In addition to some truly stupendous airline horror stories, 2016 SHOT produced the finest bunch of knives I’ve seen at one show.
White River Knife and Tool
The Sendero Classic is designed by Jerry Fisk, a longtime custom smith whose creations often sell for more than a good rifle. It’s a hunting knife with a slender, pointy, thin, 4.4-inch blade of CPM S30V and will slice and slash better than anything you own. The handle is canvas micarta, and White River ships the Sendero Classic with a very nice leather sheath. They also strop the edge on leather, which produces a razor edge, as I found out to my sorrow at SHOT last year. $250. Whiteriverknives.com
Silver Stag Knives
Silver Stag makes a wide range of traditional looking knives that are produced on the highest of high tech machinery. The LG Notch Folder (FLN4.0) is a slip joint with a 4-inch blade of D2 steel that’s ideal for everyday use and is a handsome, graceful piece of cutlery in the bargain. You can choose between antler or wood handle scales, and while you’re at it get the belt sheath, which is a good one. $135. By the way, if you’re into stabbing swine, Silver Stag makes a hunting sword called the Wild Boar Hunter. Hunting swords date back to medieval Europe, and I thought that no one forged them any more. The Wild Boar Hunter looks like it would puncture a porker to perfection. Silverstag.com.
Scandinavians have been making knives ever since the Vikings discovered the joys of dismembering, and the Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns all have their own distinctive cutlery designs. One of the foremost makers is the Swedish firm of Morakniv, which has been around since 1891 and is practically a national institution. The classic Mora is a small, light, inexpensive sheath knife with a wood handle and either a laminated or a homogeneous-steel blade. So popular are these knives that the art of bushcrafting has evolved around them.
It was the bushcrafters who goaded Mora into designing the Garberg (Garberg is a town near Mora), which is their heaviest and most expensive design to date. It’s also their first full-tang knife whose tang protrudes from the back of the handle, and is specifically designed to withstand batoning. Morakniv’s designers went to Sandvik steel, and specified their top-grade alloy, which is a stainless called 14C28N. It’s tempered to Rc 58, plus or minus half a point. The edges of the spine are ground sharp so you can strike them with a fire-starter and get a veritable torrent of sparks.
The blade is 4 ¼ inches long, has a clip point and is ground in the Scandinavian style. This is a wide, flat bevel that serves as a guide when sharpening, and allows for a truly scary edge. It sharpens very easily on a Crock Stick. I swiped it on one for a couple of minutes and found myself muttering the ancient Irish prayer, “Good Lord, from the wrath of the Northmen, deliver us.” It can peel hair or perform corneal surgery.
For the handle, Morakniv went to a super-strong polyamide that is a couple of grades above what is usually employed for knife grips. This handle, which is nicely textured, can be held in just about any position, and works well in cold weather. It has a thong hole in the butt, which is a good idea for any survival knife.
There are two sheaths available. One is black leather, with a safety flap over the top. The other is a modular synthetic sheath that can be worn on the belt, strapped to your leg, or even screwed to something like a boat’s bulkhead.
I mentioned weight. “Heavy” is a relative term. The Garberg weighs 9.6 ounces. I also used the word “expensive.” That, too, can mean different things. The Garberg is $99 with the multi-sheath and $109 with the leather sheath. It will be available this spring. One other thing: Moravkniv has a booklet singing the Garberg’s praises that is written in someone’s idea of English. I find it absolutely charming. Get it. And get the Garberg. It’s extraordinary. industrialrev.com/morakniv.
You may not have heard of Firstedge, but you will, you will. They’re here because the guys who run it were contacted by Special Forces troopers who were stationed in Alaska, and whose Kydex knife sheaths were cracking in the bitter cold. Could something be done about this, asked the Fighting Soldiers from the Sky?
Affirmative was the answer, and Firstedge developed a new sheath that was Kydex, but which employed stainless-steel reinforcing liners. They replaced the rivets that held everything together with stainless steel hex fasteners so you could take the sheath apart, replaced the nylon webbing with much heavier nylon webbing, and got rid of the Velcro, which annoyed everyone.
Anything else we can do for you?, asked Firstedge.
