Despite being under the weather, I did manage to leave Atlanta with some pretty sweet steel. Not only did I pick up a handful of excellent blades to review, I’ve managed to add a couple of gems to my collection as well.
The marquee blade I have on loan for testing comes from Cohutta Knife’s Russell Reece, one of Andy Roy’s (Fiddleback Forge) up and coming apprentices. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Reece this year and the quality of his knives is impeccable.
The knife I will be testing is the Cohutta Bearpen. Plain-jane versions of this start at $250, but this version is quite a bit fancier. The steel is 1/8″ A2 with a tapered tang, green canvas scales with a blue pinstripe, natural micarta liners and matching pins. This one rings up at $335 sans sheath.
A quick trip over to my buddy Spen Stelzer of JRE Industries (who, full disclosure, makes the sheaths I sell with my Nordsmith Knives) solved my sheath issue. His E-pattern was a perfect fit for this super comfortable blade. I’m looking forward to putting this one through the wringer.
I am also getting to try out Dogwood Custom Knives’ new elegant Fish and Fowl / Steak Knife.
This knife comes in two tiers. Dogwood owner Dan Eastland does these as full custom versions with thin particle steels and a wide range of handle materials. The version I am testing is a more affordable version in 440C, available with black or natural micarta scales. Price on this version with is $98, or $113 with a JRE Leather sheath.
I have already put this knife to use cutting protein in my kitchen and I am loving it. Truth be told, that is where the bulk of my testing on this blade will take place. I’ll try to mix things up best I can with a bunch of different cutting mediums.
Another knife I am testing that will see culinary, as well as outdoor use, is the Condor Scalper. This knife is the brainchild of my friend Tim Stetzer who, along with Joe Flowers, designed the knife as an homage to the trade knives that proliferated along the American frontier. Those knives had to do everything from skinning and butchering to woodworking to cooking.
The Condor Scalper is made from 3/32″ thick 1075 steel, full tang, with a satin finish. The lanyard hole in the hardwood handles is the only modern consideration in the design.
The sheath is full of character too. The whole package wouldn’t look out of place in reenactment circles, and this should be a fun knife to put through its paces.
On to personal acquisitions, this was a light year for me; I only came back with three new items for my collection.
The first was a trade that I made with our friend Todd Hunt (T.M. Hunt Custom Knives) for one of his new Hedgehogs in AEB-L steel that debuted at BLADE this year.
The G10 handle on this one is inlayed with a piece of micarta, which creates a cool effect in the way it is placed. The knife is comfy as heck and I’ll have fun EDC-ing this one for a while.
All of Todd’s knives come with a sheath, but I have Allen Surls to thank for hooking me up with a Rick Lowe pocket sheath that fit the knife perfectly.
My second acquisition was more of a curiosity, as I can’t really carry it day-to-day, and is a knife that actually debuted last year. I had a friend recently show me his USA-made Kershaw Launch 1 automatic, and I was impressed by it. The action was good and the lockup solid with a very practical blade shape and grind.
Best of all, the materials… anodized aluminum handles and CPM-154 particle steel, all for a price of just $100. I found a dealer selling them at the show and I couldn’t help myself.
And the best for last…
Last year, Ethan Becker brought his Colclesser Bros. Kephart to the show, the only one known to be out there in personal hands, and in the course of the last year, Dan Eastland made ten recreations based on measurements taken from the original.
Clay was lucky enough to be able to buy one of those ten from Dan, but the final one was being put up for silent auction at the Dogwood booth over the course of the show. Benefits of being present all weekend, I managed to stalk the auction sheet up to the last minute and walked away the winner!
Steel is 1095 with a slight taper and the scales are made from Pennsylvania black walnut harvested approximately 1913, making the wood itself contemporary with the original Colclesser knives. The sheath was made by Mathew Gillenwater of Reliance Leatherworks, who did an insane amount of research as well, right down to getting a custom stamp made for just this project. This is as close to an original sheath as you will ever see.
Having handled Ethan’s original and getting to compare these side by side, there are some superficial differences but nothing that changes the feel of the knife. The blade on the original is a little more convex toward the spine. Balance and weight are darn near identical and they feel about the same in hand. The only place where Dan deviated from the original was adding thin black liners. This was to help ensure that 100 years from now, with a century of wear or aging, there would be no mistaking this knife for an original Colclesser.
This is now one of the highlights of my collection and I’m thrilled to have it. Although I’m usually not one for safe queens, this and a few other knives in my collection have been making a liar out of me!
Read more about the original here:
That’s it for my haul this year. Be sure to stay tuned for the reviews to come, and be sure to follow us on Instagram (@knifetruth) to see some in progress testing.
More BLADE Show coverage: