"Disclaimer* "almost any other knife" is a very loosely used phrase
This is of course just my opinion and I don't expect anyone to agree. However, consider that:
1) this opinion is based off of owning and handling quite a few knives in the catalog
2) this opinion is despite the fact that I didn't like the Southard
whatsoever when it originally came out
3) consider the competition it faces for me to feel this way about it
Basically, my love of knives really comes down to what I feel is excellence in design and engineering, and I feel the Southard
really hit the nail on the head in 3 categories that really sell a knife for me. And when I say this, it will no doubt sound like I feel the opposite about other knives, but that's not at all the case..."all good, just different" as Sal has said, these are just some of the finer points that make this knife so amazing to me.
First, are the ergonomics. I can't wrap my mind around how something so seemingly simple and "vanilla" feels so right in my hand. The longer I own it and handle it, the more things seem to make sense to me. For example, it has no 50/50 choil, which is one of my typical go-to qualities in knives that I want. Despite that, I've never got the feeling like my hand is disconnected from the blade as I do with some knives that lack a choil. Also, I love how the flipper doubles as a guard. Then there's the lock cutout, which amazingly doubles almost as deep finger choil, since your index finger wraps around the handle and nests right into the cutout for the lock tab, locking your finger in place. Because of this, the rest of the handle is smooth and lacking any kind of finger indention, yet I've never had an issue with it slipping out of my hand. Then the grip options...it feels as good in a saber grip as it does Filipino grip, which is amazing. You can choke up with your thumb on the spine of the blade and gain both force and control when carving, etc. Apart from the wide/deep jimping on the spine near the pivot, there aren't the usual "tacti-cool gimmicks" that a lot of other knives have, and yet it comes off just as capable in your hand as say, a Manix 2 or Para 2. So in the end you get elegance with performance...it's the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.
Next are the aesthetics. While I do lean towards form following function, there is just enough style and class in the design that it has a certain classiness to it without seeming stuck up and too much like a fancy letter opener. The entire thing reminds me of a machined engine part...strong where it needs to be strong, and stylized everywhere else. My only real complaint here is the asymmetric thickness in the scales, which admittedly drives my OCD through the dang roof. I would be SOOOO HAAAAAPPY! if they'd just make it with Ti on both sides in the same thickness and ditch the G10. I've even come to like the brown G10...I think it works very well with the gray of the Ti. I wouldn't be heartbroken if it were black, but nearly all of my other knives are black so it's a nice change. If it weren't brown, I think my choice colors would be some shade of gray or dark blue. Perhaps the biggest thing that roused my attraction to this knife was the overall shape, both when opened and closed. When open, the blade has a wonderful negative angle, which I very much like in a knife, yet the blade has just enough belly to allow you to make cutting board cuts without any issues. When closed, the blade is almost entirely enveloped by the handle, which takes me back to older knife styles I grew up with, and I think gives a much cleaner look than a large thumb ramp sticking out of the handle.
Lastly, there's the blade, or more specifically the blade to handle ratio. This is a quality that probably makes up 50% or more of why I love this knife so much. While I don't really prioritize blade to handle ratio, and it doesn't stop me from buying a knife if I like it, it is definitely something I very much appreciate and I feel it's a sign of a great design, when you can squeeze as much blade as possible into a given handle length. I also acknowledge that part of why this is possible is due to the lack of a 50/50 choil, which gives it an advantage over other designs. This is something that you really need to experience in your hand for it to really sink in, because reading numbers doesn't really emphasize how great this design is. Just look at this pic...
Notice, that the blade is only about 1/4 inch shorter than a Military, yet the entire knife is a whole 1.5 inches shorter. You still get your entire hand on the grip of the Southard
, and you only give up 1/8 inch of cutting edge vs. the Military. What impresses me even more than that, is that when you hold those two knives in your hands, the Military feels like a huge knife...even if you choke up on the choil, the blade feels massive (for a folder). When I hold the Southard
, the blade feels much more manageable and compact, despite only being 1/4 inch shorter and despite that this 1/4 inch is consumed by the choil on the Military, so you have nearly the same length of blade sticking out of your hand, but the Southard
still feels smaller and easier to use. Also consider that with that 3.46 inch blade on the Southard
, you get a legit 3.46 inches of cutting edge...so you give up no cutting edge to choils, etc. If that's not enough, the two knives are only .1oz different in weight (the Military being the heavier knife), so for the same carry weight you get a much smaller package, with only 1/8 inch loss in cutting edge.
Now, I don't mean to pick on the Military, it just happens to be a nice stark comparison. If I were in a situation where I had to use gloves, I would absolutely opt for the Military. However, for EDC I don't see the longer handle of the Military being at any advantage except for maybe reach if you were in some situation where that was important. Considering how much more compact and easier on pocket space the Southard
is, it's the clear winner in the "Military sized blade" folder market.