TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL Knife: Review

First and foremost, TOPS Knives are designed to be TOOLS and are built using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of 12 “operators” with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor professions, and the martial arts.

Consequently, TOPS knives are specifically designed to be mission critical tools for extreme assignments and their design and construction clearly displays that purpose.  The video below will give a great breakdown of this particular knife, and you can check out the Amazon link below that for user reviews at Amazon.com.

The TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL  reflects that mission-specific design mentality by featuring an 11 1/8” overall length with a 6 1/8” straight-spined, sabre grind blade made from 3/16” 1095 high carbon non-stainless tool steel with TOPS Black River Wash finish.

In addition, it features full-tang construction with ergonomically shaped, black, canvas Micarta handle slabs and a large lanyard hole. Last, this knife comes with heavy-duty leather, pouch-type sheath.

In my opinion, as a hunting knife, the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL leaves quite a bit to be desired but, it definitely excels as a dedicated wilderness survival knife.

For instance, the 6 1/8” straight-spined blade is a full two inches wide and 3/16” thick with a sabre grind, a straight edge and a shallow belly on the sweep. Thus, while it is obviously not a dedicated heavy chopping tool, the blade does have enough heft to chop through small saplings.

Also, the long, straight edge combined with the miniature Ricasso makes this knife superbly designed for cutting, carving, and slicing; and the shallow belly combined with a two-inch blade width provide plenty of sweep to the belly of the edge for removing the hide from harvested game animals. In addition, with a 3/16” spine, I would not hesitate to use this knife in conjunction with a baton to split saplings.

While I am not a particularly big fan of non-stainless blade steels, 1095 does seem to be the standard steel of choice for many manufactures of large knives because it is both inexpensive and very tough due to the fact that it only contains 0.90% – 1.03% carbon to convert the iron into steel and harden it; and 0.30% – 0.50% manganese to make the steel tough.

In addition, TOPS Black River Wash clearly displays the “Hammon” where the blade has been differentially heat treated to produce a hard edge combined with a softer spine to create knife that holds an edge well and yet, is also very tough and very impact resistant.

Both the spine and the top of the tang feature grooves ground into the metal called “jimping” which is designed to help improve the user’s grip on the knife and the edge side of the tang has been ground in such a way that it creates an integral quillion which is designed to prevent the user’s fingers from accidently slipping onto the edge of the blade.

However, because 1095 contains no chromium whatsoever, it is highly prone to corrosion and thus, knives made from this non-stainless steel do require more care than those made from stainless steels in order to keep them corrosion free.

Furthermore, the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL features full tang construction with a very ergonomically designed handle shape covered with black canvas Micarta for a very positive grip and a large lanyard hole in the butt of the handle. In addition, the black canvas Micarta handle slabs are an excellent complement to the 1095 blade steel used on this knife because is it every bit as tough as the steel and it will not absorb moisture the way some natural handle materials do.

Last, while the heavy-duty, leather, pouch-type sheath is certainly sufficient to secure and transport this knife, I would prefer to see it wet molded to the shape of the knife rather than as a simple, straight-walled pouch.

Consequently, in addition to being very well designed and very sturdily built, the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL is, in my opinion, also a very aesthetically pleasing knife with a form that defiantly follows function. In fact, I happen to like everything about this knife except for the non-stainless, 1095 tool steel and the relatively shapeless sheath.

But, on the other hand, I have to remind myself that TOPS is not in the business of making fancy hunting knives or collector’s pieces but are instead in the business of making no-nonsense working knives and the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL certainly is that.

The Entrek Javalina Hunting Knife: An In-Depth Look

Founded by internationally known knife maker Ray W. Ennis, Entrek USA is an American knife company that produces very high quality, semi-production, knives.

In fact, Ray has been professionally designing and making knives since 1973 and, although his present line mainly focuses on tactical knives, it also includes several knives designed for wilderness survival, hunting, and general purpose use.

In addition, all Entrek knives are made from a very high quality stainless steel that is heat treated and then sub-zero stabilized in order to remove stress within the metal. Therefore, Entrek USA fulfils Ray Ennis’ vision of producing a custom quality knife at a production knife price.

Consequently, the Entrek Javalina is a well design and well constructed knife that features an overall length of 8 15/16” with an 4 5/16” drop point, sabre ground blade made from 1/4″ 440C stainless steel that has been heat treated, sub-zero stabilized, double drawn to 57-68 Rockwell and then bead blasted for a non-reflective finish.

In addition, the Javalina features a full tang construction with stainless steel quillions. It also features black canvas Micarta handle slabs which Entrek purchases from only one source in order to maintain uniformity. Last, this knife is supplied with a sturdy Kydex sheath.

