Posted on

Kizlyar Supreme Survivalist X

By Luke Causey

When you think about Russian made stuff, you typically think about something that’s simple, tough, and built like a brick outhouse. And when hollow handle knives are the topic of conversation, you think back to that Rambo knock-off that your dad gave you back in the early 80’s, when you knew what cool really was. Well despite the squawking of ‘expert’ yay-hoo’s, there are some great hollow handle knives out there. In this article we’ll look at the Kizlyar Supreme Survivalist X. It’s one of the best hollow handle survival knives that can be had for less than your car note, and it performs well above your expectations.

 

I’ll be honest with you, when our resident gear slinger Tim Stetzer asked me if I’d do this review, I was a little apprehensive. I mean, for a knife to be any good at all, it has to be full tang… right? That’s what I read on the internet fifteen years ago, and that is still being spouted around. So why should I fiddle with this one? And a Russian knife? I mean, if I need a cheap bolt action rifle that shoots a round that only still exists because we need it to feed our cheap bolt actions, I know where to go. But a knife… a Russian knife… it can’t be any good. It can’t. But then, it showed up in the mail.

 

I like tough. Guns, trucks, knives, and tools all have to earn their keep. And after all these years writing and reading, I’m convinced, you like tough too. Within an hour of playing with the Survivalist X, I knew this is a well-built knife, meant to be used. The blade itself is 7.3” long, and made out of D2 steel with a smooth black coating. D2 is a cinderblock-tough tool steel that, as a knifemaking friend of mine says, “Just cuts.” At just under a quarter of an inch thick, it’s stout too. The handle is round, knurled, and hollow. The cap comes off the butt end of the knife to reveal a small plastic container packed full of survival supplies. The sheath is a very nicely done nylon rig, with Molle webbing, two retaining straps around the handle, and a plastic liner. The back of the sheath has three vertical bars of snap secured webbing that can be threaded through Molle or Pals gear. There is also about 6 feet of black cord threaded through the hollow rivets and bundled up at the bottom. The sheath can hang from either the webbing straps or the traditional style belt loop. Overall, I couldn’t find anything that I was not initially impressed with.

2 IMG_3728

I did a little playing around with the knife in the garage and couldn’t help but try to figure out how the blade was secured to the handle. There are two Allen head bolts running through the round handle. Looking into the empty handle, I could tell the base of the blade marries up to a round spacer that entirely fills the end of the handle. The two bolts go through the handle, the spacer, and the blade. The blade is essentially pinned to the handle. Undoing the bolts, I could not separate the handle from the blade by any sort of pulling or twisting. I suspect that if you undid the bolts, then chopped or batoned with the blade, hard, for a long enough time, you might get them apart. In the interest of safety for my appendages, I did not do this. I opted to test the assembled product, put the knife back together, and headed the woods.

 

4 Out on one of my favorite dove hunting spots, I started testing all aspects of the knife. I did not sharpen the Survivalist X before going out, but it was shaving sharp from the factory, so I didn’t see much need. The knife was carried strapped to my backpack. The first thing I set off to do was make a good useable baton. The baton can be used for a, well, baton… but also numerous other tasks. For me, I have a particular fondness for them as an improvised impact weapon. You need to make that decision for yourself based on your training and experience. The baton can also be used as a ‘rabbit stick’, or more plainly, an improvised hunting tool. I made mine by chopping the end off of a thick branch on a downed fir tree. I chopped right through it in about a minute. I clipped off the smaller branches, measured it from inside my elbow to my extended fingertips, and chopped the other end to size. Finally, I stripped off all the bark, and did a few minutes trimming on the high and low spots to my personal comfort. All said and done, a very nice baton was made in less than ten minutes.2

 

Now to put that baton to use. There are tons of downed fir and juniper in this area, so I gathered up an arm load and started chopping, splitting, and batoning. Batoning with the Survivalist X is actually pretty comfortable. The round handle is nice in the hand, and the back of the blade has a nice flat area to strike with the baton. Plus, with over 7” of length, there was plenty to hit. With an armload of wood, I began some fire prep. Two long strips of juniper bark were pulled off, diced like an onion, and fluffed and puffed into a big ball. That was stuck inside a third strip of bone dry juniper back to hold it all together. Now it was time for the fire.

 

Here’s where we talk about that survival gear in the handle. The end cap is heavy and thick, and screws off the handle to reveal a plastic vial containing the kit. The kit contains fishing and sewing gear, along with brass wire, a safety pin, a band aid, and three strange looking matches with a striker. The matches are bright pink, and are sort of like the storm proof matches you might be used to, but without any sort of striking head. The matches are sealed in plastic, with the striker sealed separately. That seems like a good idea to avoid a suddenly hot handle from those coming into inadvertent contact with each other. I attempted to use the matches to start my tinder bundle. And they burned, well, weird. It was like those punks (no, not the Ramone’s) that you used as a kid to set off fireworks. Kind of like an incense stick. But these matches burned like that fast! Easily under two seconds, probably very close to one. And the ash and char around the burning part made it really hard to get the tinder lit. No visible flame was seen at all! Weird Russian matches, I suppose. Making sure my tinder bundle was properly built, I hit it with one spark from my ferro rod, and it fired right up. Into the split wood it went and the fire was successful.

3

While the fire did its thing I got to work on some trap building. Taking two sticks about forearm long and an inch or so in diameter I started my trigger. I was building a simple trigger that would be energized by a big hanging rock, so they needed to fit together well. Think trigger and sear connection on most firearms. With the opposing joints done, I sharpened one end and started to look for a build location. A strange shape in a juniper did the job, and the pointed half of the trigger was driven into the ground underneath it. I then unlaced the cordage that is tied through the sheath of the Survivalist X, and found a big rock. Said rock was tied tight at one end of the cord, and the second piece of the trigger at the other end. The rock was hung over the juniper branch and the trigger connected. A few minor adjustments and I had a nicely working trigger in less than thirty minutes. I used the brass wire from the survival kit and made a snare, a la Ray Mears style, and fastened it to the top piece of the trigger. Reassembled, the trap was tested. Using a stick to function check, it easily grabbed and held like designed.57

 

For shelter, I decided to go with my light weight tarp (Grabber All Weather Blanket, actually), and found two suitable trees. Using the Survivalist X, I made a few tent stakes and started putting up the tarp. Using the leftover cordage from the trap build, I tied the tarp to one tree, then to a small branch on the other. I tent staked the other end down using the flat of the blade as a hammer, and cleaned out the loose leaves and sticks. Shelter sufficient to get me through a night was done and ready. Opting to cook under the tarp, I broke out my small stove and stainless cup, and boiled some water for coffee. With coffee steeping I sat under the tarp doing some fine carving tasks and general fiddling around.

s2

I like this knife. It’s big, works well, is fun to use, and has that typical Russian AK always-gonna-go-bang style about it. It’s light years better than that flea market toy you had as a kid. If you’re in the market for a hollow handle survival knife, check out Kizlyar Supreme’s Survivalist X. This thing will get the job done and keep coming back for more. Typical online prices are a little under $200. Check out the manufacturer’s website at www.casiberia.com and get in the woods and practice those skills!

