Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

Blades and tools

A complicated name for a small EDC knife

In this installment of TPF, readers will be able to look at an offering by SOG which is a manual opening knife that incorporates SOG’s patented Arc-Lock system. If the title seems somewhat confusing, please do not stop reading as, despite having a long model designation, this blade does have several items that are worthy of being showcased. TPF is pleased to introduce readers to SOG’s Folding Knife Mini X-Ray Vision. This has a distinction of having a very wordy designation for such a small simple knife design that it almost seems out of place.

SOG-MXR-01

Off the shelf, the knife being looked at in today’s installment.

This knife initially appears to be one of the more basic folders offered by SOG that would be a very capable addition to anyone’s EDC (Every Day Carry) option. This knife has a combo-edge tanto blade that measures 76mm (3.0″) with some two-step serrations, one large followed by two small; repeat. The knife itself is extremely light, massing in at roughly 85gr (3.0 oz), mainly due to the glass reinforced nylon handles that surround the liners.

SOG-MXR-02

We here at TPF obviously love the description of this knife on the SOG website. As it resonates with the majority of our tag line.

Two words that best describe the X-Ray Vision series are “tactical” and “practical”.

But is it too fantastical for some? Some aspects may be…

SOG-MXR-05

The three Torx screws form the pivot, blade stop, and the Arc-Lock swing pivot

As stated earlier, this knife is a manual opening knife. Manipulating the ambidextrous thumb is the primary method for blade deployment. The Arc-Lock system on the Mini-X-Ray Vision is a spring-loaded, pivoting bar that retains the blade in a closed position with minor spring force. When deploying the blade, the Arc-Lock shifts along the internal profile of the blade until fully deployed, at which time the pivot bar “locks” into a corresponding notch on the profile. The spring is the key feature for the locking mechanism, and if closed, pulling back on the Arc-Lock bar actually begins deployment of the blade. This allows for a “friction-free” deployment of the blade. However, holding the Arc-Lock bar back prevents the blade from locking open.

The two halves of the knife are held together by a quintet of Torx socket, pan head screws with the opposite side appearing as a blind rivet head. The Arc-Lock bar, and thumb studs are a two piece slotted assembly, with only the thumb stud having an exposed thread on the nut side. With the blade in the closed position the knife measures exactly 101.6mm (4.0″) to the end of the pocket clip, and when fully open the overall length stretches to a hair above 178mm (7.0″). Which will bring TPF Online to the only obvious aesthetic error that we can identify…

SOG-MXR-03

The reversible pocket clip that allows for left or right side, tip up carry

The countersunk flat head philips screw which is used to secure the pocket clip into position seems out of place. Using a Torx socket version would have kept up the visual appearance across the entire knife, but in the grand scheme of this knife, this is a very minor quibble. The pocket clip has a fairly large mouth and can be mounted to allow the knife to be worn on either a left or right side, tip up carry.

SOG-MXR-04The lines of this knife are crisp and clean with minimal distractions, such as patterned and ornate contoured handles. The simple handle design incorporates a single pronounced finger groove. Combine that with the serrated thumb rise on the blade and the ability to control the blade for a variety of grips and uses is apparent. The pivot of this knife is very smooth, however the teflon washers do allow for a slight amount of blade play side to side.

Tanto blade

Showing off the matte finish of the partially serrated tanto blade

The blade itself is manufactured from VG-10 steel, with a thickness of 2.5mm (0.10″) and has a bead blasted finish. This steel is normally considered to be a higher end steel that has good qualities regarding corrosion resistance, edge retention, and sharpening ability.

SOG-MXR-07

Profile image showing the blade length

SOG-MXR-08

Showing the overall length when folded

The Mini X-Ray Vision, SOG Model #MXV72-CP, is a very lightweight manual folding knive with a higher quality steel blade. Readers may recall earlier in this write-up we commented on the possible fantastical aspect of this knife. The suggested MSRP of the knife as reviewed is $161.50 USD, but readers can find it at a much more affordable price point at various online outlets across Canada, such as Blades Canada Cutlery Corp., who have a storefront in Vancouver BC. As an EDC knife, this edged tool has all the required options for being a good EDC, possibly excluding the price tag. However, as per the norm for here, it is up to you, our readers, to determine if SOG’s Mini X-Ray Vision falls under the heading of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical.