Unlike the majority of Ray Ennis’ knife designs, the Javalina is obviously designed specifically for the purpose of hunting.

For instance, the drop point blade shape is widely favored over all other blade shapes by hunters because it is both highly functional for the job of removing the hide from harvested game animals and is aesthetically pleasing due to its graceful lines. Also, the drop point blade shape positions the tip of the knife closer to the center line of the blade where it provides the user with greater control when using the tip of the knife to perform delicate cutting or slicing tasks.

In addition, this particular design displays an arched spine which effectively makes the blade wider.  This in turn allows for a deeper “belly” on the cutting edge for an extended sweep to facilitate the long slicing strokes necessary to remove the hide from game animals like feral pigs and Javelinas for which the knive itself was named.

Plus, the primary bevel of the sabre grind starts close to the spine of the blade near the back of the blade and ends well above the tip which creates very sharp, yet relatively strong edge. Furthermore, the spine of the blade features “jimping” (grooves cut perpendicular to the length of the spine) just in front of the handle slabs for a more positive gripping surface when either the thumb or the index finger is placed on the spine to provide the user with more leverage or more control when cutting and slicing.

However, while the presence of a Ricasso is of far less importance on a hunting knife than it is on a dedicated wilderness survival knife, I still don’t like them and thus, the smaller they are the better.

Fortunately, the Entrek Javalina has a relatively small Ricasso so that if the user were to decide to use it as general purpose knife, then the Ricasso would not place the back of the cutting edge too far from the user’s hand for performing carving tasks.

On the other hand, I absolutely love the fact that it’s made from 440C which my favorite stainless steel for dedicated outdoor use because it contains enough carbon to hold an edge very well (.095% – 1.20%), enough chromium to be very corrosion resistant (16.0% – 18.0%), just enough molybdenum (0.75%) to combine with the chromium to form plenty of hard, double-carbide bonds which increases the hardness, toughness, wear resistance and abrasion resistance of the steel. It also contains just enough manganese (1.0%) to make the steel properly tough.

After shaping, each Entrek blade undergoes a rigorous regimen which consists of heat treating, sub-zero quenching to relieve any internal stress in the metal which might cause a weak point and then double drawing to a Rockwell hardness of 57-58.

Thus, the user is provided with a knife that strong, tough, corrosion resistant, holds an edge extremely well and will survive any task the user may ask of it.

However, I am not particularly enamored of the bead blasted finish. While I would certainly prefer to have this type of finish on a knife that I intended to use for tactical purposes because it does not reflect light the way a polished surface can, it also tends to hold moisture against the surface of the metal unlike a polished surface and thus, I am concerned that it would be more prone to corrosion than a polished surface would be even though the steel contains 16.0% – 18.0% chromium.

On the other hand, I do like the shape of the handle as it is very ergonomically designed for use as a hunting knife or daily carrier and I especially appreciate the use of canvas Micarta for the handle slabs (which Entrek purchases from only one supplier in order to maintain quality and uniformity) because it provides a very positive gripping surface, even when wet, and yet it is impervious to the absorption of moisture.

Also, canvas Micarta is highly abrasion resistant and it will not chip, crack, or split due to its laminated construction. In addition, the handle slabs are secured to the full tang with three, stainless steel, bolts and a stainless steel lanyard loop placed in the rear of the handle.

So, although the Entrek Javalina is not as pretty as many custom hunting knives that feature highly polished blades and fancy, natural, handle materials, the Javalina is every bit as well designed and well built as
any custom hunting knife (and far better than many I have seen). Thus, if you are the type of hunter that favors functionality over flash, then the Entrek Javalina would be a truly excellent choice to fulfill your hunting knife needs.

The TOPS Mountain Lion Knife: An in Depth Report

TOPS Knives , Tactical Operational Products, is located in Idaho Falls, ID. The company is comprised of a special team of 12 “operators” with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor professions and the martial arts. This team designs and handcrafts knives for use as mission specific tools for extreme assignments.

Over the last couple of years, TOPS knives have been requested and deployed in many of the “hot spots” of the world. In addition, numerous individuals who are currently active field operators are using TOPS knives and they have been reporting top performance and reliability from these tools.

However, although TOPS Knives’ main focus is the manufacture of tactical knives, they also manufacture a line of high quality hunting knives, folding knives and hand axes.

Interestingly, the TOPS Mountain Lion was created using input from several active and retired members of the famed 10th Mountain Division; it reflects that mission specific design mentality by featuring an 10 3/4” overall length with a 5 1/2” drop point blade with a sabre grind and a recuved edge made from 1/4” 1095 high carbon, non-stainless tool steel with TOPS “Black Traction Coating”. In addition, the knife features a full-tang construction with ergonomically shaped, black and green, G10 handle slabs. Last, this knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, ballistic nylon, sheath.

