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Friday, July 10, 2009

My favorite knives

I have had a lot of knives over the years and have decided that high carbon steel blades work the best for me. I like stainless but there are so few alloys that hold a good edge for a reasonable time and they are very expensive. Maybe I’m just better at sharpening carbon steel, but these type blades stay sharp and last me for a very long time.

I do own a few stainless blades and they are made by Victorinox (my SAK & GAK) and an S30V Buck Hartsook. These blades are incredible! I touch up my Victorinox steel very lightly with my fine grade ceramic rods on my Lansky and they are razor sharp. A final stropping with my chrome oxide loaded strop puts a final finish on them.

Top: Buck Hartsook

Bottom: new style sheath

The S30V Buck is quite a blade, too. I do the same routine with it and it is good for a long time. S30V is made by Crucible Steel in New York state. S30V is a powdered metal and this makes it very expensive. The MSRP for a Hartsook is around $40. I noticed that Buck has another knife, the Buck/Mayo Kaala, made from S30V and it is around $120. Its not much bigger than a Mora. I carry the Hartsook in my front shirt or pants pocket and I hardly know its there. Its such a handy little knife and I use it every day around the house and at work. Mine has the old style sheath and I have been eyeing a new style sheath but the cost is a bit too high ($10.). I use a ranger band to keep my sheath tight enough that there are no looseness problems with it.

Top: R Murphy

Bottom: Lauri

Speaking of Mora’s, I love them. But I have a problem with the short, under strength tang on most of them. I got a Lauri of Finland blade from Bens Backwoods and I mounted it in a cedar handle. This knife has a nice long tang and its very sturdy. Its also progressive tempered high carbon and holds an incredible edge. The Mora #1 & 2 have a good tang but I don’t care for the handle that much. They are excellent knives, though. Take a look at this xray photo of Mora knife tangs. It will explain the tang problem better.

Top to bottom: Craftsman, Clipper, 711, 2000, 510

Three Kellams and a Mora at the bottom.

Another knife I’ve grown fond of is the R. Murphy knife sold by Bens Backwoods for all of $17. The Murphy knives are made in Ayer, Massachusetts. I remember seeing this factory when I was stationed at Fort Devens which is just outside of Ayer city limits. This is a very nice carbon steel knife and I use it for food prep. It’s the thinnest blade I have and I bought it for this purpose. I like the hump with the gimping on it. It gives it excellent control when cutting and peeling. These were sold years ago by Herters. Mine is the smaller Sportman knife with 4” blade. It comes with a very nice leather sheath which can be worn on the belt or as a neck knife.

Ontario Spec Plus survival

The good old Ontario Pilots & Air Crew survival knife has been a favorite for many years. I was issued o

ne with the leather handle when I was in the Army in 1971. The date on the butt was 1-71. I had that knife for about 30 years until some low life lifted it from my truck. I went out looking for another one and bought a new Ontario Spec Plus version. It is the same blade style but the handle and sheath are all new. The handle is Kraton non-slip and the sheath Cordura and leather. I actually like the handle on the Spec Plus version a lot better. Its bigger and fits my huge old hands just right.

KA-BAR Kukri

I recently did an article on the KA-BAR Kukri so I won’t get too much into it. It’s a great blade and the more I use it the more I like it. I’m amazed how long it stays sharp and the capabilities it possesses. I’ve done everything from major firewood chopping to fine draw knifeing with it. What a blade!

Top three: Schrade, Schmidt & Zeigler,Victorinox SAK

Bottom: Victorinox GAK

I have a selection of pocket knives I consider keepers. These are my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife ( also known as SAK) and my Victorinox German Army Knife (aka GAK). There’s something about Victorinox stainless steel that makes it hold a razor sharp edge and keep it. My other pocket folders are the made in USA Old Timer “peanut” twin blade by Schrade (before they sold out the factory to Taylor Brands in China!) and an old Solingen, Germany Schmidt & Zeigler 3 blade. Both of these are carbon steel.

I carry my SAK & GAK pocket knives in leather bags made to fit them. This keeps all the junk that is bound to collect in your pockets from gunking up the joints. I make the bags big enough to hold an accompanying diamond hone. The Old Timer and Solingen are kept in small survival kit.

As you can see, none of my knives are high dollar blades yet they perform just as good as a knife costing many times their price. The most expensive knife is the KA-BAR at $50.00.


Tim Noble said...

What's your favourite sharpener

Ron Layton said...

My favorite sharpener is the Lansky ceramic rod sharpener. I show it in the "Sharpening tools" article. I also use diamond and Arkansas stone for certain knives. For instance, I had a Gerber Freeman made from AUS8 and it would only take an edge with a 230 grit diamond hone. Go figure.

Tennessee Knives said...

I think the best knives are the ones passed down from your father or grandfather.

Tim Noble said...

My favourite sharpener is a Shrade Old Timer...I just bought a Bailey Bradford Bowie which I am going to leave to my's a beaut!

mnblade said...

I love my old Old Timer as well. Like you, I've just found that old fashioned carbon steel just does the job better for me. It's worth noting, btw, that Case still does make some carbon steel (they call it CV steel) knives that are a good buy. Check 'em out at

Ron Layton said...

Thanks for that link, mnblade! I added itto the links section.

Tim Noble said...

I've just spotted some interesting stuff on this new knife forum in the UK. see what you think.