 

Posted on

The Phrike from Spartan Blades

By Nicholas Seliga

IMG_0515Phrike is known in Greek mythology as the goddess of fear and horror. The outcast, the odd one, the unconventional. And the minds behind the operation and designing scheme at Spartan blades have aptly applied this archaic name to one of their creations. At this point I choose to “spoil” the ending for my reader. This is a fantastic knife. While I have done extensive first-hand review of this knife, my opinion hasn’t changed from the moment I laid eyes on it. From the design characteristics to functional dynamics it offers features that make it extremely useful, comfortable, and practical. Now, for those who would appreciate more detail on the subject of this awesome blade, read on.

I refuse to subjugate my reader to the mundane and somewhat drawn-out details of my interest and career in the knife industry, instead I will simply summarize my experiences by saying that since my parents gave me my first knife when I was five years old – a Swiss army knife – I have been a knife freak, a true believer in the religion of blades, I love knives, from making them to using them and everything in-between. I am by no means an expert; however, it always brings me joy to have the right tool for the right job. In our everyday activities we see that there are multiple chores that require a knife and having a good one can make all the difference in the world.

Free Shipping on orders over $50! Click here for details.

Generally, there seems to be three major schools of thought in the knife community. Those who believe that one knife should be able to accomplish every task the user wants to apply itIMG_0521 to, those who own a particular, dedicated knife for each individual job, and finally, those who don’t fit neatly into either of the other categories. Personally, I fall somewhere in the last class. For certain jobs it’s great to have the perfect knife: a thin, flexible razor for cleaning fish, a great santoko for kitchen prep, and a spear-point scandi for bushcrafting. That being said, sometimes you can only have one knife and it had better be good at doing a wide variety jobs. Circumstances that arise during travel or emergency situations mean that what you have is what you get and in a scenario like that I would want a Phrike with me.

Spartan Blades has created one of the very best all-purpose every-day-carry fixed blade knives I’ve ever had the pleasure to carry and use. Here’s the cold numbers: 4.25 inch blade, 8.50 inches overall, 3/16 inch thickness, S35VN stainless steel, textured G10 inset handle, 59-60 HRC, and the proprietary Spartan Blade coating. Together with these excellent features, the Phrike has a saber grind that makes easy work of most cutting tasks. Also, because of the swedged drop point blade shape, the Phrike has a strong and versatile tip. The handle is one of my absolute favorite features. The inset G10 looks incredibly thin and in fact the overall thickness of the handle is only about 5/16 inch thick. Despite this, the user is able to have great control while gorilla gripping or doing more fine cutting. Also, this makes the knife very wearable whether using the nylon MOLLE sheath or an in-the-waist-band kydex.

IMG_0570When I first received this knife for review I put it through some usual trials. I started by doing some feather sticks and some fire prep work. Right out of the box I was able to get some very nice results doing shavings and feather sticks with minimal effort. After doing a bunch of these I paper tested the edge and was happy to see that it was still in good shape. Next, I did some batoning through a stack of wrist thick branches which the knife made short work of. Again, I paper checked the edge and again, no problems. After this I decided to push the edge a little so I processed a pile of cardboard boxes. After reducing these – approximately fifteen large boxes – into one foot squares I thought I’d definitely see at least a dull spot somewhere on the knife. But, while it may not have gone through the paper with the same absolute smoothness it still went through easily and without any tearing.IMG_0530

Since then, I’ve been able to carry this knife on a daily basis and put it through many more chores including: cutting webbing and rope, opening boxes, and most other everyday tasks over a three year period. And to this day I’m still happy to put this knife on.

I should mention a word or two about sharpening. Because of the nature of S35VN steel and because of the hardness this knife is heat treated to, it takes a little while to get used to sharpening it. This doesn’t mean that any special technique or equipment is required, just that a few more repetitions are necessary. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have talked with and read what some other uses have had to say about sharpening this knife. Some have told me that they think that it takes too much work to get a serviceable edge on this knife but I have not had this experience. In the time I’ve owned it I’ve sharpened my Phrike a few times. Mostly, I’ve used a simple strop to polish the edge, and once I used a felt wheel on a buffer. Bottom line, this steel is hard, durable, and tough. It takes a wicked edge and holds it well. And the best advice I can offer is, like with any knife, keep it sharp instead of letting it get completely dull.IMG_0495

So, there’s my story, the Phrike offers a whole lot of knife in a minimalist package. I’ve carried mine across the country and through all kinds of situations and it has never let me down. As a backup, self-defense, bushcrafting knife, it shines and I never hesitate to recommend it to my fellow lovers of knives.

Spartan Blades

Click below to view the slideshow:

Posted on

Speedy Sharp

World’s Fastest Sharpener

Fetzner Speedy Sharp

By Scott C Wickham Jr

IMG_0005

Today I’m reviewing the Speedy Sharp produced by Speedy Sharp Inc. a USA made product.  This is basically a 4 inch piece of steel with a carbide end that does the sharpening.  It’s designed to work on anything from camp knives to lawn mower blades.  Scissors, fish hooks, tree pruners are also within its capability to sharpen because of its small contact area and ability to get into tight spaces.  They way it works is the carbide working end gets drawn down the edge you want sharpened and it literally peels the metal off.  Not like the skinning of an apple, not long strands like that but very small, bits of the knife/ski/skate/axe or whatever you’re working on.

 You can feel the tool working the edge and see metal coming off the item being sharpened.  I sharpened 2 different knives with this tool and I’ll say it gives a working edge, not a super fine sharpened edge like fresh out of the knife shop.  This sharpener will not only sharpen but is supposed to hone the edge too.  So the idea is to sharpen and get a bur, then flip the tool over and hone the edge to knock the bur off.  I wasn’t having good luck with this so I used my leather belt to hone, I liked that much better.  You DO wear a leather belt don’t you?

  IMG_0007


As with any new sharpening tool you’re not used to working with, get yourself a Sharpie marker so you can paint up the edge you’re working on.  After a couple swipes with the sharpener, see where the Sharpie mark is gone and where it stayed.  That’s your little tattle tale so you know if you need to adjust your angle.  Their directions say to swipe the tool down the edge 3-5 times down each side of the knife then hone it.  Again, this will probably give you a decent working edge.  And by working edge I mean it probably will not easily cut paper or arm hair but will allow you to baton fire wood or sharpen some tent stakes.

