Question of the Day: Can you Pick Three?


The Boker Ridgeback is Under $100, has modern styling, but isn’t made in the USA.

Reader Jake Middleton writes:

Hi Clay,

I’m on a quest for a blade and wanted to get your opinion, or your readers opinion on it. I’m looking for a “unique” sub 4 inch fixed blade. By unique I don’t mean cost $300 either. I just mean something that not everyone has, or maybe a company that isn’t well known but makes good stuff.


$100 is my limit
under 4 inches(for legality in upstate NY)
must be made in America
have some self defense traits
have some hunting/fishing/ outdoors traits.
multiple carry options preferable.

Anything come to mind?

There is an adage in the firearm community that you get to pick 2: Cheap, Reliable, or Accurate. A Mosin is cheap and reliable, an AR is reliable and accurate. As I attempted to come up with an answer to Jake’s question, there seems to be triad in the knife world as well. It seems that you get to pick two: Modern Design, Made in USA, Under $100. It seems like all of the possibilities I could come up with only checked two of the boxes.


The Boker reminds me of the more expensive Wilmont Persian Fighter

As shown in the lead photo, my choice is the Boker Ridgeback. This knife picks modern design – the “unique it factor”, and it comes in under $100 (on sale for $65 at Blade HQ). It reminds me of the Wilmont Persian Fighter, which is Made in the USA, but comes in at $250. 440c is not Cru-Wear, but is perfectly acceptable for those on a budget. It even has an aftermarket sheath which allows for horizontal belt carry.

Jake runs the website:, a blog dedicated to highlighting American-made products that are technically top-notch. So Made in the USA is a non-negotiable point on this quest to find a new fixed blade. It is something we at TTAK have wrestled with in the past.

I am not such a purist, though I understand Jake’s POV. I do not like carrying a Chinese-made knife. It just bothers me because every time I use it I am reminded of the decline of American manufacturing. This isn’t a knock on CRKT or Cold Steel. Their business model is built around bringing big-name American designers’ work to the public at large, at a price that is accessible to most folks. The vast majority of their offerings are quality tools that I can enthusiastically recommend as worthy of my readers’ money. I proudly pack my Ken Onion designed CRKT Halfachance  in my Jeep and truck. I just don’t like the EDC tool I pull out a dozen or more times a day to be from China.

Unlike Jake, I am willing to entertain European offerings. When I am not testing a knife for the blog, I carry a Mora Bushcraft from Sweden when I Guide. I like EnZo and Helle knives from Finland. Same holds true for German blades like Boker, or the French Maker Opinel. I was a Spyderco fanboy at an earlier point in my life and carry the Golden, CO made Native, though I have also owned several Seki-blade Spydercos as well. The combination of centuries of blademaking tradition, plus the fact that the knives come from countries that are our allies, do not cause me the same level of consternation as carrying Chinese steel.

There are plenty of American offerings that are inexpensive. Cammilus, Ontario, Case,Buck and others all make high-quality knives that would meet Jake’s needs. I have been very pleased with my Ontario TAK, though it is too long for NY carry. The problem is that many of these venerable manufacturers are a bit stale in the design department. Or their more modern designs come with a higher price. There are several Benchmade models that come to mind. Jake looked at the Steep Country, but found it to be a bit lacking in the “it factor”.

Right now Jake is leaning toward the DPX gear HEST. DPX Gear is owned by Robert Young Pelton, the famed author and adventure traveler. His stuff is well regarded, though I personally am not crazy about the aesthetics. But that is fairly arbitrary and a personal choice. The HEST would certainly cover Jake’s list if he likes it.

Can you come up with a knife the “Picks all Three”? If not, which of the considerations are you most willing to be flexible on?

Thanks Jake for giving me such an interesting topic to write about tonight.



  1. FJO says:

    How about something from Ecos Knives?

  2. SLP says:

    How about one of these?