Of all of the knives TOPS produces, we happen to find the Mountain Lion to be both very aesthetically pleasing and particularly well-suited for use as a dedicated wilderness survival knife.

However, with a blade length of only 5 1/2”, it is not a very efficient tool for chopping. But, if it were paired with a larger knife like the TOPS Condor Alert or the TOPS Armageddon, the user would have a very effective wilderness survival system.

In fact, we strongly suspect that the reason that this particular knife is so well designed for this particular purpose is due to the input to its design from members of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division which is a unit that is specifically trained and equipped to operate in extreme terrain and in extreme conditions.

Consequently, wilderness survival is second nature to this unit and experience has taught them what works and what does not work in the field.

Therefore, in constructing this knife, TOPS started with a 1/4” thick steel billet to give the knife an extremely strong spine and they then chose a very graceful drop point blade shape to which they added a secondary edge which extends approximately half of the way up the length of the spine.

Also, they decided to use a flat sabre grind to lend strength to the recurved edge. They have also incorporated a curved ricasso that works in conjunction with the integral quillion to create a “finger groove” which also enables the primary cutting edge to be sharpened all of the way to the back.

In addition, while we are not a big fan of “finger grooves”, we have to admit that it does look good on this knife.

Plus, we absolutely love the recurved edge displayed on the Mountain Lion since it provides the user with extra leverage when carving or slicing due to the fact that the forward section of the edge exhibits a forward positive angle.

Furthermore, while we are also not big fans of using non-stainless steels to construct dedicated wilderness survival knives, we have to admit that 1095 is a very tough steel that can be made reasonably hard even though it has very simple composition consisting of enough carbon (0.90% – 1.03%) to convert the iron into steel and still have enough left to increase the hardness and abrasion resistance; as well as enough manganese (0.30% – 0.50%) to strengthen and toughen it.

However, because the steel contains no chromium or nickel at all, it is easily corroded and thus, TOPS applies what they call their “Black Traction Coating” to the blade in order to prevent corrosion.

We do have to admit that we completely fail to understand the thought process behind leaving the secondary edge on the Mountain Lion’s blade uncoated; especially since it is specifically designed to be a tactical/survival knife. Instead, we would think that you would want the knife blade to be fully coated in order to provide the maximum amount of stealth.

We happen to really like the shape of the full-tang handle and the use of the black and green G10 handle slabs (which suggests a camo pattern) as it really compliments the graceful lines of the blade.

G10 is a very tough handle material similar to Micarta except that instead of consisting of numerous layers of resin impregnated linen or canvas as Micarta does, G10 consist of glass reinforced nylon and thus, like Micarta, G10 provides a very positive gripping surface that is impervious to the absorption of moisture and it is highly abrasion resistant.

Plus, it will not chip, crack or split. Thus, G10 makes an excellent handle material for dedicated wilderness survival knives like many of the models listed here and here.

All in all, in my opinion, the TOPS Mountain Lion is an excellent example of what a dedicated wilderness survival knife should be; unlike so many knives that are billed as such but are actually ill suited for the job. Thus, as long as you don’t mind spending the extra time necessary to keep the blade corrosion free, the TOPS Mountain Lion should serve you every bit as well as it does military personnel.

TOPS Armageddon Knife: One of the Elite?

TOPS Knives is a company that specializes in the manufacture of high quality, military and law enforcement, and outdoor knives that are mission specific tools designed using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of 12 individuals with backgrounds in these said areas.

As a result, we can all be  certain that TOPS knives are specifically designed to handle extreme assignments.  For those of you who are looking for a REALLY big knife, the TOPS Armageddon definitely fits the bill!

This knife was designed by Trace Rinaldi and features an overall length of 16 1/2” with a 10 5/8” clip point blade with a flat grind made from 1/4” 1095 high carbon, non-stainless steel that has been hardened to 58 Rockwell. The blade’s knife is further coated with black traction coating to prevent corrosion.

Unlike many other large knives this length, the Armageddon weighs a hefty 24 ounces!

This is even when it features a full tang construction with an integral sub-hilt and black linen Micarta handle slabs. Plus, it is supplied with a black, combat style ballistic nylon sheath.

Since we have been writing lately about various large ethnic knives such as the parang, the bolo, the golok and the machete, it just seemed appropriate to include the TOPS Armageddon even though it is not an ethnic knife design; although, to me, the Armageddon is reminiscent of both the Philippine bolo knife and the Nepalese kukri.

Either way, we have been searching for several months now for a really large knife similar to the one used by the characters “Dutch” and “Billy” in the move Predator (which was designed and built by Jack W. Crain) and we have finally found what we were looking for in the TOPS Armageddon.

