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Archive | Hunting

Frontier Axe & Tool

I have a confession to make. I like axes, hatchets, and tomahawks (maybe too much) and I am fortunate to live in a place that lets me put them to good use. I even started an Instagram feed (@thedailyaxe) that shares pictures of them which is how I cope with my vice. It is also how I came across Frontier Axe & Tool.

Frontier Axe & Tool sells axes, hatchets, and tomahawks. There are tons of shops selling new axes and tons selling restored vintage axes but Frontier Axe & Tool sells both. Their site has a variety of restored vintage American axes right along side a line of quality, USA-made, newly manufactured axes.

Those new axes, hatchets, and tomahawks are pretty unique and worth a look. The heads are hand forged by H&B Forge. Then Frontier Axe & Tool hangs each one with their own handles, sharpens them, and fits them with a leather axe mask. The quality appears to be excellent. They even go so far as to coat the leather masks with multiple coats of Sno-Seal. The prices on these axes are lower than their high quality imported counterparts and you are getting some solid value for the price considering the included leather mask and hand worked hafts.

Check out Frontier Axe & Tool.

H&B Forge and Pine Fire GOShawk

Traditional, hand forged tomahawks haven’t changed much over the years but there is new tomahawk available that manages to teach the old workhorse some new tricks. The GOShawk is the result of a collaboration between Michael Herdson at Pine Fire and H&B Forge. It can do everything that a typical hammer pole tomahawk can do but it also boasts a few features that set it apart.

The GOShawk has a .85 pound hammer pole head on 23″ haft. A longer haft can be used to balance a heavier tomahawk head and adds speed to the swing. The head on the GOShawk a mid-weight compared to most tomahawks and when placed on a long handle, it should hit very hard.

In addition to the typical cutting edge, the GOShawk also features a utility edge on the lower edge of the bit. This edge can be used for scraping a ferro rod, tinder preparation, or other tasks that you might not want to risk damage or dulling to your main cutting edge. It also has a relief cut behind the bit that allows the user to get their hand behind the cutting for fine work and makes the head more comfortable to hold when it is off the haft.

Finally, the GOShawk also features a 3/8″ divet that can be used as a bow drill socket. The socket is usually the hardest part of a bow drill set to manufacture in the woods so having one with you, can be a great advantage if you have the skills to use a bow drill.

Check out the GOShawk at H&B Forge.

Bargain or Just Cheap? – ESEE Avispa and Zancudo

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series reviews budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


If you are a manufacturer planning to create a budget knife, pay careful attention to what ESEE has done with the Avispa and Zancudo. They’ve kept cost down by getting the important things right and careful material selection. I’ll let the cat out of the bag right up front. These knives are great.

ESEE Avispa D2

Avispa Specs:

Lock: Steel frame lock

Pocket Clip: Left or right, tip up or down

Steel: AUS 8 or D2

Handle: Textured FRN front, steel back

Blade length: 3.5 in.

Blade thickness: .11 in.

Open length: 8.5 in.

Weight: 4.51 oz.

Zancudo Specs:

Lock: Steel frame lock

Pocket Clip: Right pocket only, tip up or down

Steel: AUS 8 or D2

Handle: Textured FRN front, steel back

Blade length: 2.94 in.

Blade thickness: .09 in.

Open length: 7 in.

Weight: 3.06 oz

Observations from Use

Both of these knives do a great job of getting the important things right which leads to knives with great performance and high perceived quality. It is obvious that care goes into ensuring that things like the frame lock, detent, grinds, and ergonomics are dialed in on these knives.

Both knives flick open with ease. They have positive detents and smooth bronze phosphor washers paired with thumb studs that are well placed and easy to find with your thumb. My examples were smooth right out of the box and became even smoother with some use and the tiniest drop of oil on each washer.

I’ve been able to handle several of these knives over the years and they all have incredibly consistent lock up. The frame lock contacts the blade tang at about 75-80% lock up. There is no blade play and plenty of room left to wear in with use. These are well executed frame locks.