IMG_0003

Overall, the Speedy Sharp works fair as long as you know what to expect to get for results.  It definitely works better than the flat rock I carry around to sharpen my camp knife when in the field but I’d suggest stropping your end results with a piece of leather. And don’t forget your Sharpie marker.

Where to purchase:

[button link=”http://www.fetznerspeedysharp.net/” color=”red”]Speedy Sharp[/button]

Posted on

Great Eastern #54 Tidioute ‘Big Moose’

 

By Tom Lindsay

There seems to be quite a demand for fixed-blade knives that mimic the one depicted by George Washington Sears (a.k.a. “Nessmuk”) in his landmark book, Woodcraft. Even his double-bitted hatchet has drawn a fair bit of attention.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 01

It’s surprising, then, at least to us, that Nessmuk’s simple folding knife appears to have gotten lost in the historical shuffle. Maybe that’s because the old woodsman devoted scarcely half-a-sentence to it in Woodcraft:

 

“The strong double-bladed pocket knife is the best model I have yet found, and, in connection with the sheath knife, is all sufficient for camp use.”

Though stingy with his words, Nessmuk did include an illustration. It shows a relatively large slipjoint, fitted with a clip blade on one end and a spear-point blade on the other. In pocketknife parlance, there’s a name for that pattern.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 03

It’s called a “moose.”

 

Saying that slipjoints have fallen completely out of favor with modern-day woodsmen might be a bit of a stretch, but there’s no denying that they’ve been squeezed by single-blade folders and multi-tools. An initial push from the Buck 110 on one side and the Leatherman PST on the other, followed by countless descendants and imitators, has almost relegated the venerable pocketknife to “quaint” status — in some folks’ minds, anyway.

 

Respectfully, we differ.

 

Maybe that’s because we grew up with pocketknives, learning to do all manner of things with only a small blade or two (or three). Call us old-fashioned, but we still believe that the classic slipjoint is an essential tool to have in the woods, always keeping in mind that it’s best deployed as part of a “system” of tools (Nessmuk’s “trio,” for example).

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 04

So we’re not yet ready to retire our love of pocketknives. Bring on the moose.

 

Surveying today’s slipjoint marketplace, we found a number of knives that could fill Nessmuk’s bill, from beefy trappers to slender muskrats. Ultimately we paid a visit to KnivesShipFree, a great source for Great Eastern Cutlery, and settled on the #54 pattern — specifically, a Tidioute “Big Moose” (MSRP $160, KSF $95).

 

We chose the #54 Big Moose because it’s true to the iconic woodsman’s intent, if not necessarily absolutely identical to the knife he used. Also, from the range of handle materials available we opted for maroon linen Micarta — after all, this will be a bushcrafter’s knife, a tool that’ll be used hard and treated roughly, and Micarta is pretty much bulletproof.

 

Great Eastern’s #54 is a substantial knife — a real hand-filler, measuring four inches closed and weighing just shy of four ounces. Each of the 1095 carbon-steel blades (a conventional clip and a spear, like Nessmuk’s) is three inches long, rides on its own (stiff) backspring and features a half-stop. The blades arrived in our hands with acceptably sharp working edges.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 05

The pins and three full liners are brass; the bolsters and bar-style shield are nickel-silver. Fit and finish on this knife is old-school perfect — everything walks, talks, shines and aligns just as it should. No play and no wiggles.

 

Aesthetically, the #54 Big Moose’s simplicity and clean lines make it a very handsome knife. We found that it carried easily in a front pants pocket, despite its size and weight. It became even more comfortable when paired with a pocket slip.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 06a

In use, this Moose quickly proved its worth. Its clip blade excelled at fine carving, “backwoods surgery” and camp-kitchen duty, while we deployed the spear blade for general woodswork. In fact, although we always carry a medium-sized fixed-blade into the woods, for most tasks we left the larger knife sheathed on our belt and relied on the Big Moose.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 06b

The flat-ground blades performed exceptionally well for their size. They took a respectable edge and touched up easily with a couple of passes on a field strop. And although we never forgot that our Big Moose is still a slipjoint, its firm backsprings gave us a measure of confidence. We like that.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 07a

It’d be easy to make a case for the Great Eastern #54 Tidioute Big Moose as a “go-to” knife — seriously, it’s that versatile and capable. We’re not suggesting that it could replace the other tools in a bushcraft set, not by a long shot, but we believe this knife will surprise a lot of people.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose TEL 07b

Come to think of it, the next time we head afield for a weekend maybe we’ll take just the Big Moose, leaving our other tools behind, and explore its limits a little more. That could be fun.

WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose Woodcraft 1884 p11a WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose Woodcraft 1884 p11c WoodsMonkey GEC54BigMoose Woodcraft 1884 p11b

We suspect the old woodsman would like it, too.

 

 

Sources

Great Eastern Cutlery: http://www.greateasterncutlery.com

KnivesShipFree: http://www.knivesshipfree.com

 

To see all the pictures please click through the gallery below.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Coast LK375 Knife Review

By: Bob Vishneski

Initial Thoughts

My first thought was “This would be perfect for sneaking into the kitchen late at night and making a sandwich without arousing the suspicion of my wife.”  After a few humorous emails with the other Woods Monkey crew, I had another thought, one involving Christmas morning, 2012.  My wife and I were heading across Route 80 in Pennsylvania to visit our family. I was glancing across the highway when I noticed a van and a car collide. The van went sailing off the road and performed four or five violent barrel roles before heading out of view. I quickly pulled over and had my wife call 911, noting the mile marker immediately in front of our car. I grabbed a knife, a safety axe, and a flashlight and dashed across the highway. I was convinced that everyone had to be dead or seriously injured given the way car had tumbled at high speed. The other image that flashed across my mind was that the vehicle might catch on fire or even explode upon my arrival, perhaps leaving me to make some very difficult choices in a few split seconds. 

To my surprise, I found a Christmas miracle – A young man, his wife, and two small children were a bit shaken, but only had minor cuts and bruises. I was amazed and grateful for the stroke of good fortune for the family. I relayed the story from my perspective in a tale titled, “Miracle at Mile Marker 2493.”

As I looked at the Coast LK375, I realized that a rugged knife with a bright flashlight could indeed be helpful in such an emergency situation. Had my Christmas day emergency scenario happened during the dark and I had to extricate someone from their seatbelts in a time-sensitive situation (fire, smoke, etc.), the idea of needing two hands to hold a flashlight and a knife might not have been practical, since I might have needed one hand to adjust or move the person while I cut their seat belt. Thus I replaced my initial notion of using the Coast LK375 to make a sandwich in a darkened kitchen with one involving an emergency situation where someone’s life might be at stake.

