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Archive | Survival

ESEE PR4 – A Modern Kephart

There are a few names and associated blade designs that everyone interested in wilderness survival knows – George W. Sears and his Nessmuk pen name/knife design, Ray Mears and his influential Woodlore Bushcraft Knife, and Horace Kephart with his iconic “Kephart” knife design. In spite of how well these men and their knife designs are known, modern versions of their designs have been mostly only available from custom knife makers. This is especially true of the Kephart design until now.

Photo credit: ESEE Knives – PR4 shown with original Kephart, 1 of 2 in existance, belonging to Ethan Becker of Becker Knife & Tool

ESEE will be releasing a new knife called the PR4, a Kephart inspired design by Patrick Rollins in their Camp-Lore line. The PR4 has a decidedly modern appearance with its textured micarta scales and black wash finish.

However, the soul of a Kephart design still shows through that modern look. The handle is mostly straight with a rounded pommel and small, rounded guard. The edge comes close to the handle and runs straight to provide plenty of useable cutting edge for leverage cuts and fine work. The blade ends up in a well rounded spear point that is unmistakably Kephart.

 

Specs:

  • Overall Length: 8.90”
  • Blade Overall Length: 4.19”
  • Cutting Edge Length: 4.0”
  • Thickness: .125”
  • Weight (without sheath): 6.3 oz.
  • Steel: 1095 Carbon, 55-57 Rc.
  • Blade Finish: Tumbled Black Oxide
  • Handles: Sculptured Micarta
  • Sheath: Leather Pouch

Check out the ESEE PR4 product page at ESEEKnives.com.

TOPS Knives Releases the SXB Knife

Knife people seem to have a love/hate relationship with the Wilderness Survival Knife (WSK) design. Some love it for its ability to perform a wide variety of tasks and potentially replace multiple tools. Some hate it for its large size and brute force approach. All I know is that I have seen some very capable people doing a multitude of survival related tasks with them and doing them very effectively. I also know that the new SXB from TOPS Knives is one of the most radical WSKs I have seen yet.

SXB

Take TOPS Knives’ well known Tom Brown Tracker, stretch it out by nearly 5″, add TOPS Knives’ Rocky Mountain Tread handle treatment, add an extended pommel and guard, and you have something close to the SXB EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder. Interestingly, because the SXB is not quite as tall as the Tracker, it manages to weigh 2 ounces less in spite of all the extra blade length.

SXB Flyer

Overall Length 16.75″
Blade Length 10.38″
Cutting Edge 9.75″
Blade Thickness 0.250″
Blade Steel 1095 RC 56-58
Blade Finish Black Traction Coating
Handle Material Black Linen Micarta
Handle Style Rocky Mountain Tread
Knife Weight 26 oz
Sheath Included Yes
Sheath Material Black Ballistic Nylon
Sheath Clip Molle Backing
Designer EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder

Tahoma Field Knife Kydex from InnerBark Outdoors

The Tahoma Field Knife, a large fixed blade designed by Andy Tran of InnerBark Outdoors and produced by TOPS Knives, is one of the finest large survival knives on the market. It comes from TOPS with functional sheath but there is always room for improvement.

innerbark sheath

InnerBark Outdoors worked with Red Feather Gear to develop is a kydex dangler sheath for the Tahoma Field Knife. The sheath has a welt to add rigidity which is nice for such a heavy knife. It also features a closed dangler loop that can not be accidentally opened and a well formed thumb ramp to aid in removing the knife from the sheath.

Check out the Tahoma Field Knife Kydex Sheath at InnerBark Outdoors. The price is quite reasonable considering the size of the sheath.

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

Stout Gear

If you like hard working, custom knives that offer big performance at a reasonable price (who doesn’t?), Stout Gear should be on your radar. I have been purchased one of their Ibex models and I’m seriously impressed. I like it so much that I am already making room in my budget to pick up their Scout model! You can stay tuned for a full review of the Ibex.

