Battered from field use, the Ultimate is revisited…
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
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
• Sheath rides to high on the belt causing discomfort.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Camping or hunting, SOG’s Woodline is an answer…
This author has had many opportunities to review knives of several manufacturers, and yes; even more are upcoming. However, once in a while, a slightly different knife comes about from the rest of those which have already been examined by the hands of TPF. Now as has been stated previously, and will be stated again, the authors of TPF are not knife experts, while the terminology and knowledge are still being accumulated, TPF should not be categorized as an expert. At this time, that is… Today we get to look at a sample of SOG’s product line, the Woodline series of knives. According to SOG’s website:
That feeling of leaving civilization behind as you move out of the valley and into the woodline is the inspiration for this series of fixed blades and folders.
The Woodline series of knives consist of both a larger fixed blade and a smaller folding blade design. At one time a smaller fixed version was offered but it was discontinued for 2012. Now for the meat and potatoes of this review. The Woodline fixed blade is a non-serrated, trailing point design which measures 264mm (8.4″) overall and masses 235gr (8.3oz); resulting in a large knife for belt mounted EDC. In the author’s opinion this is a field knife, carried and utilized in specific situations such as hunting, camping and other outdoor pursuits which allow for extra bulk and mass to be carried.
The extremely long curved cutting edge of the Woodline’s 122mm (4.8″) blade designed to a good knife for skinning, and with the 3.8mm (0.15″) thick spine the blade can withstand considerable abuse. Made with the standard SOG material, 8Cr13MoV Stainless steel, the knife itself should be able to keep an edge well and be readily sharpened. On the back of the spine are numerous thumb grooves to aid in fine blade control, which is required to prevent unwanted cuts and nicks with the upraised blade tip. The bolster, the metallic section between blade and handle, is made from cast stainless steel and creates the large finger groove in the handle’s grip profile. The tang of the knife is completely encased in very smooth hard wood which is retained by a series of stainless steel torx head screws. The final accoutrement is a lanyard loop consisted of a stainless steel tube imbedded in the end of the handle.
The sheath is composed primarily of 7oz leather with the reviewed piece having a nice uniform dark brown colouration. The leather sheath not only covers the entirety of the blade edge, but nearly the entire bolster and a small portion of the hardwood handle. Blade retention is accomplished though a single leather strap using a press snap button. This strap wraps around the generous finger groove formed in the bolster of the knife. A single belt loop, also made from 7oz leather and 20mm (0.8″) in width, is riveted place. A basic SOG logo is branded into the face of the sheath.
The Woodline fixed blade knife by SOG is an impressive looking product , appears to be very well made and creates an attractive package with the dark leather sheath. The only additional observation which can be made by TPF is that the knife itself is made outside of North America, which does keep manufacturing costs down, but may affect the purchasing decision of prospective buyers. The SOG WD-01 Woodline, large fixed blade knife as reviewed by TPF, has an MSRP of $60USD and is available with many Canadian retailers including various Canadian Tires stores across Canada.
The question, as always, posed to you, the reader, is whether this item is Tactical, Practical or Fantastical?
Back to basics – Lessons and results by Gerber
With advances in technology and more advanced manufacturing techniques, ergonomic sculpting, exotic shapes, and highly technical mechanisms have seemed to become a mainstay of many of today’s manufacturers and Gerber is no exception to this as evidenced by the creation of the Flik multi-tool previously reviewed here at TPF-Online. Gerber has been around for quite a number of years and has made countless designs of knives, multi-tools, and other products which are used by a great many people around the world. However they realized that as technology advances, there is still a very basic principle which needed to be heeded.
What is the basic definition of a knife? A tool used for cutting. That was the entire concept behind the knife being reviewed today. The Basic, a fixed blade knife by Gerber was designed and began production several years ago. As stated, it was a throwback in design with the primary factors being size, generic functionality and durability.
The Basic is just that, a very basic everyday utility knife. Featuring a 76.2mm (3.0″) drop point blade design, the blade is very typical for many knives and follows a sabre ground profile for strength. The cutting edge is partially serrated for true multi-purpose design utility. With the spine/full tang measuring 3.8mm (0.150″) in thickness, the robustness of the design is very apparent. While the overall knife length of 168mm (6.6″) makes the handle small, the huge large finger groove/choil behind the blade edge allows for a very secure grip. Due to this large choil it almost appears that the small grip panels were added as an afterthought to the full tang of the Basic. TPF has noticed however that the blade length has been listed at various sites, including Gerber’s, as nearly 86.5mm (3.40″) in length which would be measuring from blade tip to the leading edge of the grip panels. The grip panels themselves are not spectacular, primarily being made of nylon, and each side is secured into the full tang by three small Torx head screws. However a large portion of these nylon panels mount Gerber’s TacHide™ grip material which is very soft and provides a very secure grip on the knife. The full length tang incorporates a trio of scalloped indents on the spine as thumb ridges, in addition to the large lanyard loop incorporated in the full tang and accentuated by the grip panels.
