Fixed Blade Knife Review
By Bob Vishneski
Growing up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, it always seemed natural to have a knife with me, even before my scouting days. Over the years, I acquired, sold, lost, or just plain wore out a variety of fixed and folding knives. Recently, I renewed my interest in knife technology, acquiring a few knives from Spyderco, Buck, SOG, Benchmade, and other leading brands.
As a new member of the Woods Monkey team, I was eager to review the Bad Blood Rotorhead (Model #: BB0126K) fixed blade knife, designed by Sean Kendrick, a custom knife maker that has achieved quite a following over the last few years.
The Rotorhead is exotic looking. It’s sweeping curved blade, golden Bad Blood skull logo, green and black scales, distinctive brass pins and brass lined lanyard hole create quite an impression. Kendrick’s knives are known for works of beauty in addition to be ruggedly-built and practical in the field. The Rotorhead is no exception.
Blade Length: 4-1/2″
Blade: 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel
Overall Length: 9-11/16″
Handle Material: Green and Black G10
Weight: 6.8 oz. Knife Only, 8.9 oz. with Sheath
Made in China
Nylon sheath construction
Removable belt clip
Pinned handle construction
Sharp jimping on the spine and butt end of the blade
I have found that 4 ½ – 5 inches is a good length for most uses I would have for a fixed blade knife. If I need anything smaller than this, I always go with a folding knife. When I travel in the Grand Tetons, Canadian Rockies, and other mountainous sites we visit, I usually carry a 4.875 inch fixed blade Buck Nighthawk. The Rotorhead is slightly smaller and lighter than my Nighthawk. The Rotorhead’s blade has a satin-style finish and features the classic Bad Blood logo etched in a golden finish. It is as beautiful as it is functional.
When I first looked at the Rotorhead’s handle, I thought it might be a bit small for my extra-large hands. I was surprised to find the Rotorhead fit my hand like a glove. It was very comfortable to hold, no doubt helped by the well-designed handle featuring a larger scale pattern with deep ridges, a well-designed choil, and sharp jimping.
As many of you probably realize, custom scales can cost anywhere from $50 on the low end to upwards of $200 for more exotic materials and designs. Although you can’t specify the colors of the Rotorhead’s scales, you essentially get a set of custom scales when you buy this knife. If there was one area which I thought might show some cost cutting, the alignment and finish of the points where the G10 and the brass pins meet was it. The brass pins that hold the G10 in place, however, turned out to be perfectly in tune with the curvature of the scales. Apart from the smooth texture of the brass, I could not tell where the G10 left off and the brass pins began. This seemingly minor indicator suggests that Bad Blood’s manufacturing methods are quite good and its quality assurance group is carefully inspecting the results. The jimped metal glass breaker on the end of the Rotorhead is also a nice touch which adds a bit more versatility to the knife.
The 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel blade is very unique looking and definitely adds a bit of class and character to the Rotorhead. This steel is used in a variety of popular knives. No doubt some might have hoped that Bad Blood would substituted a higher quality steel for such a stunning knife. 8Cr14MoV steel is known for being easy to sharpen but not being able to keep its edge as long as some of the higher end steels. The knife forums are full of quasi-religious debates regarding various types of steels and their suitability for a given purpose, so I won’t add more fuel to that fire.
Suffice to say that Bad Blood likely selected 8Cr14MoV steel in order to keep the costs down, an admirable goal when attempting to provide a custom quality knife to the masses at an affordable price. My Rotorhead was very sharp right out of the box and had no problem gliding through sheets of paper or cutting through a heavy piece of cardboard.
The rigid sheath is an interesting design. Rather than the sheath simply ending where the blade begins, the Rotorhead’s sheath rides up over and locks onto the knife handle. It first, I was a bit reluctant to put enough pressure on the knife handle to drive it into the sheath, wondering if the handle might break the edge of the sheath.
Within a few tries, however, I was able to quickly push on the handle and have it glide smoothly into the sheath, thus eliminating my concerns. Once in its sheath, the Rotorhead did not exhibit any movement. The sheath fit was literally an extension of the knife’s handle. I took this to be another indication of the quality that went into both the design and manufacture of the knife and the sheath.
Editor’s Note: The Bad Blood series of fixed blades use injection molded plastic that is generally mistaken for Kydex and is even listed that way on many web sites. Honestly I’d have assumed the same thing if I hadn’t talked with the folks at Hallmark Cutlery about it. They’re really well done and the retention is exactly what you’d expect of a good Kydex sheath. – TS
There is little to complain about on the quality front – the Rotorhead’s knife and sheath quality are quite good. The one minor issue I notices was that the G10 was slightly less-than uniform around the brass lanyard pin. Unless I looked at it from a particular angle, however, this lack of uniformity was virtually impossible to see, thus I consider this an extremely minor finishing issue.
I suspect this minor anomaly was produced by the thickness of the G10 in the area of the lanyard hole. Increasing the size of the Dremel bit used to finish this portion of the handle in the manufacturing process would likely resolve this issue.
Great design, good quality, a heavy duty steel blade, a set of custom scales, and a unique sheath equate to a lot of knife for the money. At $74, the Rotorhead is tough to beat. And if you are considering getting into custom knife collecting, but don’t want to take out a second mortgage on your home, the Rotorhead provides a great entry into this interesting hobby.
Sean Kendrick and Bad Blood have teamed-up to produce a high quality, attractive customized knife at stock knife price, and have succeeded. That is quite an accomplishment considering the many challenges and competitive pressures they faced.
If you are looking for a knife that is aesthetically appealing and practical in the field, and can stretch your goods budget, I strongly recommend the Bad Blood Rotorhead fixed blade knife.
For more info check out Hallmark Cutlery at: www.hallmarkcutlery.com