Advertisements

Screwdriver not handy as a pry-bar? Don’t use your knife… Unless..

One of the most abused parts of a knife is the point or tip of the knife. Users jab it into seams and use the blade as a makeshift wedge or pry-bar in order to crack open or split whatever they are working on at the time. The problem is that the tip of the knife is the weakest part.

The prying puts large tangential stress into a small focused area on what is traditionally the thinner parts of a knife. Now, several knives try and offset this by making a blunt tip which increases the area used for prying that distributes the fores better. Others increase the blade thickness to have a stronger tip that can suffer greater levels of stress before breaking. Columbia River Knife and Tool had a slightly different take which makes a bit more sense to the author. Enter the Barge.

What is that chuck of steel?

The Barge adds a huge chunk of metal to the end of this folder

The wedge is solidKershaw’s Barge is a very simple and rugged designed knife that has basically two purposes. Cutting stuff and being used as a wedge/prying tool. The knife is not really that small, amassing just over 150g (5.4oz) and measuring 119mm (4.75″) in length when closed. The first thing you notice looking at the knife however, is the huge metal cap on the knife’s butt end. That is the key of the Barge, the wedge shaped  butt cap, and it is massive and mounted very securely between the liners. The wedge acts as the spacer between the two liner halves of the knife. It is secured by five (5) screws along the back and rear edges of the handles, these are not small screws either, they are massive compared to those typically used on folding knives. Of interesting note of this design is the fact that the majority of the screws/nuts use a T8 torx driver for assembly/disassembly, with two exceptions. The reversible pocket clip allows for both left and right handed, tip-up carry, and is secured by a pair of T6 torx pan head screws. The second exception is the most obvious and greatest departure from the other fasteners used, as the large pair of slotted screws provide the main strength that binds the handle to the wedge. The wedge also has a lanyard opening for those who desire to use them.

Wedge mounting

The opposite side shows off the five (5) screws that hold the large wedge in place

From the Kershaw Website:

  • Multifunction – Has multiple blades or tools, enabling it to perform multiple functions.
  • Manual – There is no mechanical assist, such as SpeedSafe, used to open the folding knife. It opens the classic, old-school way.
  • Frame Lock – A portion of the handle (the knife frame) moves behind the blade to lock it into position during use. This is a safety feature of the knife.
  • Reversible – Pre-drilled holes in the handle enable the user to change either the tip position or the side on which the knife carries.
Closed position retention ball

You can easily make out the closed retention ball on the frame lock and the corresponding hole in the blade

As is typical in many frame lock knives that are manual in opening, there is a small bearing that is press fit into the locking arm and a corresponding dimple/hole in the blade that enable securing the blade into a closed position. This does equate to a very slight increase of required pressure when opening these knives, but it is almost negligible when using the thumbstuds to open the 6.6cm (2.6″) edge. Now speaking about edges, the Barge’s plain blade has a slight hollow gound edge whose profile is a combination of a warncliffe edge with the spine of a typical drop point and incorporates a slight upward curve close to the tip. Manufactured from 8Cr13MoV, the blade is easily sharpened, and the blade itself, the frame halves, and the wedge have been given a stonewash finish which gives a soft, metallic appearance.

