Hard Ready Brand is clearly making a name for themselves in the realm of affordable but practical fixed blade knives. Their HR1 (see our review) has shown that they have a knack for balancing priorities to deliver an affordable knife with important features that stand out at any price point… and it appears that they have done it again.
The Stubby, the first in a series of knives named for dogs that served in war, is available for pre-order now. As you would expect from Hard Ready Brand, the spec sheet is incredible at the price point.
The Stubby features a full tang construction from 3/16″ thick D2 steel. The 3″ long spear point blade has a tall flat grind and swedge grind resulting in a tip that is both well supported and acute enough for piercing cuts. The handles feature bolsters and thick, textured G-10 slabs.
The sheath, specifically the clip on the sheath, is an area that really sets Hard Ready Brand apart. The sheath included with the Stubby features the same type of centerline clip found on the HR1 meaning this can be carried with or without a belt. This clip is a great example of what Hard Ready Brand does that no one else is doing in this space. They understand how to actually make a functional sheath which is all but unheard of at this price point.
The Stubby is available for pre-order now for $84.99 until Christmas Day. Once the pre-sale ends, this will still be a sub-$100 knife.
The Hard Ready Brand HR-1 is an important knife as a model of what can be done. At just $80, it has several notable and important features that are typically reserved for knives costing 3 times as much. The HR-1 democratizes the defensive fixed blade and you should know about it.
The HR-1 is a full tang knife ground from .125″ thick German X30Cr12 Steel. It features a 2.5″ long blade and a 7.125″ overall length. The flat saber ground tanto knife has a bare tang handle that terminates in a large finger loop.
It comes with a full-size aluminum trainer and a kydex sheath with a centerline clip. It is these features that really set it apart at its $80 price tag.
Observations from Use
The HR-1, in my opinion, is a study on how to hit a price point the right way. Hard Ready Brand made several smart decisions in designing this knife that kept the price low without sacrificing function.
The HR-1’s tanto blade is an understandable choice though it likely wouldn’t be the first choice of many including myself. This blade shape offers a strong point and is easy to sharpen. It doesn’t penetrate as readily as something like a spearpoint but, in my testing, it still pokes holes in stuff. Hard Ready Brand tells me other blade shapes may be available at a later date.
The handle has something for everyone. If you like a karambit-esque finger ring, it has one. However, if you don’t like them, the handle is shaped such that you can just completely ignore it in exchange for the VERY deep first finger choil that can be used to index the knife right out of the sheath. There is a sort of bump behind the finger choil that I could do without but I do acknowledge that this is a great ledge for retrieving the knife from the sheath.
The handle is bare and very thin. This is not a utility knife meant to be used hours on end. It’s a defensive knife with a handle design that offers great retention, resists twisting, and leaves no doubt how the edge is oriented. It fits a variety of hand sizes, especially if you ignore the finger ring. If you want to add a bit of grip without adding much bulk, it is easy to wrap with hockey tape, though I don’t think it’s necessary.
The choice of German X30Cr12 Steel is a smart one. This is basically a German equivalent of 420 series steel. I can already hear the knife snobs choking but hear me out. This steel is almost an asset to the knife as 420 series steels are fairly tough and corrosion-resistant while still being very affordable. It makes perfect sense for a knife that needs to be tough, affordable, and that you will carry next to your body day in and day out. I’ve even worn mine while swimming without fear of rust.
Now we can get into the two features that really make the HR-1 an incredible feature – the sheath and the trainer.
This knife actually comes with a real aluminum training knife. That is basically unheard of unless you want to pay at least twice as much and, even then, the choices would be slim. The training knife fits the included kydex sheath which is excellent.
The sheath is kydex and, while there is definitely room for improvement, it is more functional than the vast, vast majority of knives on the market. It includes stainless hardware including a centerline clip that can be mounted on either side of the sheath. The clip is what makes this sheath. It has a tooth that grips your belt, webbing, and even the waistline of your athletic shorts fairy tenaciously. That’s right, you don’t need a belt to wear the HR-1 which puts it in rarified air in terms of sheath design. It’s not a Discreet Carry Concepts clip but it works.
All that said, the retention on the sheath could be better. It seems like the sheath needs an adjustable screw on the edges side or, cheaper still, just another eyelet. The sheath retains the trainer perfectly but it is a little loose on the live blade. It is almost as if the sheath is molded for the trainer leaving it just a little loose on the live blade. I fixed this easily by adding a ranger band which helps pinch the kydex together at the right location.
As I said in the first paragraph, the HR-1 is an important knife. This is a knife that gets the most important things right at a price that is basically untouchable. It’s not perfect but it is better than many, many other knives that think they can target this market space just by painting their blade black and adding tactical to their name.
It brings the functionality of a modern, defensive fixed blade to those who are unwilling or unable to pay $200+. It’s a bold concept and I am glad that Hard Ready Brand is trying something this ambitious.
Maybe you didn’t think you could afford a modern, purpose-built defensive knife with a trainer and centerline sheath or maybe you just don’t want to wear your $400 knife when you are wading in a creek… either way, check out the Hard Ready Brand HR-1.
Imagine for a minute that you’ve designed a line of self-defense knives that you are proud of and your design lands at a high-end knife manufacturer. Things are looking up. Then imagine that the manufacturer folds up shop. Now you have a choice to make. You can give up or… grab your own bootstraps and start your own company. Ryan Hoover and the Hard Ready Crew chose the latter.
Hard Ready Brand’s HR-1 is a knife with a mission – to make straight-forward, functional self-defense knives available to everyone. This is accomplished by offering everything the end-user needs to start carrying and training with the HR-1 at a price that is impressively affordable compared to other knives in this space. At just $80 for the Full Blade Kit (HR-1 Blade, sheath, and training knife), the price looks great on paper.
However, a low price doesn’t matter if there isn’t some value and functionality behind it. The HR-1 sheath has a centrally mounted clip with a tab to grab the belt, features that are de rigueur on the best sheaths today. The aluminum training knife is included and replicates the live blade in all dimensions. These two features alone make this budget-priced package stand out.
Smart, value-minded choices have been made with the HR-1 Blade itself as well, like the selection of German X30Cr12 Steel which is basically a 420 series steel. Steel snobs have already tuned out but 420 is actually tough steel with very good corrosion resistance making it an excellent choice for a knife that will be carried directly against the body of the wearer. Granted, this is a steel choice that hits a price point but it is still a smart choice.
At first glance, this appears to be the highest value offering in the defensive knife space. I have one coming for review, so stay tuned.
There is a lot more to learn about the HR-1 and there is more to come from Hard Ready Brand in the next few months. You can learn more including reading additional product details and even viewing training materials at HardReadyBrand.com.