WELL-ROUNDED BUDGET EDC THE STEEL WILL INTRIGUE
THE ZIEBA KNIVES MS3
A TOUCH OF STYLE 5 CUSTOM GENTLEMAN’S FOLDERS KI_COVER2.indd 1
RED HORSE KNIFE WORKS’ HELL RAZOR
A MODERN CLASSIC MICKEY YURCO’S TENE MINI GINUNTING
BUSHCRAFT VISION THE LAGOM COLLABORATION
IN THE LIFE OF NAKED AND AFRAID SURVIVALIST MATT WRIGHT
WITH FONDEST MEMORIES 4 KNIVES THAT TAKE US BACK
THE ESEE GIBSON CARVING AXE
MAY/JUNE 2019 • VOL. 33, NO. 03 • U.S. $5.99 • DISPLAY UNTIL:5/28/19
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MAY/JUNE 2019 VOLUME 33, NUMBER 3 WWW.KNIVESILLUSTRATED.COM
COVER STORY 24 STOUT GENTLEMAN The Zieba Knives MS3 “Manhattan Special” balances the perfect blend of style and function in this beautiful and elegant dress folder. BY JOSHUA SWANAGON
32 VERSATILE UTILITY
The Steel Will Intrigue is a budget EDC with a high-quality build that fills the bill of a well-rounded blade made to be used. BY JIM COBB
38 NEW OLD SCHOOL
Mickey Yurco puts his own twist on the traditional ginunting, bringing this classic weapon into the modern urban landscape. BY MICHAEL JANICH
46 THRIVING SURVIVAL
ESEE Knives and James Gibson team up for an out-of-the-box collaboration with their Gibson Carving Axe, designed to tackle typical chores around camp. BY REUBEN BOLIEU
54 CRY HAVOC!
The Hell Razor Fixed Blade by Red Horse Knife Works is a stout daily user, designed with professional personnel in mind. BY WAYSUN JOHNNY TSAI
KNIVES ILLUSTRATED (ISSN 0898-8943) is published seven times a year, January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November and December, by Engaged Media, Inc., 17900 Sky Park Circle, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614. Periodical postage paid at Irvine, CA, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to KNIVES ILLUSTRATED c/o Engaged Media, Inc., Cenveo, 101 Workman Court, Eureka, MO 63025. ©2019 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST#855050365RT001 Canadian Post: Publications Mail Agreement PITNEY BOWES, INC., PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2
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MAY/JUNE 2019 Volume 33 • Number 3
Joshua Swanagon Brand Manager Kelly Nomura Executive Managing Editor Amy Maclean Managing Editor
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CONTRIBUTORS Dana Benner, Reuben Bolieu, Jim Cobb, Tammy Cobb, Michael D'Angona, Michael Janich, Sally Janich, Jonathan Kilburn, SharpByCoop, EJ Snyder, Emily Stetzer, Tim Stetzer, Waysun Johnny Tsai, David West
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66 60 THE DRESS FOLDER
Your dress attire does not have to prevent you from keeping a strong knife game when you have beautiful custom knives such as these to choose from. PHOTOS BY SHARPBYCOOP
66 BUSHCRAFT TRIPLE THREAT
Mors Kochanski’s vision of the perfect bushcraft knife was brought to fruition in the Lagom Bush Knife by Ben’s Backwoods, Lester River Bushcraft and L.T. Wright Knives. BY TIM STETZER
KNIVES OF THE HEART
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We all have knives from our past that hold special meaning in our lives. Sometimes, a reminder of where we came from helps direct where we are going. BY DANA BENNER
BEHIND THE SCENES 14
KNIVES ILLUSTRATED (ISSN 0898-8943) is published seven times a year—January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/ October, November and December—by Engaged Media, Inc., 17900 Sky Park Circle, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614. Periodical postage paid at Irvine, CA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to KNIVES ILLUSTRATED c/o Engaged Media, Inc., Cenveo, 101 Workman Court, Eureka, MO 63025. © 2019 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST#855050365RT001 Canadian Post: Publications Mail Agreement PITNEY BOWES, INC., PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2
Survivalist Matt Wright, of Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, talks about his youth, knifemaking and what it takes to survive some of the harshest environments on the planet. BY MICHAEL D’ANGONA
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06 LOCKED ON 22 PERSONAL DEFENSE 08 GEAR UP 80 EDGE OF SURVIVAL 12 POINTS OF INTEREST 82 RISING TALENT COVER PHOTO: JOSHUA SWANAGON, COVER DESIGN: ERI C KNAGG
MAY/JUNE 2019 • KNIVES ILLUSTRATED 5
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TEXT AND PHOTO BY JOSHUA SWANAGON
HAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE A FORMAL OCCASION BUT YOU DON’T WANT TO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR KNIFE?
The Spyderco Hanan is as functional as it is elegant; and, with a closed length of 3.88 inches and weight of 2.8 ounces, it won’t deform the pocket of your dress slacks.
I am the kind of person who always has at least one knife on my person at all times—but the reality is that it is more like two or three ... maybe four.
is rife with smaller knives perfectly capable of handling minor tasks while the wearer is in full dress attire. There is everything from expensive customs that can set off your wardrobe with as much style and panache as high-priced cufflinks to high-quality budget knives from companies such as Spyderco, CRKT, Buck, etc. Even if you want to go middle of the road and pick something that looks and functions like a beautiful custom but won’t break the bank, there are a lot of options there as well: Liong Mah, Spartan Blades, Michael Zieba, etc.
But the problem comes with the fact that I typically carry knives that are ready for actual use, not so much anything in the fancy variety. Unfortunately, this sometimes makes it difficult when dressing for church, a business meeting or a nice evening out with my wife. Truth be told, I’m really not one for dressing up, so for the most part, it can be a bit of a moot point. But an occasion does arise from time to time for which I have to “play nice” and act like a civilized human being. For the longest time, I thought of it as more of a compromise, and I would still carry my typical EDC blade, no matter what I was wearing. However, I found that most EDC knives tend to pull down on dress slacks; this situation is only shadowed by the odd looks I would get from people as they witnessed the rather large knife clip hanging from what would have otherwise been a nice-looking outfit. Fortunately, there are options for people such as me. The knife world is an eclectic and diverse industry that 6 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
“WHATEVER YOUR BUDGET, THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO EVER AGAIN HAVE TO WALK AROUND WITH DROOPY POCKETS IN YOUR DRESS SLACKS.”
Whatever your budget, there is no excuse to ever again have to walk around with droopy pockets in your dress slacks.
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Ideally, you will not have to deal with any hard-use tasks while dressed to the nines. However, if you do find yourself in that kind of situation, your knife will probably be the least of your worries (and hopefully, you will have thought to put something a little more “stout” in your vehicle). Stay sharp, and keep it real. KI
on Instagram: @KnivesIllustrated Magazine
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NEW PRODUCTS DESIGNED TO MAKE LIFE A LITTLE EASIER AROUND BASECAMP TEXT BY JOSHUA SWANAGON PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MANUFACTURERS
01 MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights Whether you are backpacking, car camping or staying in a camper, having light around camp in the evening always helps add a touch of comfort and illuminate whatever project you undertake. The Luci Solar String Lights provide 20 LED lights on an 18-foot stretch of cord, allowing you to light up a fairly sizeable area. Although its 5-inch-diameter packed size is designed more for car camping, it is still small enough to fit in a backpack if you want to be able to light up your tent or camp during your stay.
20 warm white LEDs in 10 nodes 4 Light Modes: base-unit LED on String LEDs on low (15 lumens) Medium (50 lumens) High (100 lumens) Lasts up to 20 hours on low setting 2,000 mAh 3.7V lithium-ion polymer battery High-efficiency solar panel Charges in 12–14 hours via direct sunlight/6–8 hours via USB 4 LED battery level indicator
One-way 1A USB port for charging mobile devices Charges most smartphones 30–50% USB plug for charging base unit battery 18 ft. of kink-resistant, braided nylon cord Dust-/water-resistant IPx4 rating Diameter: 5 inches Height: 2.8 inches open/2.5 inches closed Weight: 11.3 ounces MSRP: $35 Website: MPOWERD.com
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02 Zippo Emergency Fire Kit With fire being essential for survival, it is best to trust your emergency fire kit to the company that has made fire its primary business for 87 years. I will admit, I can be a little over the top when it comes to my personal fire kit. But let’s face it: Without fire, we would have no warmth, no way to purify water and no way to cook our food, along with other various uses for fire, such as deterring predators from our camp. I can never stress enough how important fire is—in any camp or survival situation—so having a reliable source for building a fire is a must. The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit has the essential items necessary to help you get your fire going in adverse conditions—all in a tidy, little package that can fit into your pocket.
Zippo flint spark wheel Includes 5 easy, lightweight, paraffin wax-coated spark tinder Ignites with spark or flame and burns up to 5 minutes Rugged ABS plastic construction Ergonomic design with textured grip; water-resistant storage/O-ring seal Floats in water
Molded lanyard hole
Height: 4.0 inches Width: 1.13 inches Depth: 1.38 inches Weight: 1.6 ounces Warranty: 1 year MSRP: $11.95 Website: Zippo.com
03 Coast HX5R Rechargeable Pure Beam Focusing Flashlight Walking away from camp at night is not a great idea, but if you are going to do so, make sure to take a flashlight with you. The Coast HX5R Rechargeable flashlight provides up to 340 lumens of light and features a slide-adjustable focus. Although 350 lumens aren’t going to light up a mountain, they will provide plenty of light to find your way back to camp. Where this flashlight shines (no pun intended!) is that it is chargeable via USB, so it can be charged in your vehicle on your way to camp if necessary. However, if you are unable to charge it in your vehicle or via a portable charger, take the Li-ion battery out, pop in a CR123, and keep right on going.
Beam Optics: Pure Beam Focusing Light Output (high): 340 lumens Light Output (low): 75 lumens Beam Distance (high): 583 ft./178m Beam Distance (low): 262 ft./80m
Runtime (high): 1 hour, 30 minutes Runtime (low): 4 hours, 15 minutes Length: 4 inches Weight: 3.4 ounces Battery: Li-ion or CR123 MSRP: $40 Website: CoastPortland.com
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The Genesis Family Is Growing!
Bradford USA_1_2h 1
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04 Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Waterproof Sealant and Adhesive My two favorite sounds in the world are rain hitting my tarp at night and a rushing river; these two sounds will put me to sleep immediately. However, the thing that wakes me up the quickest is drops of water leaking through my tarp and dripping on my head. I believe in making sure to have items in my kit that allow me to make quick field repairs to my gear, so something to take care of a leaky tarp is right up there toward the top of my list. The Gear Aid Seam Grip is great for this, because it doesn’t harden or become brittle after use and can be used on most materials.
Durable: Tough urethane formula bonds permanently to tents, awnings, campers and even PVC plastic Waterproof: Provides a watertight seal that won’t peel or crack over time, keeping adventurers warm and dry Flexible: Cures to a thin rubber seal that flexes with high-performance gear Abrasion resistant: Make a repair that withstands scrapes and scratches All-purpose: Bonds with all types of outdoor fabrics, including nylon, vinyl, leather and polyester
Material: Thermoset urethane Color: Clear Adheres To: Nylon, canvas, vinyl, polyester and most fabrics Coverage: 144x0.25 inches (12 feet of seams) Cure Time: 8–12 hours Cure Method: Humidity Washable: Yes Application Temperature: 60 to 100 degrees (F) (above 40% relative humidity) Use Temperature: -20 to 180 degrees (F) Storage: Store in bag in freezer MSRP: $7.95 Website: GearAid.com
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05 Gerber Compleat—Cook, Eat, Clean Tool Bring on the grub. I admit that I am not a foodie, but I do like tools that make anything easier. The Gerber Compleat is one of those tools. It is a true multi-tool with no useless marketing gimmickry. When stowed, the full kit is not much larger than an oversized spork; but when it is disassembled, it becomes an amazing camp kitchen. With everything from a spork and spatula to veggie peeler and tongs, the Compleat has everything you might need in your camp kitchen for fixing anything from eggs to robust stews, steaks and anything else you can think of.
Length: 7.75 inches Width: 1.5 inches Weight: 2.3 ounces Spatula (serrated & silicone edge); high-temperature nylon with silicone overmold Long-tine fork Deep-basin spoon Tongs (fork or spoon plus
spatula) Multi-tool components: Bottle opener Veggie peeler Serrated package opener Can opener MSRP: $28 Website: GerberGear.com
06 UltiClip SLIM 2.2 I am an inside-the-waistband (IWB) guy. I like to carry my firearm IWB, and I like to carry any EDC fixed-blade IWB. However, most IWB systems require a belt and can sometimes allow your firearm or knife to move around. Also, if you lift your shirt, the clip or loop becomes visible, letting everybody around you in on the secret. However, the UltiClip clips right to your pants material and hides neatly under your belt while providing a secure grip for slide-free wear and similar sheath/holster retention of a standard IWB sheath/holster.