CoastLightKnife2

Specifications

Length:

3.75 inch (95 mm) blade

4.75 inches (121 mm) closed

8.5 inches (216 mm) open

Materials & Design:

Blade: 7Cr17 stainless steel

Handle: Polycarbonate over stainless steel liner

One-handed opening

Pocket clip (included)

Light:

29 or 110 lumen light output

173 feet (53 meters) beam distance

1 X AAA batteries (included)

Weight:

5.2 oz. (147 grams)

Features

The LK375 is designed for the emergency scenario I described above, as well as other applications where it is not practical or convenient to hold a flashlight with one hand and a knife with another. I have seen some other light/knife combinations, but not one with a light this bright or one with this level of design.  Clicking on and releasing the red button changes the power from 29 to 110 lumens and keeps the light on. At the 110 lumen setting, the light is very bright and suitable for cutting anything in close proximity to the knife. It even works well as a general purpose flashlight. It takes a bit of pressure to activate the red button, so there is little chance it will accidentally be activated when put in a drawer, glove compartment, etc.

CoastLightKnife3

I was expecting to need two hands to open the blade, despite the Spyderco-like hole in the blade.  When I tried to open it single-handed, I was amazed at how smooth the action was. It wasn’t quite as smooth to open as my Spyderco Paramilitary 2, but it was extremely close, which says quite a bit considering the PM2’s reputation for its silky-smooth operations. Coast obviously put some thoughtful engineering into the opening mechanism and it shows in the smoothness and ease with which you can open the blade. The 7Cr17 stainless steel anodized serrated blade holds an edge very well and is easy to sharpen. It is a good “value” choice for a knife of this nature and no doubt helps control the costs.

I admit that I had to get over the LK375’s boxy look – it simply did not look as if it would be comfortable to hold. But despite its somewhat unconventional looks, the LK375 fit comfortably in my hand, and my index finger lined up perfectly with the red power button.  The pebbled surface of the polycarbonate grip made the knife very easy to hold. The LK375’s gimping is very well done and added to being able to obtain a firm, comfortable grip.

CoastLightKnife4

Quality & Design

Coast makes excellent products and the LK375 is no exception.   Once you get over the initial boxy look of the LK375, you will find that it is a high quality tool.  It is extremely well-made and features quality materials and sports an excellent fit and finish.

Value

At approximately $60, the value proposition of the LK375 is pretty solid given what the light/knife is designed for. Tool Logic offers some light/knife combos for between $20-$35, but these provide far less lumens than the LK375. SOG offers the BLT50N-CP, an attractive light/knife combo, but it only features 25 lumens, far less than the LK375’s 110 lumens. 

For anyone involved in any type of safety operations, it is tough to beat the LK375 relative to the other products currently on the market.  Same goes for those who might have hobbies where they sometimes work in the dark and need a good cutting surface and need a free hand to work on the tasks.  Fisherman or hunters, who often arrive at their locations before dawn, might appreciate the features of the LK375. In short, if you have ever gotten frustrated at needing to hold a light in one hand and a knife in the other, the Coast LK 375 is for you.

CoastLightKnife5

Suggested Improvements

Although I found the LK375 very comfortable to hold, I have very large hands.  I suspect those with smaller hands might not share my opinion regarding the comfort of the LK375’s grip. Coast might want to consider finding some creative ways to shave a bit of the girth from the handle. This might attract a wider audience and boost sales for this handy device.

CoastLightKnife6

Conclusion

If you have a regular or even occasional need for a light/knife combination, I strongly suggest considering the LK375. It is well-designed for its intended use and carries Coast’s lifetime warranty.  I hope I am never called upon to use the LK375 in an emergency situation, as I might have been on that Christmas Day in 2012, but I do feel better knowing I will have a powerful light/knife combination if it is called for.

Additional Information

You can see Coast’s full product line here: http://www.coastportland.com/

Posted on Leave a comment

For Dressing Whitetails, Try a Small Fixed Blade

By Todd Swanson

Ask most people what a “hunting knife” is, and they’ll describe Tonto’s long-bladed belt knife.  But for cleaning whitetails, even large ones, a long-bladed knife can be as dangerous as it is unnecessary.   Most of the job of a whitetail knife is shearing thin tissue to detach organs.  Unzipping the shallow belly layers doesn’t require a long blade, and most of the work is downhill from there. 

This year I decided to try the Small Fixed Blade (item no. 2044) from the Free Range Hunter series of knives, designed for CRKT (Columbia River Knives and Tools) by knifemaker Russ Kommer.  I was drawn to the short blade, finger groove, and rubberized handle. 

Go For the Throat

When cleaning a whitetail with any knife, two areas present challenges: The throat and the vent. 

Many hunters cut through the sternum, or breastbone, for easier access to the trachea and esophagus – the air and food tubes.  Splitting the breastbone does make the job easier, and it helps the meat cool more quickly, but according to butchers, it ruins about a pound of meat.  Like many hunters, I hunt more for freezer meat than for trophy antlers, so I choose to not cut through the breastbone. 

Tip&Forefinger

Instead, I reach under the ribcage where I detach the throat beneath the larynx.  This work is tight and blind, achieved entirely by feel.  So that I don’t accidentally ‘feel’ the sharp knife edge, I put a forefinger as high up the knife’s spine as my finger will reach.  By kinesthetic sense, this will give me a good idea of where the edge is.  I then lay the opposite forefinger on the knuckles of the first before I reach up the neck.   

But the tip of the blade is usually well beyond my fingertip, adding to the puzzle of guessing where the edge is in relation to my opposite hand, especially once I start cutting.  Safety is top priority, and logic says that when you don’t need a long knife, less edge equals less chance of cutting yourself.  The solution seemed obvious: Time to try a shorter knife.

Sheath Plastic

Hand

Natural Selection

My father is always on the hunt for the perfect knife for field-dressing whitetail deer.  And because I’m always hunting for the perfect gift for him, so am I. 

I already have a Free Range Folder model, and I am pleased with its keen edge, sturdy lock-back construction, and rubberized handle.  So after a few messy chores like field dressing, the idea that a fixed blade would be easier to clean nagged at me until I got the model 2044.  Besides, I had given the folder to my dad. 

Lanyard Hole BladeShape

What appealed to me about the Small Fixed Blade was the short length of the edge, perfect at just over 3 inches.  And after a few frustrating days of whitetail hunting in December, I got to try my new knife on a large doe. 

Great Performances

I liked several things about the Small Fixed Blade. 

Length2

Having done a little knife and utensil design, I recognized that the Small Fixed Blade extends from the handle at a slight downward angle for more comfortable use, eliminating the need for me to torque my wrist quite so unnaturally as blades aligned with the handle sometimes do.    

Sheath InSheath

At only 5 ounces in its sheath — 2 ounces without — it doesn’t add any noticeable weight to my kit, and with a handle thickness of just over ½ inch at its widest point, the knife packs away flat. 