Stout Gear Ibex

Ibex

Stout Gear offers several models in several sizes so it is difficult generalize their knives but there are a few things that characterize them. One of those characteristics is good cutting geometry. These knives are made for hard work so they are very thick at the spine and in order to make them cut, Stout Gear uses very tall, slightly convex primary grinds and then applies a 20 degree, polished bevel. The result is a tough edge that cuts very well.

They also have large, hand filling handles with comfortable contours. You’ll find deep bellied, drop point blade shapes on most of their knives. Their work is extremely clean (look at those plunge lines!). They also use tough, high quality steels that are well suited to the tasks envisioned for the knife. Most of their knives use CPM S35VN which is one of the only modern stainless steels I have been able to warm to because it is fairly easy to sharpen. I can sharpen anything, I just don’t care to spend a lot time doing it!

The Scout

Thankfully, Stout Gear is not one of those companies that sells you a great knife and sticks you with an afterthought of a sheath. I could probably write whole post just about the sheath. It is completely unique and very functional. It is a kydex sheath that is constructed much like a leather sheath in that is has an HDPE (tough plastic) welt between the outer layers of kydex. This allows the kydex layers to retain the knife without contacting the blade. This prevents scratching the blade and dulling of the edge by contact with the kydex and all the grit that ends up in the sheath of a knife that is actually being used. The sheath also features metal belt loops that Stout Gear makes themselves. It has to be the most bomb-proof sheath system I have ever seen.

All of their knives have starting prices below $300 – most well below $300. They cost less than many production knives with similar features (thick premium steel, sculpted G-10 handles, quality sheath, etc.). You need to get to know Stout Gear.

Wolverine

Wolverine

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

TOPS Knives Kodiak JAC 2

The Kodiak JAC 2 is TOPS Knives’ latest version of their Kodiak JAC hunting knife. The distinctive feature of the Kodiak JAC and Kodiak JAC 2 is its deep bellied, continuously curving drop point blade. It also has an extended tang designed to be used for scraping hides (so you don’t have to use your cutting edge).

kjac02

The new Kodiak JAC 2 is similar to the original Kodiak JAC with the addition of a new Coyote Brown color scheme which includes the powder coating, green canvas micarta handle slabs, and the kydex sheath.

  • O/A Length: 8 3/8″
  • Blade Length: 4 1/4″
  • Cutting Edge: 3 1/8″
  • Thickness: 3/16″
  • Blade Color: Coyote Tan Coating
  • Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58
  • Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta
  • Sheath: Coyote Tan Kydex With a Rotating Steel Spring Clip
  • Weight: 7.3oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 10.0oz

Rocky Mountain Bullseye C.A.T. from TOPS Knives

Just over a week ago, TOPS Knives introduced their C.A.T. knives with a new grip pattern called Cryptic Cyber. Now they have released a second grip pattern option with a very cool back story.

tops_knives_bullseye_hunter

The new Rockey Mountain Bullseye texture came about serendipitously! The folks at TOPS were machining handles when a machining error created a divot pattern in the surface of the grip slab. It looked good and it felt good so the only thing left to do was program the machine to make the mistake divots on purpose. I wish my mistakes turned out so well.

tops_knives_bullseye_tanto

The new texture is available on the C.A.T. knives in both drop point and tanto. The C.A.T. series is a mainstay of the TOPS Knives lineup thanks to their handy size and versatile shapes.

TOPS Knives launched the new scales today and they are available at an introductory price in both the Tanto version and Hunter’s Point (drop point).

  • Blade length: 3 1/4″
  • Overall length: 7 1/4″
  • Thickness: 5/32″
  • Scales: Black G-10
  • Steel: 1095
  • Sheath: Kydex with multi-position steel clip
  • Weight: 7.5 oz

tops_knives_bullseye

TOPS Knives Overlander 2

The Overlander 2 is the first of TOPS Knives’ SHOT Show debuts to be released. This general utility knife looks ready to work.

ov78

The Overlander 2 has a 4″ blade that is ground from 3/16″ 1095 steel. The drop point blade features a half height flat grind which leaves plenty of steel through the spine and tip for strength. The scales are oiled tan canvas micarta and have subtle palm swells. It comes with an individually fit Kydex sheath with steel belt clip.

Check out the new Overlander 2 at TOPS Knives.

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