Built for beltless carry 100% American made Military-grade black-oxide finish Heat-treated to RC 42–49 C-1075 spring steel Wax/oil-treated steel (aids in smooth operation and is a rust inhibitor) Minimum profile, maximum
concealment Single slotted mounting bracket Size: 2.2x.60 inches Weight: .54 ounce MSRP: $11.99 Website: UltiClip.com KI
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3pc Magnetic Base & Kydex Molding Press lock, and release. Allows you to walk away while the thermal molding foam sets your heated Kydex. Made Indicator Kit with 3/16” steel plate. Included, two 8” x 12” x 1” thick high quality foam. Featuring single hand closure,
CAT.# R6N R7N R10N R13N
DESCRIPTION Folder 2 1/2” x 6” Folder 2 1/2” x 8” Hunter 3” x 10” Fighter 4” x 13”
Knifemakers centering Scribe Gift Set
Our choice of Gift While Supplies Last can Not Be combined With Other Offers
FULL PAGE ADS.indd 32
G5 Epoxy WEST SYSTEM G-FLEX EPOXY is a toughened, resilient two-part epoxy engineered for superior grip. G-Flex absorbs the stresses of expansion, contraction, shock and vibration. Initial cure in 3-4 hours. G5 EPOXY is a fast curing epoxy for quick repairs, tooling and general bonding. Bonds to wood, fiberglass, and metal. 1:1 mixture. Cures in 3-5 mins. CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE WE6508 G-Flex Liquid 8oz $22.49 WE8654 G5 5 Minute Epoxy $21.48
Hardened File Guide & Diamond Needle Files Gift Set 4pc Knifemaker’s Measuring Kit
PRICE $7.95 $7.95 $7.95 $8.95 The hardened file guide can be used for holding your knife blades to do complex file work and filing slots SS920 for guards. Precision machined .045” thick and ground from A-2 tool steel and hardened to 62RHc. Overall length SS910 3.250”, maximum blade width 2”, 1/16” thick each jaw is 3/8” x 3/4”. File Guide is Made in USA. Fast cutting diamond files for ultra hard materials. 1/16” thick SS912 Equaling, Square, Half round, Round Premium quality, made from super and the Three Square. 7 1/8” overall. tough stainless steel. Thin and CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE flexible. Very popular fillet blades File Guide Gift Set $69.95 GFT110 as well as regular kitchen use. PRICE CAT.# SIZE 10 1/2” OA, 5 3/4” BL $11.95 SS920 12” OA, 7” BL SS910 $10.95 16” OA, 10 1/2” BL $15.95 SS912
Includes knifemakers centering scribe, Starrett layout dye, a 3-point hand scribe and red/ blue layout pencil. Scribe is used to scribe center lines as a guide for grinding blades. Can be adjusted from 0 to 1/2” with 1/32” adjustments. Layout dye cannot ship overseas. CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE GFT102 Scribe Gift Set $53.95
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West System Adhesives
The best Electrochemical Etching Machine available to mark any unpainted metal surface. Comes with two etching solutions, cleaner and a 2' stencil roll. The Personalizer Plus has a CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE variable speed Dial Indicator Kit $40.82 control to a AI4912 m a x i m u m output of power of 24 volts at Durable protective cases for your 3 amps, or 72 projects. Featuring a black Cordura watts for faster exterior and soft fabric interior. Black etching. 115v. poly foam padding and a nylon zipper. CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE EC302 Personalizer Plus $274.95
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0-1” Dial indicator: 3/8” diameter 225 F heat rating. Made in stem, 2” Dia. Dial face and Lug back. 9 lbs/cf density, 225°F Magnetic base: 9”H x 2”W x 2.5”D, Scribe-opening is 5/32”, Power pull 130lbs, Holds most of A.G.D. Dial & test indicators. 22Pc indicator assorted points A.G.D. Specifications (4-48 threads). Includes Case. PRICE CAT.# DESCRIPTION Molding Press JS900 $89.95 Replacement Foam (2 pcs) JS901 $12.95
309 W MA I N - DAV I S OK 7 3 0 3 0
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0~1” Outside Micrometer: 0.0001” Graduation, Carbide tipped, Rachet stop. 4” Bevel Squarer: Beam size 2-3/4”, Ground and lapped accuracy for straightness, parallelism, and at right angles. 6” Dial Caliper: 0.001” Graduation, 4-way measurement Stainless Steel, Shock-proof. 6” Flex Ruler: 4R graduation, Satin chrome finish, Stainless steel. Includes Case.
DESCRIPTION 4pc Measuring Kit
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LIN SPEED OIL deeply penetrates wood pores & hardens, protecting & revealing the beauty of grain patterns from within. RENAISSANCE WAX provides a barrier against fingerprints and water. Its high moisture resistance forms a durable, protective coating, preventing tarnish, corrosion and remains completely waterproof. Use BALLISTOL to clean, perserve, protect, prevent corrosion, maintain, impregnate and disinfect not only metal but also wood, hard plastics and smooth leather. These Items Can Not Ship Air. CAT.# DESCRIPTION PRICE 2 oz. Lin-Speed Oil LS101 $9.95 RW065 2.3 oz. Renaissance Wax $15.95 RW200 7 oz. Renaissance Wax $24.95 6 oz. Aerosol BA069 $8.99 16 oz. Liquid BA076 $17.99
This two wheel system allows the user to grind a fine edge then clean & polish to a razor sharp edge. PRICE CAT.# DESCRIPTION WKS750 Knife Sharpening Wheels $34.95
JANTZ carries an extensive line of high quality grinding, finishing and polishing belts for your needs. Our belts take you from heavy metal removal to micron finishing with ease.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
A SHARPER FUTURE
KNIFE RIGHTS CONTINUES TO GAIN GROUND IN ITS UPHILL BATTLE FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL AMERICANS. BY KNIVES ILLUSTRATED STAFF
hile I was attending SHOT Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, I had an opportunity to speak with Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter. I caught him as he was on the run between meetings, which were aimed at shoring up support for his continuing efforts to create what he refers to as "a sharper future for all Americans." And, there's no arguing that he's accomplishing exactly that for all of us. Doug noted, "This is our 13th year since our founding, and we are entering our 10th year of passing legislation, repealing knife bans in the states. When you consider that the majority of folks in the industry told me we were tilting at windmills and that we'd never get a single ban repealed, I think we're doing okay. On the other hand, I don't think I ever expected that we'd have been as spectacularly successful as we've been. Twenty-nine bills in 21 states is pretty phenomenal, seems to me." We agree! As we go to press, Knife Rights reported
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the following bills in the works so far this year: In Montana, Switchblade Ban Repeal and Knife Law Preemption bill HB 155 passed the state’s House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 99 to 1. In Virginia, Switchblade Commerce bill SB 1251 passed the Virginia Senate with a bipartisan vote of 25 to 15. In addition, Virginia SB 1024, which would allow carry of weapons, including Bowie knives and daggers, in a "place of worship," passed by a vote of 21 to 19. Bills have also been introduced in Vermont (Knife Law Preemption, H.49), Washington (Switchblade Ban Repeal, SB 5782) and Mississippi (HB 950— which would remove "Bowie knife, dirk knife, butcher knife and switchblade knife" from the deadly weapons statutes in Mississippi). By the time you read this, no doubt other Knife Rights bills will have been filed, and many of these bills will be moving. At the Supreme Court, a number of amicus (friend of the court) briefs supporting their petition for a Writ of Certiorari were filed. They can be found on Knife Rights' website and make for interesting reading, as does the response to the petition from New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. KI
KNIFE RIGHTS’ 2019 ULTIMATE STEEL SPECTACULAR Ultimately, Knife Rights’ efforts require funding. One of the tangible results of running around SHOT Show can be seen in the extraordinary prizes that are available in Knife Rights' 2019 Ultimate Steel Spectacular. We encourage you to support Knife Rights with a donation to the Ultimate Steel, via which you could win knives, guns and more with a total value in excess of $200,000. As Doug explained, "When you get right down to it, rewriting knife law in America would be impossible if we didn't have the support of both the extremely generous companies and knifemakers who donate prizes and the generous supporters who make donations and get a chance to win those incredible prizes." Be one of those supporters!
STAY CURRENT The best way to stay informed about the Supreme Court case and to keep up to date on Knife Rights' fast-moving legislative efforts is with its free e-mail News Slice newsletter at www.KnifeRights.org/NewsSlice or via social media at Instagram.com/KnifeRights and Facebook.com/KnifeRights or Twitter.com/ KnifeRights.
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THE BARE EDGE SECOND IN A SERIES
ALPHA HUNTER 14 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED â€¢ MAY/JUNE 2019
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MATT WRIGHT, SURVIVALIST ON DISCOVERY CHANNEL’S NAKED AND AFRAID, TALKS ABOUT HIS EARLY BEGINNINGS, KNIFE-MAKING AND HIS TIME ON THE SHOW. TEXT BY MICHAEL D’ANGONA WITH MATT WRIGHT PHOTOS BY MATT WRIGHT AND DAVID E. WEST PHOTOGRAPHY
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t’s no exaggeration that Matt Wright is Naked and Afraid’s alpha hunter.
Above: Matt stalks prey with a knife in hand and an indomitable spirit in his heart. (Photo: David E. West)
Time and time again, Matt, needing sustenance to keep his body and mind performing at top capacity, could be seen carrying a large, wild game animal over his shoulder or a string of fish secured within his hand. Every catch gave him the energy to continue on—whether grouped with his fellow survivors or running solo—while in the wilds of a foreign land. In addition to being self-sufficient in the outdoors, Matt is also a custom knife maker. He uses his experiences in real-life scenarios to help him perfect the knives he creates and maximize their multiple uses in the outdoors, whether hunting, fishing, constructing shelter or creating fire.
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"'A FIXED-BLADE IS ALWAYS WHERE MY HEART LIES. IT CAN BE USED IN A GREATER RANGE OF SITUATIONS.'" Now, this “juggernaut” of the outdoor world takes time out from stalking prey and forging his creations to talk about his past adventures, his time on Discovery Channel’s most physically and mentally challenging show and the pleasure of creating a knife from raw product to a polished beauty—using his own mighty two hands.
An Early Start Opposite page: Matt, with an arrow ready to fly, keeps a focused gaze upon his target. (Photo: David E. West)
Knives Illustrated: You have been immersed in nature from a very young age. Was it because of your parents or another mentor in your life? Or was it something you desired deep down inside you?
Matt Wright: From the time I learned to walk, my parents gave me the permission to immerse myself in the outdoors. They were my biggest influences to explore and do more as far back as I can remember. KI: Traditional archery and other primitive weapons were prominent in your early years. How did that passion begin? MW: As a young child, I preferred the harder, more primitive ways to challenge myself. I’ve always enjoyed the added challenge of primitive skills and traditional archery to test myself.
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All Roads (Eventually) Lead to Adventure For Matt Wright, the path to his present-day lifestyle has been varied and full of unexpected twists and turns. Yet, it eventually brought him to where he was destined to be. At a very early age, Matt loved the outdoors and all aspects of nature. While other children played with toys, he was exploring the natural world. As a result, his amazement and passion for it grew exponentially. However, as Matt got older and the carefree life of a child disappeared, he took many opportunities not directly related to his zeal for the great outdoors. From being a baseball player in college to installing bank vaults to working on cruise ships, Matt tackled many odd professions ... until the military called out to him. In an effort to better serve his country, Matt joined the U.S. Air Force, but his time was cut short due to an injury. Back to civilian life he went. This unexpected turning point in his life allowed him to finally settle upon what he had loved since he was a young boy—the diverse and immersive power of Mother Nature. Matt began to make custom knives and teach primitive weapons background and modern-day use to others. After a short while, he expanded into teaching special operations wilderness survival, as well as being an experienced big-game hunting guide. Although the path to Matt’s destiny was scattered with bumps, he made it back to where his true love resided. Today, he enjoys all the aspects that his general title of “true outdoorsman” has to offer.
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"'TO CREATE A KNIFE, YOU MUST GIVE YOUR HEART AND SOUL. YOU MUST TRULY LOVE THE GRIND AND ALL THE HARD WORK.'" Knife-Making KI: And when did knives come into the picture? MW: I’ve always had a passion for knives. However, as I became a professional guide (at an early age) and began making knives, I had a vision to create a better, stronger, more reliable knife. So, I began building them myself and making knives built for professionals. KI: You decided to join the military after college. How did it complement your already-established skills? And what new skills did you gain from your service? MW: From the military, I learned integrity and the true importance of a knife you can trust your life with. this experience took my knife-making to the next level. KI: Are you hands-on—from initial design to forging and polishing? Or do you have a staff of experts working on
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your designs and specifications? MW: I make each knife personally from start to finish. Every hammer blow to sharpened edge, I create each knife. KI: With loads of experience behind you, do you have any advice for those who want to begin in the world of custom knife creation? MW: The best advice I can give is to follow your passion. To create a knife, you must give your heart and soul. You must truly love the grind and all the hard work.
Naked and Afraid KI: Let’s talk Naked and Afraid: What drove you to audition for the show, and how confident were you that you would make it as a participant? MW: I have lived my life in the outdoors, attempting to perfect the art of primitive survival. I now teach survival classes via my company, Extreme
A finished and polished product from Matt’s skillful hands
Instinct. This made me confident that I could go on the show and not just survive, but truly thrive. KI: What type of knife did you use while filming the show? And would you have chosen a different model or style if you knew ahead of time what environment you were going to be dropped into? MW: I created a special knife for the challenge of Naked and Afraid. This knife is able to take on many different environments and chores. It is a combination of kukri, Bowie and brush-hook. It is a quarter-inch of heavy, high-carbon steel that can take care of anything from large trees to small, detailed work. It has now been used on five different continents and also by over a dozen survivalists. KI: What preparation, if any, did you focus on soon after you knew you were picked for a Naked and Afraid episode? And would you say it was more personalized physical training or greater practice of a variety of survival techniques? MW: As always, one must toughen their feet and prepare their body for naked
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survival. I’ve spent days, miles and a lot of pain covering painful ground to toughen my feet; this ultimately served me well on my challenges. My goal is always to thrive and not just make it to the end. I train to find food and increase my hunting abilities, so in the end, I’m well fed and feel like I can live in that location indefinitely. KI: You were seen as a successful hunter and provider while on Naked and Afraid XL in Africa. That being said, did you have any strange or even embarrassing moments you are glad never made it on the air? MW: I wish they would have shown more of the primitive survival skills that were used to be successful. And although I’m not embarrassed, I’m surprised they didn’t show more of the emotional moments I had when missing my wife, Brooke. It was a real emotional rollercoaster after harvesting a warthog in her honor. KI: Some might view a knife as a "simple tool," but in reality, it performs a multitude of functions. Would you care to voice your opinion about this? Are there some obscure uses for a knife that perhaps few people realize? MW: A knife is never just an “item.” It 20 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
"'I CREATED A SPECIAL KNIFE FOR THE CHALLENGE OF NAKED AND AFRAID. THIS KNIFE IS ABLE TO TAKE ON MANY DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS AND CHORES ... IT HAS NOW BEEN USED ON FIVE DIFFERENT CONTINENTS AND ALSO BY OVER A DOZEN SURVIVALISTS.'" Matt sits in his shop with his “Warrior” knife, designed to be a larger EDC survival knife. It was built in his shop with 300-layer Damascus —combining 1095, 5160 and 15n20—and G-10 handle scales with diamond-cut textured grip.