These knives cut extremely well! The blades on both knives feature a similar profile. They are drop points with full height flat grinds. The point drops to the center of the blade so much that this is nearly a spear point shape. They cut aggressively thanks to their thinner blade stock and excellent geometry.

Both knives are offered with two steel options: D2 and AUS 8. Flip a coin. They are both good. The AUS 8 is stainless and very easy to sharpen at the cost of some edge holding performance. D2 is a carbon steel (very rust resistant compared to most carbon steels). It offers great edge holding but can be tricky for some people to sharpen. The knives are a good value with AUS 8 steel and an incredible value with D2. It is hard to find other knives with similarly high performance steels at this price.

The FRN scales offers good texture without being tough on your pockets and they are available in about a million color options. Both knives have full steel liners under the FRN scale. The liner is drilled with a series of holes to reduce weight on the Avispa. I wish the same steps were taken with the Zancudo. It could have been a truly lightweight knife.

The ergonomics on both knives are great. The Avispa feels large and hand filling even though it is actually quite slim. The Zancudo is actually smaller than a Spyderco Delica in nearly every dimension yet it still manages to offer a grip that all four fingers will fit and a longer cutting edge. That is truly incredible as someone who has been carrying a Delica for more than 15 years. They fit your hand, are slim in the pocket, and are large enough to do real work.

They’re good but not perfect. The FRN scales can tend to flex away from the steel liner a bit which is a little annoying. The pocket clips will ride directly on the frame lock bar if you switch them around for right pocket tip up carry which can make one handed closing difficult (though still doable). Those are pretty minor gripes considering that even the D2 version of this knife comes in at well under $40.

ESEE Zancudo D2

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The ESEE Avispa and Zancudo may lack gimmicks, flash, and pretense. However, they more than make up for it with cutting performance, ergonomics, and value. There is no doubt. These knives are BARGAINS.

Amazingly, the D2 version of these knives tends to cost only $4-5 more than the AUS 8 version and they are still less than $40. If you are feeling flushed with cash, there are D2 and Carbon Fiber options that still come in under $50!

I am using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon:

ESEE Avispa on Amazon

ESEE Zancudo on Amazon


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Victorinox Paring Knives

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


I’ve written about Victorinox Paring Knives before so its no secret that I love them. They are marketed as kitchen knives but these dirt cheap knives are useful for everything from everyday tasks, to hunting, and even self-defense.

Specs:

Handle: Polypropylene (shape and texture varies)

Blade Length: Varies

Overall Length: Varies

Weight: .9 ounce

Sheath: Not provided

Observations from Use

I own a stack of these. At around $6-8 a piece, I don’t mind keeping a stash of them on hand. I’ve been using and abusing the same 8 or 9 for at least 5 years and I have yet to break one.

I use them in the kitchen, for processing meat animals and game up to white tail deer size, for general utility tasks, for fishing, every day carry, and just about any other way you can use a knife. Are they good for batoning fire wood? No, but that doesn’t mean they are weak. You just need to be realistic with their use. At less than an ounce a piece, you can manage to carry one with a hatchet.

They are surprisingly good hunting knives and I people are often surprised to find out we use them to dress deer. Instead of worrying about sharpening your knife in the field, you just carry a handful of them. If one gets dull part way through field dressing (it probably won’t), just grab the next one. That saves time, money, and weight in your pack because a handful of these knives still weigh less than most field knives.

The biggest snag with keeping these knives as general purpose knives is finding a sheath but that is becoming easier now with the proliferation of kydex benders. Victorinox also offers a couple of cheap options that can be purchased separately. I use their BladeSafes which are are plastic blade covers that open like a clam shell and have small rubber pads inside that grip the blade when closed. They are secure enough to allow you to carry the knives in your pack safely, very affordable, and best of all… dishwasher safe. That makes cleaning blood, fur, and animal fat out of them a breeze. I also use a KSF Pocket Sheath to carry one almost every day.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

These knives are most certainly BARGAINS. They are dirt cheap but perform far beyond the low price would lead you to believe. As far as I am concerned, everyone should have a stash of them.