    1. TOPS/Buck CSAR-T Liaison: 3-inch blade, Paul Bos-treated 420HC. Made in the USA. $35.

    2. Ontario RAT-3: 3.75-inch blade, 1095 carbon steel. Made in the USA. $65.

    3. Buck Ops Boot Knife: 3-inch blade, Paul Bos-treated 154CM. Made in the USA. $82.

  3. DanV says:

    How about the TOPS Strikar XL Hunter. US made, 1095 with micarta handles, kydex sheath with muti position clip. Just under a 100 from the place I normally shop.

  4. It is a shame that we have to worry about arbitrary blade length laws. My own “4 inch” knife that I keep around for just such circumstances is the Fållkniven F1 (as mentioned in my Survival Knife Question of the Day post). They are a little over $100 but I bought mine used for $90. Too bad for Jake they are made in Japan, but there was another knife I was considering at the time that would fit the bill

    I would go with the ESEE 3P. A little bit tactical, a little bit outdoorsy. Modular sheath system. Made in the USA and available right around $100. Reportedly higher quality than the Ontario RAT knives.

    1. I’ve been looking at that ESEE 3p as well, nifty looking knife from a reputable company. the Length limit is just ridiculous IMO, and honestly I’m not worried about it for when I go hunting/fishing/outdoorsing, just for when I’m EDCing. The knives are out there, I just don’t have any personal experience with some of these brands, I know they have a great rep, but none of my local stores carry them, so I can’t check them out first.

      this other one from ESEE looks cool too.

      and this one from TOPS

      1. Jake,

        I’ve been working on a review of the Izula-II. Look for it hopefully next week. The quality is excellent 😉

        1. the Izula II is only $80 on with an engraving…seems like a solid deal, can’t wait for the review

  5. Tom says:

    Benchmade 151 Fixed Griptillian.

    1. Only two problems for Jake in this case. Blade is over 4″ and it has been out of production for a few years. Good knife though. I used to have one myself.

  6. Roger says:

    As someone who has worked I. American Manufacturing, I’m way more likely to carry a foreign made knife. They’re cheaper, generally, and you can still get extremely good quality.

    1. Definitely cheaper in many cases, for myself it’s just a personal choice. I don’t hate on anyone that does, I just try to exhaust my American options first, and if I can’t find anything that fits my needs/budget I buy what I need regardless. However, a lot of these suggestions are just awesome! and don’t cost much more(if at all) than an imported one.

  7. Jon M. says:

    The Izula II with sheath and micarta scales is damn near perfect for fixed blade belt carry imo (horizontal I’m assuming). Knife Connection has kits where you can mix and match sheath colors, custom scales, etc and it comes in under $100 iirc, all made in USA.

    Another similar opion is a Kabar Becker BK24, collaboration between KaBar and ESEE, uses D2 instead of 1095 and is made in USA, although sheaths are made in China. I’d order from Tomar’s KaBar and get an optional set of Zytel scales, makes the knife very similar to Izzy 2 with micarta. Tomar’s has the best prices AND his shop and KaBar are both in upstate NY.

    Both are high quality, excellent values, made in USA, under $100, can be set up for belt horizontal carry, have versatile blade shapes and grinds for pretty much any task.

    I have the BK24 in a custom 710 necksheath, great blade, great combo, highly recommended.

    1. that BK24 looks pretty solid as well, i like that it’s NY made. Didn’t realize Becker made their stuff here.

      All the suggestions were really great! I’m going between that Izula II and the Becker for now. Going to wait and see what David’s review looks like.

  8. Gary F. says:

    I own the ESEE 4P, I don’t think you would be disappointed in the 3P.

  9. andrey says:

    Most high-quality blades that have ever seen buying on this site

  10. sasha says:

    I’m a cryptocurrency investor always looking for an inspiration and fruitful new ideas. Apart from crypto world my scope of interest includes dogs, cats and collecting little figurines of elephants from all over the world.
    I am currently working on my new project

  11. People always mocked me about me love of huge knives but what can I do – ’tis my passion, ’tis da way I express meself, ’tis the way I am, Jason Voorhees no less

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Question of the Day: Can you Pick Three?

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