Matt Wright on the Web ExtremeInstinct.com Instagram: @Extreme_Instinct Facebook: Facebook.com/ MattWrightSurvivalist
becomes a part of your very survival. I’ve used my knife to build a hunting blind and then skin the animal I harvested from that blind and also cut shoes from its hide. My knife has been a shovel, a hammer and even a pillow. And possibly the most important: It’s always carried a message from home, giving me the inspiration to accomplish the impossible. It is the one tool I would trust my life to. After more than 100 days on Naked and Afraid challenges, I truly know how important a solid knife is.
Final Thoughts KI: Your preference? Fixed, folder or perhaps an amalgamation of your own design? MW: A fixed-blade is always where my heart lies. It can be used in a greater range of situations. KI: What is your current “day” job when you’re not traveling around the country or globe-trotting around the world?
MW: I’m a custom knife maker and professional guide. I founded Extreme Instinct, through which I provide quality, handmade knives and custom survival classes, as well as fishing and bow fishing adventures. KI: Where do you see yourself in five years? In 15 years? MW: In addition to being a resource to locals in Colorado, we’re excited to expand our services and offer custom bow fishing, fishing and survival adventures in Florida. My next foreseeable challenge is to do an epic survival adventure with Brooke—she’s pretty bad-ass! I’d love to have our own survival/knife-making/adventure show series. [Knives Illustrated would like to thank Matt Wright for taking us inside his world of knife-making and what it takes to thrive on a show such as Naked and Afraid.] KI
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The new Flexcut® Hawthorne Knife Collection gives you ultra-sharp, rugged field knives that are useful for a full range of outdoor tasks. Each blade is made of 1095 steel that holds an edge through hundreds of cutting tasks . Made in the USA. An ergonomic handle is fastened onto a full tang for a solid, comfortable grip. That gives you exceptional control and improved safety when cutting. Each knife comes with a durable, low-profile sheath with integral belt loop. Available At See our website for our entire line of 12 knives flexcut.com
1095 Steel: Cryogenically Hardened to 56-58 Rockwell. Black Oxide Finish. Scandi Grind. Blade Length: 3-7/8” Overall Length: 8-3/8” Thickness: 0.118” Weight: 3.8 - 4.6 oz Fasteners: Stainless Steel Torx Sheath: Hand-Crafted Welted Leather Packaging: Crafted Sycamore Box Handle Options: FTKFB1A - Earth Camo G-10 (shown) FTKFB1B - Conditioned Zebra Wood FTKFB1C - OD Green Micarta® Features Lanyard Hole
1095 Steel: Cryogenically Hardened to 56-58 Rockwell. Black Oxide Finish. Flat Grind. Blade Length: 3-5/8” Overall Length: 8” Thickness: 0.150” Weight: 5.3 - 5.9 oz Fasteners: Stainless Steel Flared Tube Sheath: Hand-Crafted Welted Leather Packaging: Crafted Sycamore Box Handle Options: FTKFB2A - Richlite (shown) FTKFB2B - Conditioned Purpleheart w/Black G-10 Liner FTKFB2C - G-Wood w/Orange G-10 Liner Flexcut.com Features Lanyard Hole
1095 Steel: Cryogenically Hardened to 56-58 Rockwell. Black Oxide Finish. Flat Grind. Blade Length: 4” Overall Length: 8-1/2” Thickness: 0.150” Weight: 7.2 - 7.3 oz Fasteners: Stainless Steel Flared Tube Sheath: Bolatron Packaging: Crafted Sycamore Box Handle Options: FTKFB3A - Red Coral Micarta® w/OD Green G-10 Liner FTKFB3B - Black Canvas Micarta® w/Orange G-10 Liner (shown) FTKFB3C - OD Green Canvas Micarta® w/White G-10 Liner Features Lanyard Hole
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3/5/19 11:13 PM
REALITIES LEARN THE PROS AND CONS TO THIS COMMON SELF-DEFENSE GRIP. TEXT BY MICHAEL JANICH PHOTOS BY SALLY JANICH
hether you call it “reverse” grip, “icepick” grip, “earth” grip or something else, grasping a knife with the blade extending from the little-finger side of the hand is nothing new. It is also not a panacea; and, as with any other choice you make in self-defense tactics, it has both advantages and disadvantages.
For the purposes of this article, let’s keep things simple and consider the reverse grip in its “edge-out” configuration— with the cutting edge of a single-edged knife facing away from the person wielding it. We’ll save “reverse-edge” or “edge-in” tactics for another time.
Reach The most obvious difference between reverse grip and standard grip is the effective range—especially when it comes to delivering the power necessary to cut or puncture a target 22 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
with fight-stopping effect. Although practiced body mechanics can help compensate for this, the bottom line is that when you grip a knife in reverse grip, you give up at least several inches in reach. That means that you must make the commitment to fight up close and have the skills and tactics to do so effectively. Because most real attacks are initiated at close range or in a confined environment, you might not have a choice, but you should still understand that it’s a conscious compromise.
Range of Motion The body mechanics of wielding a knife in standard grip offer a significantly wider range of natural motion than reverse grip. Note that I specified natural motion. Reverse grip excels at thrusting, offering powerful inward and downward hammer-style thrusts, and quick, woodpecker-like backhand stabs. When it comes to cutting tactics, however, reverse grip is limited. Yes, it is
01 Opposite page: The attacker comes in with a high forehand slash.
02 Check with the back of your left arm.
03 Cut upward through the inner forearm.
04 Immediately hook down with a palisut action.
05 Completing the palisut action, pass his weapon arm across your body and get to his “outside.”
06 At the bottom of your arc, turn your hand palm up, straighten your elbow, and index the blade against the attacker’s lower thigh.
07 Sink your body weight and lunge forward with your right foot, cutting his right quadriceps, and then his left, crippling both legs and instantly destroying his mobility.
On the Web Martial Blade Concepts MartialBladeConcepts.com
certainly possible to wave a knife around in reverse-grip figure-eights, but that motion is not natural, nor is it powerful enough to cut with telling effect. Reverse-grip cuts are less instinctive and less accurate, because the blade “trails” the hand. At longer ranges, you must articulate your wrist to get the blade to extend beyond your fist if you hope to cut with any effect. Even then, fullspeed, full-extension cuts often result in banging your knuckles before the blade makes contact with the target, thereby significantly dissipating the force of the cut and limiting your ability to achieve a deep, disabling wound. Cutting in reverse grip works best with short-range, upward and forehand cuts delivered with a bent arm and powered by the drive of the shoulder. To ensure accuracy, think of punching just above the intended target. This will index the heel of the blade and apply pressure before the length of the edge is driven through the target.
Power The primary advantage of reverse grip is power. The body mechanics of downward and forehand stabs in reverse
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grip are based on mechanically efficient gross motor skills. Like hitting with a club or hammer, these caveman-style movements are also consistent with the gross motor skill override that typically takes place in a life-threatening incident. Unfortunately, despite their power and potential lethality, reverse-grip thrusts do not guarantee rapid incapacitation, even when delivered to the neck and upper torso.
Hooking One of the greatest advantages of the reverse grip is its ability to hook and redirect the attacker’s limbs to achieve a position of advantage. In its most basic form, it allows “barrier removal”—hooking and moving your attacker’s limb to expose a higher-value target. A more advanced application, known as palisut in the Filipino martial arts, involves hooking the attacking arm to move from the “inside” (the danger zone between your attacker’s arms) to the “outside,” where you are safer and have more options to finish the encounter on your terms. Although palisut can be employed by itself, it is even more effective when combined with checks and blocks with the non-weapon, or “live,” hand and
upward-cutting strokes that target the flexor muscles and tendons on the inside of the forearm. This combined check-cut-hook flow is commonly known as “cover and slash” and is a core skill in the reverse-grip curricula of many Filipino martial arts.
Filipino Martial Arts
My preferred expression of palisut takes the bottom of the hooking arc a step further, converting it into an immediate palm-up pressure cut to the lower quadriceps muscle, just above the knee. Depending upon the position of the attacker’s feet, there is a good chance you can cut both quads with a single motion. When executed properly, the locked, straight-arm structure captures the power of your body weight to create a devastating, mobility-killing cut.
Although there are now many different systems in the FMA, the most notable and recognizable are Arnis, Silat, Escrima and Kali. The most recognizable and commonly studied weapons in the FMA are the baston or olisi (short sticks) and knives.
Educate Your Decision As with any other choice in self-defense, choosing reverse grip is a decision that should be backed with sound skills, tactics and logic. The best way to make that decision is by seeking out quality training and developing an in-depth understanding of human anatomy and how knives really disable people. Don’t settle for flash; do your homework. KI
The Filipino martial arts (FMA) are derived from the need for self-preservation, due to invaders and increasing local conflict in the islands that comprise what we know as the Philippines.
However, although the FMA has a focused lethality with edged weapons, these systems are adept at many varying weapons. In fact, although the sticks, themselves, can be brutal weapons in the hands of an FMA practitioner, they are considered training aids for practicing machete techniques, due to their prolific presence in the Filipino culture. FMA practitioners are most notably knife fighters—with a secondary emphasis on empty hands and improvised weapons—and FMA, itself, is considered the most advanced and practical edged-weapons system in the world. Palisut, as referenced in this article, is part of a series of FMA flow drills meant to teach the practitioner how to be fluid in his/her technique and use economy of motion to reach the intended target. Palisut is typically a method for scooping, or hooking, the attacker’s strike and opening a path for a counterstrike.
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24 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED â€¢ MAY/JUNE 2019
GEN T knivesillustrated.com
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THE ZIEBA KNIVES MS3 IS A DRESS FOLDER THAT HANDLES SERIOUS BUSINESS. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JOSHUA SWANAGON
N TLEMAN knivesillustrated.com
MAY/JUNE 2019 â€¢ KNIVES ILLUSTRATED 25
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"THE ZIEBA MS3 IS A BEAUTIFUL AND ELEGANT DRESS FOLDER WHOSE PLEASING AESTHETICS ARE RIVALED ONLY BY ITS EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE."
gentleman is always prepared.
Above: The blue-anodized titanium hardware really sets oﬀ the MS3.
Have you ever gotten dressed for a formal event, only to find that your regular knife is just too heavy for your dress slacks? Or the clip is big and gawdy and distracts from the clean lines of your suit pants? Me too. But I cannot see myself going without a knife, regardless of the occasion or how nicely I need to dress. Pocket knives are an option, but I have grown accustomed to a clip knife that is easily accessible. I guess I am just a creature of habit and a little set in my ways.
Let’s take a look at the knife and how it performed.
Middle: The spacer on the MS3 has light jimping along the spine and butt for added grip and nice aesthetics.
For that reason, I am always keeping my eyes open for knives that are small and classy enough to fit with even the nicest suit yet are quality enough to handle normal, everyday tasks. However, I do not have the budget to go out and purchase an expensive custom knife just for the rare occasion that I am actually wearing a suit or dress slacks. It was this unique need that made the Zieba MS3 “Manhattan Special” such a great fit. It has the style and panache
26 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
to fit into the classiest ensemble while maintaining a quality build that can get real work done—all at a price that is affordable for a knife in this class.
Bottom: The milled clip keeps the MS3 in your pocket with enough tension to hold it in place—without making it hard to retrieve.
You might be looking at this knife and thinking to yourself, “I recognize that knife; that was done by Zieba for Shinola.” And you would be correct ... to a degree. It is true that Zieba and Shinola put out a version of the MS3 that was titanium and had the blueanodized titanium hardware, but that is where the similarities end. While speaking with Michael Zieba, it was very clear that this version of the MS3 was his to do with as he saw fit. This gave him the ability to finally make it his way. Because of this, he could do the things he wanted with it and utilize his choice of steel without worrying about distributor budget concerns. This, along with some other changes detailed in this article, make it a true Michael Zieba piece. The bead-blasted titanium handle is contoured beautifully into a lightly
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rounded, ergonomic shape that not only feels great in the hand but also adds to its pleasing aesthetics. The handle contains milled lightening pockets on the inside; these are intended to reduce the weight of the
MS3 down to its amazingly light 1.97 ounces. The spacer runs from just past the halfway mark of the handle all the way around the butt and contains light jimping along the length of the spacer on the spine and the butt. The 2.5625-inch, full-flat-ground blade is constructed of Nitro-V (an upgrade from the previous M390 steel of the Shinola) and comes to an aggressive tip that is perfect for tasks
Above: Although the author didnâ€™t have much leverage, he was able to cleanly slice the corner off this phone book.
requiring some level of penetration. The very thin, .117-inch blade, combined with the Nitro-V, gives the MS3 a very keen edge that slices with the efficiency of a kitchen knife while remaining tough enough for opening durable packaging. Also new for this model is the addition of a sharpening choil, which allows for easier sharpening along the entire length of the edge. When closed, the blade centers beautifully in the handle, demonstrating a very tight fit and finish.
How to order the
It is important to note that Zieba does not sell via his website, so if you want the MS3 for yourself, you will have to go to either KnifeCenter. com, TrueNorthKnives.com or FortHenryCustomKnives.com. His site always shows his knives out of stock, so you will want to check these sites for availability.
MAY/JUNE 2019 â€˘ KNIVES ILLUSTRATED 27
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"THE VERY THIN, .117-INCH BLADE, COMBINED WITH THE NITRO-V, GIVES THE MS3 A VERY KEEN EDGE THAT SLICES WITH THE EFFICIENCY OF A KITCHEN KNIFE WHILE REMAINING TOUGH ENOUGH FOR OPENING DURABLE PACKAGING."