TPF was unable to determine the mechanical properties of the steel used to manufacture the Basic, but a source says that the blade is most likely constructed with 420HC stainless steel, which is nearly a default for Gerber products unless otherwise indicated. The entire blade and tang are nitride coated for additional corrosion resistance and results in a generally matte dark grey finish. Overall knife mass is roughly 105 gr (3.7oz) which is considerable when combined with the very small size of the knife itself. It seems to be a success when measured against the basic design principles used for it’s creation. However, TPF will note that the handle profile, while designed for extreme comfort and great control, is somewhat diminutive for those individuals whom have larger hands as the knife becomes a three finger profile.
The sheath of the Basic is the complete opposite of the knife in terms of simple design criteria. Created from two molded halves mated together, the completely polymer sheath is a marvel of modern design. A plastic tension catch is part of the molded sheath and securely retains the Basic knife with a force that would potentially overcome the reversible metallic belt clip. The clip is positioned for right handed carry and is made of a stainless spring steel. Retained by two small screws similar to that of the belt clip, a small metallic plaque is on the opposite side of the sheath proudly displaying the Gerber name. TPF did not try to reverse the clip as the durability of the sheath is most likely the weakest point of this entire package. Combined the Basic knife and sheath measure only slightly longer than the knife itself at 173mm (6.8″) and the small package, while fairly heavy is indeed a worthy addition to nearly person’s knife inventory.
The Basic knife as offered by Gerber Gear, is a fixed, partially serrated blade which has an MSRP of 43.00USD, and is available at many outdoor supply stores as well as online retailers such as www.canadiansafetysource.ca. As usual however, it is up to you the reader to decide if the Gerber Basic is Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical.
A general workhorse knife? SOG may have it already!
The title easily sums up what the focus of this instalment of TPF will be regarding. It has been called the most most popular item produced by SOG Specialty Knives and Tools. However, isn’t some fancy multi-tool, which TPF does enjoy reviewing by the way. Nor is it some flashy folding knife with all sorts of carry options, which TPF also likes to see. It just happens to be a simple solidly built fixed knife titled the Field Pup I.
Now here at TPF, we cannot fathom why SOG chose to label this blade the Field Pup, but when introduced in as a new product in 2002, the Field Pup was hailed as a very good all around knife. It’s larger brother the X-42 Field Knife, won in 2003 for Field and Stream’s Best of the Best for design and overall capabilities for a conventional and utilitarian blade. While the X-42 field knife is no longer produced, the Field Pup mimics most of the features that were so highly appraised on it’s bigger brother.
Sporting a 102mm (4.0″) blade whose spine is an impressive 3.3mm (0.13″) thick the Field Pup shows off it’s primary feature quite well. The flat ground blade has a slight drop point profile with the back edge being nearly linear, and featuring a slight recurve cutting edge which adds to the utilitarian design of the knife itself. A recurve blade feature is supposed to lend itself to aid in slicing (draw-cuts), and on larger blades allows for more mass to be closer to the tip of the blade and promote higher chopping ability.
The grip of the Field Pup is manufactured from Kraton, a synthetic substitute for rubber, and is moulded around the full length tang of the blade. With better chemical, wear, and thermal resistance than rubber, the Kraton grips are a natural choice for a field knife that could be exposed to any environment and a large variety of tasks. The thickly moulded grip incorporates a trio of shallow finger grooves and has a very slightly compressible surface which, when added to the checkered pattern on the grip sides, makes this knife extremely comfortable and affords a very secure means of holding the knife. An aggressive thumb ridging on the spine of the knife enhances the ability for imparting force and control through any heavier cutting work that may be done with the blade.
Overall this knife measures 216mm (8.5″) in length and masses 212.6 grams (7.5 oz) which is fairly lightweight as an all round field utility knife. The blade is manufactured from 7Cr17MoV steel, which TPF has been told is the equivalent of 440A stainless steel, and receives very well regarded heat treatment processes, which enhance both the wear resistance and edge retaining properties of the blade.
Over the many years of production, the only alterations other than the text and logo have been the once included para cord lanyard loop and a selection of sheath designs. The two previous sheath for the Field pup reflected the trends of the times. A riveted, simple leather fold-over belt sheath and a larger nylon sheath with retaining snap loop and an accessory pocket. The current sheath is a fairly simple leather fold-over design which uses 2.4 – 2.8mm (6-7 oz) leather and has the retaining edges stitched. Recall that the older version was riveted, however, unlike the past version, today’s Field Pup sheath comes with a retaining snap loop. A generously sized, albeit thin, belt loop completes the sheath.
A single variation of the Field Pup is available and the only difference the satin finish, as reviewed, is replaced by the blade being coated in a black titanium nitrite finish. Due to the immense popularity of this knife design, SOG also created a slightly larger version which is nearly identical in manufacture. These upscaled 121mm (4.75″) blade versions are called the Field Pup II.
Overall TPF finds the Field Pup I a very solidly constructed knife and understands why it has been such a popular knife for hunters, campers, and outdoors-men in general for all these years. The Field Pup I, model FP3 as reviewed, has an MSRP of $62.25 USD and can be readily found at a variety of stores, such as Warriors and Wonders in Vancouver, B.C.
The one true question that only you, the reader, can answer. Is the Field Pup I fixed blade knife, from SOG Specialty Knives and Tools; Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?