A Close Look At Knives: Keen Cutters
Don’t Leave Home Without One …
Or Two … Or Three …
My paternal grandfather lived a long and interesting life as a sailor, lumberjack, carpenter, construction worker, farmer and local politician. He was in his 20’s when the Wright brothers first got their little biplane airborne and he lived to watch TV footage of men walking on the moon.
From boyhood on, he was never without a knife. They were everyday tools to him, with hundreds of uses — mostly routine tasks. Although one time, while on a fishing vessel, he capsized in a North Sea storm, with the only lifeboat lashed on deck. Working underwater, he used his knife to cut the boat free, saving five lives.
If my grandpa was alive today I think he’d be astonished by the incredible variety of knives available — and by their quality. For those who need or just want to admire a good knife, these are indeed the best of times. The variety and quality of steel, workmanship and sheer ingenuity today’s knifemakers employ is unparalled. Take advantage of when you live!
The Gerber Bullrush is a compact, well-designed multi-tool. The handle shape makes it comfortable while using the pliers or wire cutters. It also has a serrated knife blade, flat blade and Philips screwdrivers and gut hook, all with liner locks — and it’s only $69. Other knives pictured are: the 3.12″ Gerber EVO Mid-Tanto (top) and the Propel Tactical (bottom) with a 3.5” Tanto blade and G-10 handle.
The Buck family has been making fine knives since … well, practically forever. On the far left, you’ll see the 50th anniversary model of the iconic 110 folder — one of the most used (and copied) knives ever made. Moving to the right, the Bones knife has a 3″ serrated Tanto-style blade and skeleton handle. The Redpoint Rescue knife has a titanium-coated, locking, serrated blade and, at the other end, a glass breaker and seat belt cutter. The Trio variation of the classic Stockman knife has a 2.5″ clip blade, plus sheepsfoot and spey blades. With a 3.25″ blade, the Spitfire pocketknife has other options available, including a partially serrated blade and various aluminum handle colors. Lastly, the Vantage Force Select features a flipper-opening 3.25″ blade, liner lock and glass-reinforced nylon handle.
Using the AXIS locking system, these two Benchmades feature ambidextrous openers and lock release buttons. At the top, the 14715 HK AXIS has a 3.7″ coated blade, stainless steel liners and G-10-textured handles — it’s also available in a partially serrated version. On the bottom, the Mini-AXIS Stryker with a 2.94″ Tanto-style coated blade, G-10 handles, stainless steel liners, weighs only 2.84 ounces. Benchmade tells me it’s also available with a plain, non-coated blade for a bit more.
Now in it’s 20th year, CRKT offers a variety of knives designed by top knifemakers. Left is the Otanashi noh Ken, with a slim 4.52″ coated blade, a liner lock with a safety lock (LAWKS) and a G-10 handle. A variation with partially serrated blade is also available ($150). Center, the M16-13SFG is a variation of Kit Carson’s very popular M16 series. It has a 3½” black titanium nitride coated Tanto-style blade with a double flipper opener and G-10 handle. The liner lock has CRKT’s patented “AutoLAWKS” safety system. On the right, the Minimalist Bowie by Alan Folts has a 2.125″ fixed blade. It’s a tiny knife, which still manages a comfortable full-size grip (thanks to polished resin-impregnated fiber) and comes with a synthetic sheath and neck cord.
Cold Steel’s lineup of battle-ready knives appeal to users with a task to tackle. From the left, the famous Trail Master is anything but subtle, and it has everything a big knife should be capable of — it has a 9½”, 01 high carbon steel blade, a 5″ comfortable Kray-Ex handle and brass guard. The Master Hunter is an excellent all-around hunting knife for both field dressing and skinning, with a heavy-duty 4½” blade, and 4¾” Kray-Ex handle with guard. Lloyd Pendleton designed the Pendleton Hunter’s compact nature with 3½” blade and a full-size 4¾” Kray-Ex handle. Last but not least, the Hold Out II folder has a 4″ locking blade with G-10 handle and, at 4.2 ounces, it’s more than suitable for pocket carry.
Now we’ll look at three elegant gentleman’s carry knives from Spyderco. Top, the stunning Chaparral3 Stepped Titanium is truly a knife for the discerning gentleman — with a 2¾” blade and back lock. The handle is solid titanium with a CNC-machined “stepped” pattern, making for a light (only 2.7 ounces!) and strikingly beautiful knife. Center, the Sage 3 Bolt Action has a 3″ blade with the Bolt Action lock design by Blackie Collins. Its handle is black Cubic Check carbon fiber/G-10 laminate. At the bottom, the slim folder design by Des Horn of South Africa has a 3.11″ blade and liner lock. The G-10 handle mirrors the blade shape with a straight-line bottom and gently curved top.
Here’s some handy items to have whether you’re camping, hunting or fishing. The SOG Flashback up top is an assisted-opening knife with a satin-finish 3½” blade and glass-reinforced nylon and a stainless steel handle. Below it, the Backcountry Axe is 16″ overall with a 3″ blade head — it also has a handy saw, which stores neatly and securely in the handle. A S&W .22/.32 Kit Gun from the mid-1950’s, at the bottom of this image, would be another helpful tool to have while camping.
Top, the SOG Flashback has a 3½” assisted-opening blade. Its design has an extra safety lock, so the blade can be locked in a closed position. Below, the SOG Kiku Folder — designed by Kiku Matsuda — is the result of a collaboration between SOG and Kiku Knives. It has a Tanto-style 3½” polished satin blade, with a liner lock and green linen Micarta handle.
About halfway between a hatchet and a full-size axe, these models are handy in camp or whenever you might be traveling light. While they don’t quite replace a knife, hammer — or even a full-size axe — they can easily fulfill all three roles in a pinch. At left, the SOG has a length of 16″ and weighs 29 ounces. At right, the Gerber Camp Axe II is 17.32″ overall and weighs 34.6 ounces with a coated stainless steel head. Both are very well made and come with synthetic sheathes.
By Dave Anderson