Those of you that know me, and even those of you that have read my reviews here before, know that every bit of kit I carry and use has earned it’s place. The cheap junk, the stuff that seemed cool at the time, and the clunky and cumbersome end up assigned to a storage box or some other illustrious life in the dust bin. But not everything worth having is expensive. Such is the case with Bad Blood Knives. These are built well beyond their price point, and in this review, we take a look at just how well two of them are put together.
To start off with, and I normally reserve this for the end, the Bad Blood Knives are built in China. Not something I prefer, and I want to come right out and address that. This is, however, not necessarily a bad thing. My cell phone is built there (likely yours as well), so is my TV, and the same for the computer I’m typing this on. Like those other devices, quality comes from unexpected sources. In this case, the Bad Blood Knives are quality well beyond their price point.
I received two knives from Bad Blood for review, the lager being the Dreadnaught, and the smaller Paradigm. Both of these are fixed blade knives, featuring similar construction. The steel used in both of these is 8Cr14 stainless steel. Now, I don’t know what all those numbers mean exactly, but I can tell you from extensive testing that these blades are hard! Not quite D2 type hard, but definitely harder than your average 440 variety. I found out just how hard this steel is during my testing, and it was reinforced during sharpening!
Both the Dreadnaught and Paradigm have full tang construction, and smooth G10 handle scales. Both knives are also held together with mosaic pins and feature brass tube lanyard holes and integral finger guards. They each come with a similarly constructed kydex sheath that holds each of the knives extremely securely. Where the Dreadnaught and Paradigm differ is in blade length, shape, and finish. The Dreadnaught is 9 11/16 inches overall, with a 4 11/16 inch blade. The blade shape is an upswept style, similar to a trailing point design, with a tanto back edge. The edge is a continuous curve, and starts directly in front of the choil, above the integral guard. The shape of the Dreadnaught is unique, for sure. And that’s what I think designer Sean Kendrick was going for. In reality, though, the Dreadnaught functions just like any curved edge knife. It is very similar in use to many of the higher end skinning style blades, and I was able to very quickly learn the knife’s shape and how it liked to be used. Lastly, the Dreadnaught features a matte finish, in a bead blasted style.
The Paradigm has an overall length of 7 ¼ inches, with a blade length of 2 ½ inches. The Paradigm is a short and stout knife, by anyone’s estimation. The blade shape is that of a drop point style, with a reverse tanto back edge just like the Dreadnaught. In use, the Paradigm is simply a drop point blade with a hump on the back of it. A little weird, but perfectly functional. One aspect I really like about the Paradigm is the finish; it’s a very well executed high polish. The G10 handle scales are a little thinner on the Paradigm, making it feel lighter in the hand and balancing between the first and second finger while holding the knife.
I have carried, used and tested both the Dreadnaught and Paradigm a lot over the past month. Straight out of the packages, which were very nice gift boxes, both knives were nearly shaving sharp. I went straight out to the garage, and within a few minutes on my charged leather strop, had them each shaving hair. The next check I performed was for security in the sheath. When turned upside down and shaken vigorously by the sheath over some scrap carpet, both knives stayed put. When I really slung them, the Paradigm slipped loose. After some inspection, I found the part of the sheath that is molded around the index finger area was a bit loose.
I have a lot of experience with kydex sheaths, and I’ve made plenty myself for other knives. So, I grabbed my heat gun, cleared off the work bench, and put on some leather gloves. I heated up the small area of the sheath that grabs the handle of the Paradigm just below the integral guard. Once warm, I simply pinched both sides of the sheath together. Before it could cool off completely, I slid the Paradigm in the sheath and made sure it would still go in without trouble. A few more pinches of the kydex with the knife in the sheath, and I had corrected the issue. Now, you can jerk and yank the Paradigm around by its sheath, and it’s not moving an inch. And while this is a semi-technical fix for a typical knife buyer, it’s certainly not outside the capabilities of the average Woods Monkey or bushcrafter.
Both knives were carried on a day hike during later winter in central Colorado. The Paradigm was on my belt behind my Glock 26, and the Dreadnaught was clipped to the compression strap on my backpack. Those of you familiar with my style of moving in the woods know that I rarely carry a fixed blade on my belt. It is almost always in the pencil pocket of my carpenters style Carhartts, or attached to my backpack. I started at one of my favorite creeks accessible only by 4×4 trails and a little know how. Hiking upstream for several miles, I found the smaller Paradigm to carry extremely well. The kydex sheath for both of the knives features a clip on belt loop, and while it did tend to slide around a bit on my nylon belt, I never felt I was in danger of losing the knife.
