By Luke Causey
The Schrade SCHF 42 Frontier has been gaining a lot of traction as a budget friendly survival and bushcraft knife. While the Frontier has a name that seems to complicate things, the knife itself is very simple. It’s well built with quality materials. In this article, WoodsMonkey puts the Schrade SCHF 42 Frontier through its paces.
The Schrade SCHF Frontier (the Frontier, for simplicity) is a full tang knife designed for outdoors, survival, and bushcraft. The knife is imported by Taylor Brand LLC, the owner of the Schrade brand. The knife is built of 1095 steel, my favorite carbon steel. 1095 is capable of being tempered well, is very forgiving, and will get sharper than those under breath insults from your mother-in-law. The other nice thing about 1095 is price; it’s not one of those crazy, powdered unicorn horn, super steels that drive the price through the roof. It’s a regular guy steel, and it does everything pretty darn good.
The 1095 is full tang, ending in a lanyard hole at the back of the knife. The spine is squared off nicely and would throw sparks from my Swedish firesteel right out of the box. Speaking of out of the box, the factory edge on my Frontier is easily one the most evenly ground edges I’ve seen for under $100. Even for under $50, which this is by the way, I couldn’t find even the tiniest issue with the edge. It shaved hair and cut free hanging paper. For an online price of about $45, this is fantastic.
The blade is a recurve design, with a full flat grind from a spine thickness of 0.19 inch. Blade length is 5.12 inches, with an overall of 9.95 inches. The recurve in the edge is slight, and the front half of the knife is more of a drop point design with the curve coming in the belly. I normally wouldn’t prefer a recurve, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well this worked out. In use, the knife slices very well. Even in heavier material, the continuous curve bit and cut way over my expectation. But alas, I can hear you now… how am I going to sharpen it? Yes it’s true, the recurve does not lend itself to being sharpened on a flat stone very well. But I was able to touch it up and keep it shaving sharp with a round ceramic rod. The ceramic rod is my go-to touch up tool in the shop, and as long as it doesn’t get past the point of routine maintenance, it’s not an issue. If it does, a thinner stone seemed to do the trick. After my most serious use session, I used my 1 inch wide Norton stone, followed by the ceramic rod, and finished with a charged leather strop. I had it back shaving in under 20 minutes. Another beauty of 1095 is that it’s easy to sharpen and doesn’t need exotic equipment. Chalk up another win.
The handle is what Schrade calls “Grivory.” Where they come up with this, I have no idea. But it seems to me that Grivory is a propriety name for a real hard, real tough plastic composite. The handle overall is awesomely shaped. Zero flat edges or corners, no hot spot aggravators, and very well designed. I wear a medium glove and have thick fingers, (don’t call ’em fat, you’ll ruin their self image) and I found the handle very comfortable. Out in the woods cutting and carving juniper, pine, aspen, hacking on oak brush, and slicing cord, rope, and all sorts of packaging material, I never felt a hot spot. Not something you can say about many knives for twice the price. My only negative about the entire knife is that the handle can get slightly slick. It’s just that it’s a little too smooth. The handle shape keeps the knife secure when it’s in hand, it’s just that I’d like a little more tackiness to the finish. I think with a little 80 or 100 grit sandpaper, it’d rough up just enough. Besides that though, this is one of the best handles I’ve seen anywhere near this price point.
The sheath is leather, dyed black, and is set up for right hand carry. The knife fits inside very snugly and is retained by a snap closure retention strap. I carried the Frontier threaded onto the compression strap of my pack, and never had an issue. I did about 15 miles on foot and dozens of miles on my backwoods dirt bike over several trips, and never had an issue with it. It’s both stitched and riveted, and is nicely welted to protect the sheath and the knife’s edge.
While splitting up some juniper for a lunch time fire, I really came to realize where the sweet spot lies for the Frontier. It’ll do whatever you’ll ask of it on any camping trip, backing trip, or bushcraft wander through the woods. The knife cuts extremely well, is very comfortable in the hand, and did everything I asked of it. I cut up everything from cardboard for recycling, fuel line for my motorcycle, lots of wood, rope, and packaging materials.
For anyone looking for a quality built knife without breaking the bank, look at the Schrade Frontier. All you have to do is eat a sandwich at home instead of going out to dinner and you’ve covered the cost of the knife. Moreover, you can afford to keep a couple stashed in key places, something I’ve come to believe in over the years. Any bug out bag, resupply cache, or vehicle based toolbox could benefit from having a Frontier in it. As a matter of fact, this one is destined for my vehicle’s survival kit and who knows what it’ll see in the future. Whatever that is, the Schrade SCHF 42 Frontier will be up for it.
Check out Schrade Knives here: http://taylorbrandsllc.com/
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