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Archive | Knives

Condor 14" and 18" El Salvador Machete in Carbon Steel

Condor Knife and Tool is Imacasa’s premium line that is made for the US market. Most machetes come with no sheath, a rough handle that requires some fitting, and an unsharpened edge. Condor machetes come with a leather sheath or have one available for purchase, fitted handles, and an amazing polished convex edge. They are the Cadillac of machetes.

My favorite machete in the Condor line is the El Salvador. It is a great all around machete largely due to its shape and thickness. It has a nearly straight spine with a slight upsweep, plenty of belly on the cutting edge, a great handle, and it is thick enough to the harder woods that are found in the northern USA while still remaining somewhat light and flexible. This is an exceedingly tough machete. Last year, Condor introduced the El Salvador machete in carbon steel, which made a tough machete even tougher (previously it was available in their excellent 420HC steel, which is the perfect stainless steel for a machete). I purchased a carbon steel version immediately and have loved it ever since.

This year they introduced a 14″ version which I love even more. For most of what I do when I am hiking or camping, I do not need the 18″ version. A shorter, handier machete packs lighter and is more than sufficient for fire prep, shelter building, and other tasks. The 14″ version has a bit more upsweep at the spine which gives it a very “weight forward” feel in the hand. This also really helps its chopping performance. However, the extra upsweep does preclude the use of the excellent plastic GI sheaths that I prefer. I may ground just a little of the point off the machete off so that it will work with my sheaths.

MacheteSpecialists.com is my preferred machete source and they are the only source of the 14″ version. You may also want to watch for an upcoming version of the El Salvador machete with a carbon steel blade and a micarta handle. If you are looking for a machete that is versatile, reasonably priced, and ready to use right out of the box, then check out the Condor El Salvador Machete.

Fenix Outfitters Selling Hideaway Knives

Hideaway Knives (HAKs) are well loved but many have been afraid to order due to the rampant stories of terrible customer service. Well fear no longer because Fenix Outfitters is now stocking HAKs at very reasonable prices.

Photo from Fenix Outfitters

The HAK is great option for those who carry a knife daily. It is light weight and compact, readily accessible, and virtually impossible to lose in a fight. It really is an ingenious design. The news that Fenix Outfitters will be stocking them is welcome.

Look for an upcoming review on the straight Utility HAK on Jerking the Trigger.

ESEE (RAT Cutlery) Sheaths are Tops

People often ask me for recommendations on which knife to buy. Unless they have some really specific needs, I almost always say get something from ESEE (formerly RAT Cutlery). Why pick ESEE over any of the other great manufacturers that are out there? The answer is simple… it’s the sheaths!

There is no shortage of makers out there that are turning out great knives. ESEE doesn’t really do anything unique with their knives. The knives are just simple, honest designs, made from good materials, with a great warranty, and made by good people. It is their sheaths that give them a leg up. While most makers offer barely functional (and, in many cases, poorly made) sheaths that seem like an afterthought. ESEE knives come standard with sheaths that are versatile, well made, and extremely functional.

Take for instance the ESEE-4 (formerly the RC-4). It comes with a fold over style kydex sheath. That in and of itself isn’t very original. However, the sheath is configured to take a myriad of extra accessories that quickly, easily, and inexpensively add tons of functionality.

RC-4 attached to an Eagle Molle Shroud via Molle-Loks

You can use paracord to create belt loops to carry the knife vertically or horizontally on your belt. Blade-Tec Molle-Loks (included on some models) can be used to carry the knife on your belt or attached to any surface with PALs webbing (backpack, battle belt, vest, etc). ESEE also makes a backer (included on some models) that allows the knife to be carried in situations where it must be “jump safe”. This backer also lets the knife be attached to a belt so that the knife hangs below the belt line which many people find more comfortable. The backer also allows the knife to be attached to any surface with PALs webbing. The sheath can even be connected directly to the shroud on the venerable and prolific Safariland 6004 drop leg holsters or you can use a Blade-Tec Tek-Lok as a versatile mounting option. The number of mounting/carry options will boggle your mind.

The ESEE MOLLE backer can be used as a belt hanger on regular and MOLLE belts.

Choosing a carry/mounting option is as simple as matching the best option with your method of carry. I use the backer for MOLLE battle belt carry. This allows the knife to hang comfortably and securely below the belt line. I also use the backer to attach the sheath to a normal belt when hiking. I use the Molle-Loks to attach the knives to other PALs webbing covered surfaces like my Eagle Industries Molle Drop Leg Panel for Safariland holsters.

A simple piece of inner tube can help lock the sheath in place on your belt when using paracord as a belt loop.

Some of the larger models like the ESEE-5 and ESEE-6 have accessory pouches that can be easily attached to the front of the sheaths. These pouches can used to carry small items like sharpeners, multi-tools, and small survival kits. Have an option to attach or remove these pouches is quite unique and useful.