With a 10 5/8” flat ground blade made from 1/4” 1095 high carbon steel with a 58 Rockwell and a total weight of 24 oz., this is one hefty knife!

In fact, the Armageddon was conceived as something of a cross between a bowie knife and a machete so you could call it an Americanized bolo or parang designed to handle medium to heavy chopping and splitting tasks that would normally be relegated to a hatchet or a camp axe.

Also, due to the use of the 1095 steel which contains 0.90% -1.03% carbon and 0.30% – 0.50% manganese, this knife is very tough and will hold an edge surprisingly well for a steel with such a simple composition. Most importantly, if the steel is tempered correctly, it will not break, even if you use the knife as pry bar.

Furthermore, the blade of the TOPS Armageddon features a recurved edge that is reminiscent of the Nepalese kukri that greatly magnifies the chopping power of this blade design and the clip point tip is excellent for piercing.  Also, instead of the all too small grips we see on other large knives and other smaller pocket sized versions, the TOPS Armageddon has a true, man-sized grip with a full tang construction and linen micarta handle slabs which is the perfect handle material for a survival knife because it will not chip, split or crack and it is impervious to moisture unlike natural materials like wood.

Furthermore, it features an integral sub-hilt in the handle which aids the user in retaining the knife in the hand when using the knife for chopping tasks.

However, as we have said on numerous occasions in the past, we don’t like large “finger grooves” ground into the edge in front of the quillion because it places the back of the edge farther from the user’s hand – thus, decreasing the leverage when using the knife for carving. Therefore, that is the one thing that we might consider changing about this knife.

The bottom line is that we really love the TOPS Armageddon for what it is. We wanted a knife that was truly large, hefty enough to let me know that we actually have a knife in our hands, and tough as old beef jerky and we believe that the TOPS Armageddon is all of that and more.

Browning Crowell-Barker Competition Cutting Knife

The Browning Arms Company was originally established in Ogden, Utah in 1880 by gunsmithing genius John Moses Browning with the aid of his brothers.

Since then, the company has gone through several different permutations such as the liquidation of its parent company in 1951 which reduced the company to the status of a firearms importer with wholesale functions and then the establishment of the new parent company, the Browning Arms Company, in 1955.

This was followed by the 1977 purchase the majority of its outstanding stock by Miroku in Japan and FN in Belgium.  However, through all of these changes, the company has maintained its focus on producing innovative products with very high quality standards. And thus today, the name Browning is synonymous in outdoorsmen’s minds as being the pinnacle of quality against which all others are measured.

Such is the case with the Browning Crowell-Barker Competition Cutting Knife. This knife features an overall length of 15” with a 10” flat ground, drop point blade made from ¼” non-stainless 1085 C high carbon steel (equivalent to Japanese SK-5) with a Rockwell Hardness of 58-60. In addition, it features full-tang construction with a 5” handle and grey Micarta handle slabs. Plus, this knife is supplied with a heavy-duty leather sheath.

Furthermore, this knife was designed by two gentlemen named James Crowell and Reggie Barker who are the only two men to win an American Bladesmith (ABS) World Cutting Championship. In fact, rope cutting competitions (while not particularly practical to my mind) have become a popular spectator sport at knife shows around the country. These two men are uniquely qualified to design a cutting competition knife for Browning.

Although this knife may have been designed specifically for rope cutting competitions, it is also an excellent survival knife. For instance, not only is the long, slim blade very elegantly designed, it has a very practical shape.

Yet the exact design of this blade is very difficult to classify because it is technically a drop point due to the fact that the tip of the blade is located below the spine due to the slight positive forward angle of the blade in relation to the handle. However, the spine of the blade also exhibits a very slight, concave, dip extending from the plunge line to the tip of the blade which makes it appear to be a trailing point blade design instead.

However, regardless of how you classify the blade shape, it is a very practical design that is capable of far more that just cutting rope. Also, the flat grind on the blade combined with a ¼” spine creates a blade that can be honed to a very sharp edge whilst being able to absorb the shock generated by using the knife to chop saplings and split small logs using a baton.

In addition, the sweep of the belly from the edge to the tip is very well designed for general use and thus, it would also serve well as a hunting knife for processing large game. Also, the choil forms an integral quillion that start immediately behind the plunge line, so the edge can be sharpened all of the way to the back to provide the user with the greatest amount of leverage when carving with the knife.

