Florian Tools RP-701 Review

Gerber Freeman Guide

February 3, 2012 Comments (0) Blades & Tools

TOPS Brothers of Bushcraft Fieldcraft Knife

I typically consider myself well served with knives of somewhat diminutive stature; usually exceptionally light in weight and short of blade, but I was still very excited to have the opportunity to handle the TOPS Knives, Brothers of Bushcraft (B.O.B) Fieldcraft knife. I know that the knives I usually carry and use are considered marginal by some and even inadequate by others but I also know that there are just some things that I won’t or don’t do with them simply because they are not built like an axe. I do know their limitations.

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Sometimes I do feel pangs of guilty irresponsibility when I think about the fact that I could get caught short in tight spot without a heavy duty tool. Yes, my petite blades are effective for 98 percent of the tasks for which I use them, but having some muscle as backup would be comforting in certain situations.

I could take along a big knife or an axe just in case but, that’s a lot of extra weight and bulk even with the smaller versions. A vintage USMC Corpsman’s knife, a Wetterlings bush craft axe, or a relatively lightweight Fiskars hatchet would be a welcome friend in a cold wet woods for fire building and shelter making, but are not as likely to be on my person at any given time, especially if I didn’t plan to be out long. Finding something that will withstand truly hard use yet handle comfortably for most daily chores is a challenge and "compromise" almost sounds like a dirty word when used in the context of tools. Something that tries to be a jack of all trades is going to have to shine a bit more than most such tools I have seen because most are a compromise.

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The TOPS, B.O.B Fieldcraft certainly seems robust and functional enough if one were to be pressed into a wilderness survival situation but still handles well enough to be enjoyable while practicing typical bush craft skills. TOPS Knives are known for their robustness and are built based on an extensive and diverse array of skills learned in harsh and hostile environments. TOPS has an extensive lineup of knives which seem geared to military and law enforcement applications and a few which seem to lean more toward the outdoors enthusiast, but all are built to perform under severe use, extreme conditions and simply must work, period. How a philosophy that so successfully lead to some of the most sturdy and brutish knives built can be successfully alloyed with concepts typically manifested in tools made for woodworking and game processing is another story.

http://www.topsknives.com/product_info.php?products_id=371

And along comes B.O.B, also known as The Brothers of Bushcraft. As described on their site, the Brothers of Bushcraft have a mission "to provide a wealth of knowledge from a multitude (of) different backgrounds, with several different men from all over North America." Also described on their site as "a coalition of wilderness skills practitioners," the Brothers of Bushcraft can be credited with a range of outdoor skills specific to bush craft characterized by a diversity similar to the diversity of skills and experience behind TOPS knives.

http://www.brothersofbushcraft.com/

The wide range of outdoor skills between the parties behind the Fieldcraft pretty much covers it all and it all comes together in the TOPS, B.O.B Fieldcraft. While some have married many obvious overlapping features of a rugged survival knife and an agile bush craft knife into a number of very capable knives the confluence of all the remaining diametrically opposed features might indicate certain turbulence. The Fieldcraft is larger and heavier than I usually like but it handles very well. It is refined in its special skills but is certainly no sissy either. Overall, the TOPS, B.O.B Fieldcraft is an impressive tool and one which I would feel comfortable with if things went wrong as well as being very comfortable with for everyday outdoor tasks.

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We could argue the differences and similarities between "survival" and "bush craft" all day, but we won’t, because it takes two to argue and I usually exercise my right to abstain in that one. It’s all the same to me when I am in the woods. I go there to have fun and am aware that my "fun" could turn very serious very suddenly. No doubt bush craft skills will help me survive if I find myself in such a predicament but, the tools I have on hand may differentiate. We could argue whether a big knife or a small knife is better (or adequate) for either survival or bush craft too but, I won’t do that either. I won’t even try to convince anyone that either is the better choice, but I will make comparisons based on the personal preferences I exercise because they what I am used to.

