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Knife Review: Hogue Knives EX-A03 3.5” Automatic Knife

Knife Review: Hogue Knives EX-A03 3.5” Automatic Knife

Posted by SD on Oct 8th 2019

The Hogue Knives EX-A03 3.5” Automatic Knife

Hogue explains their knife line by saying, “Hogue’s line of fine sporting cutlery represents the ultimate value in tactical folding and fixed blade knives: the vision of renowned custom knife maker Allen Elishewitz expressed through Hogue’s state-of-the-art manufacturing processes. Made in America by American craftsmen, a Hogue knife at your side is a trusted – and trustworthy – companion, an heirloom quality blade combining the best of old-world craftsmanship and design set in the context of modern-day, real-world applications for a tactical blade.”

Today we will be discussing the Hogue Knives EX-A03 automatic knife.

The Designer:

The Hogue Knives EX-A03 has been made in collaboration with Allen Elishewitz. His bio on tells a little history of who he is and how he became interested in knives. He has been interested in knives since he was incredibly young and has also been practicing different forms of martial arts for over 3 decades. He combined these two interests to create both defense and utility knives. He started making knives while he was in college, and once graduated, decided to become a full-time knifemaker. In 1994, he became a member of the American Knifemakers Guild, and at the time, he was the youngest Guild Member. His knives have won various awards, including “Best Utility Knife” and “Best High-tech Knife.” With his background, we know that any knife he has collaborated on will be one that we can rely on. We also know that it will be one designed with a hint of elegance.

The Blade:

The blade on the EX-A03 is made out of 154CM stainless steel. This is a high-end steel that is made by Crucible 

Hogue EX-A03 Auto Knife

Industries. This is no surprise because Crucible Industries is known for making high-end steels specifically for high-end pocketknives. This means that you are going to get all of the good characteristics that you want from your blade steel.

154CM steel is a hard steel that is commonly known as an upgraded version of 440C, because Crucible chose to add in Molybdenum. It is this addition that gives the blade the superior edge holding, especially compared to 440C. The Molybdenum also allows the steel to have the same high levels of corrosion resistance even though there is less Chromium in the steel.

This steel is tough enough that it will allow you to get the job done. Especially with a tanto blade shape. It is not going to be tricky to sharpen if you have the right equipment and will hold an edge for a decent period of time. This is a higher-end steel that is perfect for a higher-end knife like this Hogue knife.

The blade has been finished with a tumbled finish, which is incredibly similar to the stonewashed finish. It is created when the blade has been tumbled around with small pebbles, which are used as an abrasive. This roughs up the steel. After it has been tumbled, it is removed, smoothed out, and polished. This keeps the textured look but gives you a smooth blade for smooth cutting.

Since the textured look remains, it gives a rugged and well-worn look. This also works to hide the scratches and smudges that accumulate over time, prolonging the original look of the blade. The blade also will have a mattified finish, which helps to cut down on glares and reflections that you would encounter. All in all, this is a very low-maintenance blade finish.

The blade has been carved into a classic drop point blade shape. The drop point blade is the most standard blade shape that you are going to find in the cutlery industry. It is classic and traditional, while still being versatile and tough. With the drop point, you really cannot go wrong, with practically anything that may come your way.

The spine of the knife has a slight curve to it, angling from the handle to the tip. On the spine, the portion closest to the handle does have a row of thicker jimping. This is going to give you a lot of control over the blade, because it does create a bit of texture for you to rest your finger on. The slight curve does create a lowered point, which is going to give you more control over your cuts. Due to this characteristic, you will easily be able to perform fine detail work. The lowered point, or dropped point, is also where the knife got its name from.

The point on the drop point really is crucial to what the blade is known for. It is a wider tip, with a bit of excess metal. This is what is going to make the blade as strong as it is. The drop point has been known for its strength throughout time—and it is the broad point that gives it that strength.

There is only one major disadvantage to the drop point, and funnily enough, it has to do with the broadness of the tip. The tip is not fine, nor is it sharp, which means that you really are not going to be able to excel at piercing with the drop point blade. While this is the biggest disadvantage that the drop point blade shape does have, it usually does not deter too many people. You have to remember the absolute scale of strength that the blade shape is going to provide you with.