The blue, slotted anodized titanium hardware really sets off the look of the MS3 and moves it from the “classy user” category to the “functional elegant art” group. The milled, contoured titanium clip is configured for tip-up, right-hand carry and holds the MS3 in the pocket with just enough retention so that it won’t come out unexpectedly, while remaining easy to retrieve. The Zieba MS3 utilizes ceramic bearings, which will provide greater longevity, little to no maintenance, a smoother ride on the bearing system, low friction and lighter weight than stainless steel bearings ... not to mention the lightning-fast opening. Because the bearing system is ceramic, Zieba decided to complete the thought by employing ceramic for the detent as well, because it is very resistant to wear and tear—meaning it will not deform—and is very slick, requiring less lube and providing much less drag during operation.
1:1 ACTUAL SIZE
The framelock includes a stainless steel lockbar insert for a steel-on-steel
lockup. This will help alleviate the wear on the titanium lockbar, thereby ensuring greater longevity. I normally do not talk too much about packaging, but I thought it would be worth mentioning that the MS3 comes in a ballistic, waterproof case, with foam padding and a nice, red microfiber cloth for cleaning. This is a very nice touch and a great way to store your MS3 between uses.
Testing the MS3 Because the MS3 is more of a gentleman’s dress folder, I didn’t do my usual hard-core testing, instead opting for typical light, daily tasks that are commensurate with a knife of this size and style (although I did keep them slightly tough to ensure it can handle serious use). For my first test, I performed one of my typical tests: cutting the corner off a phone book. I cut the corner on the binding side, because the thick binding and glues used to hold it all together can be tough on a knife. The smaller size of the MS3 did not allow me much leverage during this test, but with a few adjustments to my grip as I cut, I was able to cut the corner off cleanly. The edge on the MS3 is really sharp and held up great through this process. Next, I cut up some thick leather I have lying around for just this kind of test. The MS3 slid right through the leather like butter. Once I had a nice pile of small leather chunks, I
SPECS Blade Material: Nitro-V Blade Length: 2.5625 inches Overall Length: 6.625 inches Closed Length: 4 inches Blade Thickness: .117 inch Weight: 1.97 ounces Handle Material: Bead-blasted titanium Pocket Clip: Titanium Hardware: Custom blue-anodized titanium MSRP: $325
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"THE ZIEBA MS3 UTILIZES CERAMIC BEARINGS, WHICH WILL PROVIDE GREATER LONGEVITY, LITTLE TO NO MAINTENANCE, A SMOOTHER RIDE ON THE BEARING SYSTEM, LOW FRICTION AND LIGHTER WEIGHT THAN STAINLESS STEEL BEARINGS ... "
Even after some heavy testing (for a knife this size), the author was able to cleanly cut right through eight pieces of paracord simultaneously.
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cut some larger chunks and stacked seven pieces on top of each other. I then slowly pushed the tip through the entire stack of leather. There was almost no resistance. This is a very sharp and pointy knife!
Above: The MS3 sliced easily through this thick leather, and the tip was able to penetrate seven pieces of leather stacked on top of each other with no issues.
Finally, to test how well the edge held up to the previous tests, I cut three grapes into thin slices. The edge of the MS3 was still so sharp
30 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
No More Dress Slacks Blues The Zieba MS3 is a beautiful and elegant dress folder whose pleasing aesthetics are rivaled only by its excellent performance.
Then, I took the cardboard packaging from a new toaster and proceeded to reduce it to a large pile of cardboard pieces. Anybody who cuts cardboard regularly can testify that it is really hard on an edge due to the glues and other materials used in the laminating process to make the cardboard. Every cut was clean and quick. I then took a hank of paracord and folded it over four times, creating eight loops in total, and cut through the entire mass of paracord. The MS3 still had an amazing edge and glided easily through the paracord.
that I was able to get very clean slices on all three grapes, with no tearing or crushing in any way.
It is not a hard-core user, but it was never intended to be. It is an answer to the dress slacks blues; one that fits into a formal wardrobe without compromising your overall look but will still perform the tasks at hand. Opposite page, top: After all testing was complete, the author sliced a few grapes. The MS3’s edge was still extremely sharp and had no issues with this task.
Contact ZIEBA KNIVES (347) 335-9944 www.ZiebaKnives.com
If you are looking for the right knife for the boardroom or ballroom but don’t have a CEO’s budget, the Zieba MS3 is the perfect choice. True, with an MSRP of $325, it is nowhere near a budget knife, but it is still well within the range of affordable when you consider the quality it brings to the table. Well done, Michael. My formal and dress casual attire is finally ... on point! KI
Nitro-V Nitro-V is a stainless steel that is based on AEB-L but with the addition of nitrogen and vanadium, which give it increased toughness, hardness and corrosion resistance. Nitro-V is the steel-of-choice for any application requiring a thin blade stock and a keen edge, such as kitchen knives and razor blades. For this reason, it makes a great steel for smaller folders as well, because it allows for tougher edges on much thinner stock without the edge becoming brittle or compromising edge retention. Knife makers and users, alike, appreciate Nitro-V, because it is easy to sharpen and has great edge stability for finer edges.
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"THE EDGE OF THE MS3 WAS STILL SO SHARP THAT I WAS ABLE TO GET VERY CLEAN SLICES ON ALL THREE GRAPES, WITH NO TEARING OR CRUSHING IN ANY WAY."
2.75” BLADE Drop Point
6.60” Overall Length
Drop Point or Wharncliffe 5.85” Overall Length Bottle Opener Frame
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STEEL WILL OFFERS AN INTRIGUING OPTION FOR AN EDC BLADE. TEXT BY JIM COBB | PHOTOS BY JIM COBB AND TAMMY COBB
igh-quality knives don’t have to break the bank.
Steel Will began as an offshoot of Sport Manufacturing Group in 2012. The intention was to create a line of tactical knives that would stand up to real-world use. Over the years, it has earned a solid reputation for great quality and excellent workmanship. Steel Will’s knives are designed in the United States but are largely manufactured overseas in Italy or China. One area in which Steel Will consistently excels is the budgetpriced knife, notably in the sub-$75 range. While the company does have a few high-end models—both fixed-blades and folders that retail well north of $200—many of its offerings are easy on the wallet
without sacrificing quality. And a number of its budget knives are of much higher quality than one might expect at that price point. The Intrigue certainly fits into that category.
Out of the Box From the moment you pick up the Intrigue, it begs to be opened. Your index finger instinctively finds the jimped flipper. There is the slightest resistance when you first press the flipper, giving you confidence that this knife isn’t going to fall open at an inopportune time. With a slight bit of pressure, the blade snaps open; and, although it is not an assisted-open knife, it opens almost as fast as one. The blade is D2 steel with a high flat
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grind. It runs just a hair more than 3.5 inches and comes to a needle-sharp point. The Intrigue has a keen edge and shaves hair right out of the box. The jimping at the base of the spine is great for blade control. While you’ll always know it’s there, it isn’t so aggressive that it causes discomfort. The handle’s texturing is rough enough to provide for positive traction, even with wet or cold hands, without causing hot spots. The liner lock has jimping, as well, and secures the blade solidly while in lockup. There is just enough resistance when releasing the liner lock to give
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Corrugated cardboard is rough on a knife, yet the Intrigue took it all in stride.
"THE BLADE IS D2 STEEL WITH A HIGH FLAT GRIND. IT RUNS JUST A HAIR MORE THAN 3.5 INCHES AND COMES TO A NEEDLE-SHARP POINT. THE INTRIGUE HAS A KEEN EDGE AND SHAVES HAIR RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX." confidence in the lock—without causing a struggle to close the knife.
never loosened. It remained tight and secure without any issues.
The Intrigue has the standard pocket clip that is configured for righthand, tip-up carry. It is reversible for left-hand carry but still only in tip-up configuration. This knife was my daily carry for about four weeks, and the clip
The red spacer pins add a splash of color to the ensemble, increasing the knife’s handsome appearance. While the Intrigue is definitely a user (and not any sort of collectible "safe queen”), it has an almost elegant appearance.
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The texturing on the Intrigue’s handle is rough enough to provide a solid grip, even when wet.
The jimping on the spine of the blade is somewhat subdued. It gives you plenty of control without being obnoxious.
Slicing through cardboard is one of the most common tasks we require of our knives.
Real-World Use I carried the Intrigue as my daily pocket knife for about four weeks. In that time, I used it for cutting open boxes, food prep, cutting cordage and numerous other daily chores. It accompanied me on several hikes through various forests, as well as jaunts through the urban landscape. At fewer than 3 ounces, the Intrigue’s weight in the pocket was negligible. One of my pet peeves is a pocket clip that keeps the knife so secure that it is difficult to draw the knife from the pocket. That is not the case with the Intrigue. I never once feared the knife coming loose from the pocket
on its own, and each and every time I needed it, it slid out smoothly. While I didn’t count the actual number of times I opened and closed this knife, I’d estimate it to be at least a few hundred. As I noted earlier, this is a knife that just wants to be flicked open every time you pick it up, and the action has remained consistent after several weeks of use. The blade snaps open in a flash, and the lockup is tight, with absolutely no wiggle. When the liner lock is released, the blade closes easily, without resistance. The texturing on the handle is comfortable and provides a positive,
Similar Models Steel Will routinely offers a knife design with different handle colors or different sizes. The Intrigue shown in this review is also available with a gray handle, rather than black. The model number for that model is Intrigue F45-14. For those looking for something slightly smaller, Steel Will offers the Intrigue F45M-11 (black handle) and F45M-14 (gray handle). These have an overall length of 7.5 inches and blades that run 3.27 inches long.
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If the Intrigue can slice through leather this easily, it should be able to handle self-defense use equally well.
The needle point of the Intrigue made it through nine pieces of leather in one push.
The red spacer pins provide just a splash of color and enhance the overall handsome appearance of the Intrigue.
secure grip, even when wet. I went so far as to dunk my hands under a running faucet and then used the knife to trim vegetables for dinner. There were no problems with gripping the knife and keeping it under control.
Cutting through several pieces of paracord simultaneously was no challenge for the Intrigue.
Through the Paces It was only after a solid month of use that I put the knife through a few formal tests. I feel it is important to note that I never once touched up the blade during or before performing these tests. I wanted to see how well the knife would hold up without much in the way of maintenance. For the first test, I found I had a pile of scrap leather sitting in the shop. I grabbed a handful of the pieces, scattering them onto a cutting board. The Intrigue sliced through each piece without any hesitation or catch. I did a series of rapid slices, reducing the pieces into small strips. I then cut several small rectangles and piled them up. With moderate pressure
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The Intrigue made short work of several pieces of paracord.
Contact STEEL WILL KNIVES (877) 969-0909 www.SteelWillKnives.com
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D2 Steel D2 is something like a borderline stainless steel. To be considered true stainless steel, it must have at least 12 percent chromium; D2 has 11.5 percent. D2 also has a high carbon content, which actually reduces the corrosion resistance a bit from what the chromium content would otherwise give. On the whole, it holds an edge extremely well, as I found in my testing and regular use. While it is somewhat common as a knife steel, some folks tend to avoid it, because it has a reputation for being difficult to sharpen. However, there are people out there who love working with it, such as celebrated knife maker Bob Dozier of Dozier Knives.
The liner lock engages fully with the blade, providing a solid lockup.
"AT FEWER THAN 3 OUNCES, THE INTRIGUE’S WEIGHT IN THE POCKET WAS NEGLIGIBLE." and slight rocking, I was able to get the knife to simultaneously penetrate nine pieces of leather. The tip of the Intrigue is like a needle and pierces material easily. However, because the point is so thin, it would likely not hold up too much in the way of prying. This is not a knife you’ll use for heavy-duty work in the field. Next, I grabbed a few pieces of corrugated cardboard. I used the Intrigue to slice both along and across the corrugation multiple times. Again, there were no problems ... except for the very last cut I made. It caught just at the tail end of the slice and tore the cardboard a bit. As many readers know, corrugated cardboard is very abrasive because of the adhesives used in the manufacturing process. So, I wasn’t overly surprised at this tiny bit of hesitation from the blade at that point. From there, I pulled out some paracord
as a heavy-duty-use knife, because the tip just wouldn’t hold up under serious prying or digging. With that said, the sharp tip, coupled with the razor edge, makes it a viable option for a self-defense blade, as well as a utility EDC.
and began cutting. Starting with eight lengths at first, I whittled them down into smaller and smaller pieces. While doing so, I varied the spot on the blade that I used to start the cut, thus using the entirety of the edge throughout the test. The Intrigue never hesitated or protested—even once. In no time at all, I had a small pile of paracord bits.
I’ve found it to be one of the most comfortable folding knives I’ve ever used. The Intrigue held up extremely well under real-world use, with little to no special attention given to it. It gets high marks across the board. KI
All this testing worked up a bit of an appetite, so for the final portion of the review, I pulled out an apple and sliced it up. The Intrigue performed as though I’d just pulled it from the box in which it had arrived. Each slice was perfect—at least as far as the knife’s performance was concerned. Admittedly, my cuts deviated a bit from the precision one might see in a professional kitchen.
High Marks The Intrigue from Steel Will is a solid choice for an EDC blade. Nevertheless, I cannot recommend it
1:1 ACTUAL SIZE
Blade Material: D2 Blade Length: 3.6 inches Closed Length: 4.8 inches Overall Length: 8.4 inches Finish: Satin Handle Material: FRN (Fiberglass-reinforced nylon) Weight: 2.89 ounces Lock Type: Liner lock MSRP: $49.99
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MICKEY YURCO’S URBAN GINUNTING PUTS A MODERN TWIST ON A TRADITIONAL WEAPON. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MICHAEL JANICH
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NEW OLD SCHOOL C
ategorizing Mickey Yurco as a “knife maker” is a bit like describing Leonardo da Vinci as a “painter.” Yes, it’s an accurate statement, but it falls way short.
Although Mickey is fully capable of creating stunningly beautiful art knives, his best work combines his skills as a craftsman, his knowledge as a martial artist and his in-depth understanding of real violence. A perfect example of this powerful synergy is his Tene mini ginunting. I recently had a chance to try it for myself.