6.6cm (2.6") of blade

With dual serrated areas along the spine, a multiple of grips can be utilized for a variety of tasks

The overall length of the wedge insert is 66mm (2.6″) and is scalloped to allow for the knife’s blade to easily fold up while creating a very robust assembly. The steel right frame panel is 2.4mm (0.095″) thick and incorporates the frame lock mechanism, whereas the the left panel is slightly thinner at 2.0mm (0.08″). However a black textured nylon panel completes the left side for added grip. The blade is 3.1mm (1/8″) thick and uses nylon washers for stiffness and rigidity at the pivot point. The Barge measures 12.1cm (4.74″) long when closed and 18.4cm (7.24″) when locked open which belies the 146.8grams (5.18oz) that this hefty tool masses. The wedge of course is a large contributing factor in those numbers, and with a 1.7mm (0.67″) thick flat edge that is 10.0mm (0.40″) long, the “screwdriver” tip of the Barge is ready for some of the worse pry jobs most people can imagine.

Fully opened, right side

Mass and a large, long grip with a short blade equals good blade control

Blade profile

Thumb serrations for and aft of the thumb stud on the hollow ground blade

The Kershaw Barge, model 1945, is a very utility oriented knife that could be a good addition to an individual’s every day carry inventory. With a noticeable mass and good control surfaces, this offering may seem cheap at the MSRP of $48.99 CDN, and can be found in stores such as House of Knives. As always however, the question is what category the Barge falls into for you, the reader? Tactial? Practical? Or Fantastical?

Is it Tactical? Practical? Or fantastical?

Is it a good choice for just shy of $50 CDN? You need to be the judge…


SHOT Show 2017

Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.

The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.

Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.

You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).

So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
(more…)


Designed by a Canuck! This knife is keenly sharp in function, looks and edge!

Brian-Tighe

Mr. Tighe (circa 2013 image)

For those readers whom are not into knives at all, you can be excused for not knowing who Mr. Brian Tighe (pronounced “Tie”) is. If you are an “edge enthusiast”, you may be familiar with the name. With South Eastern Ontario being called home, Brian Tighe has been making custom knifes for a couple decades and his tool and die experience shows in the manufacturing of his wares. His additional design and photography background serve him well in determining physical aesthetics and what shapes and styles are visually appealing.

As with most knife makers who collaborate with “Mass Production” knife companies, it is a normal occurrence to have an custom knife design adopted and using cheaper materials and processes to create a commercially available knife for the masses. Tighe has created numerous designs over the years that have been adopted into large scale production by Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) and one of the latest ones is the Tighe Rade™ (pronounced “Tie-Raid”). Obviously with the original custom Rade design retailing at over $500 USD it is far away from the casual user and low end collector of knives.

The Handcrafted Tighe-Ride

The custom made Tighe-Ride is a truly beautiful custom knife

From the CRKT website:

In hand or in action, this is one to show off.

Brian Tighe doesn’t know how to do anything subtle. Case in point: his latest everyday carry folding knife with a button lock screams style. The aluminum handle features contoured, textured grooves. A compound ground blade deploys swiftly with a flipper and IKBS™ or ambidextrous dual thumb studs. About the only thing it doesn’t do well is sit idly; it’s apt to go on a tirade.

Designer Brian Tighe of Ridgeville, Ontario, Canada, upped the ante when he created the Tighe Rade™. From tip to tail this one-of-a-kind, high-tech folder boasts looks that seem more at home on a fighter jet than a knife. It’s a welcomed new addition to the impressive line of award-winning knives that Tighe has become so well known for designing.

The tip is ground and reinforced for stronger cutting applications, while closer to the handle it’s perfect for finer cutting tasks and wire stripping. And with its highly stylized aluminum handle and multiple usage blade, the Tighe Rade™ is packed with substance and style. The unique design maximizes overall performance and ease of sharpening, and the easy to operate and disengage button lock keeps everything secure while it’s open.

The sophisticated and modern Tighe Rade™ is one part smooth operator mixed with one part showpiece.

Some readers may wonder how, and why, the CRKT version is so much cheaper than the original. First off, the custom basic Tighe-Rade™ has solid titanium scales (left and right sides of the grip/handle), incorporates an exceptional sealed thrust bearing pivot, and the blades are manufactured from some of the highest quality steel available. CRKT takes the original contours and makes them more economical to produce. The scales are molded and machined from aluminum and mounted on steel liners, plus a simpler and cheaper pivot is used, and the blade steel itself is modified to give acceptable mechanical characteristics at a more cost effective price. Most individuals whom are known as “edge enthusiasts” to the author, do not carry a custom knife for EDC due to the costs, and while there are some who do, they would be the exception to the norm.