Furthermore, the handle slabs found in the Browning Crowell-Barker Competition Cutting Knife are made from grey canvas Micarta which is quite possibly the perfect handle for a dedicated wilderness survival knife because it is impervious to moisture, chipping, splitting or cracking and the slightly rough surface provides an excellent grip. In addition, the shape of the handle is clearly designed for chopping and the tapered grip is clearly designed for maximum retention when doing so. Plus, to further enhance retention, each of the three rivets that secures the handle slabs to the full tang is hollow so that the user has the option of using them as lanyard holes.

However, there is one thing that I don’t like about this knife and that is the fact that the handle slabs do not extend the full length of the ricasso but instead they end about 3/8” shy of the downward curve of the choil. Thus, I would like to see the handle slabs extended a little further so that the user could “choke up” on the handle and place their index finger directly against the choil when sharpening stakes and cutting notches for traps and snares.

But, all things considered, the Browning Crowell-Barker Competition Cutting Knife is a very well constructed and well designed knife that is worthy of the Browning name. In addition, having the knife designed by the two men who have won more rope cutting competitions than any other competitor is definitely a plus since these two men apparently truly understand what a large knife should be capable of.

The Bark River Knives STS8 Tactical Knife Review

Bark River Knives (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool) is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is a family owned business operated by veteran knifesmith Mike Stewart who employs a group of highly skilled bladesmiths to create some of the finest production knives on the market today.

For more information on Bark River Knives from one of my previous articles please click here. Also, I strongly urge you to visit the BRK web site and view their fantastic selection of knives for yourself!

The BRK STS8 is the largest on BRK’s tactical knives and it features a an overall length of 13 7/8” with a 8 1/2”, Straight Spine, blade with a Flat Grind made from 9/32” thick, 154CM stainless steel hardened to 58 Rockwell. In addition, it features full tang construction with a very ergonomic handle design and handle scales made from your choice of several different handle materials ranging from several different colors of Micarta to natural materials such as bone, horn, and antler. Plus, the knife is supplied with a molded Kydex sheath.

While not a revolutionary design, the BRK STS8 is a very useful design and, although it is listed in the Search & Rescue category on the BRK web site, the description of this knife states that it was meant to be used as a tactical knife. However, in my opinion, it would also make a wonderful dedicated wilderness survival knife due to its 8 ½”, straight spined, blade, its full tang construction, and its considerable heft of 16 ounces. In addition, the high, Flat Grind creates a very sharp cutting edge that is an excellent compromise between a Saber Grind and a Hollow Grind and the minuscule ricasso provides the user with excellent leverage when carving or plunge cutting to sharpen stakes and create trigger mechanisms for spring snares and deadfalls.

Also, the Straight Spine blade shape is an excellent compromise between a Drop Point and a Trailing Point because it places the point of the blade fairly close to the center line and yet, still provides enough belly to be an effective tool for dressing game animals if you are thinking of using this blade as a hunting knife.

In addition, the relatively long blade combined with the relatively heavy weight and heavy duty construction makes it an excellent tool for chopping and splitting saplings to construct a survival shelter, making an Atlatl or Self Bow for hunting, or making lathes for weaving baskets for fish and bird traps. Plus, unlike the majority of BRK knives, the STS8 is constructed from 154CM stainless steel which contains 1.05% Carbon, 14% Chromium, 4.0 % Molybdenum, and 0.5% Manganese and thus, it is highly corrosion resistant and reasonably tough and the high degree of Carbon combined with the high degree of Molybdenum greatly increases the hardness of the steel. Furthermore, during forging, Mo and Cr combine to form hard, double-carbide, bonds which help improve both the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel.

Thus, 154CM takes and hold a very keen edge; although it is much more difficult to sharpen than non-stainless tool steels. In addition, although I happen to prefer the knife with black linen Micarta handle scales as picture on the BRK web site, as with all BRK knives, the STS8 is available with your choice of handle materials ranging from exotic hardwoods to stag antler and jigged bone. Plus, the handle scales are designed in such a way that they allow the full tang to protrude from the rear of the handle to form an integral lanyard loop for positive retention when using the knife in situations where dropping it would result in the making the knife unretrievable. Last, the molded Kydex sheath provides very positive retention of the knife while being impervious to the absorption of moisture.

Consequently, in my opinion, the BRK STS8 is yet another example of an excellent wilderness survival knife design from the bladesmiths at BRK. Plus, like their many other designs, the STS8 is both thoughtfully designed to fill a specific purpose and meticulously crafted to withstand the rigors of an extended stay in the wilderness.

The KA-BAR Large Heavy Bowie Knife Review

The story of KA-BAR Knives began when a when a group of English knifesmiths from Sheffield (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) gathered together, defied the rules of their guild, and migrated to the American north east where they set up shop and began producing far higher quality cutlery than the average American was used at the time.