The last major benefit that the drop point blade shape does offer is how large the belly is. The belly has a slow curve from the handle up toward the tip as well, which creates excess surface area. The larger the surface area you have, the more capable you will be of slicing with the knife. This means that the Hogue EX-A03 is going to help you excel at slicing and push cuts, which are the most common of the cuts.

The blade has been sharpened into a plain edge, which is the more common of the edges. The plain edge also equips you to take on a wider variety of tasks, because it will give you cleaner cuts than a serrated or combo edge could. The plain edge is easier to sharpen and easier to get a fine edge on. It also excels at push cuts, which include slicing, skinning, and peeling, which are some of the most common tasks that you will be performing with the Hogue Knives EX-A03.

The Handle:

The handle on this pocketknife is made out of a polymer, which will offer a few key advantages. The first is that it will have more of a plastic-y feel to it. This does a couple of things. For starters, it is going to increase the strength of the handle, it is not going to be able to rust, and it will have high wear resistance. Plus, it will be able to withstand a multitude of environments, because it is not a metal. The polymer is also going to offer a good amount of texture, which can be added to it during the production process. The texture is key in feeling confident while you are using the knife. So, not only is the entire handle scale textured, but there is a portion in the middle of the face of the handle that has been even more textured. With this, you should have full control over the knife while you are using it.

That being said, a polymer handle may not be the most durable. If subjected to hard or sharp impacts, it may begin to break apart or even crack.

The handle is super simple. The spine of the knife curves from the blade to the butt. The butt is tapered, with the spine angling down. The actual butt is squared off. The belly of the handle does have a slight finger guard, complete with a slight finger groove and indent. Those two things should help with the ergonomics of the handle to make it more comfortable to use. The finger guard will also increase the safety of the knife slightly, because it will protect your fingers somewhat from slipping and getting sliced. After the finger groove, the belly curves inward ever-so-slightly until it reaches the butt. There is a lanyard hole on this knife.

The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on the EX-A03 is reversible. It can only be attached on the traditional side of the handle, but it is eligible or either tip up or tip down carry.

The pocket clip is a unique one. It is extra-wide at both the top and the bottom of it. The middle of the clip is much narrower than the ends, creating an almost hourglass shape to it. It is kept in place by three silver screws, which do match the rest of the hardware on the knife, including the pocket clip. Near the butt of the clip, the Hogue Knives logo has been stamped.

The Mechanism:

The Hogue EX-A03 is an automatic knife, which does mean that it is going to fall under a strict set of laws in the United States. Automatic knives are not legal in all states, cities, or areas in our country, which does mean that this knife may not be an option for you to have. As the purchaser and user, it is your responsibility to know and follow your local knife laws. BladeOps is not responsible for any consequences of broken laws.

The only other major disadvantage to owning an automatic knife is that it is going to be a little bit harder to maintain. There are a lot of moving parts on the inside of the handle of an automatic knife such as this one. This means that if one of the pieces breaks, the opening function may not perform as smoothly or efficiently. This does mean that you are going to need to be very precise with your cleaning.

That being said, there are a wide variety of advantages to owning an automatic knife. The first is the most obvious: it is going to be easy to bring into play. There should be no fumbling with the knife trying to open it when you need it most: all you have to do is press the button on the handle and it will swing open, lock into place, and be ready to use. This is an advantage if you are ever using the EX-A03 for self-defense. When every single second counts, you do not want to be fumbling with it, trying to open it. You should be able to immediately use the knife that you are relying on. The button is slightly textured, so that you won’t have to fumble around while trying to open it. The texturization should allow you to quickly find the button.

This is also an advantage if you are working on a task that requires you to only use one hand to open the knife. There should be no problem with this, because again, all you are doing is pressing a button.

The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.5 inches long with a handle that measures in at 4.625 inches long. This creates an overall length of 8.125 inches long when opened. The EX-A03 weighs in at 4.13 ounces. This Hogue pocketknife was proudly made in the United States of America.


The EX-A03 was produced in conjunction with famous knife designed Allen Elishewitz and was created in a push-button automatic version after the popularity of the original manual folder. Offered in a multitude of handle colors, materials, sizes and finishes, each product comes complete with a high flat ground stainless steel blade as well as an over-sized push button and front-mounted slide safety. This model features a black polymer frame, a drop point style blade in a tumbled stonewash finish and the reversible pocket clip is designed for the traditional side of the handle only but is eligible for a tip up or tip down carry option.

This Hogue pocketknife is currently in stock. Get yours today by clicking here