I do not know of any other manufacturer that offers a sheath system that even begins to approach the versatility of the ESEE sheaths. So next time you are considering purchasing a knife, make sure you weigh your sheath options. If the knife you are considering doesn’t have a sheath that fits your needs completely (and chances are good that it won’t), take a look at the ESEE line of knives and tools. Don’t settle for a lousy sheath!

More info on ESEE Sheaths and carry/attachment methods can be found HERE. You can also view this 2 part PDF document for sheath info: Part 1 and Part 2. (These PDFs and the following picture are property of ESEE)

Click to Enlarge.

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ESEE Junglas Laserna Pack

Jeff and Mike at ESEE showed the prototype for a new pack several months ago on their forum. I was impressed then and I am even more impressed now that it is on the market and the details are out. The pack has some serious organization potential, comes in all the right colors, and has a waistbelt that actually looks useful (rare in smaller packs).

The Junglas Laserna Pack can be purchased directly from ESEE. You can also read more about the pack and the Junglas for which the pack is named at the link.

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Ray Laconico Now Making Locking Folders

Ray Laconico has been making some of the hardest working fixed blade knives around for years. He has also dabbled in slip joint folding knives. Recently, as he stated in his interview here on Jerking the Trigger, he has been concentrating on locking folders.

This is great news for those who love the performance and character of carbon steel and like locking folders because Ray has been making liner locks with O1 tool steel blades. Carbon steel locking folders are all but non-existent on today’s knife market so Ray is really filling a niche.

If you are interested in owning one of Ray’s knives you can contact him through BladeForums.

MacheteSpecialists.com Review

Machetes just might be the perfect survival knife. They are inexpensive yet exceedingly tough. They can be used for everything from clearing a trail, to fire starting, to game cleaning, to shelter construction. You simply can not beat the utility of a good machete. Once you are used to using a machete in the woods, it will be hard to carry anything else (especially an expensive “survival” knife).

Until recently, finding a good machete in the USA could be a bit of a challenge. Many of the best brands and designs were available only in South America where the machete is a far more pervasive tool. There was a serious void in the US market for brands like Imacasa and Tramontina.

The good folks at Machete Specialists have filled that void! Now you can purchase some amazing machetes from all over the world. They offer a 30 Day Guarantee and even have videos on proper machete use that were made by machete designer and knife writer Joe Flowers. Machete Specialists are THE definitive source for machetes on the web.

Boker Subcom Titanium

People have been asking for a premium version of the Chad Los Banos (CLB Design) designed Boker Subcom for nearly as long as the Subcom has been on the market. The Subcom has turned into very successful and varied series of CLB Designed Boker knives. These knives have redefined the idea of what an inexpensive folder can be.

Boker and CLB Design have redefined the inexpensive knife market once again. You will see a new Subcom on shelves soon – the Subcom Titanium. It features a 440C blade, while not the sexiest or newest super steel, is still a very respectable steel. The real story is the titanium frame lock construction. This knife will be a compact tank of a knife. Titanium frame lock construction doesn’t come cheap, or at least it didn’t until now. The street price on this knife will be around $35!

I will definitely be picking one of these up. I may even splurge on a custom scale from Potterma for it.

Review: Emerson SOCFK

I have been carrying a Spyderco Endura 4 with the Emerson Wave for about 3 years now. It is still going strong, but I thought it was time to give another knife a try. I have grown quite fond of the Emerson Wave feature on my Spyderco and I have literally wanted to own an Emerson ever since I have been old enough to buy my own knives, so an actual Emerson knife seemed like the logical choice.

There is no more iconic “tactical folder” than the Emerson CQC-7. The CQC-7 and the Emerson Commander practically gave us the term “tactical folder”. Typically, I hate even uttering the word “tactical” since it is so overused but I suppose it fits in the case of the CQC-7. So, given the iconic nature of the CQC-7, I decided that if I was going to try an Emerson, it should be one that really represents what Ernest Emerson is all about, it should be a CQC-7.

I began search high and low for a plain edge Emerson CQC-7 and the search was proving quite difficult until I came across Extreme Outfitters. Not only did they have plain edge CQC-7s in stock at a reasonable price, but they also had a model that is made exclusively for them by Emerson… the SOCFK.

Click to enlarge.

From Extreme Outfitters:

This knife was developed to address the requirements of individuals who worked in situations where grip may be compromised such as cold, wet environments. The SOCFK is widely used by waterborne teams in the Navy, Marines, and Army.

This hybrid knife is the result of crossing the world standard CQC-7 and the hardcore SPECWAR knife. This crossbred knife is a direct result of specific requests by operators who wanted the proven characteristics of the CQC-7 blade, the size and handle ergonomics of the SPECWAR knife and the wave opening (remote pocket opener) of the Commander knife. It is the first knife outside of the Commander series to employ the wave-opening feature. Basically, this knife was designed by operators, built for operators and used by operators. This knife has all the characteristics needed to put it into the world’s elite class of knives. Knives that meet and exceed the unique demands of the elite special forces units of the U.S. Navy, Army, and Marine Corps.