CKRT makes a more wallet friendly version.

CRKT ‘s clone has the same shapes and functions, albeit at a more wallet friendly price

The Rade™ features many inclusions not found on most folding knives, and these features give a level of aesthetic grace and functionality that is desired by many knife users. The blade is of a very slight drop point profile with a slightly recurved belly and features a dual ground edge. The dual ground edge is not a combination/hybrid single edge, but two portions of the blade’s edge with differing grinds. For the first 52.5mm (2.06″) of the blade’s 85.3mm (3.36″) overall length, a standard flat ground edge is apparent. From that point and continuing an additional 29.1mm (1.14″) towards the pivot is a hollow ground edge area. The visual effect is obvious and striking aesthetically; however despite the 3.2mm (0.12″) spine thickness, the hollow ground portion will likely effect the overall blade strength so the author cannot recommend utilizing the Rade™ for prying.

The dual ground edge gives a distinctive look and is sharp!

The dual ground edge gives a distinctive look and is sharp!

The blade itself is manufactured from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and pivots around caged ball bearings which are tensioned between a pair of sculpted torx socket pivot heads. The handle of the knife measures 115.1mm (4.53″) in length, and is comprised of the 2Cr13MoV stainless steel liners and the 6061-T6 aluminum scales. The resulting opened length of this knife is approximately 200.0mm (7.88″) and barely tips the scales with a mass of 125gr (4.4 oz). Opening the knife is through use of the flipper tab or the ambidextrous thumb studs and the blade is secured in the open position via a button lock system.

A visually similar, mass production version of the custom Tighe-Tade

A visually similar, mass production version of the custom Tighe-Tade

While very robust; right side, tip-up is the only available carry option

While very robust; right side, tip-up is the only available carry option

The aluminum scales on this knife have an aggressive contour and machining which results in a coarse grip pattern, but the handle itself is scalloped for an individual’s fingers and hand. The author’s hand is rather tight inside the 87.6mm (3.45″) opening, but not unexpected having fingers the size of sausages. However grip is secure and the chances of slipping forwards is next to zero. The pocket clip, unfortunately, has a only the single mounting position opposite of the button lock. This results in a tip up carry position for common right side pocket placement. The button’s spring loaded nature actually help to retain the blade in the closed position due to pressure exerted on the blade. This resistance and the mechanical design of the flipper, make inadvertent opening of the knife a low possibility.

The Tighe Rade™ from CRKT, model number 5290; has an MSRP of $69.99 USD. This knife can be found among Canadian retailers such as at Supply Seargent, located at West Edmonton Mall. One question still remains however, is CRKT’s Tighe Rade™ a Practical knife, a Tactical knife, or a Fantastical knife? That answer is only something you, the reader, can decide.

While not manufactured with the care and quality of the originals, these clones are still decent knives

While not manufactured with the care and quality of the originals, these clones are still decent knives


Battered from field use, the Ultimate is revisited…

Ultmate2015-01

After several trips to the bush, the Ultimate looks relatively unchanged on the outside

Roughly a year ago, TPF Online wrote an installment on a Gerber/Bear Grylls collaboration called the Ultimate Survival Knife. The knife itself caught the interest of one of the author’s more adventurous friends and he acquired it. What many reader may not realize is that in some cases, product images and information is created long before a review is written. After over a year of abuse in the back country of Ontario, Mr. Jody Hammel submitted this review of the knife.
GERBER/BEAR GRYLLS ULTIMATE  SURVIVAL KNIFE

Ultmate2015-02

Hammer, splitting wedge, fire starter. About the only part not used was the whistle…