Consequently, their products were in such high demand that 38 members of the group decided to form a Limited Partnership called the Tridioute Cutlery Company and this Limited Partnership is widely considered to be the official start of KA-BAR Knives, Inc.

However, the company actually gained its present name from a testimonial written in the 1900’s by an unknown trapper who wrote a letter to KA-BAR thanking them for saving his life. In his letter, the trapper wrote that in the midst of confronting an angry Grizzly bear, his rifle had jammed after he had shot the bear; thus leaving him with only his Bowie knife to defend himself. Consequently, he wanted to thank KA-BAR for making the knife that has saved his life by enabling him to kill the bear that was trying to kill him. But, because the trapper’s handwriting was so poor, all that was truly legible in his letter were the words “K a bar”. Thus, in honor to this testimony, the members of the Tridioute Cutlery Company decided to adopted the name KA-BAR as their official trademark.

Following in that tradition, the KA-BAR Large Heavy Bowie features an overall length of 14 1/4” with a 9” Clip Point blade made from 1/4” thick, 1085, carbon tool steel hardened to 55-57 Rockwell. In addition, the blade features a Flat Grind with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless steel from corroding. Plus, it features a highly ergonomic Kraton handle and is supplied with a heavy-duty leather sheath with two, Cordura nylon, snap-closure, retention straps.

In my opinion, this is one of the more interesting knives that KA-BAR produces and, as a dedicated wilderness survival knife, it is imminently well suited for the job. For instance, the 9″ blade is both long enough and heavy enough to perform well as a dedicated chopping tool and yet, the Bowie style Clip Point design is also highly versatile because the Clip Point places the tip of the blade closer to the center line of the knife for greater control when using the tip of the knife to perform precision cutting tasks. In addition, the 1/4″ spine combined with the 1085, high carbon, steel (which consists of 0.80% – 0.93% Carbon and 0.70% – 1.0% Manganese) with a relatively low Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 enables it to easily withstand the shock generated by chopping and/or using a baton to split saplings for use in making an Atlatl or a Self Bow for hunting as well as the lateral forces generated by splitting lathes for weaving baskets to use as fish or bird traps.

Also, non-stainless steels are generally easier to sharpen than most stainless steels due to the lack of hard, double-carbide, bonds formed during forging between Chromium and Molybdenum. However, due to the lack of Chromium, this steel is far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels are and thus, it requires more care and maintenance; thus, the black, epoxy, powder coat.

Also, the Flat Grind featured on the blade represents a compromise between the extra keen cutting edge of a Hollow Grind and the extra tough edge of Saber Grind. Thus, it allows the blade to be sharpened to a very keen edge and to bite very deeply but, is less inclined to roll when used as a chopping tool. In addition, the choil allows the user to sharpen the primary cutting edge all of the way to the back and the curved ricasso serves as an integral quillion to help prevent the user’s fingers from accidently sliding forward on the edge. Furthermore, the highly ergonomic Kraton rubber handle, with its deep, radial, grooves and bird’s head pommel provides the user with a very secure grip that also absorbs shock; thus making the knife very comfortable to use over extended periods.

Consequently, not only is the KA-BAR Large Heavy Bowie an aesthetically pleasing knife with its traditionally shaped Clip Point Bowie blade, it is also a very tough knife that like many others in our featured list will stand up to most any task the user might ask of it in an outdoor survival situation.

Ontario Knife Company Marine Raider Review

Ontario Knife Company was founded in Naples, New York in 1889 by three men: William B. Ensworth, Charles Albert Brace and William Maudsley who derived the name of the company from Ontario County where Naples lived.

Their early knives were hand-manufactured on a water-powered grindstone and sold tinker style via a pushcart as they traveled through the neighboring countryside.

In the intervening years, OKC has built its considerable reputation on a heritage of uncompromising craftsmanship, quality materials and components, and a steadfast commitment to its workforce and today, they produce one of the most comprehensive, wide-ranging, product lines in the modern cutlery industry.

Following in that tradition, the OKC Marine Raider Bowie is a sturdily built knife that has an overall length of 15″ with a classic Clip Point, Bowie style, blade that measures 9 3/4″ in length and is made from 1/4″ thick, high carbon, non-stainless, 1095 tool steel hardened to 57-59 Rockwell with a Saber Grind and a black, powder coat finish. In addition, it features a double quillions, Partial Tang construction, a Kraton rubber grip, and a heavy duty leather sheath with Cordura nylon straps.

