ROSarms Federal Super Review
I received a ROSarms Federal Super (along with a Messer-1) last weekend through the pass-around here and wanted to share some thoughts. ROSarms describes the Federal Super as a military style fighting knife. The “Super” designation refers to the fact that it is the big brother to the popular “Federal” knife. The Federal Super is a big knife -- 12 inches overall with a 7 inch blade. Visually, it reminds me of Jimmy Lile's Rambo knife in First Blood or the Buck Knives Buckmaster.
It definitely looks like a military knife.
The handle is made from stacked leather washers set between two larger micarta washers and an aluminum butt-cap and guard. The aluminum looks good and seems pretty scratch-resistant while keeping the weight of the knife down versus steel. When in use, the guard is effective in protecting your fingers and the leather feels smooth yet secure. In cross-section, the handle is wide, flat oval and nicely contoured and shaped for an ergonomic grip. Overall the knife feels sturdy and I couldn't detect any wiggle between the tang and handle.
The mirror-polished full-tang blade is seven inches long and .2 inches thick at the spine. It is well finished with a nice profile and an attractively-etched logo representing its origins in Zlatoust, Russia. According to the company's website, the polished blade is hand made from 110x82 steel. 110x82 is apparently a Russian-made steel that compares to BG-42. The saber grind has a 1.5 inch false edge along the top that leads into a row of unsharpened teeth that ends in a depression before the hilt guard that is like a reverse choil. In use, the teeth along the top of the spine aren’t terribly useful as a saw. They might be useful as a fish scaler, but I didn’t have a walleye handy to try it. I suspect that the teeth may also interfere with batoning, but didn't try that either.
The black leather sheath has been the subject of some discussion amongst the previous reviewers, but I can't complain too much. I think it is relatively well-made and superior to some of the nylon or Kydex sheaths sometimes packaged with a knife in this price range (under $150.) Sometimes, you get no sheath at all. As to the Federal Super sheath, the construction and stitching is very nice and up to the level of the knife it fits, but the leather looks like vinyl and the finishing looks a little cheap -- even more so than in the Messer-1 sheath. The stud closure seems antiquated, but is functional.
Note: the photo of the Federal Super shown on the ROSarms website shows a different sheath than I received, so it may have been changed or upgraded. There is no lanyard shown in the ROSarms website photos, either, and the one shown in my photos may have been added after receipt by one of the previous pass-around participants.
Size & Weight
The Federal Super is a big knife -- almost big enough to use in the Crocodile Dundee "That's not a knife, this is a knife..." scene. Despite it's size however, it isn't too heavy to carry. I think the aluminum bolsters help keep the weight down. It also feels very well balanced from tip to pommel.
Here's a size comparison with the ROSarms Messer-1, which is 9.5 inches long in the sheath (reviewed by me here), an Olsen Hunter, which is 11 inches long in the sheath, the Federal Super, which is nearly 13 inches long in the sheath, and a Becker Tac-Tool from Camillus that reaches 13.5 inches in the sheath. The Messer weighs 3.8 ounces without the sheath and 5.6 ounces in the sheath. The Olsen weighs 8.5 without the sheath and 12.3 ounces in the sheath, the Federal Super weighs 9.8 without the sheath and 13.7 in the sheath, and the Becker Tac-Tool weighs 1 lb 2 ounces plus another 5 ounces for the Kydex sheath.
For those of us not in the military, a knife like the Federal Super is usually used for camping. When I put it to use, I found the Federal Super to be a good chopper - less effective than a machete, but more effective than the average hunter/skinner. It cut through tree branches with relative ease - relying more on brute force than optimal edge geometry. The Federal Super also cut through a seasoned four inch log without too much trouble or fatigue for me. The handle was comfortable but slightly slippery. The blade was still sharp enough to shave hair when I was done. I cleaned it and used it to trim some steaks for dinner. In the short time I had it, I saw no evidence of rust or corrosion on the blade.
Again, the Federal Super is a big knife. As shown, the point has some penetrating power. I didn't take much force to sink it about 1/2 inches into the wood. It seems like it would penetrate a car door, etc., but I'll leave that up to the reader to test.
Overall, I'll give it a . I was very pleased with the Federal Super and would have liked to keep it. Not having had any experience with ROSarms knives before, I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent fit and finish. I also liked the blend of traditional and modern in the design and in the materials used. It is a well thought-out knife, well-balanced with good ergonomics, and seems to be built for hard use.
My only hesitation in buying one would be that it is a big, intimidating knife that might scare the general public. Depending on your relatives, it may not be suitable for your family barbecue. For deep woods or military use, however, it might be a great choice. The Federal Super is available now through http://rosarmsusa.com/. The MSRP is $144.50. You can also order through through World Knives: http://www.worldknives.com/index.php
ROSarms also sponsors a discussion forum in the manufacturers section of BladeForums here.
My thanks to ROSarms and Hillbillenigma for making this knife available to me for a short time.
Last edited by lava_lamp; 11-17-2009 at 10:25 PM.
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