I had seen and acquired the Ultimate Survival Knife back in early September 2013, having had to wait for TPF to finish photos and gathering information on it, before handing it over to me. I have since been using this knife as my main camp knife when in the back woods of Algonquin Park which I frequent several times a year. In general the blade feels solid in construction. The blade itself is 3/8” thick at its base where it meets the handle. After 3″, it begins to taper to the tip point and has an overall blade length of just less than 5”. The rubberized handle has a nice grip that does not slip in your hand when it is wet. The index finger grove is nice for added stability. The pommel appears to be made to the same metal as the blade and is perfect for driving in tent stakes or cracking open stubborn walnuts. I have bashed a few things with this and it doesn’t show any wear and tear. I have yet to try the whistle on the lanyard.

Ultmate2015-03

Used for several fires, the ferrocerium rod was wearing fast, but stayed secure in the sheath

The Ferrocerium fire starter rod that is built into the sheath came in handy one night as my lighter was hung 40 feet up a tree with the rest of the cooking gear. We had no issues using the rod and the back of the knife’s blade to get the fire started. While I was concerned that the striker rod may come lose and get lost, it never

I did use the blade for some bush whacking to clear trail to where our food and cooking gear was hung. The front of the blade was fine but the serrated section did not fare too well. This is no great loss to me as I was not a fan of the serrated part any way.

Ultmate2015-04

Abused as a mini-machete, the serrated edge suffered

Ultmate2015-06

Took a licking and continues to ask for more

My only complaint is not with the knife itself but with the sheath. I find that it sits too high on my belt and the squared off corners would either dig into my side or scrape against it. It would be nice if the entire knife and sheath hung a little lower to avoid this issue or if the sheath’s corners were rounded. The rest of the sheath is good and the knife sits snug and won’t easily fall out even with the Velcro clasp undone. The fire rod does hang upside down but again is a snug fit and I have never had it fall out by accident. On the back there is a knife sharpening flat that I have had no use for as the knife has kept its edge. The serration edge would require a specialized sharpener to re-edge the tips of the serrations, but not too worried about it.

Over all it is a good all around knife. I used it to whittle tent stakes out of branches with and then drive them into the ground. The blade is beefy enough than I can use it to split larger branches by hitting it with another log and have no fear of breaking the blade. I also like the orange colouring but that’s just personal.

I never needed the whistle or the SOS instructions attached to the knife and sheath, so cannot really comment on those features.

Pros
• Feels good in the hand (I have long fingers).
• Blade keeps an edge.
• Solid construction.
• Colouring helps locate if  dropped.
• Fits snug in the case.

Cons
• Sheath rides to high on the belt causing discomfort.

Ultmate2015-05

The only complaint is the sharp, hard square corners of the sheath

Many Thanks to Mr. Hammel for his time and efforts in getting back to TPF-Online and writing this review after many months of usage and abuse while adventuring in the regions of Algonquin Park.


The ultimate knife? TPF lets you know who thinks so!

Edward Michael Grylls.

USF-01

The Ultimate Knife

Many of our readers may not recognize that name, but if TPF were to mention “Bear” Grylls, you may recall that he is the United Kingdom’s version of Les Stroud, and a worldwide adventurer! In truth, if you are a long time reader of TPF, you would have known about this person from previously reviewed products. In this installment of TPF, yet another Gerber/Grylls collaboration was done on what is titled the “Ultimate Knife”. As always however, we here at TPF will give you the facts and details and leave the decisions to you, the readers.

USF-04

Thes are the components of what the Ultimate Knife contains:
Knife, Sheath, Fire-starter, Survival guide

The Ultimate Knife is supposedly the only knife you would need in a survival/adventuring excursion. The knife and sheath come with a myriad of features and requirements that would provide many basic necessities for outdoor use. Gerber Legendary Blades has a whole realm of Grylls’ survival equipment available, but of course there is never enough space to describe everything.