On with the show! The Fieldcraft has an overall length of about nine and seven eighths inches, four and five eighths of which is blade with five and a quarter left for the handle. It is approximately .190" thick and the blade one and three sixteenths wide. It weighs nine and seven tenths ounces – over half a pound. The 1095 blade is coated, but the coating imparts effectively no drag due to the angle of the grind. The natural canvas Micarta handle is ample and nicely contoured. The edge terminates with a choil and comes very close to the minimal and unobtrusive guard. There are no finger notches between the edge and the handle, so you may choke up and still have handle. The blade is wide enough that various holds for detail work can be applied as one wishes.

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In contrast, the knife I usually carry as my "main" knife weighs less than half of what the Fieldcraft does. If I count my backup knife, both of my knives are still only about two thirds the weight of the Fieldcraft and the mini Ritter Griptillian, which is always in my pocket, still does not make up the difference. I can barely tip the scales when I throw in my A. G. Russell Woods Walker. If I add the width of the blades of my main knife and backup together, they are a mere four thousandths of an inch thicker than the Fieldcraft. As you read further, bear this comparison in mind as I describe the handling of the Fieldcraft.

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The point is that the Fieldcraft is a significant chunk knife; it is substantial, robust, heavy duty and instills confidence that it won’t let you down. I would be comfortable that I would not break it or cause significant damage to it in the process of using it under less than ideal conditions – because I’ve done it. I purposefully used it under conditions which precluded the luxury of time and ideal materials to get a fire going as quickly as possible in two different scenarios. These are situations where I would normally have an axe or much larger knife along if I knew what I was getting into. What I wanted to know was "can I leave my axe at home sometimes and not feel like I am gambling?"

Test one was aimed at building a fire under extremely poor fire-building conditions and without the benefit of anything other than the TOPS Knives, B.O.B Fieldcraft and the small fires-starting tool that came with it. Finding poor fire-building conditions was easy because it seems like it has been raining here since Spring. Everything is wet and there is mud everywhere. I set out for a spot across two fields where I have been cutting wood lately – someplace I would likely be and not an unrealistic or exotic setting. After a short walk, I found the spot to be as perfect as anticipated – everything was saturated from the ground to dead vegetation and long-dead limbs of old trees. I had resisted my compulsion to collect any dry tinder on the way, but it wouldn’t have mattered.

I dropped my bag on a log, up out of the mud, and proceeded to scan for tinder, kindling and fuel. Any other time, even after a good rain, there is something to be easily found but not today. There were no handfuls of dry grass or bunches of foxtail. I had to be very selective and gather only the driest blade of grass from each clump I could find and only the foxtails standing highest up out of the mud. I eventually had a skimpy tinder ball that I could stuff into my shirt pocket to dry a bit as I gathered kindling and fuel.

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Kindling was a problem in itself, as there was no direction from which the wind hadn’t blown rain over the past months and there was nothing to be found dry. I selected a substantial oak branch which was part of a blow-down at the end of last Winter. It was dead before the tree fell and still up off the ground, so I first hacked out a baton using the Fieldcraft. While the Fieldcraft is not what I would consider a "chopper," it performed admirably in that regard using the last swell in the handle to make the knife seem longer and to help maintain a decent grip. For the sake of comparison, I cut the newly liberated baton to length with my axe with three quick chops. It took about three minutes to do the same with the Fieldcraft, but would have been a dreadful chore with one of my smaller knives.

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Once the baton was functional, I used it to drive the Fieldcraft through the previously mentioned dead oak branch with the idea that I would find dry wood inside. I did not find dry wood – the branch was soaked through. I tried several other pieces of the oak which were (or might have been) more protected or more dry to begin with by baton and knife and found only slightly less wet wood. All the wood I split was laid up out of the mud in hopes of drying it some for later use in the fire which was still no more than a wish. I looked some more and split some more and put the Fieldcraft through a pretty severe series of beatings in the process. One look at the Fieldcraft and one would know not to worry about that but its performance and ability to maintain an edge through it all impressed me further and so I wasted little time fussing about striking the knife perfectly squarely or whether there was a knot in the path of the edge.