I will be using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: Victorinox Paring Knives on Amazon


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

The Latest from TOPS Knives: Wind Runners Snake River Edition

TOPS Knives just rolled out two new knives in their Windrunner series.

From TOPS Knives:

Most hunters in TOPS’ neck of the woods don’t hunt only one type of animal. They hunt several, and fish, and camp, and just generally like spending time outdoors. The Wind Runners were designed with them in mind. The regular Wind Runner is just right for fish, fowl, and small game. The XL is great for larger animals and general use around the campsite. The recurved blades slice easily with tips that are subdued to avoid puncturing hides and organs while processing game. Comfortable Micarta handles provide a solid purchase that makes using the knives as fun as they are functional.

The Wind Runner and Wind Runner XL can be purchased separately or as a combo with a piggyback sheath from www.topsknives.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=wdr

Wind Runner (WDR-01)

Overall Length: 6.25”

Blade Length: 3.5”

Cutting Edge: 2.75”

Blade Thickness: 0.13”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Black River Wash

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 2.5oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 4.0oz

Sheath Material: Kydex

Sheath Clip: Neck Chain

Designer: Leo Espinoza

MSRP: $140

Wind Runner XL (WDR-XL)

Overall Length: 9.69”

Blade Length: 5.25”

Cutting Edge: 4.38”

Blade Thickness: 0.19”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Black River Wash

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 9.5oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 12.3oz

Sheath Material: Kydex

Sheath Clip: Injection Molded Nylon

Designer: Leo Espinoza

MSRP: $180

Bargain or Just Cheap? – RUIKE Hornet F815

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


You would think that it would be easier to find bargain fixed blades than it is to find bargain folding knives due to the simplicity of a fixed blade knife. However, that isn’t always the case for one reason – sheaths. Most bargain knives come with terrible sheaths and by the time you replace the lousy included the sheath, the knife isn’t a bargain anymore. It takes a little digging but there are bargains out there beyond the standby Mora.

RUIKE Knives is kind of like the knife division of Fenix Lights though their affiliation with the flashlight maker isn’t always spelled out clearly on their website. They make a number of interesting and value minded knives but there is one in particular, the RUIKE Hornet F815, that drew me in several months ago.

Specs:

Steel: Sandvik 14C28N

Handle: Textured G-10

Blade length: 3.35 in.

Spine Thickness: .14 in.

Overall length: 7.48 in.

Weight: 3.7 oz.

Sheath: Injection molded

Observation from Use

I was initially drawn to the Hornet because I was looking for a full sized fixed blade knife that was both stout and lightweight. I like flat grinds and drop point blade shapes for general use. The Hornet seemed to hit all those points. It has been on several adventures since then, spending a lot of time tucked into a Hill People Gear Runner’s Kit Bag, and has served me well.

The Hornet is relatively lightweight while still offering the durability and comfort of a full tang knife with slab handles. The knife’s most distinctive feature is its skeletonized handle with textured G-10 slabs. This feature is VERY well executed. They slabs are fit to the tang very well and RUIKE even took steps to chamfer the edge of the G-10 inside the lightening cutout. The result is a knife that is lightweight for this type of construction, more comfortable to use than a knife without handle slabs, and that offers great grip even with gloves.

RUIKE uses Sandvik 14C28N at .14″ thick on the Hornet. Sandvik 14C28N is a great steel that takes a fine edge without much fuss. This knife cuts and slices well at .14″ thick and with the relatively tall, flat saber ground blade. It cuts well but is also stout enough to stand up to hard use like batoning.