Grips

I also liked the rubberized grips on the double-injection molded handle, non-slip under all conditions, whether wet with rain or deer goop.   A forefinger groove provides a measure of protection from slippage with both rubberized grip and a bit of built-in finger guard. 

Handle2

Though this edge wasn’t especially sharp out of the box, the slim hollow grind on my new blade lends itself to razor sharpness.  No one will complain about that: Not only will it make the work easier, but a sharp knife is a safe knife.  With a little sharpening, this might be just the ticket. 

Jimping

On the blade, I was happy with the jimping in a thumb groove on the back of the knife, over the choil.  In addition to providing better traction in some grips, it also helps to keep you oriented to the blade when you can’t see the razor edge. 

A Little Name-Dropping

My dad bagged his doe the same day.  He tried the Small Fixed Blade and liked the drop-point design, which he prefers over clip points when it comes to cleaning game. 

Length

He’s not alone: Puukkos made for hunters, for instance, often feature a drop point while other puukko designs do not.  In the late 1800s, George Washington Sears incorporated a drop point into his eponymous Nessmuk knife.  In the 1960s drop points really caught on when Bob Loveless broke the mold by dropping the point below the spine in a convex arc.  His “dropped hunter” design immediately inspired other classic knives like George Herron’s Model 6.  Today’s knifemakers like Bark River, DiamondBlade, and L.T. Wright feature many drop point models. 

The reason is that clip-points tend to claw into bone and stab into organs, the contents of which can taint exposed meat.  Drop-points, on the other hand, tend to ride over the things you don’t want to cut or pierce, making it easier for hunters to clean game without puncturing the stomach or bladder.  Loveless’ pupil Bob Dozier combined a drop-point with a short-blade to create the Loveless model that made the brand famous. 

The Small Fixed Blade also features a drop-point and short-blade combination. 

BladeDetail

Performance Anxieties

If you’re the hunter that cuts through breastbone or pelvis, this thin blade may not be the Free Range Hunter for you.  My father, who did open the sternum on his deer, trusted instead to the sturdy, thick-spined folder model for this task. 

Spine

The Small Fixed Blade is an ambitious amalgam, combining the features of a blade for gutting and a blade for skinning.  When I attempted to release the vent I couldn’t make the knife’s wide round belly (well-suited to skinning) negotiate the tight circle around the opening in the pelvis.

Belly

For my methods, that wide blade profile also adds a level of guesswork when working blind, because the edge is farther from the spine relative to the length of the blade.  Of course the proportions are a personal preference, and I might get used to this over time. 

Sheath2

About the Sheath

The blade locks into its rigid nylon sheath with a satisfying click, and a retention strap closes with a metal snap.  The nylon sheath is surrounded by a black tactical-style Kydex holster, and these layers appear to be riveted together. 

Clasp

The retention strap is stitched to another Kydex strap that loops through the belt loop, and a paracord leash weaves through the surrounding grommets with the excess dangling below.  In front is a small pocket that might fit a compact ferro rod or Bic lighter.    

Length3 Sheath Plastic

The Right Knife for the Right Outdoorsman

While this wasn’t quite the blade I was seeking for cleaning whitetails, I’m glad to have my CRKT Small Fixed Blade as a viable backup knife.  The drop-point fixed blade would be useful for a number of camp tasks like skinning and carving. 

Knife&Sheath2

Retailing at almost $45.00, the CRKT’s Small Fixed Blade model is the right knife at the right cost for many an outdoorsman. 

http://www.crkt.com/free-range-hunter-fixed-blade-hunting-knife-2044

Dimensions

Overall Length    6.81 inches

Weight                  2 ounces

Blade

Length                   3.10 inches

Thickness             .12 inches

Material                8Cr13Mov

Blade-HRC           58-60

Finish                    Satin

Grind                     Hollow Grind

Style                      Drop Point

Edge                      Plain

Handle

Material               Double Injection Mold

Carry

Carry System      Nylon Sheath

Weight                  3.1 ounces

Posted on Leave a comment

Bad Blood Knives Partisan Nano Folder

By Mike Bondra

Now I’m not bragging, but I’ve got big hands.  Nothing particularly massive, but I have a hard time getting gloves that fit. They all end up being too short and my wrists are uncovered, and the fingers get pinched and start to go numb after a bit. Inevitably I just pull them off and end up with fingers covered in what my wife likes to refer to as ‘mandages’. That’s the cleanest shop rag I’ve got laying around, wrapped around the cut or burn and held in place with duct or strapping tape.  I can tell by the look on your face that you’ve done this before too.  So when a tool or some such comes along that actually fits my ‘meat-hooks’ (another wife-ism) without having to be special ordered, I’m impressed. The Partisan Nano Folder by Bad Blood Knives is just such a find.

IMG_3606

Even though this is a production run knife out of China, it feels like a custom piece. I can only assume that Sean Kendrick must have big hands too because this knife feels like an extension of my hand rather than a pocket knife. I’ve been frustrated in recent years by pocket knives that seem to have been designed with the pocket in mind, and not the actual user. Not the Partisan Nano Folder. Don’t let the inclusion of the term ‘nano’ fool you, the dimensions on this knife are wholly serviceable, and the construction materials are top notch. The blade itself is made of 8Cr14 stainless steel using a saber grind style, and comes in just shy of 4 inches. And at a thickness just over ¼ of an inch, it will hold up to even the toughest chores. To aide in opening, rounded thumb studs are continently located on both sides of the blade. In addition, the back base of the blade has knurling grooves to offer more control when using the thumb to stabilize a cut. The metal in the folding assembly liners and lock is also steel, and the handle grip scales are made of G10 composite. The handle is smooth and contoured but has groves at the base for friction. There is also a generous index finger notch for control. Rounding off the handle is a stainless steel pocket clip to allow easy carry. The handle has a length of nearly 5 inches, making for an open length of approximately 8 7/8 inches. The handle has the same beefy girth as the blade, and comes in just under 5/8 of an inch.  Finally, there is a hole in the base of the handle and out of the way of the mechanism that is for a lanyard. Mine now sports a nice braided black leather strap for a bit of flair. The entire package is held together with rounded steel torx bolts, all recessed into the handle where possible. 

IMG_3622

All of this construction weighs in at an impressive 7.9 ounces; not too heavy but at the top end of what I would consider the ‘everyday carry’ range. Now with all of this construction, you may be thinking that this would be a bit cumbersome to have in your pocket, and I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind as well. The placement of the pocket clip allowed the folded blade to fit nicely in my front jeans pocket, and the weight wasn’t an issue for my typical weekend trip to the local hardware store, and running around with my family. Opened and in my hand, it just flat out felt right! The one hand opening studs were placed in a good position to provide the leverage needed to start the blade opening, and the precise construction meant that only a gentle flick of the wrist was needed to fully engage the lock and secure the blade into position. I put it to the test while doing a few home projects, since the weekend I took it for a ride had a balmy high temperature of -2 degrees F!  Of course, we had our fireplace going and the Partisan Nano Folder did short work of a quick whittle or two, just for fun. The thick blade and thumb rest made for a stable and secure grip. The smooth tip arc allowed for surprisingly good fine work and held up to a bit of prying work when I discovered an aged nail in embedded into a split log (darn happy I didn’t find that with my chainsaw). Later that weekend, I found myself out in the garage, and again the Partisan Nano Folder was put to the test, used for some shaving to get a stubborn attic door to function better.  And again the thicker blade and handle provided a secure grip, allowing me to finish the task while perched on a ladder in an awkward position. 

