Reader Jake Middleton writes:
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.
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: RuggedAmericanGear.com, 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.