Browning Ice Storm - initial impressions

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After seeing some positive feedback on the Browning Ice Storm, I decided to buy two from cdnninvestments.com. This was my first time using this company and it was a good experience. Shipping was prompt and tehy included a couple little gifts, completely unexpected. They have a flat shipping rate of $15, which is somewhat high for a single item, but is great when buying bulk. Since I bought two Ice Storms, the price came out to $33.50 per knife, an excellent price. I bought a "gold" colored model for myself and a red one for my step-dad, who is also a regular knife user and edc-er. I would provide pics, but don't yet have a digital camera :( Here are my initial impressions after receiving the Ice Storms.

Initial Impressions - I'm a returning student at the local university, finishing my degree in journalism. I wanted a new, non-black knife for edc and the Ice Storm fits the bill. This review, then, doesn't cover any daily use yet, as the knife will sit unused for one more week.

On first glance, the Ice Storm is slightly smaller than my 551 Griptilian. The blade lists at .2" shorter and that looks correct, placing them next to each other. The handle is also slightly smaller, although not uncomfortably or awkwardly so.
My first impression of this knife is that it is well-made. Lots of time and thought seems to have gone into its design. There are little thumb serrations for traction on both sides of the thumb stud. Therefore, this is a grippy knife in both the regular holding position and with the thumb choking up on the blade.

HandleThe handle color was listed as "gold" on cdnninvestment's web site. In their pics, it appears to be yellow. However, mine is somewhat deeper and has a hue that I describe as "dusty, metallic pumpkin". It's a very attractive handle. I'm thinking of getting a Case Harvest Orange slipjoint to match for the fall time :thumbup:
This is one grippy handle, despite being made of aluminum. The scalloped, vertical grooves in the handle not only look neat but give traction to the palm. There are plenty of serrations in the forefinger hole and directly above for the thumb, giving excellent grip right in front of the blade where it's most needed. This knife doesn't have a large forefinger guard, so I really appreciate the extra traction here.
Overall, the handle is well-sized and comfortable. It's slightly convex instead of flat, which gives a better grip and feel than flat handles. Conversely, it also takes up a little more carry space. In my opinion, it's worth the trade.
This handle fits my hand well, whose size I describe as medium-large. I'm a 30-year-old man, if that helps any.
My one complaint about the knife lies in the handle. The upper corner, directly above the lanyard hole, has a very pronounced corner. This causes the handle to poke a bit into my palm when really gripping the knife. If I was paying $100 for the knife, I'd be slightly more concerned. At $26, I'm not at all worried.

Lockup - this is a linerlock knife with aluminum scales. As such, the blade has a very solid, basic platform. Opening the knife, the lock fully engages then stops at the beginning of the tang. This is great, as it implies good craftsmanship and years of use with the knife. The liner lock has plenty of room to work across before wearing out.
There is no blade play whatsoever on this knife when opened. Horizontal, vertical, it doesn't matter - the blade is fully secured.

Sharpness and Edge Retention - I've not used the knife yet except for a preliminary arm shaving. WOW, is this knife SHARP! I couldn't even feel it slicing hair from my arm, yet is effortlessly created a completely smooth patch on my arm. Out-of-box sharpness is amazing.
My step-dad, to whom I gave the red-handled version to, reports that his knife was exceptionally sharp and had a very toothy edge. After dulling it a bit with use, he re-sharpened it on the fine side of a Norton India stone. It sharpened easily and, in less than a minute, he had a shaving-sharp edge again. The edge was smoother after sharpening, which implies that this blade needs a couple sharpenings to get down to the good steel. This is perfectly ok and even to be expected.

Opening and Carrying - this knife is right hand only, tip down carry. The clip is situated so that the knife sits entirely in pocket. I really like this feature, as it means the knife won't protrude from my pocket at all. The pocket clip is TIGHT. This is great, because I don't envision losing the knife. However, it can be slightly difficult to remove the knife from my pocket, particularly since it seats so low. Still, I'll take the carrying security any day.
The knife opens smoothly and has a nice "click" when locked open. I imagine that, with more use, this knife will become even more smooth and satisfying to open. The thumbstud is positioned in a functional spot. After opening and closing the knife with both hands, I can do it comfortably and smoothly.

Overall Fit and Finish - man, this is one well-made knife. The blade centers properly, the handle is attractive and mostly comfortable, the lock-up is great, the blade grinds are dead even, the edge is SHARP, the steel sharpens readily, and it costs $26 before shipping! I'd buy this knife again in a second and I wholly recommend other knifers snag one... or three... for themselves :D :thumbup:
 

knarfeng

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Nice review.

I had been wondering about how the liner lock on the Ice Storm lined up. Thanks for the detailed description.
 
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Thanks, Trout, for the good review.
I know we've seen lots of posts wanting to know "which knife to buy", and quite a few comparing this or that knife to the Kershaw Skyline.
For those of us who can afford only one new purchase right now, will everyone please chime in to compare the Ice Storm to the Skyline?
I know the Ice Storm has better (?) steel (VG-10), but which has the better grind for general EDC use?

Thanks,
JMH
 

ADD

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Damn.
The more the reviews come out on these the more popular they will become and when I go to get more they will be gone (I already have two :D).

Honestly though, great review!

My only beef is the anodized handle which when scratched will show silver.
But at this price and quality I hate to even point this out... :cool:
 
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Is there any place to get them besides CDNN? I don't feel like paying half the price of the knife for shipping.
 
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Jim,
Google "Browning Ice Storm knife"...several dealers listed.
Wierd!..they range in price from ~$30 to $70 !
 
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Does anyone know whom makes the knives for Browning? It's obviously a licensing agreement such as Taylor LLC has with Smith and Wesson -- I'm just curious who actually manufactures the knives.
 
