Blackjack Knives Model 125

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Aug 9, 2006
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717
Blackjack 125

I took delivery of this knife a few days ago – it is Blackjack Knives latest offering, the Model 125. The knife is described as a heavy hunter. Overall length is 9.5 inches and weight is seven and a half ounces. The 125 replaces the Trailguide in the Blackjack model range. The “Classic” series of Blackjack knives are made by Bark River but they don’t own the brand or sell the knives. I understand that Blue Ridge currently owns the brand. There is a parallel line of Blackjacks that I think are termed the “Performance” series – these are sourced from Asia and sell for much less.

Some details about this knife:

The blade

The A2 steel blade is 5 inches. Thickness is a stated .215 inches but tapers back to a much thinner profile along the spine. I’m not sure to what degree this might inhibit batoning – it is not something that I would do with a knife that much so it doesn’t worry me but could be an issue for some. There is still plenty of metal on the spine near the guard but it thins out a lot towards the tip. There is no jimping on the spine.

One side of the blade is marked with the words “Blackjack Knives” on one line with “Classic Blades” underneath. The other side is marked “A-2 Tool Steel” with “Made in the USA” underneath.

The blade is fully convexed. The straighter part of the edge was extremely sharp out of the box but the last inch or so as it curves up to the tip was no where near as sharp.

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The 125 sitting between the Model 5 (top) and Trailguide (bottom)
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The grip

The grip has an oval/rounded profile that tapers back to a thicker butt. The grip material in this case is natural canvas micarta. Blackjack offers different colours of micarta as well as stag and stacked leather options. It was a tough call to go with the chosen option or stacked leather as I liked both – still not certain I made the right decision but probably would have felt the same if I had gone for the leather – you know how it is when you have a choice. The grip feels good in my hand – comfortable and secure. I have large hands and often find knife grips too short but not so here.

The guard and butt are polished alloy. They look good but scratch very easily. I bought this knife as a user so it doesn’t worry me unduly. I might sand the alloy back to a matte finish rather than keep it shiny. The thing that I don’t like about the grip is the overuse of spacers – it’s a subjective thing but in my opinion is overdone.

Other Blackjacks I own (except for a saber grip model) have an exposed nut on the tang. On the 125 the nut is recessed into the butt. Not sure why. Also at variance with my other Blackjacks is the lack of a lanyard hole. Maybe it has to do with the recessed tang nut.

The butt of the 125 (right) compared with the exposed nut on the Model 5
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The sheath

The supplied sheath is brown leather. It is solid and functional but not as well finished as the knife. The belt loop is huge and would accommodate the widest military belt or most backpack hipbelts. It doesn’t carry that well on a narrow pants belt – slides up and down and along the belt very easily. Workmanship on the leather is ok but there are some cosmetic flaws – small overcuts etc. The leather does not seem to be sealed and it darkened up considerably when I put a coat of Kiwi neutral boot polish on it. As delivered the sheath is a very tight fit. It will no doubt loosen with time as the leather stretches but still takes 2 hands to sheath and unsheath the blade. I prefer a higher riding sheath with a different method of securing the blade and will probably look for a custom sheath eventually.

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Summing Up

The Blackjack Classics have been referred to as “poor man’s Randalls”. The Randall design origins are obvious but I don’t know if Blackjacks are truly aimed at the poor. The Blackjacks are not cheap knives but do offer a considerable saving over market rates for Randalls. More importantly they are readily available rather than subject to a 4 or 5 year wait. The trade off is that you don’t get to specify custom options like you can when ordering a Randall and they don’t have Randall’s investment potential. As to whether they are as good as or inferior to Randalls is an argument that I will stay out of. I own both and think both are excellent knives.

I have only had the knife for a few days and haven’t really given it a good workout. I will spare you the gratuitous shots of it slicing tomatoes or sticks. It has had a bit of use in the garden and kitchen – it cuts things well – what more can I say. Edge holding hasn’t been tested but my experience with other Blackjacks has been very positive. The thickness of the blade will limit it in some applications but I suspect that it will be a good all rounder.