For those of you who prefer to carry a large, dedicated, chopping tool along with a smaller, more practical wilderness survival knife (as I do), then the OKC Marine Raider Bowie would be an excellent choice. With a blade length of 9 3/4″, it certainly has enough heft to chop though any sapling in existence and would even serve to replace a hatchet or camp axe to take down small trees! In addition, due to the fact that this knife is constructed from 1095 tool steel which consists of 0.90% – 1.03% Carbon and 0.30% – 0.50% Manganese, it will easily withstand the shock generated by chopping as well as any lateral force that may be applied to the blade by splitting lathes for weaving baskets to use as fish or bird traps.

Also, non-stainless steels are generally easier to sharpen than most stainless steels due to the lack of hard, double-carbide, bonds formed during forging between Chromium and Molybdenum. However, due to the lack of Chromium, this steel is far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels are and thus, it requires more care and maintenance to keep it corrosion free; therefore, the black, epoxy, powder coat finish.

Also, the positive included angle on the primary cutting edge serves to multiply the force generated by the user’s arm when the blade is swung sharply while the Saber Grind creates an extra tough edge that will resist binding in a deep cut and is less inclined to roll when the knife is used as a chopping tool. However, because it also has a relatively high primary bevel line, the blade can be sharpened to a very keen edge while the relatively high Rockwell hardness of 57-59 makes the steel reasonably hard so that it will hold an edge very well.

In addition, the Krayton rubber handle does an excellent job of absorbing vibration to isolate the user’s hand from any shock that the blade may experience when chopping or using a baton to split saplings for use in making an Atlatl or a Self Bow for hunting. Furthermore, the highly ergonomic handle shape, with its deep, radial, grooves and bird’s head pommel provides the user with a very secure grip; thus making the knife very comfortable to use over extended periods. Last, the brass lanyard loop provides an added retention option for those times when losing one’s grip on the knife would result in making the knife unrecoverable, leaving you stranded with only a basic pocket knife like the ones featured here.

So, in my opinion, the Ontario Knife Company’s Marine Raider Bowie is not only an aesthetically pleasing knife, it is also well designed and sturdily constructed from very tough materials and thus, it would be an excellent choice for mating with a smaller fixed blade knife such as the OKC Blackbird SK-5.

The KA-BAR Pestilence Chopper Review

The story of KA-BAR Knives began when a when a group of English knifesmiths from Sheffield (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) gathered together, defied the rules of their guild, and migrated to the American north east.

Here in the Northeast, they set up shop and began producing far higher quality cutlery than the average American was used at the time. Consequently, their products were in such high demand that 38 members of the group decided to form a Limited Partnership called the Tridioute Cutlery Company.

This Limited Partnership is widely considered to be the official start of KA-BAR Knives, Inc. For more information on the history of KA-BAR Knives from one of my previous articles, click here.

The KA-BAR Pestilence Chopper features an overall length of 15 3/4” with a 10 1/4” Drop Point blade made from 0.20” thick, SK5, carbon tool steel hardened to 52-54 Rockwell. In addition, the blade features a Flat Grind with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless steel from corroding. Plus, it features two, highly ergonomic, GFN-PA66 (Glass Filled Nylon PolyAmide 6-6) handles in “Radioactive Green” and black and it is supplied with a “Acheron” Skeleton Knife which fits in the Kydex lined pocket of the heavy-duty, MOLLE compatible, nylon sheath.

The KA-BAR Zombie series was created after a conversation among the top officials at KA-BAR in which they joked about the need for a tool to kill zombies when firearms were unavailable. So, if you have a mind to take on an apocalypse zombie invasion, this is the machete for you! But, while I am certain that we are all just waiting around for that to happen, in the meantime the ZK Pestilence Chopper makes an excellent camp machete since it was specifically designed to be a light to medium duty chopping tool.

Made from SK5 high carbon tool steel (similar to 1080 but with a higher Manganese content) which contains 0.75% – 0.88% Carbon, 0.60% – 0.90 % Manganese, and 0.07% – 0.60% Silicone with a relatively low Rockwell hardness of 52-54, this steel is very tough and reasonably hard and thus, it would make an excellent tool for clearing a trail through dense foliage as well as clearing a campsite.

Also, this machete features a blunt, Drop Point, tip design and a recurved edge with a positive included angle that reminds me of the knives used to harvest sugar cane. Consequently, it would also serve well as a tool for cutting small saplings to create a survival shelter or to make an Atlatl or a Self Bow for hunting. In addition, non-stainless steels are generally easier to sharpen than most stainless steels due to the lack of hard, double-carbide, bonds formed during forging between Chromium and Molybdenum. However, due to the lack of Chromium, this steel is far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels are and thus, it requires more care and maintenance; thus, the black, epoxy, powder coat. Also, the Flat Grind featured on the blade represents a compromise between the extra keen cutting edge of a Hollow Grind and the extra tough edge of Saber Grind.