Stopping for an afternoon cup of coffee provided some ample testing ground for each of the knives. I started out by breaking out my small hiking stove, getting the water on, and locating some suitable wood and tinder for an afternoon fire. I gathered some Lodgepole Pine, Aspen, and Oak Brush. Usually I stay away from Oak Brush as it tends to be very wet, even when I find one that’s been dead or uprooted for a while. But in this case, I found some that broke with a discernible crack, and I knew it was dry enough to work with. Using the Paradigm, I peeled the Oak Brush into small shavings and curls. The handle was very comfortable, and the hollow ground blade bit cleanly and smoothly into the wood. Moving to the Aspen, I push cut large chunks of wood using both knives. The heavier weight of the Dreadnaught definitely helped in this, as well as its longer blade. Also, the continuous curve of the Dreadnaught’s edge made cutting long, continuous curls a simple job.
Using my firesteel, I found the spine of both knives to be properly squared off and capable of throwing the necessary shower of sparks. I especially like fire building with the smaller Paradigm. It just seemed ‘handier’ and quicker in the hand. I have always like shorter, heavier knives, and the Paradigm is exactly that. With a large bundle of dried grass, I struck the spark and easily had the fire going. Once the coffee was made, I moved to splitting out some heavier kindling with the Dreadnaught. Working through the Lodgepole, I found the Dreadnaught to be very capable for this task. After enough wood was split out, I fed the fire, let it die down, and enjoyed the coffee.
While sitting on the creek bank I spied a tree stump that was years old. Thinking this to be a good picture spot, I moved toward it. After a few obligatory pictures (that is what you’re looking at, after all), I decided a tip-strength test would be interesting. So, taking the Dreadnaught first, I stabbed the tip deep into the top of the stump. I then knelt over the knife, grabbed it as hard as I could, and rotated the knife 180º. The knife was over a half inch deep into the pine stump, and I assure you, this was no easy task. I inspected the knife, and found zero damage. Moving to the Paradigm, I did the same thing. Rotating the Paradigm was a little easier, which was likely because of the stubbier tip. But it suffered no damage either. I think this is a great example of the hardness and strength of the 8Cr14 steel, and I believe it will certainly hold up to any drilling type tests you might throw at it.
I moved on to a batoning test of the Dreadnaught that I simply can’t recommend you try. I found a log in excess of 8” in diameter. Wondering just how much the Dreadnaught could take, I began batoning the knife into the edge of the log, twisting it, and breaking out the chunk. I’ll admit that this is clearly abusive, but for a knife in this price range, I thought what the heck, folks will want to know just what they’re getting for their money. After splitting out a pile of chunks, I inspected the knife. I found the handle scales had very, very slightly separated from the tang of the knife. This was only enough to barely see light though, and after photographing, I tested the knife more in the same fashion. After round two, the scales hadn’t moved an inch. This is, in my opinion, very good build construction for this price range.
Back at the house, the knives have been used in the garage for various tasks, as well as in the yard for yard work. This is where each knife shined in its own right. The Paradigm was hands down my favorite in the shop. Cutting up everything from cardboard to trimming plastic fender flares, I always seemed to reach for the Paradigm. The short, heavy size of the knife just seemed to lend itself well to these quick and often rough jobs. Out in the yard, the Dreadnaught won out. The longer blade and thicker handle helped keep the knife comfortable in my hand.
Here is where I have an admission to make: I have brutally abused the Dreadnaught. Yep, brutally. Ya’see, I have a little Jihad going on at my house right now. It’s me, versus the infidel invader, Dandelions. I have been so angered at their invasive tactics that’s I’ve abandoned all dignity and begun a direct frontal assault on the root system. My son is a year and a half old, and I’m just not a fan of spreading a bunch of chemicals around where he plays. And, the hippie non-toxic crap passed off as weed killer just does not work. So, I’ve taken the Dreadnaught, and using it like a mine probe, stabbed it into the dirt so that I cut the root system well below the surface. Doing a small patch at a time, I’ve mostly ridded my yard of this foul beast. But in the process, I nicked and dinged every single surface on the Dreadnaught. Resharpening took a while, but moving through coarse to medium stones, then the ceramic rod, I had the knife back to shaving hair in fifteen minutes or so. Not too bad for a knife used in battle!
Overall, I’ve been very impressed with these knives. The build quality is right on par with some very expensive knives and even a few custom makers. What’s more impressive is that both of the knives are available for under $50. Yep, you get a knife that you can use hard and not worry about for half a C-note. From one major online retailer, you can even get them delivered for under fifty bucks. That’s a great deal for a well-built knife. For more information, check out the parent company of Bad Blood Knives over at www.hallmarkcutlery.com.
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