First Impression Review: Sean McWilliams Forge Model 1

Last September, Sean McWilliams participated in our 5 from the Grinder series. I have stayed in touch with Sean as he suggested I carry his Model 1 for a while as I begin my season here in the Smokies. It is the knife Sean carries when he fishes the rivers of Colorado, so I was obviously interested in giving it a shot. Sean forges stainless, one of very few smiths who engage in this precision niche, but he stands by these knives in wet outdoor environments he calls home.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and while I haven’t had it on the water, I have enjoyed playing with it at home. It feels light and slicey in the hand, with a slim and comfortable micarta handle.

There is a fraction under 4″ of useful edge with a large choil of dubious utility.  I personally prefer the extra edge unless the choil is large enough to safely choke up on the knife. It does seem to aesthetically balance the knife though. This really is an attractive knife.

The edge is incredibly sharp as well.

It zipped through both peeling an apple, but slicing it as well as any paring knife in any kitchen.

Same goes for some tomatoes.

Close up:

Lest you think this blade is purely a delicate little violet, this is some really hard cutting-board maple:

And a single pass against a bench through 3/4″ manila rope was left hanging by a thread

The sheath is a bit unusual, reflecting the preferences of a maker who carries this knife on his Colorado streams and rivers. There is an integral tether, which can be tucked-away unobtrusively in the front of the sheath. As a former guide on the Snake River, I understand the desirability of this feature if you are wading big water or are in a floorless fishing raft. As I will be wading smaller mountain streams, I am going to trust the sheaths friction and velcro flap.

The sheath has both a belt loop for vertical carry, and two perpendicular loops which allow for horizontal belt-carry. These also thread onto the bandolier strap of my sling-pack, an arrangement that worked well for me when carrying the Gerber Strong Arm.

I am looking forward to hitting the water with the McWilliams Forge Model 1 soon. If the weather stays in the 50s and 60s like it has been, the fishing ought to be about as good as one could hope to find in February.



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