Therefore, it allows the blade to be sharpened to a very keen edge and to bite very deeply but, is less inclined to roll when used as a chopping tool. In addition, the choil allows the user to sharpen the primary cutting edge all of the way to the back and the curved ricasso serves as an integral quillion to help prevent the user’s fingers from accidently sliding forward on the edge. Furthermore, the highly ergonomic glass reinforced nylon handle (similar to G10), features a highly ergonomic design with a sub-hilt to aid retention in the user’s hand.  Plus, for those of you who really don’t like the “radioactive green” handle scales, KA-BAR has included an additional set of black, GRN, handle scales which are interchangeable. Furthermore, the MOLLE compatible nylon sheath features a Kydex reinforced pocket which contains an Acheron” Skeleton Knife (which may be included in certain packages) which features a 3 1/8″, hollow ground, Clip Point blade made from 5Cr13 stainless steel hardened to 52-54 Rockwell for performing precision cutting and carving tasks.

Consequently, not only is the KA-BAR ZK Pestilence Chopper a great option for tough cutting jobs, it holds its own against several other machetes as a perfect tool to clear out brush in your next camping adventure.

The Kershaw Camp Machete Review

Kershaw was founded in 1974 to design and manufacture tools that knife users would be proud to own, carry, and use.

This has meant that every Kershaw knife must be of the highest quality. Whether it’s a hardworking pocketknife, a special collectors’ edition, or a precision kitchen knife, Kershaw always chooses appropriate, high-quality materials and is dedicated to intensive craftsmanship.

Along with extremely tight tolerances and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, this ensures that Kershaw knives provide their users with a lifetime of performance.

The Kershaw Camp 10 features an overall length of 16” with a Drop Point blade that measures 10” inches in length made from 65Mn high carbon tool steel (Rockwell hardness unknown). Also, it features a recurved edge with a Saber Grind and a black, corrosion resistant, powder coat, finish. In addition, it features a full tang with a highly ergonomic, overmolded, handle with a textured Kraton rubber coating and, it includes a heavy-duty nylon/Kydex sheath.

Although a Drop Point is a somewhat unusual blade design for a large, heavy duty, camp knife, it does tend to nicely compliment the recurved edge of this knife and thus, the Kershaw Camp 10 is definitely an effective design for cutting woody brush, tree limbs, and saplings when clearing a trial or a campsite. If fact, due to its blade length of 10″ and the weight-forward, recurved, design combined with the relatively robust construction, this knife strikes me a cross between a Malaysian Golok and an Indian Kukri or perhaps a short version of a Greek Kopis or a Turkish Yatagan.

In addition, the Saber Grind featured on the blade has a relatively high Primary Bevel Line and thus, it represents an excellent compromise between a tough and a sharp edge that will bite deeply into green wood (or any Zombies you happen to encounter) but will not bind easily. Also, the use of 65Mn steel, which is a Chinese, high carbon, tool steel, with a spring temper containing 0.62% to 0.70% Carbon, 0.90% to 1.20% Manganese, 0.17% – 0.37% Silicon and equivalent to SAE 1065, is in keeping with a knife of this type since 65Mn is a relatively soft and relatively tough steel with good impact resistance although it will not hold an edge as well as 1095 due to its lower Carbon content and thus, the edge will need to be retouched fairly often. However, the distended belly and positive included angle of the recurved cutting edge lend this knife tremendous cutting power.

Plus, the designer of this knife had the forethought to include a tiny ricasso (hurray!) which places the back of the cutting edge very close to the users hand for greater control when carving and greater leverage when plunge cutting. Furthermore, the handle of this knife displays excellent design since it is a very ergonomic and hand filling design and, the integral quillions prevent the user’s hand from accidently sliding forward on to the cutting edge while the checkered, Kraton rubber, coating provides the user with a very positive grip and thus, it is perfect for extended use even in inclement weather conditions.

Plus, it features a lanyard hole in the bolster as well as in the pommel so that the user can attach a lanyard in either position for even greater retention of the knife when hands are wet or cold or both. Last, I don’t usually crow about the sheath that is included with a knife but, in this particular case, I will make an exception because I absolutely love the sheath that is supplied with this knife! It features a molded Kydex body which is nearly impervious to abrasion as well as the elements and yet, it also features a heavy-duty nylon suspension system which gives it a really cool look!

Consequently, in my opinion, the Kershaw Camp 10 fixed blade knife is an excellent choice for a multi-use machete (or even for an apocalyptic event like these machetes) as long as it is combined with a smaller, general purpose, knife such as the Kershaw Diskin Hunter. However, it is important to note that because it is not made from a stainless steel, the exposed portion of the cutting edge will need more care and maintenance to keep it corrosion free than a knife made from a stainless steel.

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