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I found that where the old oak had broken when it blew down there was a large bundle of slats that almost looked like they had been milled, steamed and bent ninety degrees for chair parts and the bulk of it was dead, reasonably dry and somewhat protected. This wood was from deep inside the tree but was also still attached to the stump and the trunk and not something I would have considered easy pickin’s. The cross section of the individual slats were about an inch square to an inch by a half inch, and so pretty substantial for dry, seasoned oak. I could hack at it with the Fieldcraft but there wasn’t room to swing a baton and keep my own face out of the way. The best I could do was stretch as far as I could reach, wiggle the Fieldcraft between the slats and pry, twist and lever – something that I usually don’t do with a knife.

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Yes, I used the Fieldcraft as a pry bar. The point was to get a fire going as quickly as possible and with only the Fieldcraft. I not only used it as a pry bar, but I treated it with a bit less reserve than I might a pry bar. I pried, twisted, levered and bounced until I worked the ends of several of these sticks of kindling loose. There was no apparent damage to the knife at all. As I worked at this task, I was surprised at what the Fieldcraft would take and I actually stepped it up a bit as I went. I soon learned that the Fieldcraft would take more of a side load than I could produce with all my weight and then some.

Gathering the fuel was basically an exercise similar to gathering kindling because the fire did not need to be large, just enough to get a sustainable cooking fire going with which to warm my hands and dry my gloves, boil some water with which I could warm my insides and reward myself with a high calorie, caffeine-laden concoction. So, more of the same ensued until I had a reasonable amount of fuel, kindling and a few more foxtails for tinder gathered as I collected the other materials. I had set out to see if the Fieldcraft could bull its way through under poor conditions and, so far, so good, but no huge surprise.

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So, here is where I (not the gear) failed at this task; I had all my materials and had almost ritualistically prepared the fire bed. I was blocking the wind and my tinder was safely out of the wetness and resting on a platform of somewhat less damp bark, so I had to get a flame before the moisture was absorbed into my tinder. I extracted the TOPS Knives fire started from the sheath and proceeded to scrape magnesium shavings from the same with the innovative Shango Notch located on the butt of the knife. It was clumsy and ineffective to say the least. I knocked my tinder about and scattered what shavings I managed to peel off every which way. I adjusted my hold and how I was holding my mouth and tried it again. No dice. This fire starter and Shango Notch thing is rough to use, my hands are getting cold and I really, really want (deserve) a fire right now.

Trying not to cheat, I put my tinder back into my pocket, gathered what magnesium shavings I could (a tedious task to say the least), scraped them up in a little spot and had decided I would use the TOPS Knives fire starter and the Shango Notch to ignite the shavings and then retrieve the tinder ball from my pocket and place it on the fizzling, spitting magnesium and be in business. It did not work out that way. The ferro rod portion of the fire starter was no less cumbersome to use and I cast a pathetically sparse flurry of pathetically weak sparks in the general direction the pathetically small spot of magnesium dust (I guess "shavings" is an exaggeration) and not one spark made it to the pile. No fire, yet.

I made a mental note to take this up with Joe Flowers, a Brother of Bushcraft and the father of the "Shango Notch" when I was back inside by the wood stove and after I had regained enough feeling in my fingers to type him a quick e-mail. Obviously, I am doing something wrong here and needed some expert advice, so I turned the Fieldcraft around and very easily shaved a small pile of real magnesium shavings with the sharp edge of the spine near the tip where the grind terminated. With a single stroke, I projected a fireball from the ferro rod onto the magnesium and the spitting and sputtering began. It seems the fire starter is a capable and competent device while something between the Shango Notch and its operator needed some tuning.

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From that point on it was business as usual, nourishing the small fire with small fuel until it had grown and had grown a bigger appetite. I kept adding gradually larger bits of fuel and stacking damp fuel close to dry it somewhat more before adding it to the fire. This part gets to be about like tying your shoes, so I was able to execute more tasks as the fire matured. My fingers were getting warmer, my gloves drier and my toes felt toasty as well, so I got things around to make a pot crane and pot hook. The crane was crafted easily and was a less brutal act requiring finer motor skills than collecting kindling and fuel was and the pot hook would take even more finesse on the part of my own digits and the features of the Fieldcraft.

