Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Personalizing a Ka-Bar Phat Bob

Seen here are two of the new Bob Dozier designed Phat Bob folders. I bought one of these recently because when I first saw it I thought it sure reminded me a lot of the actual Bob custom that I have drooled over for some time. I liked it so much that after that I immediately ordered a second one for a back up. I'd love to have the real thing but I just don't have several hundred bucks laying around to spare at the moment so this inexpensive alternative will have to do. The blade steel is AUS8 and the knife is made in Taiwan. Don't let that sway you though because these are actually built quite well.

Some of the nicest knives in the world are coming out of Taiwan these days. I've seen and handled several and even some recently from China in that little Sanrenmu 710 that have absolutely blown me away for the quality of the work, fit and finish, and overall feel.

Anyway, I did find some things I wanted to improve on with this model with the main issue for me being the weight. It came to me weighing in at 5.3 ounces from the Cheaper Than Dirt web site where I bought it. My second one weighs in at exactly the same weight as the first. First thing I noted after the weight issue was the thumb stud being a bit hard to grab with my thumb as I kept missing it feeling like the handle scale was blocking my access to it or that the stud was just a little on the short side. So, as shown I cleaned out a better thumb ramp on the green micarta scale.

That helped but not as much as I had hoped so I ended up replacing the thumb stud with one easier to get a good hold of when I wanted to use the knife. Being that I was a long time Kabar repairman doing some contract work for them when needed I had some spare parts from other Kabar knives laying around. So, I simply grabbed up one of the spares from another busted Kabar knife and installed that one on my Phat Bob user.

Now moving on I had to figure how I was going to handle the weight issue. Little by little I got all my measurements together and finally figured I'd have to remove the original phosphorus bronze washers and replace those with my own in a thicker washer. This way I could bump up the pivot measurement to the same height as the new fancy stand offs in the rear to allow me to rid the knife of a lot of the weight problem in the way of that solid metal spacer.

The alternative was to simply drill holes in the spacer. I like this better. I reduced the weight from the 5.3 ounces from the factory to a nice 4.6 ounce weight that is noticed quite easily in the hand. I could easily reduce the weight even more by drilling some holes in the solid liners in selected spots and I may do that later on at least on the non lock side liner just to see if I can get it down closer to 4 ounces. With some properly placed lightening holes in a good size I may actually be able to get it there. Time will tell.

Next step for me was ridding the knife of the tip down carry. Being a tip up fan myself I prompty made a custom titanium clip for it and flipped that after drilling and threading some holes right quick. Two of the 2-56 size screws fit right in and now I have me a lighter weight easier to open, properly equipped Phat Bob to suit me personally for use and another for the safe as a back up. I always buy two when I find something I really like. One is none and two is one as they say. :-)

Being that these are just under $50 each from Cheaper than Dirt and thats after shipping, I figured I could afford it. Anyway, the folder is much more to my liking now. Just one of these things would have made a difference for me but at this point its a real nice user. The spacers gave it just a bit more of a wider stance but I rather like that trade off for a few tenths of an ounce weight loss. I don't mind a meaty folder in the hand and that ample handle gives you plenty to hold on to for some serious work. The blade so far seems quite capable and although I have not had the opportunity to really run it through the paces just yet I've had plenty of experience with AUS8 steel and can kind of figure that it will more than handle anything I want to use it for. Thanks for looking.


s_ridge45 said...

Hi Steve

I like the look of your mod. I've just picked up a Phat Bob and am most impressed, it is a great knife for the money. I'm wandering if you would know the easiest way to get hold of spare screws which hold the scales on. I took mine apart soon after I purchased it to lubricate and adjust the pivot to my liking and one of the torx screws which hold the scales on rounded a bit. i can still undo them but i can see problems on the horizon following several dismantles.... Any thoughts, I live in the UK?

my e-mail is



Steve A/K/A STR said...

Sam I've never seen screws like that. However, the easiest thing to do would probably be to contact Bob Dozier and ask him where you can get some 2-56 screws like those used in the Phat Bob by Kabar for some that are bad on yours. I believe he uses something similar and probably has them made special for him. Kabar will just replace the knife rather than repair it. I know this because when someone wanted their knife repaired by Kabar they sent them to me to do the repairs up until earlier this year when I resigned from doing that and passed it on to someone else.

s_ridge45 said...

Thanks Steve, good advice. I've swapped the dodgy one over so I have 2 good screws on the side I need to undo to clean/adjust. I'll see how they hold up for now.


Steve A/K/A STR said...

Yeah I remember after buying my first one of these models thinking that boy I better not ever lose one of those screws holding the scales on. The thread size is very common but to find one with a head like that will be next to impossible. I've not seen any suppliers offering those. The only only thing similar is some I've seen on Bob Dozier's custom folders as I said.

Kabar would swap the knife as long as the model is still made. Once its discontinued they kind of do the Spyderco thing where they will send you an equal value model or refer you to the independent repairman they use. That was me up until about 5 months ago. Still though there is no guarantee on something like that that even an independent could help you.

Should you lose one in the future a 2-56 button head screw will suffice to hold the scale on. Worse case scenario the scales could be replaced and new holes drilled to accommodate different screws.


Jake Deardorff said...

Would you be willing to do this sort of modification to one if I sent it to you maybe?

Steve A/K/A STR said...

No but I'll sell you one I already did work on if you want. thanks

BOODAN said...

Did Jake happen to take you up on that offer and/or is it still available ?

BOODAN said...


BOODAN said...

Is that a sort of grip tape used on the scales or is it imbedded into the micarta?

Steve A/K/A STR said...

Its just textured tape from 3M but it works well. Sticks up a tad but hardly noticed.

I still have the Phat Bob so no he did not take me up on it.
Thanks for asking. Sorry for the late reply.

Lew Thulman said...

This article is from over a year ago but do you possibly know where you got the standoffs and washers and what sizes they were? I just got one of these and would love to lose the heavy backspacer. Thanks!

Steve A/K/A STR said...

Everything there shown came from Knifekits and I do not recall how tall the stand off I bought was. You will need a digital caliper to measure that first to discover as I did the one closes to that fit. I cannot recall now if I replaced the washers also because the stand off height changed some. I do recall I could not find something exactly the same thickness as the original but it was very close and with new washers fixed up any uneven features for spacing. Knife kits sells the washers too and you can measure the blade and the washers together and that number should be close of same as rear measure for the stand off height. Some knives, well, many actually are off front to rear. This is tolerable for many reasons but it need only be within tolerance. Spacing for example of .155 front and .158 rear is not uncommon or the opposite as I've seen both even in new knives. Its nice when front measures .155 and back is the same but even high end models don't always do that. Its all up to the hardware and how it all melds together to make the system the maker had in mind. Some want that additional tension tweak they feel adds a bit of inclined nature for the lock to drift in instead of out so they space the rear different than the front. Some do this in conjunction with repairs of a worn lock to cheat more life out it also. There have been times for example when I've mailed in knives to Emerson in the past to let them fix something and they replaced the spacer in the rear with a much thinner one than the orginal, peened the lock and put the knife back together so the back squeezed almost imperceptively more in than the front but it allowed the worn lock to sit more left of center on the blade than it would have if the spacer had been the same thickness as the front which then would have made the lock drift right of center. Follow? So you can play with the stand off or spacer spacing heights with the liner lock more so than other models. Frame locks also really.

Jennifer Martin said...

What can I say about these Kabar knives. They are really awesome. I would definitely like to have knives like them in my knife collection.