How about a knife that doesn’t break, said the SF troopers.
Wait one, said Firstedge.
What they came up with is called the 5050 Fixed Blade Survival Knife. It’s a big, heavy, drop point with a 5.125-inch blade, a G-10 handle that’s just shy of 6 inches long (and is the only handle I know of that you can grip while wearing a heavy glove and use with dexterity), and a weight of 17.5 ounces for the knife alone. I don’t know what you could do to break the 5050, or even damage it.
The steel comes from the firm of Uddeholm in Sweden, and is called ELMAX. It’s a powder-based, dedicated cutlery alloy that’s very high in both carbon and chromium and combines extreme corrosion resistance with high wear resistance. This means you can’t get it to rust, and once it takes an edge it keeps that edge. It’s hardened to Rc 60-61, which is quite hard. Mine came with a shaving edge and I haven’t been able to dull it, so I can’t tell you how it sharpens.
The handle slabs are G-10, which is epoxy-bonded fiberglass, and might melt in a nuclear blast, and they’re fastened with three heavy stainless-steel hex fasteners. There’s a lanyard hole, and what is politely called a striking pommel, but which I have heard vulgar people refer to as a skull crusher.
The 5050 will do just fine as a hunting knife, although it’s much bigger than needed; it’s built to handle any job that comes along. If you choke down on the handle you can chop through a tent-pole-sized tree with it, or cut a can open, or just about anything else. If you’re not in Special Forces and can’t carry a 120-pound combat load, you may not care for the weight. But if you’re looking for the ne plus ultra in no-fail knives, here’s your huckleberry. The price is $350. Firstedgeusa.com
Fix It Sticks
The reason so many gunsmiths drive around in Lamborghinis is because unskilled people torque down small screws with unholy zeal or don’t tighten them enough, and the pros get to clean up the damage. The solution to this is not to eliminate gunsmiths, or screws, but to use torque limiters, and a company called Fit It Sticks manufactures a small, handy kit designed to drive gun screws with the aid of torque limiters and get them in just right.
A combination kit includes replaceable Fix It Sticks, 16 bits, ½” and ¼” socket bit adapters, and whatever combination of torque limiters you desire. These come in 15-, 25-, 45-, and 65-inch-pound (NOT foot-pound) versions. You can choose between a basic pouch and a deluxe case. Either one is just a shade bigger than a wallet. The price for a kit hovers around $112. Fixitsticks.com/shooting-hunting
I don’t think I’ve ever written about watches before, which is odd, because I’m a watch freak, and because I once held a Rolex worth a million dollars in my soft editor’s hand. But I digress. About 25 years ago a company called Luminox came out with a watch that got its illumination from tritium gas enclosed in tiny glass capsules. You could read these watches in any kind of gloom and murk, and now you’ll see at least one Luminox in just about any hunting camp you go to.
The first Luminoxes were developed in conjunction with the SEALS, who operate in gloom and murk when they’re not writing books or making movies about it, and were designed and made with the expectation that they would have the hell beaten out of them (both SEALS and watches).
Since they came out, I’ve used nothing but Luminoxes, and probably gone through a dozen at least, because I have no sense about some things and sell them or trade them to get something new and different. Of all of them, I’ve broken only one, and it was not on my wrist. It fell a long way onto a hard floor. The others have not given me a single problem, and their quartz movements have kept virtually perfect time. I won’t use anything else.
One of the new ones, which I recommend highly, is the Coronado, which is named after Naval Amphibious Base, Cornonado, home to various units, including SEALS. The Coronado (the watch, not the base) is highly legible, comes with a black rubber strap that is impervious to water and blood, and is water-resistant to 200 meters. The price is $435. For a hunter or fisherman, I know of nothing better, including a Rolex, because the Luminox tells better time and does not have to be serviced every five years for $500.
The one I use, and will probably stay with until I no longer need a watch, is called the ANU (Approved for Navy Use) which has a steel case and is more expensive. In a fit of something or other, I had the issue rubber band removed and a very expensive black alligator band put in its place. It now looks quite costly, which is just as well because when Bernie Sanders becomes President, there is going to be no more of that s**t. Luminox.com