Design Origins The genesis of the Tene design was actually an aluminum training version of a Filipino ginunting sword I designed for the 2016 Martial Blade Camp training event. Yurco successfully tested there for the associate instructor ranking in my system of martial blade concepts (MBC). Although not practical as a self-defense tool, as a martial arts weapon, the ginunting has some very unique design qualities I tried to accentuate in my expression of it. When I explained the features of my design, which was beautifully executed by Keen-Edge Knives, I could hear the wheels
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turning in Mickey’s head. As we trained combatively with the ginunting, his evil grin grew even broader. Several months later, Yurco sent me photos of knives he was working on that were inspired by my ginunting design. He had scaled down the pattern and streamlined it to make it compact enough for urban carry. He also refined the handle design to complement the smaller overall size and comfortably support both standard-grip and reverse-grip tactics. Intrigued by the concept, I knew I had to have one. Yurco was all too happy to oblige.
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Yurco is skilled at making both leather and Kydex sheaths and provided both options for the Tene.
The Tene Named in honor of his Filipina daughter-in-law, the Tene takes the key attributes of the ginunting and distills them into a format suitable for street carry. Measuring 10 inches overall, it has a 5.75-inch blade that is hollow-ground from 440C stainless steel—one of Yurco’s standard blade materials. Like the ginunting blade, the Tene’s blade has a subtly curved, slight hawkbill profile to it. Roughly the forward third of the spine features a raised swedge (unsharpened bevel) that curves down to meet the tip at an acute, but very thrustworthy, point.
An integral single guard at the base of the blade provides a solid stop for the user’s hand and a firm retention point for the snap-fit sheath. The entire surface of the blade also features a stunning pattern that contrasts polished highlights with a matte, acid-etched background. The Tene’s handle has full-tang construction for strength and a flared “fantail” butt that complements the guard to bracket the hand for a secure grip. The tang is flanked by two-tone G-10 scales that are beautifully contoured to reveal alternating layers of black and gray. The scales are permanently bonded
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Many Talents Mickey Yurco is a true craftsman. While many knife makers are only skilled at making knives—and perhaps sheaths to accompany them—Yurco’s talents go far beyond that. He also specializes in making hand-turned custom pens (many of which are crafted from rare or historically significant woods and other materials), rings and other jewelry made from antique coins ... and even handmade yo-yos. In addition to his outstanding custom knives—several of which have been adapted to production models by Boker—Yurco’s consummate craftsmanship and “evil genius” mindset have also spawned a vast array of other tactical gadgets and self-defense items. On the subtle side, he makes jewelry-quality titanium pendants that are also potent striking and pressure-point tools, as well as a stainless steel “bubble blower” that includes elements of a yawara stick/kubotan and karambit. Taking his talents as a leather and Kydex craftsman beyond knife sheaths, Mickey crafts beautifully tooled custom blackjacks and saps, including a unique Kydex-clad pocket sap that carries unobtrusively in a watch pocket. He draws from his skills as a shooter and firearms instructor, making both leather and Kydex holsters, mostly for pocket pistols and other concealable, personal-defense guns.
"CATEGORIZING MICKEY YURCO AS A 'KNIFE MAKER' IS A BIT LIKE DESCRIBING LEONARDO DA VINCI AS A 'PAINTER.' YES, IT’S AN ACCURATE STATEMENT, BUT IT FALLS WAY SHORT." to the tang with a series of acrylic pins and a lined lanyard hole. Equally adept at crafting both leather and Kydex sheaths, Yurco supplied both versions with my Tene. Although the hand-sewn leather sheath complements it as a collector’s piece, for actual carry, Kydex is my preference. To that end, Yurco actually supplied two versions— one with a Spyderco G-Clip mount and one with an inside-the-waistband (IWB) loop with snap. Both are foldoverstyle sheaths to keep their width to a minimum and feature flawless molding and fit. The knife snaps into place with an audible ‘’click,’’ stays in place securely and releases smoothly when drawn.
Mickey Yurco’s handmade expression of the SOE Instructor’s Kit, surrounded by various other samples of his work. An incredible craftsman, he is much more than just a knife maker.
One of my most prized possessions is a replica of the SOE Instructor’s Kit that Mickey made for me in honor of my close association with the late Colonel Rex Applegate. These kits, which were made in very limited quantities, included a variety of sinister, little blades designed as last-ditch escape weapons and sabotage tools. During World War II, the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) sent some to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services—the predecessor of the CIA) for evaluation. Although the kit was not adopted, many OSS agents purchased them privately while training with the SOE in Britain and put them to good use in the field. Yurco’s expression of this remarkable piece of history includes a heat-colored titanium spike, scalpel-like steel spike, double-edged thumb dagger, ringed tire-slasher sabotage tool and a coin knife with a folding blade. All of these tuck neatly into dedicated pockets in a handsome, handcrafted tanned-leather portfolio that Yurco also made. A true one-of-a-kind piece, this incredible kit reflects all the qualities that make Yurco, himself, so unique: impeccable, old-school craftsmanship, in-depth historical knowledge and the combative skills of a true warrior.
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Left: In standard grip, the slight hawkbill profile of the Tene’s blade counteracts the leverage that longer blades exert on the wrist, allowing the Tene to cut with power all the way to the point.
From a pure workmanship standpoint, the Tene—as all Yurco’s work—is outstanding.
Dangerous Curves The true magic of the ginunting’s shape is in how the blade complements the natural function of your hand. When gripped in a standard grip with the wrist at a natural angle, the slight curve of the blade matches the angle of the wrist to align the point straight forward. That makes straight thrusts accurate and powerful and allows you to absorb impact shock with a strong wrist orientation—just like managing the recoil of a pistol.
Contact MICKEY YURCO (330) 533-4928 Facebook: Mickey.Yurco
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When it comes to cutting, the Tene’s subtle curve compensates for the loss of leverage that occurs when you cut with a longer blade. Cutting with a knife is always most effective when done with the first few inches of the edge nearest your hand, because you can apply more pressure and stabilize that portion of the knife more effectively. As you move the cutting pressure farther from your hand, the leverage of the blade’s length works against your grip, and you cut less effectively. However, the slight hawkbill profile of the Tene, along with larger ginuntings, compensates for that loss of leverage, allowing you to maintain strong cutting force closer to the point. Cuts with the
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Although ginunting swords obviously favor a conventional standard grip, the unique qualities of the downsized Tene also allow it to excel at reversegrip tactics. In reverse or “icepick” grip, the blade’s curve once again complements the natural angle of the wrist perfectly. This puts the point precisely on centerline in a reverse-grip guard and allows impressive accuracy when used for backhand “pikal jabs” to the eyes. The handle is short enough to comfortably “cap” it with the thumb, and hooking tactics with the back of the blade—known as palisut in the Filipino martial arts—work extremely well. Cutting accurately and powerfully with reverse-grip edge-out tactics (my preference) can be challenging. To achieve deep cuts without bashing your knuckles, it’s best to articulate your wrist to extend the edge beyond the face of the fist. Even then, if your blade has any belly to the edge at all, it’s hard to achieve a deep cut. Once again, the Tene’s slight hawkbill profile solves this problem very authoritatively: A slight camming of the wrist generates
Above, both pages: Despite its formidable size, the Tene carried comfortably and discreetly, with a near-horizontal, inside-the-waistband carry. Here, the drawstroke demonstrates how the static cord allows the blade to clear the sheath safely away from the body.
"THE TENE’S HANDLE HAS FULL-TANG CONSTRUCTION FOR STRENGTH AND A FLARED 'FANTAIL' BUTT THAT COMPLEMENTS THE GUARD TO BRACKET THE HAND FOR A SECURE GRIP."
Extended shelf for thumb purchase
CPM® 20CV® stainless steel blade
Lanyard hole / hammer
Hamaguri (convex) grind with micro bevel
Full-length concealed tang Premium Leather Sheath
very point of the blade also deliver maximum power because the edge is completely devoid of “belly” that would dissipate the cutting force. No matter where you make contact with the Tene’s edge, it cuts with serious power and never lets up.
3-D-machined G-10 scales devoid of “hot spots”
Visit spyderco.com or your local Spyderco dealer
800 525 7770
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About Mickey Yurco An Ohio native, Yurco began making knives in 1983 under the watchful eye of pioneering custom knife maker R.W. Wilson. As his skills rapidly improved, he became actively involved in the knife-making community, exhibiting at custom knife shows all over the country and becoming a member of the Knifemaker’s Guild and the Ohio Knifemakers Association. As impressive as all that is, it’s only a small part of Yurco’s story.
"MICKEY YURCO’S TENE IS A SERIOUS WEAPON THAT TRULY REFLECTS BOTH HIS SKILLS AS A KNIFE MAKER AND HIS EXTENSIVE REAL-WORLD TACTICAL EXPERIENCE." extreme cutting power; yet, there is no danger of the blade snagging on bone, as many karambits do.
Putting it All Together To evaluate the Tene as an urban personal-defense knife, I put it through its paces, as far as carry, deployment, cutting and thrusting performance are concerned. Both Kydex sheaths worked well, but for concealed carry, I switched the G-Clip and IWB loop for my preferred fixed-blade carry method—the static cord. A simple loop of 550 cord from the tip of the sheath to the belt holds it in place in the waistband yet allows it to “flow” with your movement. It also allows
SPECS Blade Material: 440C stainless steel Blade Length: 5.75 inches Overall Length: 10 inches Blade Thickness: .169 inch Blade Finish: Acid-etched pattern Handle Material: Two-tone G-10 Weight: 6.4 ounces Sheath: Kydex or leather MSRP: $225
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In reverse grip, the Tene’s subtle curve also orients the point perfectly on centerline for “pikal jabs."
the knife to be drawn in any direction in either grip and enables you to safely sheathe it away from your body. For me, the sheathed Tene was most comfortable tucked in the front of my waistband at a very slight diagonal angle, with the handle in front of my right hip. In that position, drawing with either hand was quick and positive. Once in hand, the Tene flowed beautifully with all my preferred MBC movements. In tests on everything from free-hanging sheets of paper to my infamous “Pork Man” target, its refined design made cuts and thrusts both extremely accurate and devastatingly powerful. Although the G-10 handle was beautifully polished, its ergonomic design allowed a secure, comfortable grip that made it feel like a natural extension of my hand.
Serious Self-Defense Mickey Yurco’s Tene is a serious weapon that truly reflects both his skills as a knife maker and his extensive real-world tactical experience. If you’re looking to go armed with a blade, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one. KI
While he was doing all that, he was also a full-time deputy sheriff in Youngstown, Ohio—a city with a violent crime rate 83 percent higher than the national average. A veteran of street patrol, undercover operations and duty as a corrections officer, Yurco became intimately familiar with the gruesome realities of street violence. To ensure he had the skills to survive in that environment, Yurco trained diligently and became both an expert marksman and an accomplished martial artist. In 1995, he was tasked with creating a tactical team for his sheriff’s department and was later a member of the FBI-based multijurisdictional Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force. By the time he retired from law enforcement after 33 years of service, he had risen to the rank of sergeant, served 16 years as a SWAT team member and firearms instructor, and had earned advanced black belt ranking in three different martial arts. When you put all these qualifications together—along with a uniquely twisted sense of humor and an uncanny ability to craft just about anything with his hands—Yurco is far from the average knife maker.
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Thriving Survival THE ESEE KNIVES GIBSON CARVING AXE IS A WELL-ROUNDED TOOL FOR A ROBUST CAMP. TEXT BY REUBEN BOLIEU | PHOTOS BY REUBEN BOLIEU AND JONATHAN KILBURN
et ready for the next level of ESEE knives.
Fresh off its successful lineup of Camp-Lore designs, ESEE Knives adds another great design from outdoors professor James Gibson. After his first design with ESEE Knives, the JG3, Gibson then designed the Pinch, which is a small survival-tin-sized knife, as well as the JG5 fixed-blade knife. ESEE Knives has found great success with its Camp-Lore line—designed by a few of the designers and instructors in the company’s cadre—with the RB3, JG3, CR2.5, PR4 and JG5.
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1:1 ACTUAL SIZE
" ... THIS IS NOT A ONE-TOOL-DOES-ALL; IT’S A SPECIALTY TOOL FOR THE CRAFTS THAT KEEP A CAMP THRIVING AND COMFORTABLE." durable. It will surely excel at wood processing and other camp chores. This steel will need to be cared for to prevent corrosion, but it will re-sharpen easily in the field. Weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, with an overall length of 10.625 inches, the blade edge is 2.875 inches and 4.5 inches across from bit to poll. The handle is comfortable and
The time has come for the next evolution: the long-awaited ESEE Gibson Carving Axe, based on James Gibson’s own personal custom version.
The Gibson Carving Axe
palm-filling, with ESEE’s darkbrown Micarta scales. The sculpted divots mean there's always a spot for a finger in any grip for added security. A generous hole in the end of the handle allows for lanyard attachment for added retention or hanging up in camp. The ESEE Gibson Carving Axe ships with a brown leather sheath for carry.
Above: The ESEE Knives Gibson Carving Axe is the fourth offering Gibson has collaborated on with ESEE Knives. It features brown-textured Micarta scales on a .25-inch-thick piece of 1095 carbon steel with a black oxide finish. Its overall length is 10.625 inches.
The Gibson Carving Axe sports a similar finish style as the PR4, with its black stonewash-finished 1095 high-carbon tool steel and sculpted brown canvas Micarta handle scales, making them a great outdoor bushcraft pairing. The blade is a thick, .25-inch, 1095 high-carbon steel featuring a durable full-tang construction and a shavingsharp cutting edge. A generous cutout near the head allows for the close grip needed for fine, controlled work done when carving. The steel has a dark, tumbled black oxide finish for hiding wear and tear on the surface, while the robust construction of the axe makes it very
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Knob Creek Forge James Gibson is a journeyman knifemaker specializing in custom knives in many different styles, from traditional Bowie and Scandi-styles to bushcraft and Asian-inspired choppers. He makes axes, wood carvings, stonework—the list goes on. He has the experience and craftsmanship to easily float through different styles of knifemaking and woodcrafting, which I believe gives him the edge when it comes to designing. Born and raised in and around the Great Smoky Mountain area, Gibson had a passion and love for anything outdoors. He made his first knife when he saw the need for a good “user” back in 1980 and has continued to progress through the years.