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The fact that the Fieldcraft could muscle its way through the fire-building was never a question in my mind. You can look at the knife and just know. That it did well with the finer work for the pot crane was not a surprise but I was impressed that it worked as well as it did. Fabricating the pot hook with a knife of such significant dimensions had me at least curious. I possess the skills to do many intricate tasks with larger cutting tools myself, but it is not always ideal in either process or result. I knew I could rough out something serviceable without tools at all, but would have chosen a finer, lighter tool had the option been available. Using a blade that is almost two tenths of an inch thick on a knife that weighs over half a pound should be very doable, but not necessarily the most desirable. None the less, I found myself paying no attention to the weight or bulk as I notched and carved and I realized that as I enjoyed the work that the knife is obviously quite comfortable to use for detail work.

I boiled my water and made myself a pint of a hot, calorie-rich mixture of coffee, cocoa, sugar and creamer as I toasted my soles and admired the Fieldcraft. It was a miserable day by all accounts so I was happy. Not only was I outdoors, breathing fresh air and enjoying the scenery, but I was tickled to have had "test one" end as a success without having worried that I might have picked an unreasonably low or high standard. Meanwhile, the Shango Notch blunder nibbled at my conscience.

I e-mailed Joe after I got back to the house and promptly received a typically upbeat and pleasant response. Joe is a pleasure to talk to and his enthusiasm and skills would be an incredible asset in a survival situation. Joe understood immediately what I was trying to say and explained how I was doing it all wrong without actually saying I was doing anything wrong. He included a link to a video which showed the proper technique and mentioned that it may be necessary to remove some of the coating near the Shango Notch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k8T3pXCgcU

It made perfect sense when he explained it and made all the difference in the world in how well it worked. The Shango Notch is a standard feature on the Fieldcraft, the Shango and the new Shango XL, and while the use of which is different from how I normally use a ferro rod, it is certainly very effective and very natural to use once you "get it." Of course, it’s simple enough that most will probably figure it out themselves. Just remember that you strike it rather than scrrrraaaaape it.

Test two (yeah, there’s more) was similar but I wanted to test the knife at preparing a fire as quickly as possible under similarly miserable conditions – without the benefit of the included fire-starting tool. Making a bow drill is not an extreme test of a tool’s effectiveness, but making a bow drill for immediate (emergency) use might be. This is something I would not hesitate to do with one of my smaller knives, but under the limitations of doing it quickly, like in an emergency, a knife might be called upon to work a little harder than normal. The fact that the Fieldcraft can handle the rougher tasks has been established and that it handles well for finer tasks is proven too now. With just the (small) knife, I would have to make a baton to collect larger material or I may get by without using a baton if I have a very large knife. Either way, not making the baton is time and energy saved, so I gave it a shot. I chopped down a small dead tree without a baton.

Now, I don’t live in or near a cedar swamp. The nearest one is a couple hours south of me and that one is a bit of a rarity in Ohio anyway. If you, spend much time in or near a cedar swamp, you may have access to bow drill material that makes it feel like you are cheating. If you are not in the geographic proximity of a cedar swamp, you could potentially harvest some prime bow drill material easily enough because the white cedar goes also by thuja occidentalis, aka arbor vitae. It’s a common ornamental and frequently used as a screen or wind break. This summer, I noticed an arbor vitae, which I planted in a wind break about twenty years ago, had given up the ghost and I left it stand for just such an occasion – an odd behavior probably related to my obsession with gathering good tinder while the gettin’s good or ogling it along ditches as I pass at highway speeds.

The white cedar in question would be like winning the lottery if you suddenly found yourself lost and cold. It was a bit of a "ringer" for this test but it was there, I was there and I had a need. Rather than waste it on a brush pile, I put it to use.