IMG_3611

With an MSRP of $80.00, you can find these online and in quality knife counters for around $45-50. In my opinion, this is another winner from Sean Kendrick and Bad Blood Knives. The Partisan Nano Folder is a great investment, as this will quickly become your everyday go-to knife. Even if you don’t have ham-shanks at the ends of your arms, you’re sure to appreciate the thickness and feeling of security and quality you will feel when using this blade.

www.hallmarkcutlery.com

Posted on Leave a comment

T.M. Hunt Custom Knives

By Brian Griffin

Todd Hunt is a rare find in the knife world. He has been making high quality working knives for hunters and outdoors-men in America’s heart land for nearly two decades, however few outside his home town of Seymour Indiana knew much about that until a few years ago. Todd made his first knife in early 1998, inspired by watching his father making them by hand with minimal tooling. He soon found out that he really enjoyed the craft and has developed a very deep passion for it over time.

Photo-13
As an addition to the Workhorse line Todd created the Tradewater model. This knife is essentially a Yuma with a 1-inch longer blade.

Fast forward fifteen years, to the spring of 2013, and there is my first meeting with Todd. I had been told about his work – and the quality of it – by a close friend, and needed to see for myself. The first T.M. Hunt knife I saw was a prototype of his Yuma model.Photo-13

We talked for a while about steel types, blade profiles, edge geometries, and heat treatment. It was definitely one of the more interesting conversations I have had which ended we me leaving with the knife. I was on my way to a three-month stay in the “Sunshine” state, and that knife would endure quite a torture test in the swamps of southern Florida.

Photo-8
In this picture, which first appeared on the cover of SRI issue #14, I am using the Yuma prototype for one of the many times it was used to strike a ferro rod for fire starting. It was during that trip to the swamps of southern Florida that I developed a healthy respect for Todd’s heat treating skills.

Over the next three months, it was pitted against various synthetic and organic materials: nylon rope and webbing, wood, crustacean shells, coconuts, and ferrocerium rods. That prototype did so well in the field that I chose to use it for the “Fire Steel” article I wrote for SRI issue #14. By the time I had used that knife for a month, I was impressed with Todd’s heat treat as much as I was with his fit and finish work and design concept. When I returned from that trip, I was very much interested in seeing other models in the T.M. Hunt line. As it turns out, he is as much an artist as he is a tool maker and does some fairly impressive work.

Over the last few years I have had several opportunities to examine T.M. Hunt knives, including some of his more artistic pieces, and to test the entire “Workhorse” line in the field. The following is an account of those tests; covering them smallest to largest.

The Handy Little Hornet

The Hornet is a small knife designed for EDC with an overall length of 4.25 inches and a blade length of 1.75 inches. The blade has a Wharncliffe profile that lends itself to common chores. It has a small profile and a simple, unassuming appearance, but this little knife is much more capable than one might think. It has the handiness of a folding knife in a more durable fixed blade design.   

It is such a light-weight knife that it is easy to forget I have it on my belt yet I have found it extremely helpful on many occasions. It has served well in the tasks of cleaning my fingernails, cutting random strings here and there, opening parcels and stubborn  packages, and it has been pressed into service as a steak knife when the only knife brought to me in a busy restaurant was a butter knife. When it comes to food preparation or consumption, fixed blades are much more hygienic than the average folding knife because they lack crevices and moving parts.

Photo-5
These are the primary models of the Workhorse line. From top to bottom, The M-18, Yuma, Magua, and Hornet. Each offering a size and level of usefulness to suit the individual needs of the purchaser.

The Magua

The Magua is reminiscent of the patch knives of old. With an overall length of 7.5 inches and a 3.5-inch blade it is an excellent size for all-around use. It is small enough to be unobtrusive and easy to handle yet large enough to perform a variety of tasks, and is a capable cutting tool. It is as much in its element in a home or R.V kitchen. It is an excellent knife for day hikes, picnics, camping and fishing trips. Weighing in at 4 oz, it is also a good candidate for backpackers and through-hikers. For those who are serious about weight, I have seen skeletonized versions available that barely weigh more than 1 oz..

This little cutter has a handle that is large enough to offer good control during use in the larger hands of a grown man, yet small enough to not be unwieldy in the smaller hands of women or young adults. The pointy tip gives it good piercing and penetrating capabilities; a must have in a good fishing knife. The guardless blade works equally well for cutting up snacks, prepping meals, or cutting bait on the gunwale of a bass boat. In any case, you can get the entire cutting edge on the cutting board for nice clean cuts in whatever you are portioning. My nine-year-old daughter has been helping me with food prep since she was five. While using the Magua, her motions seem natural.

Photo-8

The Versatile Yuma

This model came from Todd’s desire to create a stout working knife with good cutting geometry and some specialized features for well-rounded use. It has a 4.5 inch drop point blade, flat ground from either 3/16 or 5/32 inch O-1 tool steel depending on the preferences of the user.  The handle is also 4.5 inches long, three-dimensionally contoured, has a birds beak at the pommel end for a secure purchase in multiple holds, and a textured pommel extension for striking. The blade has gimping strategically placed in two locations on the spine. One section, just forward of the handle, for traction during push cuts or pinch grips. The other, close to the center of the spine, for added versatility. The shape, features, and overall size of the knife combine to serve very well in all-around-use.

Photo-12
I have made use of the Yuma’s tang extension in a few situations. One of those times was to drive the knife into a coconut for a quick snack in the field. This allows the knife to function in uses that would normally require a larger tool.

Photo-10

First off, I noticed how well the contours of the knife fit the shape of the hand in various holds and grips: over-hand, under-hand, reverse, and in pinch grips.. It ensures a very secure purchase in slippery conditions. I found the handle to be very ergonomic in prolonged use when fashioning field expedient tools and utensils. The integral guard and birds beak pommel create a very secure purchase when doing both push and pull cuts which helps the user bring more power to bear in both cases.

The full-flat grind gives the knife a very good geometry for slicing capability even in the thicker 3/16-inch stock, which I happen to prefer for the additional lateral strength. The knife did very well in tasks ranging from cutting rope and straps to slicing meat, cutting vegetables, and mincing onions for making stew. It handles much like a stouter version of my kitchen paring knife. For those whom lighter weight is a priority,  or those who have more of an emphasis on slicing ability, there is the thinner 5/32-inch version.

