Meyerco Pinkerton Wharning: Failure, Warranty Replacement

The Meyerco Pinkerton Warning is one of several knives designed by Dirk Pinkerton for Meyerco, a company notable because it produced many of the late (and missed) Blackie Collins’ designs.  Meyerco’s product line ranges from quite expensive (for its Bob Terzuola CQB Military Fixed Blade Knife) to, for the most part, extremely affordable folding and fixed blade knives made in China.  To be perfectly honest, Meyerco’s designs have always outpaced their price point.  To buy some of Pinkerton’s superb designs, executed as ten-dollar-retail Chinese imports, makes one wonder what he or she might acquire for fifty to a hundred USD.

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Such was the case with the Pinkerton Wharning.  I like this design.  I like the handle materials.  I like the ergonomics. I like everything about the knife, including its low price tag.  The problem is that this low price tag comes with perhaps a greater risk of variability in quality control.  This was immediately apparent when the knife failed after only a week of moderate use.

Let me state at the outset that The Martialist employs several product testers.  One of these works at a trucking company and uses his knives for work on a regular basis.  Knives that return from his cruel ministrations have clearly been used for everything from prying and digging to cutting metal cargo straps and everything in between.  This was not the case with the Wharning.  I gave him the knife and he used it for light utility chores for most of a week.

Then it failed.

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That’s right.  The knife was not adjusted in any way; the pivot had not been touched, nor was the knife abused or torqued.  The blade was opened using normal thumb pressure on the thumb stud… whereupon the the blade locked open and stayed that way with the liner lock engaging the opposite side of the blade tang.

This created a dangerous situation.  The knife initially jammed open.  (It was not possible to close it without taking it apart.)  Torquing the jammed knife to either side (as you might in using the blade for some work task, unaware that it was jammed open) eventually caused the blade to collapse. If you were distracted by the task at hand and expecting your one-hand-opening folding knife to operate as advertised, you could be surprised and cut either by trying to close the jammed knife, or when the blade folded on your fingers unexpectedly.

Subsequent tinkering with the knife showed that the error was reproducible.  The knife eventually started jamming every time it was opened under normal thumb pressure.  A screwdriver was used to pry the liner back to the correct (left) side of the blade tang, and each subsequent opening resulted in the same jam condition.

I sent e-mail to Meyerco asking them about the failure, and providing the images you see here, on 17 December, 2012.  A couple of days later I phoned to see if anyone had seen my e-mail.  I was told that the regular service person was out and given instructions for mailing my knife back to Meyerco.  On 22 December I wrote again to confirm that I had shipped the knife.  I also asked if anyone there had seen my original e-mail, as it detailed what is about the most serious lock failure you can experience in a liner-lock folding knife.

I received a reply on 2 January, 2013:

We have received your knife for repair. We have been closed for the
holiday’s and inventory. We will be getting to warranty/ repair issues as
soon as possible. Thank you for your patience in the matter.

Six weeks after my initial query, on 5 February, I received in the mail what appears to be a replacement Meyerco folder.  The knife shipped in a padded envelope in a box that was crushed in shipping.  I don’t believe this is the original knife, although I could be wrong.  It appears to be a brand new replacement with a nicely sharp factory edge.  No explanatory paperwork was provided, nor any description of what might have been done to repair the knife (which would not apply if this is, in fact, a replacement).

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The Wharning has G-10 handles, a stainless steel Wharncliffe-pattern blade coated in “black non-glare finish,” dual thumb studs, and a removable pocket clip suitable for right-hand, tip-up carry only.  The G-10 handle slabs are comfortable and provide good traction. The serrations cut in the spine provide good purchase for the thumb, too. At seven inches overall, the Wharning is a good size for general carry, utility, and self-defense — which is what attracted me to it in the first place.

The factory edge is razor-sharp.  The knife snaps open with authority when you nudge the thumb stud, thanks to an extremely powerful assist-spring (it’s a coil spring visible when you peer between the liners).  My first thought, in fact, was that this spring is so powerful it might have caused the blade to lodge past the tang when the knife failed.  I have a Meyerco Jeff Hall Yakuza assisted opener by Meyerco that has had no opening problems (and in truth the Wharning is the first Meyerco folder I have owned that failed like this), but its spring is not as powerful as that of the Wharning. There is no vertical play, and only slight lateral play (it is almost imperceptible) when the replacement knife is locked open.