Workmanship on the 125 is excellent – I could not detect any flaws in fit, finish, grind etc. I like this knife – it is a nice combination of classical look and feel with modern materials. I think it will be a great bush knife but that’s just my personal opinion. The sheath could be better and I don’t like the over use of grip spacers but can’t think of any other criticisms.
 
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Good review, I have always liked the Blackjacks since Mike owned them, and they still are around which speaks to the overall quality and why who owns them still are having the classic line made.
 
UPDATE ON THE REVIEW

I thought that I would do an update to this review having owned the knife now for over a year.

This came about initially due to a request from another Bladeforums member who had just purchased the same model and I indicated I would provide an update when time allowed.

The other thing that influenced this decision was some recent concern expressed on the forum re Bark River knives, specifically the failure of edges under hard use – I was a bit curious about this as Bark River make these knives.

I don’t use knives that hard and rarely use them for chopping. The Blackjack 125 has been used in the kitchen and I have taken it on a few camping trips where it has had some general use but nothing severe.

I haven’t engaged in destruction tests ( and wouldn’t) but over the past few weeks I have given it a bit of a beating, probably more so than I would normally do with a good knife. The 125 has been used for clearing bush and cutting tree branches around the yard. There were a couple of pieces of well seasoned hardwood (Salmon Gum) in my shed and I belted them pretty hard with the knife blade. The knife was not that effective in chopping the tough timber but I was more interested in seeing how the edge would hold up.

Before I started this a couple of weeks back, the knife was very sharp. When I finished it would still shave hair on my arm, though not as effectively. The edge suffered no visible damage – no rolling or chipping. It was not that sharp at the end but still very usable.

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The blade has stained from a year of use though there is no pitting. The A2 is not very stain resistant, particularly with anything salty. The guard had dulled from its initially shiny finish. The knife would benefit from a good polish though the deterioration is only cosmetic.

As for maintenance – I wash and dry the knife after use and give it a light coating of mineral oil. The knife is stored in its sheath. I know this isn’t recommended but hasn’t caused me any problems. I guess the leather is vegetable tanned – it doesn’t seem to result in any corrosion. I normally leave the knife in a daypack that I take out bush and storing the knife out of the sheath is not practical for me.

The blade came with a convex edge but I maintain it on a Sharpmaker (yes I know, someone just gasped). The convex vs the rest thing doesn’t really draw me in and the Sharpmaker works for me.

I like this knife and would recommend it for those who like something a bit less ‘tactical’ looking but who need a good tough knife.
 
great ,great review 2manyknives. very comprehensive along with good photos & i think you covered the usage that most purchasers would expect of their hunters. i've grown so weary of the reviews with knives being batoned thru telephone posts. being side torqued with a 10 foot pipe & chopping on cinder blocks. i think many formites do'nt realize the settlers, mt. men,& buffalo harvesters never tested their knives by trying to pierce a wagon wheel.thanks---dennis
 
Thanks for this review. I only found it because I have a Blackjack Marauder MK I that I have owned for approximately 20 + years, and was doing a search here for Blacjack Knives. Mine is a bit bigger than yours having a 9 & 1/2' Ghurka style blade, and 15" overall. I remember chopping through tree limbs in the 1 & 1/2 - 2" thickness range with a single blow. (I did this on a bet with a friend, and I won)
Anyway, mine has been stored in it's sheath too (for 20+ years as mentioned above), and is no worse for wear. It still looks great. :D
I will now continue searching for information on mine. ;)
-Bruce
 
Nice review. Mike Stewart makes great knives. I take my leather sheaths apart, melt in two or three coats of SnowSeal inside and out and re-stitch them with heavy nylon thread, as they can absorb moisture from the inside.
 
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