USF-07

A signal whistle is attached to the knife’s “Hammer” via a lanyard

Contained within the 254mm (10.0″) overall length of the knife is a 122mm (4.8″) drop point blade. This half serrated, hollow ground blade is manufactured from 7Cr17Mov Stainless Steel which allows for good edge retention and extreme ease of cutting rope when required. The blade’s serrations start from the choil of the blade and run approximately 47.5mm (1.875″) in length and with a spine thickness of 4.8mm (0.19″) this knife is fairly robust and meaty by massing 318 grams (11.2 oz).
The handle is manufactured from an orange coloured polymer and is embedded with TacHide™ rubber to ensure a secure and comfortable grip on the knife when in use. Add to that a hammer/pommel measuring 32.4mm x 21.5mm (1.28″ x 0.85″) to the hilt of the knife and it becomes easier to see why Gerber and Bear claim this is the ultimate outdoor knife.

USF-06

The TacHide grip is very comfortable

There are actually even more features of the knife which are included for additional survival requirements. On the back edge of the knife spine, is a 19mm (0.75″) section which is machined down as a striker for the fire-starter, to be mentioned later in this review. As well are three through holes measuring 4.9mm (0.195″) in diameter, two of which are at the front edge of the guard and one in the pommel. These three holes are present for if and when the user wishes to mount the knife on a shaft for a spear.  An emergency whistle is integrated into a lanyard cord which is threaded through the pommel’s hole, but it is the sheath and all it’s features which add to the collective exuberance of features in the whole package.

USF-08

Attached to the polymer sheath is a diamond grit sharpener

The sheath and secured knife mass a total of 418 grams (14.7 oz) and measure 278mm (10.9″) overall in length when worn. The knife retaining portion of the sheath is manufactured from a injection molded polymer which houses the fire-starter. This fire-starter is a Ferrocerium rod which is embedded into a small plastic handle that snaps into a specific area on the polymer sheath. By striking.scraping the fire-starter against the “striker” located on the knife’s spine, the user can generate high temperature sparks and ultimately fire which is always a great benefit to those who adventure outdoors. The remainder of the sheath is manufactured from ballistic black nylon and contains additional items of interest. The nylon sheath has two (2) Velcro straps on it. The first one is to secure the knife’s handle more fully when fully sheathed, and the second strap holds the plastic knife sheath portion against the nylon sheath backing. The first question to pop into your mind may be why bother? Mounted to the backside of the plastic sheath is a diamond grit sharpening insert of sufficient size to resharpen the knife’s plain edge.

USF-05

With vertical and horizontal belt mounting, the small slide-in pocket on the back also has signal instructions.

With survival in mind, the mildew resistant sheath has two more features to help the adventuring outdoorsman. The first is a sewn in pocket which depicts various land to air rescue instructions and signals. This pocket also contains a tightly folded, water resistant, basic survival guide which contains Bear Grylls’ survival essentials. The sheath can be worn two orientations, the tradition hanging belt loop orientation, plus the sheath has two additional loops which allow for a horizontal wearing. For the second method, it is likely that the handle Velcro strap would not be used for additional securing of the blade.

The “Ultimate Knife” as reviewed, was released in late 2010 by Gerber Legendary Blades under product number #31-000751, and is still available to this day at an MSRP of $62.00USD. It can be found all across Canada both online and at real storefront locations such as Wholesale Sports, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. So depending on your requirements, how would you class this “Ultimate Knife”? Tactical? Practical? Or fantastical?

USF-09

Everything stowed away and ready for the next outdoor adventure!

Additional Notes: there are newer options  for the Ultimate Knife such as a pure fine edged blade instead of the partially serrated one, as well as a Pro version which uses a higher quality and denser steel for it’s plain edge.


Ken Onion’s Skinner – Developed through experience with excellence being the goal.

Spine

A thick spine for substantial strength…. This blade is a Ken Onion masterpiece…

For many of you who have zero clue who Ken Onion is regarding knives, don’t be too ashamed. Until a couple years ago, the name would have been completely unknown to the author as well. For now TPF will give some background on one of the most innovative and dedicated knife designers/fabricators that has plied his trade in North America for just over the last three decades.

