Users of ESEE Knives have been asking for years to purchase extra handle scales so that they can customize their knives. Until just days ago, there was no source for aftermarket “drop-in” handle scales and ESEE would not sell the scales separately because they require some hand fitting. Dale Stoops, the owner of The-Knife-Connection (T-K-C), saw the potential in making custom handle kits and seized the opportunity. Now ESEE owners have some functional and attractive options for customization.
Fit and Finish
The first thing you notice when take these scales out of the packaging is that they are very attractive. They come in a growing number of colors that should suit just about everyone. The scales are finished nicely with a very fine texture that is at least as “grippy” as the factory linen micarta scales, if not more so. The set that Dale provided for this review are the Red & Black G-10 which is very attractive, especially on a black knife. All of the handle contours really show off the various layers of red and black colors.
The fit of the handles that I was provided is excellent. They fit almost perfectly flush along the front of the grip and are only slightly raised at the spine of the grip (completely unnoticeable in use). The standard ESEE scales are hand fit so for a drop-in set of scales to fit this well is a testament to the precision with which these grips are machined. All of the holes for the handle bolts are nicely recessed so that the screw head sits flush and a lanyard hole is provided. There was obviously a lot of care in the design and manufacture of these handle kits.
These aren’t just fancy colored clones of the standard handle scales. These slabs were built to increase functionality and improve ergonomics. Many users of ESEE Knives have found the handles to feel a bit too thin, too short, or both. These new handle kits from T-K-C address those issues by adding thick palm swell and about .5″ of extra length. The standard ESEE handle is a uniform .570″ thick. The T-K-C handle features a palm swell that is about .725″ at the widest part of the spine and tapers down to about .580″ at the spine’s thinnest point. The scales are subtly thicker at the back of the grip (the spine) than at the front (where the fingers typically wrap). Even with the additional thickness, these scales still work perfectly with the standard kydex ESEE-4 sheath.
The result of all of these contours is a handle that locks itself comfortably into the users hand. The broad spine gives plenty of surface area to spread the force of powerful push cuts like notching. The slight thinning toward the front of the grip keeps the handle from feeling like a 2×4. The palm swell locks the knife into the hand during pull cuts or thrusting cuts. The short “hook” at the pommel end of the grip works extremely well for times that you want to choke down of the knife. This technique is commonly used to make a short knife behave like a longer one for light chipping.
One of the best things about the original handle is that it let the user comfortably grip the knife in just about any way they wanted and, with all the additional contours, you might think that the T-K-C handle kit would ruin that but it doesn’t. It still feels great in every grip that I tried. This is a well designed handle that is suited to a variety tasks.
These handle kits are a worthy addition to a classic knife. They improve the appearance and function of the knife while still maintaining the use of the standard sheath. If you have been wanting to dress up your ESEE-4, then look no further than these Custom Handle Kits from The-Knife-Connection.
These kits are available at The-Knife-Connection. While you are there check out their selection of ESEE-4 blades without handles and ESEE-4 sheaths so you can build a custom ESEE-4 from the ground up. Also, watch for Custom Handle Kits for other ESEE models coming soon.