The pommel extension is a feature I like very much. It enables the knife to be used in chisel fashion with much less risk of damaging the handle scales when striking with a baton. The first time I used this feature was to drive the point of the knife into one of the soft “eyes” of a coconut. Initially to drain the milk for drinking; then to split it open to access the meat inside. Another task was in driving into, and prying pieces off of, the ripped-apart ends of trees felled by a storm to access dry kindling material in the rain.

Photo-11
The extended tang allows for the knife to be stricken in chisel fashion, with less risk of damage to the handle scales. This comes in handy during times of extreme uses of the knife.

At this point the edges of multiple Yuma models, and thus T.M. Hunt’s heat treatments, have been subjected to quite a bit of abuse. There has been the abrasion of cutting rope and webbing, wood and coconuts, meats and vegetables. These edges have also been placed under lateral stress and heat while striking ferro rods both for the purposes of starting personal fires and for demonstrating the use of ferrocerium. After months of use, I found the Yuma model to be a very capable tool. Also for those who prefer somewhat larger blades, there is the Tradewater model which is a Yuma with a 5.5 inch long blade. 

Photo-2
Todd is extremely particular about about every aspect of the knives he produces, and he does his own heat treatments in house. Here he is inspecting the hot blank of an M-18 for any warping prior to the quench.

The Venerable M-18

The M-18 is a beast of a wilderness tool and the largest of the Workhorse line. This behemoth has an overall length of 16-inches. It has an ample, contoured handle that is 6-inches long and fills the hand nicely. The shape gives the user a secure purchase in chopping which, with the amount of inertia that can be developed with this knife, is a good thing. This tool has a very uniquely shaped blade that is 10-inches long with a width of 3-inches at the widest point, out at the tip. It has a profile that could probably best be described as “tanto-shaped” but, rather than a secondary point, it has a tight radius at the transition from the primary edge into the leading edge. It is a hefty blade made of .25-inch, O-1 tool steel which has a hybrid edge geometry that is a full flat grind in the forward 6-inches with a hollow ground section near the handle. There is a scallop on the spine at the front end with rounded corners which serves as the second handle when utilizing the hollow-ground area as a draw knife. The knife has gimping in three locations: on the thump ramp, of course, but also on the extended pommel and then another section on the spine at the very tip for enhanced control when performing more intricate work.

Photo-14
The M-18 has excellent weight distribution for chopping. The forward mass gives the user a good degree of mechanical advantage, and the full-flat-ground forward edge bites deeply.

The M-18 is an exciting tool that inspires confidence and makes you look around for something to chop as soon as you pick it up. It has that kind of heft and weight distribution. The balance point is roughly 1.5 inches forward of the handle. In the chopping role, it performs very well indeed. I quickly learned that 1-inch diameter saplings were no challenge and 2-inch diameter saplings were felled easily with one cut from each side. While I would not want to use it to build a log cabin, it did chop through 4-inch dead pine logs in a couple of minutes with not too much exertion. What really impressed me was how well the weight distribution created a level of mechanical advantage and inertia development that allowed the blade to bite deeply, even into seasoned oak. Every blow produced a solid resounding “thunk!”, however the capabilities of this knife are hardly limited to chopping, in fact, that is only the beginning.

Photo-16
This photo illustrates how the lanyard can be expanded and pushed further up the forearm, so that the weight of the handle will be supported when using the M-18 to do more detailed work with one hand.

Even though it is a blade heavy design, the the large handle does offer somewhat of a counterbalance and comes in handy when using the edge nearest the handle for sharpening stakes and whittling. The edge of the M-18 I received for testing came extremely sharp and the mass of the blade makes creating feather-sticks from dry seasoned hardwood a near effortless task. The weight of the blade did most of the work for me, I just had to maintain the correct angle and planing off nice tight curls was easily done.

Photo-15
The draw-knife feature of the M-18 takes the tool to a whole new level of usefulness in long term wilderness adventures or primitive living scenarios. This is a tool that can be used to fashion other tools to make like easier, and would do very well at tasks such as carving out a bow for hunting game, or fashioning handles for other tools.

I found that the special features that are designed into the M-18 as functional in use as they are intriguing to the eye. The built-in draw knife feature works really well when pressed into service. The knife handle is large enough and shaped so that it is comfortable in both standard and reverse grips and the rounded corners of the scallop on the forward end of the spine works well as the other handle. With a .25 inch width, the thickness of the blade allows a safe grip and excellent control for working the blade and the very sharp hollow grind bites easily into wood. It was a lot more comfortable to my left hand – gripping the spine – than I expected it to be. The gimped tang extension, much like the one on the Yuma, allows for the knife to be struck at the pommel without damaging the handle scales. This feature can be handy for a number of chores. Obviously it compliments the draw knife feature by allowing the tool to be used as a wood chisel, but the knife can also be driven into smaller diameter logs to start splits for inserting wooden wedges while making half-rounds or planks.

Though separated by14-inches of steel, the round holes at each end of the knife work in conjunction with each other when needed. The lanyard on this knife serves more of a purpose than to simply secure the tool to the wrist when chopping or working over water etc., it can also be expanded and slid further up the forearm to support the handle weight while using the tip in fine detail work one handed leaving the other hand free to hold whatever you are working on. The gimping on the very tip of the spine gives good traction to the tip of the forefinger in a pinch grip for added control. In this mode the knife could be more easily used to dress large game or to flesh hides. The rounded secondary point could be used when scraping the burned-out bowls of hand-made spoons. The tip, when used in this fashion, would make the chore of grooving arrow shafts for fletching much easier when using such a large tool, and the hole could even be utilized as an arrow straightener. Though the cant of the blade makes it so that it works best if the handle is kept overhanging the table or stump, the forward edge also works well enough for portioning meats and vegetables. The more I used the M-18, the more impressed I became with just how well thought out the design is. Obviously primitive living type situations would be much easier if this knife were paired with one of the smaller, pointier blades, it is clearly a formidable tool even as a stand-alone.

At The End of The Day…errr Years

Three years and seven knives later, I have put the T.M. Hunt “Workhorse” line through as many tasks as I could think of from every day cutting to prepping meals, building shelters, and starting fires under adverse conditions. I have put the blades through what many would consider unreasonable amounts of lateral stress and have experienced no failures. I have put the handles – as well as my hand – through hours long workouts in extended use and found the ergonomics as exceptional as the fit and finish. I have pitted the edges against everything from the soft flesh of lobster to rope, and from extremely hard seasoned oak to more repeated strikes of ferrocerium rods than the average bushcrafting knife will experience in a lifetime. It has never taken any more than a couple of minutes with a medium Arkansas stone to get the edge cleaned back up and sharpened again. Between the use of the knives, and my conversations with Todd during the interviews, it is clear that he not only knows a good deal about hand crafting well made tools, but takes great pride in producing high quality tools for the outdoor enthusiasts as well.   