Click to englarge.

The SOCFK had the blade I wanted with the more contoured “SPECWAR” handle (from Emerson’s earlier SPECWAR model). I was sold. I added it to my cart, paid, and waited. Extreme Outfitters shipped it very quickly (you can’t beat FREE Priority Mail shipping!) and had it to me in just 3 business days. It went immediately into my pocket (after snapping some pics while it was still pristine).

Review

I have now been carrying the SOCFK for several days. I am happy to report that it cuts things. That may sound ridiculous but it may come as a surprise to some people who listen to the pontifications of some individuals on internet forums who talk about how useless chisel ground edges and “American” tanto shaped blade are. This seems to be a rumor that is repeated often enough that it has become truth that people except with out any actual personal experience.

The chisel ground edge is just another way to make something sharp (and this knife is VERY sharp). It cuts and cuts well. It may have a tendency to draw the cut to one side or the other but this can be controlled. It has advantages and disadvantages just like any other type of grind (convex, flat, saber, hollow, etc, etc, etc). If you listen to some you would think that a chisel ground knife was useless. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The angular “American” tanto shape that Ernest Emerson made such an icon is actually very useful. It has a long section of useful straight edge like a sheepsfoot or wharnecliffe style blade. It also has a very fine (but still strong) point which is one of the most useful features of any knife. It also has a leading edge which can be useful for scraping and other cutting tasks. In my opinion, it is a very useful blade shape.

The handle on the SOCFK is an ergonomic wonder. It has many contours which often means the knife will be comfortable in only one grip (usually hammer grip). But surprisingly, the SOCFK is comfortable in ALL grips. I am not sure how Ernie did it but this handle shape is magic.

The lock up on my SOCFK is typical Emerson. Many people talk poorly of liner locks. Often their opinions are based on cheap liner lock knives that do have poorly constructed locks. The lock on this SOCFK locks up like a bank vault. The titanium liner is very thick.  It also locks up very early (meaning it locks up on the near side of the tang) which is a good thing. Early lock up means that it will take a long time before the lock wears out. I also like how well the handle slabs protect the liner lock on this particular knife design. This reduces the danger of accidentally disengaging the liner lock when “white knuckling” the SOCFK. This knife is the blueprint for the way that liner locks should be made.

The handle features nicely shaped and aggressively textured G-10 slabs. The texture coupled with the handle contours make this knife very easy to retain even with wet/muddy/bloody/snotty/oily hands. The blade features a very evenly applied and attractive black coating. All of the screws used by Emerson are either slotted or Phillips head so you don’t need special tools to work on them. That is a nice touch.

Emerson Knives are still made right here in the USA and backed by some of the nicest people you’ll meet in the knife industry. The warranty and customer service are excellent.

This is a lot off knife for the money. If you are shopping for a new folding knife for everyday carry, duty use, or even collecting, the SOCFK could be the knife for you.

Details From Extreme Outfitters

Overall Length 8.75 in.
Blade Length 3.40 in.
Handle Length 5.0 in.
Blade Thickness .125 in.
Hardness 57-59 RC
Weight 5.53 oz.
Handles
Black G-10 epoxy / glass laminate
Liners
Aerospace grade Titanium
Blade
154 CM
Finish
Black – T™ or Satin Finish
Grind
“B” Blade – Chisel ground Tanto style
“A” Blade – Conventional V ground spearpoint

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Combative Edge M1

If you spend much time with folding knives, you know that some of the most expensive folders are titanium frame-locks. While Ti frame-lock folders tend to be expensive they also tend to be very rugged. A good Ti frame-lock might be the strongest lock that you can get on a folding knife.

I came across a new Ti frame-lock the other day that really caught my interest – the Combative Edge M1. The M1 is made by Fox Cutlery of Italy for Combative Edge. Fox makes some excellent knives though they haven’t really caught on here in the USA. The reviews on this knife are encouraging, the manufacturer has a great reputation, and the price is PHENOMENAL. At $170, this knife should send chills down the spine of its competitors.

I just wish they would offer it with a drop point blade rather than a recurve. Even with the recurve, I would love to try one of these knives out. It looks quite impressive.

RiverofGuns.com

Some of the best places to get discounted guns, knives, and tactical gear are on the various discussion forums that are scattered around the web. Many people use these places to list their new and used gear in the hopes that you will buy it. Think of them as a classifieds section in your local paper except they reach the entire nation (and the world). There are some serious deals to be had but it can be quite time consuming to surf all of the different forums looking for your particular item.

RiverofGuns.com is a search engine that scours hundreds of forums so that you don’t have to. You simply enter what you are looking for and click search. River of Guns does the rest.

It is an invaluable tool for bargain seekers.

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