Some time ago I completed a trade on BladeForums for a NWA W&SS Forum Knife which is now known as the Sierra Scout. I was quite excited to try my first knife from NWA based on reviews from folks on the W&SS.
I received the knife and quickly found that it was not what the person trading it had described. I immediately noticed that it has several chips in the edge that would seem to indicate this knife had been rode hard. No problem, it can be fixed. I contacted the other party in the trade and found out that he had already used the brand new knife that I traded him. To his credit he offered to pay my shipping to send it to custom knife maker Ray Laconico to have the edge repaired.
The knife arrived and Ray immediately noticed that the knife had a bend in it. It wasn’t terribly bent but it was noticeably bent. It seems this knife had lived a harder life than I thought.
I was frustrated. I loved the look and feel of the knife but now I was somewhat stuck with a knife that I could never hope to get any of my investment back from if I ever did decide to sell it. I wanted to love the knife but the experience had soured my feelings toward it.
I finally decided to contact Nick Allen (the owner/operator of NWA Knives) to see if the knife could be straightened. Nick took the time to answer all my questions and pointed out that this is one of the reasons that he differentially heat treats his knives – so they bend instead of break. He said that he thought he could straighten it and that there would be no charge. What he said next blew my mind. He offered to make me a new one. I resisted at first since it didn’t seem right for him to have to take the hit for another person’s mistake. But Nick emphasized that his main goal was to make sure I was happy with the knife.
That is called customer service. We are blessed with many great makers on BladeForums and Nick is certainly one of the best. I got the replacement knife from Nick yesterday and I haven’t had time to use it much, but I couldn’t wait to get the word out about Nick and NWA knives.
The Good Stuff
The knife that I sent back to Nick had his normal handle on it. It was well shaped with a slight finger groove for the first finger. This is the handle that you will see on most of his knives. Recently he has begun offering a more contoured handle without the finger groove which I believe he calls the bushcraft style handle. This is the handle style that I requested for the replacement. The result is excellent. The handle is comfortable in all grips and fills the hand well.
The fit and finish are excellent. The edge was nicely finished and very sharp. The scales are expertly fit to the tang with no gaps or ridges that I can feel. Nick even took the time to chamfer the lanyard hole. The temper line is visible and very beautiful. All grinds are crisp and even. Speaking of grinds, the cutting geometry is very nice for a knife that is 3/16″ thick. Nick’s use of full height flat grinds really renders an edge that cuts well. It is an impressive knife.
The sheath is one of the finest I have seen. Nick builds sheaths that are made to last. It made from very thick leather. The sheath features a fire steel loop and boasts full welt construction. It is dipped in melted bee’s wax and allowed to dry rendering it very weather proof and extremely stiff (a good thing in this case). The knife actually locks into the sheath with a click similar to kydex. Many makers provide sheaths as an afterthought, but Nick makes them just as tough as his knives.
I tend to be drawn to knife makers who have a unique style. Whether it is the intentionally rustic beauty of ML Knives or North Branch Knives, or the clean simplistic lines and modern design of Ray Laconico – make mine a knife with style. Nick has style and he has it in spades. The lines on this model (and all his knives) really flow. They have a really organic look and feel. They look like they grow on trees or drip from cave roofs over thousands of years. Even his makers mark fits the style of his knives. You know when you are looking at an NWA knife, even from across the room.
So if you are looking for a capable knife from a maker who stands behind his work, check out NWA Knives at their website www.NWAKnives.com or visit the NWA Knives forum where you can talk directly to Nick and actual users of his knives.