SPECS Blade Steel: 1095 high carbon Blade Length: 2.875 inches Head Width: 4.5 inches Overall Length: 10.625 inches Blade Thickness: .25 inch Blade Finish: Stonewash Handle Material: Brown canvas Micarta Weight: 1 lb., 4 oz. MSRP: $180
A flintknapper of 24 years, he was the co-host of the Clinch River Knap-in for 10 years and still attends many flint-knapping functions. He found Larry Dean Olsen’s book, Outdoor Survival Skills, in 1976, which began a journey of a lifelong pursuit that’s still going on to this day. James attended the standard course at Tom Brown’s Survival School in 1993 and has studied primitive skills, survival skills and bushcraft for many years since with people such as Steve Watts.
The Gibson Carving Axe is shown next to a popular Swedish axe for size comparison. These are two totally different tools.
Today, Gibson teaches primitive skills/bushcraft for Randall’s Adventure & Training (which is where I first met him). I was fortunate to meet him and see his small knife that eventually became the ESEE JG3, as well as his personal carving axe that is now also part of the ESEE lineup. I look forward to seeing him again, and I will be wondering what he has to show that will eventually become the next big hit! Knob Creek Forge (865) 216-1525 firstname.lastname@example.org knobcreekforgeknives.com
Winter Camp Recently, in the Northeast, we seemed to have one of the longest, harshest winters I can remember. Directly after getting this axe from the SHOT Show, I went back to my winter camp. I needed some additions and new tools/accessories to make things a little more, well, cozy. I made spatulas, coffee mixers, a seat and some mallets for the necessary work in a winter camp. I had a fixed-blade and the almighty Swiss Army Knife with me. However, I was set on using only the Gibson carving axe for all projects during this review.
In my neck of the woods, poplar, oak, beech, witch hazel and maple dominate the forest—just the right amount of variety for firecraft, building shelters and camp crafts such as carving. I selected the timber I would need and wasted no time rough-shaping a piece of maple for a necessary camp tool: a mallet. Pounding long stakes into frozen ground is no joke and requires a large, robust mallet. Usually, a mallet is made with a saw, cutting around a piece of dry hardwood, and then an axe or fixed-blade to chip out the
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"THE BLADE IS A THICK, .25-INCH, 1095 HIGH-CARBON STEEL FEATURING A DURABLE FULL-TANG CONSTRUCTION AND A SHAVING-SHARP CUTTING EDGE. " 50 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED â€¢ MAY/JUNE 2019
The completed tools the author made overnight on his winter camp trip with the Gibson Carving Axe
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Top: The author was able to choke up high at times when he needed to do so. Meanwhile, the axe head offered many comfortable positions for all types of grips.
Middle: The handle was secure, even when the author choked back on the handle for chopping larger sections of wood out of a log. The bird’sbeak-style handle, along with the texture, helps keep the tool in the hand.
Bottom: Using the axe rather than a saw blade, the author is establishing a notch around the piece of maple for a mallet. This is precise work that requires control.
wood to form the handle. This is often done with a baton. I’ve made several over the years. However, this time, I wanted to use only the Gibson carving axe. I made a small “V” notch around the wood, slowly beaverchewing it until a defined groove was established. Then, I started chopping out the sides until I had the rough shape and thickness I wanted. From there, it was just a repetitive process until it was done and ready to use. I think I used about every bit of the handle and multiple grips to get the right amount of control for short, precise chops, as well as long, hard blows to remove large amounts of wood. Smoothing the mallet handle was done by sticking the heel (the bottom of the bit) of the axe in a stump and holding it with one hand while the other hand controlled the wood, drawing it back against the axe blade. This approach is controlled, safe and accurate. Not only did it provide a smooth finish for my handle, I was also left with shavings for kindling for the fire. I also wanted to make some very simple spatulas for cooking fish, bacon, beans and rice in camp. I made various sizes from poplar and maple. Essentially, they had the same design intent, but all had their own handle length and width, depending on the pan I was using and the food being cooked.
OVERALL LENGTH: 9
HANDLE LENGTH: 5 INCHES BLADE LENGTH: 3.5
WEIGHT: 8 OUNCES
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Left: The handle is styled after the Camp-Lore PR4, simply because James Gibson made the prototype for the PR4 knife, which led to him using the same contours on his JG5 and Carving Axe.
I used a small Swiss Army Knife saw on one spatula to get straight cuts for a different style. It started off thick, and I slowly reduced it to a more useable size. Even on small craft pieces, many grips are needed to get everything right—or at least close enough. The largest, and most timeconsuming, project was to make a seat against a tree so I could step away from the camp and sit down to enjoy the glow of the campfire (for taking a break of sorts). This was a big project for a small axe, but in a winter camp, it gets dark around 4:30 in the afternoon, and one must use the time to do something beneficial to pass the cold winter night. I first needed four greenwood stakes for my seat project. They had to be stout—about two to three fingers thick—and long enough to penetrate the fresh powdered snow, ice and frozen ground. I started off by selecting green/hardwood saplings
"THE SCULPTED DIVOTS MEAN THERE'S ALWAYS A SPOT FOR A FINGER IN ANY GRIP FOR ADDED SECURITY." Next, cordage was tied between two stakes and lashed around multiple times to create a basket area in which the wooden log/seat would rest.
that were about waist high. I used the axe to make the points that would stick into the ground. Rather than try to make a sharp point on each one, I opted to make chisel points, which would be strong and go into the ground just as well as timeconsuming sharpened points. I measured out the rough distance between the stakes and used the axe poll area to hammer them in where they looked like they should be. Remember the mallet I made with the Gibson Carving Axe? It was now being used for this task, pounding the stakes into the correct depth.
The seat was a large maple log about 2.5 feet long. I had to hew the log on two equal sides to create a flat part that would rest in the cordage. The flat top is to sit on or use as a small table. It was a long night of hewing and chipping away.
Below: A mallet and spatula in the works via the hands of the author and the Gibson Carving Axe
Contact ESEE KNIVES (256) 613-0372 www.ESEEKnives.com
Once it was done, I used the axe to pound the hewed log in between the stakes until it rested on the cordage, wedged between the stakes. From there, some fine-tuning and leveling were needed. I used the mallet in conjunction with the axe as a planer to get a flat top surface. When all was done, one very level and comfortable seat was a welcome addition to the camp.
A Thriving Camp xxx
I didn’t make a fire or chop food with the axe to show it could do all that. It can. But this is not a one-tool-does-all; it’s a specialty tool for the crafts that keep a camp thriving and comfortable. Due to the winter conditions, I wore fleece gloves under my leather work gloves and found that the handle was still very comfortable. The weight is just right for one-handed use. And Gibson definitely got the balance right. Rowen did its usual stellar heat-treat, along with its fit and finish. With the ESEE Gibson Carving Axe, ESEE Knives and James Gibson have proven that their collaboration is a good fit. When it comes to designs and training, I can’t think of a better team. KI
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THE RED HORSE KNIFE WORKS HELL RAZOR FIXED-BLADE LETS SLIP THE DOGS. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY WAYSUN JOHNNY TSAI
good knife is simple and simply does what it is meant to do.
I first met Ed Kim roughly five or six years ago as I stood outside the Holiday Club, a popular inner-city drinking hole on the north side of Chicago. He was bouncing at the time, and we were standing at the door trading bouncer stories when I learned he was friends with one of my closest cousins, Danny. I put two and two together and let him know that Danny had mentioned his knife-making buddy who was an ex-military contractor, a martial artist and a doorman. We joked about how Chicago was such a “small” big city. That's when Ed pulled out a prototype—a solid flipper that was
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kind of crude in build but a really stout and wicked design. Over the next couple of years, I would see Ed walking around gun shows at which I had my tables set up. He and a group of guys would frequent my booth. I remember that at one Kane County Sportsman’s' show, he pulled out a knife he had recently finished. It was a beautiful custom. Ed had come a long way as a knife maker from the first time I had met him outside the bar and was now a full-time knife maker. I knew at that moment that I would eventually be writing about one of his knives. With his new Hell Razor fixed-blade, based on his popular Hell Razor folders, that time is now.
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CRY HAVOC! knivesillustrated.com
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The Hell Razor Drawing from Ed’s experience as a military contractor in West Africa, the original Hell Razor was released as a custom folder from Red Horse Knife Works. 2019 introduces the company’s soon-to-be-released fixed-blade version that is designed with the military operator and LEO professional in mind. Ed Calls it a “neck knife,” but the sample provided to me had the optional belt clip added. I am not sure if the standard version will also include the belt clip, but I do know that it will be an option once this knife is released. The new Hell Razor fixed-blade can be
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Top: The Hell Razor excelled at slicing a mountain bike inner tube to ribbons.
“THE 4-INCH-LONG, FULL-FLAT-GROUND BLADE IS .157 INCH THICK AND IS HEAT-TREATED IN HOUSE TO 60 ROCKWELL HARDNESS.” ordered as customized as the customer would like. But its standard offering starts out with a CPM-3V steel blade. The 4-inch-long, full-flat-ground blade is .157 inch thick and is heat-treated in house to 60 Rockwell hardness. The main cutting portion has a prominent belly for added cutting power, while the tip of the blade is suited for more-nimble cutting.
Bottom: Thrusting the Hell Razor into stacked cardboard boxes met with no resistance.
The sample provided for this article is a base model, which is skeletonized and
without any type of handle material or scales. Ed has advised that available upgrades include a paracord-wrapped handle or custom scales. Let’s put it through its paces.
Slicing and Dicing To test the slicing capabilities of the Hell Razor, I bought a bicycle inner tube and folded it into multiple layers (roughly 2.5 inches thick) and sliced through it. I
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finished off the tube by cutting it up into several ranger bands. It cut the tubing as if it were thin ribbon. I also bought a thick leather belt. The Hell Razor made quick work of the belt, slicing through it like butter. I then looked around my house and found that I had a leather divider that came with my Saddleback Leather backpack. It is basically a sheet of plastic that is sandwiched and sewn between two layers of boot-grade leather. The Hell Razor cut through it with ease. I then grabbed a Maxpedition Versipack shoulder pack, cut up all the webbing and then shredded the bag as if it were
Cutting leather was a very simple task for the Hell Razor.
nothing. It took roughly 60 seconds to destroy the pack.
Stabbing Power With a name such as Hell Razor, you know this knife was made for the war fighter. In combat, a knife has to be able to penetrate its target. So, I decided to test the stabbing capability of the knife's scary-sharp, 3.5-inch blade.
Knife Maker Ed Kim
First, I wanted to test it against a stack of compressed cardboard and was able to thrust the blade about 1.5 inches into the stacked boxes.
Ed Kim is a native of Chicago and has spent much of his adult life working at inner-city clubs as a doorman, MMA fighter and, most recently, as an overseas security contractor. Ed’s knife designs were initially offered only to military and law enforcement, but he opened Red Horse Knife Works to the public after receiving a lot of great feedback from uniformed professionals.
For a more robust test, I found an abandoned trailer and plunged the
Red Horse Knife Works’ knives are made for those who are not afraid to use their knives.
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Hell Razor into the tires’ sidewalls and treads. The knife sank in as a satisfying hiss of air escaped through the 1.25-inch stab holes left in the tires. I then decided to test the tip by driving it into an ammo can a couple of dozen times. The knife opened the sides of the ammo can fairly easily. I saw zero damage to the tip or edge of the CPM-3V steel blade, which held up extremely well.
The Hell Razor fits perfectly into any EDC.
The Hell Razor, with its versatile Kydex sheath
A Solid EDC Knife
“FOR 10 INCHES TOTAL LENGTH IN THE SHEATH, THE KNIFE IS QUITE COMFORTABLE FOR EDC. IT FEELS GOOD ON MY BELT AND NOT AT ALL UNCOMFORTABLE WHILE I AM DRIVING.”
I received this knife very late into my assignment and only had a week before deadline to carry, test the blade, shoot pictures and write this article. So, upon receiving it, I immediately threw the knife on my belt, scout style, and behind my back for a left-handed draw. For 10 inches total length in the sheath, the knife is quite comfortable for EDC. It feels good on my belt and not at all uncomfortable while I am driving. The Hell Razor is very lightweight and nimble. Forward and reverse
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Contact RED HORSE KNIFE WORKS (847) 621-2419 RedHorseKnifeworks.com
3/4/19 11:54 PM
Know Your Local Laws Knife laws in Chicago can be confusing. Some will give a knife a four-finger or palm-width test to see if it is legal. Neither of these methods is accurate. Chicago has a concealed-carry knife law that allows roughly 2.5 to 3 inches in length. While the Hell Razor would not be a legal carry in the city, itself, it would be a legal carry almost anywhere else in the state. Anytime you purchase a knife of this size and type, make sure to research your state and local laws and ordinances to ensure you are within your legal rights to carry it.
grips are very comfortable, with no noticeable hot spots. I was expecting to wear the Hell Razor as a neck knife, but because of its size, I was a bit relieved to see that Ed had installed the belt clip. In my opinion, unless you are a larger person, the Hell Razor rig is a bit large for a necker. Overall, I prefer the scout carry position for the Hell Razor. This position is easy for a fast draw with my support hand. I did try to wear it on the left side of my belt for a cross-body draw, but, again, I prefer the scout-style carry for this rig.
Built Tank-Tough I really like the original Hell Razorâ€™s design; it is built tank-tough and is
a really solid knife ... but that comes with a heavier price tag. The Hell Razor fixed-blade is designed to give fans of the original folding knife design an affordable option. At an MSRP of only $175, Its mid-tech design and high-end materials offer a lot of value to the buyer.
The Hell Razor destroys a steel ammo can.
I would highly recommend the Red Horse Knife Works Hell Razor fixed-blade to anyone looking for a daily user to use and abuse. It won't let you down. KI
Another thing I like about Red Horse Knife Works is that if the standard Hell Razor seems a little plain for your personal tastes, Red Horse will pimp-out and customize your knife as wild or as fancy as you would like it to be.
