Gun company-branded knives have always been kind of a mixed bag. They range from the cutlery equivalent of mystery meat (any Chinese job shop that has some extra capacity and can stamp a logo) to well-established partnerships (Remington/Bear, Smith & Wesson/Taylor, H&K/Benchmade). Then there’s the premium end of the scale such as Wilson Combat’s collaborations with what amount to some of the superstars of the cutlery world like Chris Reeve and Les George. FNH USA is one gun manufacturer that, until now, has never gotten into the branded knife biz. But when they decided to commission a limited run . . .
they took a decidedly high end approach. And knife knuts are the luckier for it.
Just before the SHOT Show, they announced they’d be selling a series of 250 serialized fixed blades. And they auctioned knife No. 1 off to benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation an organization that assists the families of wounded SpecOps members and pays for post-secondary educations for the children of those killed in the line of duty.
To make the limited run something special, FNH partnered with Bawidamann Blades, makers of high quality fixed tactical knives. The FNH/Bawidamann knives are priced at $449 each. Yes, that’s a lot of shekels. But as you’d expect, in addition to supporting a very good cause, FNH and Bawidamann are offering a plethora of extras.
Those include an engraved walnut presentation case, a serialized (to match the knife) challenge coin with FN’s logo on once side and Bawidamann’s on the other, a beautifully designed adjustable Kydex sheath and Bawidamann’s impressive P.U.P. retention system.
So yes, it’s nice to help some people who need it and extras are nice, but none of that matters much without a good core product. And in Bawidamann, FNH chose very wisely.
The knife is a 4.25″ full tang fixed blade affair that feels like a natural part of your hand. Let’s start with the steel. No half measures here as Bawidamann used CMP S35VN, one of the latest powdered “super steels.” It’s an updated version of S30V that exhibits top flight edge retention and corrosion resistance with easier sharpening.
I’m not a fan of tanto blades. They may look cool to some, but they complicate the sharpening process with little to no added benefit in performance in most situations.
The business end of the FNH/Bawidamann blade a deep-bellied, stonewashed semi-tanto with a 2.5″ swedge, excellent jimping and the characteristic Bawidamann deep file work. The blade is made from heavy 5/32″ stock that will stand up to virtually anything from skinning a deer to full-on batoning. .
Along with tantos, I don’t go in much for recurve edges either. Again, they can make sharpening a bear. The good news: Bawidamann didn’t get too fancy here. Yes, the knife has a recurve, but it’s oh-so-slight. Nothing that will make the process of reestablishing an edge after heavy use difficult.
Then there’s the grip. For the FNH knife, Bawidamann chose their “chunky” G10 scales that provide an amazingly comfortable, positive four-finger grip on the blade. Add to that the deep first and second finger choils and you’ve got yourself a knife that isn’t going anywhere until you’re darned good and ready to let go. Not that you’ll want to.
Balance is near perfect, with the tipping point just slightly forward of the index finger position. And the neatly ground jimping is perfect, providing just the right blend of comfort and control via your opposable thumb without shredding it.
Fit and finish are F-ing flawless. All non-cutting edges are smoothly and evenly chamfered for supreme comfort. And the knife’s 4″ cutting edge is beautifully ground, ready right out of the box to render your forearm hairless as a newborn’s butt.
Blade No. 015 reduced about five square yard of cardboard into a quivering pile of buff-colored papardelle at my feet without so much as breaking a sweat. Then it made mincemeat out of a six foot length of rope. Next up was about an hour of serious whittling followed by a half dozen feather sticks. After all that, the S35VN was marginally less keen that it arrived out of the box, but about five minutes on a ceramic steel restored it to its original, scary-sharp state.
Which brings us to carrying this thing. Bawidamann’s Kydex sheath is wonderfully flexible in the way you can configure it to carry in a variety of configurations.
First, there are the conventional vertical and horizontal modes attached to a sturdy belt. With an overall length of 8.5″, vertical carry probably isn’t the way to go if you’re at all pear-shaped as am I. The much better option for all-day comfort is horizontal carry, which is easily achieved with the excellent fittings and hardware provided.
For more tactical options, there’s the wonderfully conceived Bawidamann P.U.P. system that allows you to tote your blade while affixed to any gear that’s PALS compliant. I could go on and on trying to convey how ingenious the P.U.P. rig’s design is, but I couldn’t do a better job than Falia Photography already has, so I’ll leave you in her capable hands.
Suffice it to say that the inclusion of Bawidamann’s P.U.P. platform with a tactical blade such as this is a huge plus.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to do better in a mid-sized fixed knife than this FNH/Bawidamann collaboration. Try as I might, there’s very little to find fault with (though it’s probably a little on the thick side for EDC carry). No, it ain’t cheap. But yes, you’re getting a hell of a beautifully made blade with a some very impressive extras. How can you go wrong?
Overall length: 8.5”
Blade length: 4.25” (4” cutting edge)
Blade depth: 1.5” at choil (1.2” at belly)
Weight: 7.4 oz.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality: * * * * *
Top notch. A state of the art steel beautifully crafted into an ideal-sized fixed blade that’s just about perfect for any job you can think of.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
It’s hard to overstate how comfortably the FNH blade feels in your had. Those sculpted scales, chamfered corners, that excellent jimping and deep choils make this as comfortable a knife to hold and use as you’ll find.
Retention: * * * * *
Between the excellent sheath and Bawidamann’s wonderfully-designed P.U.P system, it’s awfully hard to come up with a carry configuration that doesn’t work.
Value: * * * *
OK, so $449 is a lot of samolians. Point taken. But you’re getting a top notch knife with accessories and contributing to a worthy charity. How much is that worth?
Overall: * * * * *
For a company with no prior knife experience, FNH hit themselves a home run in choosing to partner with Bawidamann. This is a first quality blade — maybe the only fixed blade you’ll ever need. Grit your teeth and write the check. You’ll be glad you did.