detail into it that Jake Hoback has.
The particular knife that I’ve had the honor of carrying, is the Titanium MKU Folder in Black Fallout Finish. The titanium handles and stainless steel blade are coated with DLC and given a slightly “worn” look to it and actually highlight the edges of the entire piece, from the tip of the blade to the butt of the handle.
The frame of the knife as mentioned before is made of light-weight titanium, and measure 0.125” thick, and 3.6” long closed, giving it a solid, yet feather-like feel in the hand. The blade is deployed by a flipper protruding from the back spine of the frame, and is some of the smoothest action I’ve felt on any knife direct from the factory. Of course, being constructed with rolling bearings and hardened races from Hoback, you would come to expect this, given his excellent track record of quality.
CPM-S35VN steel is the material that the blade is made from. This as with the frame, measures 0.125” thick and is 2.5” long. Once again, the DLC and “Fallout” finish on blade give it a wicked, yet refined look. The body of the blade has a beautiful upsweep to it, similar to that of a miniature Katana. It comes razor, and I do mean razor sharp right out of the box. I’m a huge fan of S3VN for the simple fact that it has excellent edge retention and is easy to sharpen back to a hair-popping edge with minimal effort.
One of the last things to touch on is the lock itself. The MKU doesn’t have your everyday liner-lock. This bad boy is built with Hoback’s Lock Insert. And instead of me trying to explain it to you, I’m going to share exactly what Jake told me: “The MKU lock has an interesting tidbit, but not well known. It’s an insert liner lock. Meaning the lock bar is actually dovetail cut and keyed, then the frame is undercut and keyed to allow the lock to drop in and be pressed back toward the tail, then it is pinned in place. Once it’s complete, the lock is almost one with the frame. No loosening or moving.” When I read this, I immediately examined my other liner lock knives and compared them to Jake’s MKU. It was easy to see why this little sword is so special. As described above, there appears to be no liner what-so-ever, almost as if the liner and frame were one. To me, that right there is the icing on the cake.
Regarding the price tag on the MK Ultra, Mr. Hoback was kind enough to share this: “Another funny thing about knife-making that falls into the MKU product line, is that everyone expects to pay less for a small knife, but in reality it’s much harder to produce a smaller product than a bigger one. Machining tolerances need to be tighter and everything has to fit together much better; Mainly the cost is in the production, ie… machining, finishing, manpower”.
The MK Ultra comes in at $450 dollars, which may be expensive too many looking for a smaller knife. But, if you are looking for the real deal and something that can not only be passed on for generations but actually used, then this is definitely worth considering. I don’t have any problem saying that Jake has no doubt raised the bar on what a quality folder is.
So, since I worked you up at the beginning with the whole government and Project MK Ultra thing, I figured I’d leave you with this at the very least: is this a gentleman’s folder or a small, easily concealable, tactical folder that is ready to do damage to whatever job you put it up against?
Author – Tony Kuhn