Born in the early 1960’s, Kenneth J. Onion has stated that he has always being interested in knives, yet it was not until 1991 when under the tutelage of a local knife maker, Stanley Fujisaka, that Ken Onion made and completed his first knife. Since then however, Ken Onion has dove into the knife making world head first. In 1996 Ken Onion designed and created a spring assisted opening mechanism, and by 1998 the “Speed Safe” SAO system had been adopted by Kershaw Knives, and Ken Onion was directly working with Kershaw. Many of Kershaws successful designs were from Mr. Onion’s efforts and for the most part associated Ken Onion with Kershaw as the two were nearly interchangeable. Nearly two decades after his first “custom knife”, Ken Onion left Kershaw and created his own company, and partnered up with CRKT back in 2010. With more than several dozen knife related patents to his name and the knowledge and experience to create new designs, you can be sure that as long as Ken Onion decides to continue designing and making knives, they will always be top notch in effect.

In 2011, CRKT teamed up with Ken Onion to mass produce “THE Skinner”. Not just a common “hunting knife” but one whose design started several years earlier and was the result of numerous revisions and several dozen field trials. Here is the quote from CRKT’s website regarding the Skinner:
Hawaiian knife maker Ken Onion told us he was working on the ultimate hunting knife, but it wasn’t ready yet. We assumed that he meant he was putting the finishing touches on a prototype, and were we wrong!
Instead, Ken was concluding an extensive field testing program spanning more than five years, making dozens of custom skinners and giving them to Alaskan guides, professional hunters, and taxidermists in exchange for their feedback. He kept modifying the design and sending out more knives, which have now been used to skin over 60 Alaskan bears, and have been proven on deer, elk, moose, antelope, hogs, sheep and cattle.

The Skinner

Compact with a nice pancake sheath and lanyard, what does Ken Onion’s Skinner look like?

CRKT’s Skinner is designed to be an exceptionally versatile hunter’s tool. The 95mm (3.8″) blade has spine thickness of nearly 3.6mm (0.14″) and is cut from Böhler K110 steel. The blade is a variation of the drop-point profile which really allows for the plain hollow grind edge to be relatively large and flat while seeming to have a large belly (which it does not). Amassing 105 grams (3.7 oz) across it’s 203mm (8.0″) overall length, the Skinner is not a overtly heavy blade for carrying around. The tang of the Sninner is only 3/4 length opposed to a full tang setup. The grip consists of several components which are seamlessly moulded together, primarily the Zytel core and the soft thermoplastic rubber (TPR) outer covering which enhances the “scales” of the grip.

Skinner exposed!

The Skinner is the result of numerous years of prototypes and enhancing from user comments and critiques.

For control-ability a large choil is inset into the grip shape allowing for refined control. In addition, the large blade allows for the user to have ample thumb room for strong and deft manipulation of the cutting edge which is imperative for skinning. With the attached lanyard for retention, the Skinner allows for continuous, at-ready use.

What a blade!

The blade profile has a large belly and is exceptionally wide

The sheath of Ken Onion’s Skinner blade is remarkable in itself. Manufactured similarly to pancake holsters, the sheath is profiled to carry the Skinner on a forward sweeping angle. Crafted from 6 ounce leather and treated to be black in appearance, the sheath masses roughly one third of the blade itself at 60 grams (3.7 oz). The sheath incorporates a profile contoured shape which results in an exceptionally good securing method for the blade. Designed for ambidextrous wearing, the sheath is equally at home for both right and left handed users and the angled design means a more comfortable fit when the knife is sheathed.

The Grip

Ken Onion’s Skinner has a simple soft grip that is more secure than it looks

The Ken Onion designed Skinner knife is manufactured by CRKT under the model code K700KXP and has an MSRP of $89.99 USD. It is available for purchase from retailers such as MilArm Co. Ltd. located in Edmonton, Alberta. Is this knife design Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical? That is for you, the reader, to decide.