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The tree was a couple inches in diameter, roughly six feet tall and stood out like a sore thumb. It was devoid of foliage, which when dead and brown goes up like gasoline, but I was happy to have the wood, even though it stood through all the rain that the oak did from the previous test. The inner bark yielded a few strands of dry tinder and I scraped what I could with the spine of the Fieldcraft after removing the tree from the stump. Removing the tree from the stump would have been a bit of work, though not impossible, with a small knife but the Fieldcraft was used to hack the trunk free in short order. I drug the prize to a spot sheltered from the wind by other evergreens fifty or so yards away.

Once I had drug my dead quarry back to "camp," stripping the trunk of smaller branches with quick snap cuts created a small pile of very good kindling. I stripped some of the bark, teased the fibers off the inside into a ball and put the almost dry tinder in my shirt pocket. I hacked the very tip off the trunk easily and again six inches down, yielding the spindle portion of the bow drill set. The Fieldcraft then worked quite comfortably at shaping the spindle ends and I didn’t even waste the time to strip the bark. The spindle went into another pocket in lieu of laying it on the damp ground.

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I sliced a bow from a dogwood which some bird had planted in an inconvenient spot (inconvenient until now anyway) and whittled both ends in what might have been a minute and strung it with a piece of parachute cord (cheap and plentiful), which easily could have been a boot lace or knife lanyard. The bow was set aside, limber and green, on the ground with no concerns about the moisture.

The hearth board was then carved from the small end of the trunk with a few heavy slices, leaving the bark and not even removing the remainder of the trunk for the moment. The tip of the Fieldcraft was perfect for starting a hole for the spindle so I twisted the spindle into the bow string, set the tip of the spindle into the starter hole and,….. wait, I forgot something. The bearing block for the top of the spindle, which takes me more time and causes me more frustration than any part of the bow drill. Usually, by the time I get the spindle worn into the bearing block socket and I start getting some smoke and dust on the working end of the spindle, I have smoke and dust coming out of the bearing block as well and have to break my rhythm to lubricate it in some manner. Remember, we’re in a hurry here and finding the ideal bearing block material will take time too.

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The Fieldcraft has one feature which I had wondered might not only be a marginally effective bit of goo-gaw. I had seen this feature before and had, until now, declined to add a cute little Shirley Temple dimple to the handles of my knives. A smooth handle is a high priority to me. A custom knife is not cheap and the work I put into one of my own handles is significant. I was not willing to risk the time or the money to add a questionable feature which might have more use as a symbol that I have a clue about using a bow drill. The bearing block divot in the Micarta handle of the Fieldcraft is the berries! I don’t know who thought of it first, but someone ought to buy that guy breakfast every time he shows up in a restaurant between two and ten AM.

No bearing block needed. There is time saved looking for the right material, time saved making it and frustration saved (at least in my case) in having to stop and lubricate the bearing block periodically. The energy saved with the reduction of friction experienced over my own previous bow drill endeavors could realistically save one’s life. It works perfectly, smoothly and saves time and energy. I had wondered if the canvas substrate in the Micarta might not burn as it can if one is not very attentive at the buffing wheel, but I wore out two holes in my hearth board just playing around and the finish of the divots is only very slightly burnished.

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With the prime raw materials at my disposal and the Fieldcraft, it was less than ten minutes from the time I approached the dead arbor vitae until I had a nice little heap of glowing dust to fold into my tinder ball. I spent over an hour trying to get some photos of the whole thing and thought I might wear the bow drill divot out on the Fieldcraft as I repeated the exercise over and over. Even with the repetition, I did not tire myself unduly and did the divot no harm. The bow drill spindle divot is truly a two-thumbs-up feature, which when paired with the Shango Notch, provides two useful fire-making tools which take nothing away from the knife save for a fraction of an ounce of material, and the Fieldcraft won’t miss that one bit.

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Having seen that the Fieldcraft was fully capable of the heavy lifting while still being comfortable to use for general tasks, I could relax a bit and take note of its attributes as I used it in a more leisurely fashion. Looking back at the things I used the Fieldcraft for, I noticed a few things. The edge was decent right out of the box. I have very specific and picky preferences regarding grinds and edges and get along with low angles and fine, polished edges. I may have to pay more attention to how I handle the knife (like not digging in gravelly soil with it), but the edges I work with reduce fatigue and conserve energy. I can work longer and more efficiently with certain grinds than I can with the obtuse angles of the invincible edges necessary for penetrating car hoods and batoning cinder blocks (or digging in gravelly soil).

