The Functional Beauty of the ACE Sonoma Folding Knife - ITS Tactical
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The Functional Beauty of the ACE Sonoma Folding Knife

By Piotr Ma

When I think of Sonoma, I imagine sunny hills, classy homes and vineyards stretching for miles. So it’s appropriate that the ACE Sonoma knife from Giant Mouse shares a name with this picturesque location. It’s a classy looking folder that’s perfect to have in your pocket for everyday carry. The slight gold accents don’t hurt either.

Drawing from the GM3

ACE Sonoma 01

The design of the ACE Sonoma is roughly based on the GM3 folder, which was limited to just 400 pieces. It’s not a direct copy, but it shares the same design lines, materials (Titanium & M390 steel) and overall heritage. However, the construction and details are completely different.

The GM3 is a nested linerlock, while the Sonoma is a real-deal Titanium framelock; the first in the ACE line to be so. Not only that, but it features high quality framelock construction with a stainless insert to prevent lock face wear. Additionally, it has an overtravel safety, ball bearing pivot and gold anodized pivot screw collar. As a framelock junkie, the lock was great news but as a whole package, I’d consider this a top-tier folder.

Handle with Care

The handle of the Sonoma is slightly beefier and cut with sharper lines than the GM3, which gives it a more contemporary and dynamic look. The grip is comfortable, firm and very safe to use in virtually any hold.

A lanyard hole positioned at the end of the handle features enough room to accept classic 550 paracord. I absolutely love the new sculpted and skeletonized pocket clip, which is dark anodized and blends perfectly with blue jeans. This isn’t a deep carry knife, but thanks to the dark color scheme, it doesn’t print too much when clipped in a front pocket. Plus it can be drawn faster when compared to deep carry folders. Obviously you’d have to choose what’s most important for you, but for me if there’s no need to conceal, I don’t mind.

Fielding the Sonoma

ACE Sonoma 06

To avoid rushing this review, I carried the Sonoma for two months before sitting down to write my thoughts. It performed well as an Urban/Office option, but also worked great as an outdoor and weekend tinker knife. The cutting edge is relatively thin, but takes a good edge that’s durable and cuts really well. I tried most of the standard outdoor folder activities with the Sonoma; cutting, whittling, feather-sticking and food processing. It’s a knife that I can carry in my jeans and head off for the weekend with my kids to our country cabin. I also wouldn’t hesitate to take it on a day hike into the mountains.

I wouldn’t recommend the Sonoma for prolonged field and bushcraft use, but no folder is really set up for that and a good 4-5 inch fixed blade will win that competition every time. Additionally, you shouldn’t expect it to slice on par with a good chef’s knife, but it does the job well enough. It’s a good overall tool that looks slim and elegant, while not looking dangerous or offensive. I wouldn’t recommend loudly swinging it open in public, but if you’re just peeling an apple in the park, no one would give it a second look. At the end of the day, I think the Sonoma is a true multi-environment and multi-role EDC knife that’s a functional object of beauty.

Finishing Touches

Speaking of beauty, it’s virtually impossible to find any flaws in the Sonoma. It’s the first GiantMouse knife manufactured outside of Europe; this time by the Reate company, known for high end machining and finishing. The Sonoma doesn’t disappoint there and the bi-directional satin finish is just perfect. Flat areas are aligned with the knife’s axis, with satin grinds angled at about 70 degrees. These grinds add a dynamic look to the overall appearance and I think it just looks flat-out cool.

The titanium handle slabs are mid-grey etched and stonewashed for an attractive modern look. All this is further spiced up with jimping on the blade, flipper and backspacer, finished with a gold pivot collar, satin finished screws and a rounded spine. My Sonoma came perfectly centered and the high quality is what you’d expect and pay for.

Locking it Down

ACE Sonoma 10

During my testing I had zero issues with the lock and it was always rock solid, without any blade play. The detent is strong, but not too strong, so the Sonoma sits really secure in a pocket and you need to give it a proper kick to swing it open. Just ensure that you don’t put pressure on a locking bar when opening the knife, otherwise you’ll press the detent ball against the blade and it might be hard to release. Opening is snappy and reliable, with a rather attractive “clack” sound. I’ll admit that flicking it open can become a bit addictive and my wife was not a big fan of the repeated openings.

Conclusions on the Sonoma

It’s really hard not to like the Sonoma. If you’ve enjoyed using a GM3 folder, or if “technical” folders with slim lines are really pleasing to you, you’ll be delighted with this piece. The $265 price seems very fair to me. Not cheap, but fair for the materials and build quality.

It’s very obvious that the ACE Sonoma isn’t a knife that just “happened.” It’s a carefully thought out design that spawned from the already appreciated GM3 model. It took years for GiantMouse designers Jens Anso and Jesper Voxnaes to finalize and I think they nailed it. In fact, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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