The sheath is made from injection molded plastic. Like many plastic sheaths, it is bit bulkier than a real kydex sheath would be. However, it is functional. It has adjustable retention (not often seen on injection molded sheaths) and secures the knife well. The included clip works well for belt carry and is adjustable for a number of angles. I removed the clip on mine since I generally carry it in a pack or Kit Bag.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The RUIKE Hornet F815 bumps right up against our $50 limit for this series but it packs a lot of features not commonly found on bargain fixed blades. It is well designed. It offers a great balance of durability and lightweight. It comes with a functional sheath. It’s a good looking knife with very good fit and finish. The steel is not a bargain basement steel. I call it a BARGAIN and like this knife a lot.

I will be using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon:

RUIKE Hornet with Black G-10

RUIKE Hornet with Orange G-10

Note: This design is also be available from Sanrenmu, who may actually be the OEM maker of the Hornet, with lower grade 8Cr14Mov steel for considerably less money. I purchased the Hornet because of the better steel and the backing of RUIKE for any potential warranty issues.


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

Big Changes at Survive! Knives

Survive! Knives has been hinting toward big changes for a while now and their upcoming SK series of knives hasn’t exactly been a secret though details were sparse. That all changed yesterday when Survive! rolled out new details on the future of the SK and GSO series.

The Survive! GSO series of knives have been in high demand and that is an understatement. The demand has easily outstripped the pace at which the semi-custom line can be produced and the knives are back ordered out more than a year in most cases. Enter the SK series. The SK series of knives will be more of a high end production line produced by Millet Knives, a well established OEM producer with a great track record of quality, and delivered to Survive! for finishing. The hope is that the SK series would be able to be kept in stock to meet the demand of most users and the GSO series can continue to be Survive! Knives’ more premium, hand finished line.

The SK series consists initially of 3 different models: SK 3.5, SK 6, and SK 12. Pre-orders are already open on the SK 6 and SK 12. You can read details on all the SK models on their product page: SK product page at SurviveKnives.com

You can read what Survive! Knives has to say about the transition on their blog and view the video below for more details.

TOPS Knives Baja 4.5 – Now Available

The Baja 4.5 that we previewed a couple of days ago is now available for purchases at TOPS Knives. This is one of the most hotly anticipated TOPS Knives releases since the BOB Field Knife.

Baja 4.5 Flyer

First Look: TOPS Knives Baja 4.5

If you find me walking in the woods or working outside, there is a good chance you will find a TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 (check out the review) on my belt. I think it is one of the best small fixed blades on the market and one of the best knives in the TOPS line. I like the Baja 3.0 so much that the announcement of the larger Baja 4.5 at the 2015 SHOT Show had me pretty excited.

TOPS Knives has been teasing the release of the Baja 4.5 for a few days now so it should be available any day now. They also just released a video that gives us out best look yet at the soon to be released knife.

Keep an eye on TOPSKnives.com for more details.

Update: TOPS Knives sent us additional information. The release date will be 6/23 (tomorrow). Check out the additional, more detailed images and specs below…

Baja 4.5 Flyer Baja4.5 Baja4.5_8

The Return of Nick Allen and NWA Knives

I have been a long time fan of knife maker Nick Allen and his NWA Knives brand. His knives were characterized by flowing, organic shapes, deeply contoured handles, fine finishing, tall flat grinds, tough carbon steels, differential heat treatments, an intuitive understanding of cutting geometry, and a love for the outdoors. He has a very distinctive visual style which is something all good knife makers have. You can recognize one of his knives from across the room.

NWA Knives Sierra Scout

Several years ago, he had to stop making knives due to some life changes and a lack of space. I was recently searching the web for his knives in case a good deal had popped up and I came across something that made my day. NWA Knives had a Facebook page and… It was active! I contacted Nick and, sure enough, he is making knives again. Judging by the examples on his Facebook page, it looks like he never stopped!

Check out the NWA Knives Facebook page for details on ordering.

NWA Knives 1 NWA Knives 2

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