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by Larry Connelley
Integral folding knives are something of a confusing term. Integral gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean?
Integral refers to being made from one piece of metal. Often 3-D machined, integral knife handles are incredibly strong. Because they are milled from one solid piece of metal, they don’t have screws, spacers or fasteners that can fail, unlike multiple piece knife handles. Here are a few examples of integral handle knives:
SR1: The Lion Steel SR1 has an integral titanium handle that is extremely strong and resilient. The entire handle is a single piece of titanium, but the bar lock on the folding knife utilizes a lock bar interface and a safety lock that doubles as a lock bar stabilizer. Not quite ready for titanium? The Lion Steel SR1A series is also available in a hard-anodized aluminum. Since it is easier and faster to machine than titanium, this material is more affordable and a great option.
SR2: The SR2 is made of machined and anodized titanium and grey bead blasted titanium. The SR2 is proportionally smaller than the SR1, a great size for an EDC knife. Like the SR1, it is also available in hard-anodized aluminum with the model designation SR2A.
TiSpine (TS1): The Lion Steel TiSpine of course has an integral handle, made of machined and anodized titanium. It has much more variety available, with the handles being made in polished titanium or matte finish in grey, blue, or bronze. The TiSpine is shown in the picture – in a staged machining process to show the time and workmanship that goes into this high-end folding knife.
TM1: Made from a machined integral piece of carbon fiber, this is a nice departure from the usual metals. The Lion Steel TM1 utilizes a traditional lockback mechanism until the bar locks of the SR1, SR2 and TiSpine. The integral carbon fiber provides an extremely robust yet lightweight frame.
While integral folding knives may cost more, they can last far longer than a typical folding knife. Less lot screws and parts, additionally, they require little maintenance since there is only one piece.
So if you haven’t tried an integral knife yet, find one that matches your personality and enjoy the craftsmanship, art, and functionality that they provide. There is tremendous pride of ownership that having an overbuilt integral frame knife can provide.