It should be noted that Todd Hunt is in no way limited to making the simpler knives of the Workhorse line. I have seen examples of his work ranging from Loveless inspired drop point hunters, to very intricately detailed brass-back Bowie knives. This man does some very impressive work, and his finer work is also made to be used, not just admired.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Griffin Pocket Tool

By Mike Henninger

One of the great things about writing and working in this industry is that you make friends with a lot of people. When one of those people called and asks you to take a look at a pre-production model it is, well, a no-brainer. 

So a few days later, a Griffin Pocket Tool showed up from Coyote Mountain Outdoors and I was quickly in love.  I am a true EDC guy and always have way too much in my pockets or on my belt.  Pocket dumps have become a badge of honor with me, so it is easy to say I have a problem. 

The Griffin hits the mark on so many fronts.  First is what I consider its primary function, it is an excellent pocket clip.  It works on heavy work pants and belt loops easily.  The clip is deep enough to hold securely.  It beats the pants off of the full size carabiner and then the lanyard I used to use.  It works as well with every day wear and stealthy enough for dress wear. 

IMG_0758

The tools all work as they should and give you peace of mind when you are in an environment that a true multi-tool is overkill, frowned upon or just downright illegal (think flying.)  The Griffin will get you through TSA faster than gas station sushi through your insidesIMG_0821

A super high note worth mentioning is that the bottle opener is sized to accept ¼ inch bit drives so you can add another level of versatility to an already useful tool. 

The scribe is also a nice touch that is overlooked by most of the Griffin’s competition.  The pry bar is nice, but the pre-production model screw driver was a little thick and I expect that to be changed once the kick starter ends. One thing that I did after the review was finished was that I took a grinder wheel to the pry bar and added a concave feature to make it a little more to my liking. 

IMG_3297

Now that I have hit on all of the important features and specs for the guys, I would like to address this part to the ladies. I showed the Griffin to my wife and before she even touched it, she declared that it was a good size and that she would carry it.  Upon further examination, she liked the low weight and the simple design.

IMG_0822

Now for the brass tacks, I plan on buying a stainless steel model (23 grams total weight) and adding it to my EDC.  It added a level of comfort to those few times that I need to be knife or multi-tool free.  So be sure to check my pocket at the next wedding or funeral and look for the Griffin hanging on my pocket.

Check out the Griffin Pocket Tool on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1197457435/griffin-pocket-tool

Posted on Leave a comment

Buck PakLite Skinner Review

By Shane Neilly

It’s cold. You’re shaking, but not from the temperature. The reason for this is simply because the twelve point whitetail that you know for sure will score B&C, is standing twenty yards from your stand. You pull your bow back as the monster turns broadside and you proceed to pull the trigger on your release. Complete silence fills the air as you wait for that point of impact, then suddenly the buck drops. As you climb down and get to your kill the first thing you reach for is your Buck PakLite.

PIC-3

Before I was able to handle this blade, I had two compelling thoughts.

1) With a very affordable price of $40.00, could this knife just simply be another cheap quick fix blade that won’t last me but one year?

2) I’ve been wrong many times before, and I will admit I was hoping this was one of those times. Simply because I fell in love with the new PakLite. Let’s face it; Buck makes some pretty amazing things.

Out of the Box

This skinning knife is simple, yet elegant. When I pulled it out of the packaging I was stunned. This blade comes with an amazing Buck factory edge and is very thick. The skeleton handle goes well with this setup. With an overall length of 8.0 inches, a useful cutting edge of 3.5 inches, and a mind blowing light weight 4.1 ounces, this thing is the perfect size. The steel used to create this blade is Buck’s standard, yet famous, 420HC corrosion resistant steel. Which is very easy to clean and simple to touch up the blade if needed. My all time favorite thing about the PakLite is that it is made in the USA.

PIC-11

The one thing I did not care for out of the box was the China made sheath. Personally, I have never been a big fan on the nylon sheaths, but like everything else in this world they have their place. On the bright side, this sheath does have a hard plastic insert inside the nylon that does hold the blade quite well, along with the retention button snap. I think that Buck should have offered a kydex sheath option as well, but for forty dollars you can’t complain.

IMG_2578
PIC-7My out of the box score would be 4 stars out of 5.

In the Field

One of my favorite things about this tough son of a gun is exactly that, it’s tough! I have carried this Buck knife for about two months now and I have done everything from prying with the blade tip to gutting and skinning a coyote. There is not one weak spot, or even a chip in the blade and it has only had to be sharpened once since the time I have opened it. The Buck Knife Company has definitely earned a +1 from me on the blade toughness.

PIC-4

There are very few things about this knife that I do not like but one of the biggest things is carrying it. Carrying the PakLite on my belt was almost like work. It seemed like no matter where on my belt I positioned it, the handle of the knife would jab me right above the belt. The only thing I could figure out to do to ease the pain from the handle was to tuck my shirts in, which still did not take all the pain away, just some of it. But for the amount you are paying for this knife, these little imperfections are sustainable. Who knows, it could just only be my body that feels this as a discomfort.

PIC-12

When you put this beautiful piece of steel into your hands, whether they are rough and callused or soft and baby bottom smooth, you will be comfortable. The orange textured coating and the ten different jimping points ensure that this knife will virtually never slip from your hands. But don’t worry, if it were to slip, the knife is brightly colored so therefore it is easy to spot in the leaves or on forest floor.

PIC-5

Now being that this particular blade has no handle scales, means that it makes it noticeably lighter than most skinning knives. With that being said, I have found that sometimes after extensive use, your hands tend to hurt from the corners of the steel. In my eyes, you have two options.

1) Man up and take the painful abuse to your hands.

2) You can take a few feet of 550 paracord and wrap the knife handle, which in my opinion is the best choice. No one can ever have enough paracord on them, so you’re killing two birds with one stone. The wrapping job even looks really great if it is done right.

IMG_2576

My in the field score would be 4 stars out of 5.

Conclusion

Lastly, in my own Ohio Valley woodlands, I would greatly recommend the Buck PakLite Skinner to anyone who is an avid outdoorsman, hunter, prepper, or even just a knife enthusiast. If you are seeking a skinning blade that can also do many other things, take the abuse, hold a great edge, and come with the Buck Knives Company lifetime warranty, then this is the knife for you. With an internet price range of $33.00 – $40.00, it is very affordable and in almost everyone’s price range. Where I come from, the knife a person is carrying says a lot about that certain individual, and this is one piece of steel that I would gladly be seen carrying. Simply amazing.

You can find the Buck PakLite Skinner Knife at http://www.buckknives.com/