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Does anyone know whom makes the knives for Browning? It's obviously a licensing agreement such as Taylor LLC has with Smith and Wesson -- I'm just curious who actually manufactures the knives.

Phil,
I've heard (but can't prove) they're made by Mcusta in Japan. That may account for their really good fit n' finish.
Edit: That's for the Ice Storm...don't know about other Brownings.

JMH
 
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> Does anyone know whom makes the knives for Browning? It's obviously a licensing agreement such as Taylor LLC has with Smith and Wesson -- I'm just curious who actually manufactures the knives.

Yes it's definitely Mcusta. It combines the handle of the Mcusta Katana series and the blade of the Mcusta Stingray series (whose handle is actually similar except for the stingray inlay). I gave my dad a Mcusta Stingray and when comparing the 2 knives side by side it's obvious that they are near clones.
Which is a good thing, as Mcusta knives are in my opinion wonderful products.
 

silkworm

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I had a Browning Ice Storm and was able to get the liner lock to fail with some pressure (so I got rid of it). My Mcusta Katana does not slip even with a lot of pressure on the lock. The Ice Storm is made by Mcusta, but there seems to be a definite quality difference in the lock. That being said, there didn't seem to be much difference in the blade quality, although, I didn't keep my Ice Storm long enough to put it through the test. I have several Mcusta and I like them a lot.
 
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I have the browning Comp bowie which is also a good product although not made in Japan.
I may check out the Icestorm. These types of knives often end up discounted cheap.
 
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I think the Ice Storm is a real sleeper knife. Mine is a straight-handled red one and I really enjoy using it. Like it was mentioned above, it was super sharp out of the box although the grind was a touch off-center. Nothing to worry about at under $40 and I fixed it pretty well after a few sharpenings. Mine locks up nicely. No problems in the past year or so. Really light and well worth seeking out. I think I'll seek out one of the contoured handled ones in red someday soon.
 

Esav Benyamin

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My one complaint about the knife lies in the handle. The upper corner, directly above the lanyard hole, has a very pronounced corner. This causes the handle to poke a bit into my palm when really gripping the knife.


My step-dad, to whom I gave the red-handled version to, reports that his knife was exceptionally sharp and had a very toothy edge. After dulling it a bit with use, he re-sharpened it on the fine side of a Norton India stone. It sharpened easily and, in less than a minute, he had a shaving-sharp edge again. The edge was smoother after sharpening, which implies that this blade needs a couple sharpenings to get down to the good steel. This is perfectly ok and even to be expected.

If you take a ceramic rod and buff that sharp corner lightly, you will break the harsh edge. The only drawback to doing this might be buffing off the anodizing there, but it's just a small spot.

Sharpening. He found a toothy edge from the factory, sharpened it on a fine stone, and found it smoother. Of course. But he might like it coarse as an EDC. Sharpening on a fine stone will polish the edge which may or may not be best idea depending on the expected use. I believe the blade is VG-10, which takes a NICE polished edge, though. :)

Thanks for great, detailed review! (Better than most journalists' articles these days :p )

I'm going to move this to Knife Reviews & Testing, with a redirect form here.
 
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If you take a ceramic rod and buff that sharp corner lightly, you will break the harsh edge... I believe the blade is VG-10, which takes a NICE polished edge, though. :)

Thanks for great, detailed review! (Better than most journalists' articles these days :p )

Thanks, Esav. I reckon that I may as well start writing quality reviews now, before I'm in the journalism field full-time.

I have thought of lightly rounding the back corner of the handle on my belt grinder; at this stage, though, it's too new and pretty :eek: Once I start carrying it regularly and it shows some wear, I'll reshape the handle corner.

I didn't know that VG-10 takes a polished edge well. This is my first experience with the steel and I'm excited to see how it performs. It's interesting that my step-dad's knife had a toothy edge from the factory because mine has a polished edge. It's ok for draw cutting, but it will push-cut like there's no tomorrow.
 

Esav Benyamin

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Someone mentioned a while ago that VG-10 was developed for horticultural use and for cutting flowers: you need a clean sharp cut for that. I have no idea if it's true or if they made or adapted a steel for general small-blade use.

For EDC, most of use probably need a toothy edge, but we get so hung up on knife-this and sharpening-that, we end up oversharpening, thinning and polishing edges just to see how good we are at it! :D

My default is polished but not necessarily thin. There are a few often-used folders I deliberately do leave toothy.
 
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Someone mentioned a while ago that VG-10 was developed for horticultural use and for cutting flowers: you need a clean sharp cut for that.

For EDC, most of use probably need a toothy edge, but we get so hung up on knife-this and sharpening-that, we end up oversharpening, thinning and polishing edges just to see how good we are at it! :D

My default is polished but not necessarily thin. There are a few often-used folders I deliberately do leave toothy.
I'd not heard that about VG-10. If it's true, it makes perfect sense that the steel takes a well-polished edge.

I agree that most of us benefit most greatly from a toothier edge. It's certainly my own preference in my oft-carried EDCs. I think that knife sharpening is a fine hobby to pursue, though, too; there are plenty worse things out there to do with one's time! :eek: :D

In fact, I think I'm going to start a thread about the type of edges different steels best take over in the general forums.
 

JTR357

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Thanks for the review.They're one of the best "bang for your bucks" IMHO.
 

RKH

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I ordered one red and one burgundy knife. They are nice and definitely Mcusta knives. They are different models one straight one like the Katana model. The Katana look a like is slightly off center blade but not hitting the side of the handle. Very sharp slices Basswood and newspaper very well. These are great knives for the money. I love the color handles.

RKH
 
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