I appreciate the standard version, because it is a total workhorse blade that begs to be used. The materials
1:1 ACTUAL SIZE
are solid, and the edge retention is outstanding. Whatever I threw at the knife, it seemed to ask for more. Even without scales, the grip proved to be slip proof. From slicing to cutting to stabbing, it excelled, stayed in my hand and stayed sharp.
Blade Material: CPM-3V blade Blade Length: 4-inch blade edge Overall Length: 8.5 overall length, tip to tip Blade Thickness: .157 inch Blade Finish: Stonewashed finish Handle Material: None; skeletonized handle Weight: 7.5 ounces Sheath: Kydex sheath MSRP: $175
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THE DRESS FOLDER DRESSING FOR A NIGHT OUT DOES NOT HAVE TO EXCLUDE YOUR KNIFE. BY KNIVES ILLUSTRATED STAFF PHOTOS BY SHARPBYCOOP
nice knife can be just as much an accent to your wardrobe as high-quality cuff links.
We often dress for an elegant evening out with our significant other or don a suit and tie for the office or a business meeting. Unfortunately, our typical daily-carry knife just does not fit easily into this world. However, when you select a stylish and classy custom knife—such as the five knives presented here—your knife can help add the finishing touches to even the nicest suit. KI
+ SPECS BRUCE BINGENHEIMER Model: Fixed BingaLor Blade Material: Mosaic Damascus Blade Length: 3.25 inches Overall Length: 7.5 inches Bolster Material: Color case-hardened steel Handle Material: Stag Instagram: @BingsKnives
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+ SPECS STEVE HOEL
Model: Dress Slipjoint Folder Blade Material: Stainless steel Blade Length: 2.5 inches Overall Length: 6 inches Bolster Material: Stainless steel Handle Material: Fine gold lip pearl, 24kt gold, 2.1mm vs. diamond inset Frame Material: Stainless steel Knife Notes: Engraving by Gil Rudolph Website: None
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+ SPECS JOHN DOYLE
Model: Dress Tactical Folder Blade Material: 1084 and 15n20 twist Damascus Blade Length: 3.25 inches Overall Length: 7.125 inches Bolster Material: Black G-10 Handle Material: Two-tone carbon fiber Instagram: @JDoyleKnives
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+ SPECS DARRIEL K. CASTON
Model: Dress Locking Folder Blade Material: CTS-XHP Blade Length: 2 inches Overall Length: 5.25 inches Handle Material: Titanium/carbon fiber Frame Material: Titanium Website: DRocketDesign.com
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+ SPECS RICK DUNKERLEY
Model: Dress Locking Folder Blade Material: Composite bar mosaic Damascus Blade Length: 3.375 inches Overall Length: 7.375 inches Handle Material: Mild steel with bright-cut engraving and a window with antique shell insets Website: DunkerleyHandmadeKnives.com
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Chris Reeve Knives
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THE LAGOM BUSH KNIFE COMBINES THE BRAIN POWER OF THREE DYNAMOS INTO ONE OUTSTANDING BLADE. TEXT BY TIM STETZER | PHOTOS BY EMILY STETZER AND JOSHUA SWANAGON
t’s hard to talk about bushcraft without talking about Mors Kochanski.
he had certain thoughts on what made the best bushcraft knife.
He was the one who popularized the term, “bushcraft,” and he coined the saying, "The more you know, the less you carry.” This basically means that if you learn the skills to survive and thrive in the outdoors, you won’t need to bring as many things with you.
Ben Piersma of Ben’s Bushcraft and Jason Gustafson of Lester River Bushcraft were both students of Mors, so when they sat down to design a knife for outdoors use, they were directly influenced by their work with Mors, along with the knife he described in his seminal outdoor text, Bushcraft.
Nevertheless, one thing that even Mors agreed you should carry is a good knife ... and
When the pair teamed up with L.T. Wright Knives
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" ... BEN AND JASON DID A GREAT JOB OF TURNING MORS’ VISION OF A BUSHCRAFT KNIFE INTO A SOLID AND PRACTICAL TOOL THAT WOULD BE A GREAT ADDITION TO ANY OUTDOORSMAN’S BELT OR PACK." to bring their vision to fruition, it was a match made in bushcraft heaven—as witnessed by the outstanding performance of their new Lagom Bush Knife.
The Lagom Ben and Jason designed three knives so far in their bushcraft series: the Kamrat, Lagom and Leuku. The Lagom is the midsized blade of the three and a knife that closely follows Mors Kochanski’s recommendations for a bushcraft knife. Lagom is a Swedish term meaning
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A good bushcraft knife should be able to chip, carve and slice wood. The Lagom does all of these with ease.
"just the right amount"; that seems fitting for a knife that is designed to do everything you need of it without being too much to carry. The Lagom uses a 3.5-inch blade that’s 1 inch wide, .125 inch thick and ground from O-1 high-carbon tool steel. It has a Scandi zero-grind edge, as well as a flowing, continuous curve from tip to base that's well-suited for carving and peeling. The Lagom is a full-tang design and is fitted with scales of either G-10 or
Micarta. My test sample has orange G-10 scales, but various Micarta options are also available. The handle shape is a flattened oval with enough “meat” to it for a hand-filling grip. It’s similar in profile to tools such as a hammer or hatchet. The shape allows you to naturally index the knife and know where the edge is by feel. It’s also a handle style that’s been used for generations and has proven itself to be comfortable and usable for long periods of time without undue
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A Bushcraft Background Ben Piersma is the owner of Ben’s Backwoods, an outdoor shop specializing in outdoor gear and with a focus on bushcraft tools and supplies. And Ben isn’t just a shop proprietor; he lives the lifestyle and spends his fair share of time in the woods. He also instructs wilderness skills classes, which can be found on the “Training and Skills” section of his website. If you check out those training classes, you’ll see that one of Ben’s co-instructors is Jason Gustafson of Lester River Bushcraft (this company, located in Duluth, Minnesota, makes some top-notch wool outer garments.) Like Ben, Jason also trained with Mors Kochanski, as well as other well-known outdoors instructors such as Madison Parker, Terry Barney and Mark Laine.
The Lagom, itself, is hand-built to Ben and Jason’s specs by L.T. Wright Knives of Wintersville, Ohio. The sheaths are made by JRE Industries in Schaumburg, Illinois. So, it is an entirely madein-the-U.S.A. product. Prices run between $172.98 and $182.98, depending on handle material.
fatigue or strain on the hands. The handle is noticeably wider than the blade, which helps with leverage when carving, peeling or notching. The handle scales are secured with epoxy and a pair of Corby bolts, which make them extremely secure and should keep moisture from getting under the scales and creating corrosion. A brass-lined lanyard hole is fitted near the pommel of the knife; it is sized to easily take commonly found paracord. The Lagom comes with an extremely
well-made leather pouch sheath that is equipped with a removable dangler. The sheath covers about two-thirds of the knife’s handle, ensuring it sits deeply and securely in place. The sheath has a fire steel loop on the welt side that is sized for a large Swedish Army fire steel. The overall length of the Lagom is around 8.125 inches, and my test knife weighed in at 6.6 ounces on my postal scale. It was 9.9 ounces in its sheath and 11.3 ounces in the sheath when equipped with the Swedish Army fire steel.
Top: The Lagom uses a 3.5-inch blade of O-1 high-carbon tool steel, which complies nicely with Kochanski’s ideal blade materials.
Bottom left: The Lagom’s handle is oval in shape and is hand filling. It’s based on hammer and axe handles, which are proven to be comfortable during long, hard use.
Bottom right: The Lagom uses a .125-inchthick, full-tang blade for strength and is fitted with durable, weather-resistant G-10 scales.
Fieldcraft I recently took advantage of some unseasonably warm days to get out with the Lagom and see what it could do. I carried it with me on a day hike and found that the dangler sheath worked quite well keeping the knife handily placed below my jacket hem and pack straps. I’ve long been a fan of the dangler style, because it lets the knife move with your body as you sit, stand or climb and doesn’t dig into your side. The nice thing about the JRE sheath that is provided with the Lagom is that if you’re not a dangler fan like me, you can
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Mors Kochanski’s Knife Requirements Mors Kochanski laid out very specific criteria for a bushcraft knife in his book, Bushcraft. He suggested a 2- to 3mm-thick blade that is as long as the width of your palm (around 2 to 2.5 centimeters wide) with a tip close to the centerline of the handle and a point sharp enough to penetrate deeply into wood. He wanted the curve of the cutting edge to extend the full length of the blade. He also wanted a full-thickness spine with no taper or sharpened back edge in order to better accept a baton for splitting wood without tearing it up. Mors preferred high-carbon steel that was soft enough to sharpen and maintain using common stones and tools. He also liked carbon steel for use with flint as a fire-starting method. Mors specified a full-tang design for strength and a durable, waterresistant handle that was as long as the width of your palm and with an oval cross. He did not want a guard, because he felt that it interferes with being able to deeply seat the knife in its sheath for security and retention. He also felt that it detracts from use. It should be able to be driven 4 centimeters into a standing tree at a right angle and bear your weight as you stand on it.
easily remove it and use the standard belt loop to carry the knife high on your belt and tight to your body. A good bushcraft knife is a woodworking tool, so I did a fair bit of
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Top: The Lagom’s Scandi grind makes it a formidable wood-carver.
Bottom: Mors Kochanski specified that a bushcraft knife should be able to baton. The Lagom did so without any issues in regard to strength, edge retention or deformation.
"THE LAGOM USES A 3.5-INCH BLADE THAT’S 1 INCH WIDE, .125 INCH THICK AND GROUND FROM O-1 HIGH-CARBON TOOL STEEL." carving, wood-splitting and notching with the Lagom. I found the big, ovalshaped handle comfortable to use without raising any hot spots—even during long periods of use or when bearing down heavily for deep cuts. I mainly worked with older dried wood and found that the O-1 Scandi edge bit
deeply into that material—and did so without any sort of edge deformation. Notches for tent stakes and trap components were easy to make; and, depending on the pressure I used on the cut, I could either make fine curls or hog off big sections of wood. The handle style and size worked well for adjusting hand position and pressure
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as needed, depending on the type of cut I was trying to make. Western Pennsylvania isn’t really an area suited to using a fireboard, due to the area’s seemingly constant rainfall and damp forests. Even so, I did make some practice boards just to test the knife. I was easily able to split some appropriately sized logs for the boards and then ream out starter holes for the drill with the Lagom’s centerline point. Batoning knives is sometimes a controversial subject, but it’s a technique I’ve used successfully for years, and it is one that Mors advocated. So, I tested the Lagom’s ability at this chore as well: The Scandi edge bit deeply into the small logs I was using when struck with a baton and powered their way through pieces of wood around 12 inches long. I even ran the Lagom through a couple of hard knots without issue or damage to the blade.
SPECS 1:1 ACTUAL SIZE
Blade Material: O-1 high-carbon tool steel Blade Length: 3.5 inches Overall Length: 8.125 inches Blade Thickness: .125 inch Edge Style: Scandi Handle Material: G-10 or Micarta Weight: 6.6 ounces MSRP: $182.98, as tested
Above: The author took advantage of some unseasonably warm weather to get in some woods and trail time with the Lagom.
I’ve generally found that as long as you don’t get crazy with the size of wood you’re trying to split and you watch your technique with the baton, you won’t have any problems safely and quickly prepping tinder and kindling for your fire. Because I was working on fire prep anyway, and the Lagom’s sheath has a fire steel loop, I decided to see how well the knife worked with a fire steel. The square-edged spine ended up making an excellent striker for the Swedish Army steel, and I was able to get large showers of sparks that would be quite suitable for firestarting with proper tinder.
Left: The overall length of the Lagom is "just the right amount" for a good bushcraft blade.
Contact BEN’S BACKWOODS (231) 388-4181 www.BensBackwoods.com LESTER RIVER BUSHCRAFT (218) 428-4766 www.LRBushcraft.com L.T. WRIGHT KNIVES (740) 317-1404 www.LTWrightKnives.com
Just the Right Amount After working with the Lagom, I think it’s safe to say that Ben and Jason did a great job of turning Mors’ vision of a bushcraft knife into a solid and practical tool that would be a great addition to any outdoorsman’s belt or pack. It’s a simple, well-designed tool that’s solidly built of good-quality materials. The Lagom lives up to its name of being “just the right amount” of knife, and I think Mors would definitely approve. If you want a Lagom of your own, you can pick one up in a variety of handle colors and materials from Ben’s Backwoods or Lester River Bushcraft. KI
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HEART SOMETIMES, LOOKING BACK HELPS US MOVE FORWARD. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY DANA BENNER
ithout a doubt, there are some really great blades being made today.
Shows such as Forged in Fire and Knife or Death are two prime examples of the increased interest in knives and knife-making. It is this increased interest that pushes knife smiths to up their game.
Many of the articles being written today focus on the new blades that are coming out—and rightfully so—but there are some blades that will forever hold a special place in our hearts. These are knives that might (or might not) have a dollar value attached to them. Some are knives whose entire value is only known to the owner ... that sentimental value.
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"THESE ARE KNIVES THAT MIGHT (OR MIGHT NOT) HAVE A DOLLAR VALUE ATTACHED TO THEM. SOME ARE KNIVES WHOSE ENTIRE VALUE IS ONLY KNOWN TO THE OWNER ... THAT SENTIMENTAL VALUE. " 01 The First We all remember our first knife. It is like your first girlfriend (or boyfriend). In my case, it was a cheap pocketknife given to me by my father. That was more than 50 years ago, back in a time when no selfrespecting boy would ever be caught dead without a pocketknife.
KA-BAR Little Finn. This is the knife given to me by my Great-uncle Dana when I was about 8 years old. It was my first “real” knife.
I am named after. Uncle Dana was my father’s uncle and was old when I first met him. He didn’t have any sons but was an avid outdoorsman with a love for hunting and fishing— something his daughter had no interest in. Uncle Dana took me under his wing and began teaching me skills I still draw upon today.
My father taught me how to safely use the knife ... and emphasized what would happen to me if I ever pulled it on anyone. That lesson was driven home one day by the loss of the knife and a cuff upside the head. That knife is long gone, but the memories are still with me.