The pocket clip is affixed with three Torx screws.  My replacement knife’s clip had good tension out of the box and does not shift in place. As already stated, are no other holes for mounting the clip in any orientation but right-hand, tip-up. The scallop for the liner provides a sort of integral guard, but would not stop the blade from cutting your index finger if the knife foldedin a forward grip.

I find the Wharning very comfortable in my palm.  The rounded butt fits nicely in my mitt and, with my thumb on the spine, I can control the tip nicely for fine work.  The Wharncliffe blade is easily resharpened because it has no curve.  You sacrifice belly for slicing, but the knife tapers to a needle tip and is very well suited to puncturing, shaving, and scoring.  It would certainly function reasonably if employed for self-defense.  It would not produce efficient slashes, but it is an excellent stabbing, thrusting tool that also cuts.

Out of the box I’ve opened my replacement knife repeatedly.  I have not yet reproduced the failure, but I also have not used the knife for more than a day as of this writing. As this is a good design for a general purpose tactical folder, I am hopeful I will not see the error again.

Meyerco deserves credit for honoring its limited “forever warranty” without question.  I wish they had commented on my detailed description of the failure, however.  I had to pay to ship my knife to the company and was told I would need to pay extra if I wanted the return shipment insured, but I got the shipment without difficulty and nothing went wrong with the process. I cannot criticize Meyerco’s warranty fulfillment in any way.

It would have been nice to be reassured by Meyerco as to the nature of the original problem, but given that the new knife arrived, that seems to me an unspoken statement in support of, and standing behind, their product.  I will also say that I am not less likely to buy a Meyerco folding knife in the future. I like the company’s products and am a fan of the major knifemakers who collaborate with Meyerco to produce its line.  Quality control issues can occur in any product, especially a liner lock, which is more prone not to work than some other lock designs.

In answering my consumer query, the company has done what is necessary per its stated company policies. That can’t be taken for granted in today’s business climate.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Meyerco Pinkerton Wharning: Failure, Warranty Replacement

  1. Surprised to hear of this. I own one, and I’m very impressed. The ‘cheap’ steel seems to hold an edge fine. Mine is as fast as my Kershaw Blur tanto, which was very surprising. I wish the G10 was little more grippy, too smooth for my taste, but then I own a Lion Steel Daghetta… now THAT is G10! Anyway, very impressed with this Wharning, kinda ‘shocked’ that this happened to you.

    1. I really don’t think this was typical. Things like this can happen. The key is whether the company makes it right, which they did. Extended testing of the replacement knife will prove out the function of the lock. Two or three weeks of normal use should be enough to declare the original failure an anomaly.

  2. I just came a cross this review. I would like to say thank you. I very much appreciate when a noted and knowledgeable person such as you Phil, gives a review or feedback on one of my knives or designs. While I always want to hear what I have done right, I only truly learn from what I didn’t do right.

    The folding Wharning was my first attempt to translate a folder from a fixed blade. In this, it was the fixed blade Wharning Meyerco was making. Unfortunately, do to some internal changes, they opted to stop making the fixed blade. Overall, I am pleased with the folding Wharning. I have only come across a couple of issues with them. The main one being that, during sharpening, they tend to turn the straight edge into a slightly curved edge. They have been doing better. I have not come across a lock failure and I am hoping this one turns out to be an anomaly.

    I look forward to hearing how the replacement knife stands up.

    Thank you,

    Dirk Pinkerton

    1. Hi Dirk,

      So far, the new knife is holding up great, as I figured it would. I’m so pleased you stopped by to comment. I’m [obviously] a fan of your work and have been for some time.

  3. I really don’t like the idea of paying for warranty work on an obviously defective knife.

    The lack of communication isn’t good either. It’s making me think twice about buying one. I’ve got a couple Variable Claws, and I’m pleased with them. But paying extra for a quality control failure would make me very unhappy

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