Nothing wrong with penetrating car hoods and batoning cinder blocks if that’s what you want or need, but the Fieldcraft, in its name and design roots, implies that it should also be good at other things and while life is full of compromises, the mechanics of the Fieldcraft give up little in practical durability to versatility. While the grind is described on the TOPS and B.O.B sites, I want to put it into my own words here. The grind isn’t what we sometimes think of as a "Scandi" and it isn’t exactly a flat or saber grind and it isn’t quite a "Scandi-convex" hybrid either. It’s more like a Scandi that someone has used and sharpened for a long time, losing the perfect flatness of the grind faces and which has evolved into a fine cutting edge with reinforcement in the appropriate areas.

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This "sorta-Scandi" grind does well by keeping steel out of the way of wood when cutting. Where the main grind terminates into the beginning of the edge grind, the angles are such that it cuts very efficiently while still providing excellent support of a fine edge. Throughout the above testing, the edge stood up well, which is not surprising for properly heat treated 1095, but getting the geometry just right is often left to the owner of the knife – which isn’t all bad. While the edge showed no signs of chipping or rolling, it was still a factory edge and needed the microscopic teeth removed to impart fine, polished homogeneous edge faces for detail work and even better edge retention.

Several minutes on a 600 grit diamond plate, a few more on some 800 and 1000 grit wet-dry abrasive paper, followed by about half a minute on a two different grits of a strop and the edge was downright scary – one of those that begins to cut the first layer of the dead skin while making a tactile inspection for any residual microscopic burr. That’s the beauty of the steel selected for this knife – it takes and holds an edge exceptionally well, yet stands up to hard use. It’s not a sexy new boutique steel with stellar anti-corrosion properties and mythical edge-holding characteristics. 1095 has mounds of real-life experience to back up the idea that it does what it is supposed to exceptionally well and is easy to sharpen to an extremely fine edge.

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For the sake of doing some detail work, I harvested a stick of service berry, which makes great utensils because it rarely splits even when not carefully dried. It is fairly dense and carves well and I have made several utensils with it using smaller knives, so I had a good basis for comparison. The stick sliced off easily and lopping the smaller branches was very quick. Stripping the bark went well and making the rough shape of the spoon was very easy. Why wouldn’t it be? I could do all that with a large or small axe quite efficiently or with only a minor amount of additional time using a much smaller knife. All the same, the Fieldcraft didn’t handle like an axe. It didn’t handle like a much smaller knife either, but it handled well enough to make the effort, well, effortless. Additionally, as I carved the handle and bowl of the spoon, I did not find the Fieldcraft to be cumbersome or awkward. The wonderful grind and excellent fine (yet robust) tip were very effective features. Even with the tip of the blade being farther away from the handle than I usually prefer, I was able to grasp the wide blade to manipulate the tip very easily and did so without thinking about it.

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In spite of what I consider generous proportions, the Fieldcraft is a very sensible and well thought out cutting tool with task-appropriate features for processing wood for fire, shelter and tools and for processing game for food as well. The grind and edge are well suited to the intended tasks, the overall shape and size, while more substantial than what I once considered ideal, suit the tasks it is intended to perform very well. Its functionality and ergonomics make it as much pleasure to use as it is efficient in a wide range of tasks, which make it a very practical and useable bush craft knife with survival knife muscle. Or, maybe it’s a brutish survival knife which is also very good for practicing bush craft skills.