One day, as we went through our lessons, he reached into his gear and pulled out a knife. It was an old KA-BAR Little Finn. He handed me the knife and said, “You are ready to have this.” It had no sheath and had seen its fair share of use, but it was as sharp as a razor.
My first “real” knife was given to me by my Great-uncle Dana, the man
I was about 8 years old at the time. That knife became one of my most
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KA-BAR Little Finn My Little Finn is an old knife; as such, there isn’t a great deal of information available. KA-BAR now makes the Little Finn in Taiwan, so it isn’t fair to compare the two. While the specifications are the same, they are not the same knives. KA-BAR was able to give me some information, but it could not give me everything I would have liked to know. This knife is what it is—a piece of American history. In turn, it is part of mine.
cherished possessions. For many years, I carried that knife on many a hunting and fishing trip. Sadly, Uncle Dana passed away while I was in the Army, but that knife is still with me, as are the memories and stories.
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"WE ALL REMEMBER OUR FIRST KNIFE. IT IS LIKE YOUR FIRST GIRLFRIEND (OR BOYFRIEND). IN MY CASE, IT WAS A CHEAP POCKETKNIFE GIVEN TO ME BY MY FATHER."
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02 Ralph I enlisted in the U.S. Army when I turned 17. The Army wanted me to get into some sort of tech job (due to my high test scores), but I opted for combat arms. When I got my orders for the 25th ID, my mom wanted me to be safe and apparently have the ability to tell time—she bought me a really nice watch (which I lost during an airmobile mission) and a knife. It was an OKC 499 Survival knife. Like any wild-eyed kid, I had to name the knife; I named it “Ralph.”
knivesillustrated.com HALF FACE BLADES_1_2h 1
Opposite page: The author's four knives (left to right): OKC 499, KA-BAR Little Finn, Remington pocket knife, Russell Barlow
Below: OKC 499. This knife served the author well during 10 years of military service. The stories it could tell (the author is glad it can’t talk!).
Ralph stayed strapped to my web gear. If I had down time, I spent it cleaning and sharpening Ralph. That knife was always ready in case I ever needed it. I became known among some of the other men by my knife; and nobody asked to borrow it. Ralph has a carbon-steel blade that really holds an edge. That knife was always with me during the 10-plus years I spent in the military. After that, it served as my hunting/bush knife. I have since retired Ralph. It served me well, and I still clean and sharpen it on a regular basis.
OKC 499 Ontario Knife Company (OKC) has been making the 499 for decades, and it has been carried by U.S. military personal the entire time. The Blade is 50-55 HRC that keeps an extremely sharp edge. The knife has an overall length of 9.5 inches, and the blade has a flat grind on the primary bevel and a swedge at the tip. The knife comes with a heavy leather sheath complete with a small sharpening stone.
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03 Russell Barlow As a kid, my favorite uncle was my Uncle Bob. I would often spend the summers with him and my Aunt Connie. Uncle Bob knew everything (to my mind, anyway) and showed me all sorts of cool things. He would take me places and teach me valuable lessons (although I didn’t know it at the time). Above all, Uncle Bob carried a large folding knife in his pocket wherever we went. He always said, “You just never know when you will need a knife.” I was grown and had a family of my own when my Uncle Bob died. My Aunt Connie asked me to come up to the house in Maine and help clean out some of his things. He was a survivalist at heart (or perhaps just a pack rat) and never threw anything out ... “just in case.”
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Russell Barlow folding knife. This is the knife carried by my Uncle Bob. It was given to me when he passed away.
Notice the “R” with the arrow. The handle is bone, although it has darkened with age and use.
When I arrived, my aunt pulled me aside, handed me something and said, “Your Uncle Bob wanted you to have this.” In a box was an old Russell Barlow Straight Line bone-handled folding knife. This was the very same knife he always carried. While the bone handle had darkened with age and use, the single blade still came out the same as on the day it was made, and it keeps an edge like no other knife I own. There was one stipulation that came with the knife: “Your Uncle Bob wanted you to use the knife, not just put it on a shelf,” my aunt told me. In honor of his request, I do occasionally take the knife out with me, and it has been used to clean a trout or two. Every time I use it, my Uncle Bob is
there with me, giving me instructions, as he always did.
Russell Barlow My Russell Barlow knife was made by the Russell Harrington Cutlery Company (Massachusetts) sometime in the late 1800s. These knives were designed to be both tough and affordable. They came as both singleand double-blade models. Mine has a single blade. The blades were made from highcarbon steel and the handles of unpolished bone. Folded, the knife measures 5 inches, with an overall length of 9 inches. The handle is teardrop shaped and has a large, thick bolster. The maker’s mark is an uppercase “R” with an arrow through it.
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04 Son to Father, Father to Son The last knife is one that has never been used—and it never will be. It is still in the original box. This knife was one that I gave to my father, and upon his death, I took back. He loved this knife, and that is why it was never used. It spent its days in a drawer with all those other things I had given him over the past 56 years. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, my father used to race cars, and even when his racing days were over, he remained a big NASCAR (later to become the Winston Cup) fan. Although we have a track right here in New Hampshire, he had never been to a professional NASCAR race. Having had contacts at Remington, which sponsored a car, I reached out and managed to secure two tickets to the race—complete with meet-and-greet passes. I’ve never seen my dad so happy. However, little did he know I had another gift for him. Remember when I started this article by saying that my father gave me my first knife? Well, it was time to return the favor. I was able to get my hands on one of the Remington Racing knives. This pocketknife has two blades, with the main blade having the Remington Racing Team insignia on it. On the wood handle is the image of the #75 Remington Ford. My father was really tough on knives,
so it made me both happy and sad to see that this knife had never been used. He thought enough of this knife to keep it in a special place. He never expressed his feelings, but this made up for all those times I thought he was hard on me and didn’t care. To this day, when I pick up this knife, I remember spending the day with my father at the races. After all he had done for me, it was great to put a smile on his face.
Priceless Treasures For me, knives have always been tools. I don’t collect knives. As with hammers and screwdrivers, there is
Remington Folding Knife I reached out to Remington to see what I could find out about this knife, but I didn’t find out much. This knife, in this configuration, was produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Remington sponsored the #75 Ford Thunderbird driven by Rick Mast. It is a two-bladed folder with a closed length of 4 inches and an overall length of 7.5 inches. The handle is wood. I know Remington did not make its own knives, but there are no maker marks other than the Remington name on the knife.
Above: Remington pocket knife. This is the knife the author gave to his father when he took him to the races.
"IN A BOX WAS AN OLD RUSSELL BARLOW STRAIGHT LINE BONEHANDLED FOLDING KNIFE ... WHILE THE BONE HANDLE HAD DARKENED WITH AGE AND USE, THE SINGLE BLADE STILL CAME OUT THE SAME AS ON THE DAY IT WAS MADE, AND IT KEEPS AN EDGE LIKE NO OTHER KNIFE I OWN." a right knife for the job. My father always told me to buy the best tools you can afford. They might cost more up front, but you will only need to buy them once. Some tools, such as these knives, have lasted many lifetimes. They all have stories to tell; and a few of them (such as my OKC) have stories some people would not like to hear. All have a sentimental value that far exceeds any dollar figure you could put on them. These knives represent parts of my life; they are part of me. For that reason, they will always have a special place in my heart. KI
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EDGE OF SURVIVAL
THE WILL TO SURVIVE SERIOUS SURVIVAL SITUATIONS OFTEN TAKE MORE THAN JUST SKILL. TEXT BY EJ SNYDER
knife is always a great tool to have in any survival situation, but it is only as good as the capable hands it finds itself in. The other aspect of survival that needs to be as sharp as your knife’s edge is your will to survive.
capacity doesn’t come into play in a survival situation, because fitness level, physiological makeup and overall health do play an important role. I am saying that mental toughness will play a huge part in whether an individual will make it out of their survival situation or not ... especially without a knife.
What Is Survival? When you think of a survival situation, I bet the first thought that crosses your mind (and most of the world’s for that matter) is that survival is mostly a physical endurance event. In my opinion, it is quite the opposite: Survival is actually more 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I’m not saying that one’s physical 80 KNIVES ILLUSTRATED • MAY/JUNE 2019
The human spirit is an amazing thing, but even more dynamic in a survival situation is the will to survive.
Check out the author’s official site at EJSnyder.com
I believe that one’s will can be the only survival skill needed in certain survival situations. Does that mean I am saying that survival skills aren’t important? No. Survival skills play an important role in the overall outcome and general comfort in a survival situation. Nevertheless,
if you do not have the resolve to endure, continue on and live, chances are that you might not make it.
Determination I believe that one’s survival success really hinges on their attitude. One who possesses an iron will is surely full of grit, determination, drive and rarely takes “no” for an answer. To me, that’s a winning formula. One who stays optimistic about their chances and keeps a positive attitude toward their situation —even under extreme adversity—will go a long way. When a sizeable earthquake struck a community in India, buildings were leveled to the ground. Rescuers searched through many piles of debris looking
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When your shelter fails, it takes sheer resolve to choose to find a way to improve it instead of succumbing to it. It is raw determination that keeps you going when the going gets tough. It is the will that will get you through the dark days of isolation, failures, bad weather and illness. The will to survive is something I have relied on all my life, and it plays a major role in everything I do. When I apply it to survival situations I find myself in, I never fret. I know I will always be OK. Will gives me the feeling of being a “gladiator” in survival. Will gives me the confidence that no matter what is thrown at me— by God, Mother Nature, or man—I will endure it.
“ONE WHO POSSESSES AN IRON WILL IS SURELY FULL OF GRIT, DETERMINATION, DRIVE AND RARELY TAKES ‘NO’ FOR AN ANSWER.” for survivors, occasionally pulling victims free from the darkness of the rubble. Days and even weeks went by, to the point that it seemed hopeless anyone would still be alive. Yet, even after several weeks, a faint cry was heard, and rescuers were able to pull a small, 2-year-old child from the grips of death.
Sheer Resolve Yes, physical attributes are an important part of making it out of a survival situation, but what good is it if you do not have the resolution behind it to keep pushing you? It is attitude that keeps you moving forward to find water or other resources.
Will is what makes me tick. I am very proud of my iron will, because it has saved my keister more than once in my life. Thus, my survival motto is, Tua Sponte Superstes! When translated from Latin, this simply means, “Survive by your own will.” So, whenever you are on the edge of survival, just look to your will to help get you through. KI
Miracle? Maybe. I use this as is a prime example of the power of resolve and a testimony to the human spirit. The child had no survival skills, but deep down inside, the child had the instinct to endure and live. That is called “will.” When you hear on the news of a mother who springs into action when she sees a very heavy object fall on top of her child, it is clear she found something deep within to save her offspring from being crushed to death. Where this comes from, we are not entirely sure. But what we do know is that there are documented cases of this exact thing happening— where raw will power has helped people muster incredible feats of strength to save a loved one.
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UNEXPECTED DIREC TIONS KIERAN KLEIN OF HAMMER DOWN FORGE TURNED AN INTEREST IN BLACKSMITHING INTO A CAREER IN KNIFE-MAKING. TEXT BY JOSHUA SWANAGON | PHOTOS BY KIERAN KLEIN
here’s just something alluring about clean, sweeping lines and exquisite materials.
When I stumbled onto Hammer Down Forge, I found myself asking how I had missed this company for so long! It was immediately evident to me that the knives being produced by Kieran Klein were right up my alley. With aesthetics paralleled only by stunning profiles, finishes and materials, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to delve a little deeper into Hammer Down Forge.
A LITTLE DEEPER Hammer Down Forge Instagram: @HammerDownForge Website: HammerDownForge.com
Kieran finds that his greatest challenge lies in making a knife that is unique
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Kieran doesn’t have a specific design process when he comes up with the different models he makes. Instead, he finds a need and then focuses on the key qualities and features that make that design work the best it can. His favorite styles to create generally involve anything with a recurve, whether it is an EDC, chopper or fighter.
Preferring 80CRV2 carbon steel for both his small and large blades (due to its toughness and edge holding ability), Kieran also likes to work with CPM-20CV stainless for his EDC knives because of
01 A Simple Start
02 The Challenges
03 The Process
04 It’s in the Materials
So, it just seemed like the right thing to do to introduce you to Kieran and his craft.
Having an interest in blacksmithing, Kieran was presented with the opportunity to purchase a home with a shop large enough to house his interests. While he was learning blacksmithing, a friend of his had shown him some simple railroad spike knives. After doing a little more research on these knives and learning of the possibilities, Kieran’s career took a turn toward knife-making.
enough to stand out in the crowd— without looking like a clone—but is still 100 percent useable. He places great importance on the fit and finish of his knives to help achieve that goal.
its edge retention and rust-free qualities. For his handle scales, he likes to work with Micarta when a synthetic handle is what’s called for and burled ironwood when he wants to use wood for its looks without compromising strength.
05 The Process Kieran started off forging, but he has moved to stock removal. However, he does plan to return to forging in the near future.
06 Ordering If you are interested in obtaining a knife from Kieran and Hammer Down Forge, contact him directly at his website or his Instagram page. Although he does take customer requests, he also likes to put his own spin on them to ensure both he and the customer have some input on the design. Depending on the design, the wait for a Hammer Down Forge knife will take six months to a year—right on point for solid craftsmanship! KI
GETTING PERSONAL City: Check, Virginia Educational Background: High school Years Making Knives: 7
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BOLD, NOT BIG
Yes. This is the smallest ZT we’ve ever made. And yes, it’s an impressive piece of engineering. Built with the same premium materials and precision manufacturing as every ZT, the 0022 is compact, made to practically disappear in your pocket—until you need it.
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Knives Illustrated May/Jun 2019, The Zieba Knives, BushCraft Vision : The Lagom Collaboration, A Touch of Style : 5 Custom Gentleman's Folde...
Published on Apr 2, 2019
Knives Illustrated May/Jun 2019, The Zieba Knives, BushCraft Vision : The Lagom Collaboration, A Touch of Style : 5 Custom Gentleman's Folde...