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Other things I noticed after I thought about it were features that I benefited from without noticing them as I used the knife. That would include the handle shape, the slight difference in angle along the back of the spine between the handle and blade and the thumb notches on the scales. The handle is big enough, but not too big and is contoured nicely to enhance grip and handling while preventing fatigue. The large lanyard loop is fantastic. You can use a lanyard when you want or remove it quickly and easily when you don’t. It will accept a doubled piece of parachute cord so that you can push the loop of a pre-made lanyard through it and pull the other end through the loop for a secure but easily removed lanyard. Your lanyard length can be predetermined and you don’t have to mess with that by picking the knots out when you need to remove the lanyard.

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The thumb serrations are another matter. I can only conclude that since thumb serrations appear on many knives designed by people I look up to in terms of their knife design knowledge, that I must be doing something wrong. They don’t make sense to me and the more aggressive the, the less sense they make. While I don’t often put my thumb where the serrations usually are, especially if I need to put some muscle into a cut, it may be a moot point. Maybe they are there to remind me not to put my thumb there when I need extra force behind a cut because it hurts when you do that! None the less, the thumb serrations did rub me the wrong way (literally) in certain holds because I do tend to choke up on a knife and get close to the blade’s edge for certain tasks. Anyone who understands how to use them and does use them should be pleased because they are clean, crisp, straight, uniform and expertly executed.

The sheath is Kydex. Someone took this wonderful tool and wrapped hot plastic around it, but they did one of the best jobs I have seen yet. The first three or four Kydex sheaths that were supplied with otherwise nice knives I bought were terrible. They were made wrong, exhibited very poor workmanship and the idea of attention to detail had never occurred. I am not the master of Kydex myself and the reason I have not been doing it for others is that I insist it be done just so. Being no master at it, it takes me several hours to complete one simple foldover sheath and I usually have to make two, three or four before I do get it right. I’d lose money doing it for others, lose some of my own time doing for myself or lose my mind trying to make it perfect.

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Some of the Kydex work I see leaves out key details that exploit the material’s attributes and miss the things it takes to mitigate the effects of its shortcomings. Whoever made the sheath for the Fieldcraft was on his or her game. Someone figured out how to do it right, and do so within a reasonable amount of time, or they are losing a lot of money. Attention to detail and workmanship are excellent; the edges are finished, the holes are straight, clean and deburred. There are no residual Kydex boogers or abrasive particles left inside or embedded in the material and the form is well defined. The sheath retains the knife by means of locking onto features on the handle, not by pinching the blade. The knife snaps in and out definitively and retention is perfect. You can remove the fasteners and clean out the inside and the selected belt clip and its means of attachment were well chosen. The clip only allows one to change the angle, but the height at which the knife rides on a belt is perfect, so there is no need for adjustment there. Everything you need and nothing you don’t.

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Take it for what it’s worth, but I would likely make a leather sheath for the Fieldcraft myself and then wear it on a baldric instead of my belt. A sheath almost seems to be more influence by personal preference than the knife itself, but the one supplied with the Fieldcraft is one I wouldn’t consider stuffing back into the box and not using like I have done with so many others – both Kydex and leather. Not that all of them were bad sheaths, but I almost always exercise my own will by deferring to my personal preferences in that department. I would be in no hurry to ditch this one as it is well made, very functional and clips onto the molle webbing of my cheap surplus pack solidly.

Enough said? I should say not, but it’s all I will say at this time except to summarize with "I like the Fieldcraft a lot." I like a lot of knives and I like a few so much that they pretty much have killed the "must have" lust whenever I see a new one. I have been spoiled by a few makers and my head isn’t easily turned these days but the Fieldcraft really gets my attention. I would think that the Fieldcraft exhibits enough of a cool-factor to appeal to one’s inner Rambo for anyone who wants a cool-looking knife to have around "just in case," and one couldn’t do much better than with the Fieldcraft even if its main functionality is instilling peace of mind. If daydreams were to degrade into a real-life bad situation, the knife at hand would certainly be up to the task. If one’s expectations are greater and frequent recreational use were to be the beast in need of feeding, that beast would never go hungry. For those who’s lives really are on the line, or for those who routinely teach others about such things, the Fieldcraft is not one I would ever expect to let them down. The Fieldcraft is a great knife with a range of features and attributes which make it one very, very capable tool.

www.topsknives.com

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