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Carothers vs Fiddleback

David45

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
277
I have turned my attention to fixed blades and find the 4” x 5” field/camp type knife very attractive. Ideally it would excel at light woodcraft and food prep.

I’m no expert, heck I’m barely a novice, so if this post seems overly simplistic or even stupid, please get me on track. But I’d like to know if anyone has used knives from both Carothers and Fiddleback and can tell me how they compare in:

General attributes of the steels used - A1/O2 vs 3V (or the other steels each offers)
Ergonomics
Fit and finish
Edge retention
Ease of sharpening
Toughness
Slicing/food preparation
Wood working
Other?

I know some of you could right a book on these subjects. Many of you seem to really use their blades, as opposed to collect them (which is also very nice), and I was hoping I could get some of your advice so I can see which one to really hunt for.

BTW, I think I would favor convex and high scandi grinds in general for the purposes described. Any practical information would be helpful. Thanks...

And to the Moderators, can I post this in the Fiddleback sub-forum too?
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2013
Messages
664
3V. Don't bother with A2 or 01 if you can afford a knife in 3v and it's the design that you like 3V is tougher more stain resistant and holds a better Edge. I've yet to have 3v tarnish but A2 or 01 will Rust/ tarnish quickly if not taken care of
 

Oyster

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Aug 2, 2011
Messages
1,286
Love both makers. Very different. I’ll leave it at that.
To begin with, given your intended use, I would probably not go much above 4” (possibly even a bit less) for the blade and be mindful of stock thickness if you’re using it for food prep. (Although CPKs have excellent grinds and are quite thin behind the edge making them good slicers. The upcoming FK 2.0 might be an option. My understanding is that it will be a slightly smaller/lighter version of the original Field Knife. Fiddleback models can be had in a variety of stocks from 3/32” - 3/16” (I believe; 5/32” is definitely not uncommon).)
Agree with the above re steel (3V is king). Fiddleback no longer uses O1. Mid-tech range comes in S35VN (stainless) and 3V in the larger blades. For the others, mainly A2 and they look to be introducing AEB-L (stainless) into the lineup.
 
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JustinFournier

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May 7, 2012
Messages
4,971
I bought errr 10 FBF customs last year.

I can tell you this. If for no other reason, I wouldn’t suggest FBF as the secondary market is brutal. You lose a ton on a resale. There are strategies to mitigate that however.

This matters to me because there are tons of variations between examples of the same model, and tons of models. Over 100. So they are literally hundreds of possible variation. Just trying to narrow down which model I liked the most was about a $600 loss, across the 6 I’ve sold. I still have a few.

Contrast that to CPK. Andy makes some pretty handles, but you buy a CPK and don’t like it, you get your money back. Plus there are only a handful of models to try.

I wrote a list of 24 models of FBF I wanted to try, $3000 later I still don’t have one I really love, and have lost about $100 a knife trying to figure it out. I gave up for now.

At the end of the day I know the imported A2 isn’t going to perform anywhere near D3V. It’s really for the handles, both materials and ergos.

I wish Nathan did more wood. But I am yet to find a FBF that tops a CPK in ergos.
 

jus_gus

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Aug 30, 2011
Messages
6,424
I agree, both are excellent makers. I'm sure you could find something from either one that will serve you well. I have Fiddlebacks in O1, A2, CPM154, S35VN, and 3V. But I have to say, I'm really liking Nathan's Delta 3V. It has good corrosion resitance, holds an edge, and it's tough! As mentioned above, there is a thinner version of the original Field knife coming called Field knife 2.0. I'm really looking forward to this one. I'm hoping there will be a preorder for it.
 

DJC72

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Joined
Aug 1, 2014
Messages
1,593
I think both makers have done so much for the knife industry, are innovative and should get the respect they have earned. That’s about all they have in common! Different knives with a different philosophy, truly an Apple to oranges type of thing, in my opinion.
 
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David45

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
277
Thanks folks. I know I am asking about comparing a bigger FB and a smaller CPK as they tend to run in different directions sizewize.
In addition to the specific criteria in the OP, I’d like to find out if anyone has a broad experience with these knives in the field/camp setting.
Everything is a compromise but I’m looking for a blade to be relatively good at BOTH food prep and woodcraft. It appears to be very hard to get the best performance for both uses from one knife.

So add - Best Compromise - to the original performance (mentioned in the OP) and build criteria, please.
 

David45

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Oct 27, 2017
Messages
277
Maybe I should be more specific. Perhaps a decent comparison would be between the CPK Field Knife vs the FBF Bushfinger or Bushcrafter.

I’m try to see if I can benefit from the collective experience around this fantastic forum so I can avoid the buying and selling approach to find the blade in that 4” - 5” camp/food prep sweet spot.

Thanks for your advice.
 

jus_gus

Gold Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
6,424
Maybe you could get a production Bushfinger(4”) Kephart(4”) or Duke(5”) in S35VN. The guard on the Bushfinger does not extend beyond the blade, which is preferable for food prep. The production models are less expensive than the custom, and they can be purchased from several dealers at any time. You could use it while waiting for a Field Knife 2.0. Then you could make your own comparisons, and sell the one you don’t want.:thumbsup:;)
 

Benson X

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Mar 1, 2016
Messages
767
FBF Camp Knife in 3V has been on my list for some time.

I really think that and the NASK/HDFK would be a good comparison to showcase each maker's strong points.
 

David45

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
277
I really like the way you think gusbuster. Can you sell that to my wife?
She knows how difficult it is for me to sell anything. She dreads outliving me and having to unload all my tools and toys!
 

jus_gus

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Messages
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I really like the way you think gusbuster. Can you sell that to my wife?
She knows how difficult it is for me to sell anything. She dreads outliving me and having to unload all my tools and toys!

I can relate to that brother! :thumbsup::D
 

KingMC

The Pun-isher
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Jul 25, 2014
Messages
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I have turned my attention to fixed blades and find the 4” x 5” field/camp type knife very attractive. Ideally it would excel at light woodcraft and food prep.

I’m no expert, heck I’m barely a novice, so if this post seems overly simplistic or even stupid, please get me on track. But I’d like to know if anyone has used knives from both Carothers and Fiddleback and can tell me how they compare in:

General attributes of the steels used - A1/O2 vs 3V (or the other steels each offers)
Ergonomics
Fit and finish
Edge retention
Ease of sharpening
Toughness
Slicing/food preparation
Wood working
Other?

I know some of you could right a book on these subjects. Many of you seem to really use their blades, as opposed to collect them (which is also very nice), and I was hoping I could get some of your advice so I can see which one to really hunt for.

BTW, I think I would favor convex and high scandi grinds in general for the purposes described. Any practical information would be helpful. Thanks...

And to the Moderators, can I post this in the Fiddleback sub-forum too?


I only own one Fiddleback and have owned one CPK, so I am probably not the best judge of comparisons, but I do have a few bits of input:

My Fiddleback Bushfinger has the best ergonomics of any knife I've owned, simply amazing how it feels in the hand. While the CPK I had was the LC with TeroTuf and is therefore not the best comparable handle, it was no contest. Each Fiddleback has a different feel to the handle, and with so many materials each one can feel different in the hand; I have held probably 50 Fiddlebacks at the local Beckerhead gatherings and they all feel amazing. My Fiddleback in O1 and my brother's in A2 both hold an edge for a while when doing basic camp prep (wood, food, etc. ), but the D3V will outperform any day of the week. The cost of the Fiddleback is in the handle and F&F rather than blade steel. I think the Fiddleback has a finer F&F, it just feels polished yet personal, while the CPK was fantastic it just didn't quite feel as handmade. The LC was much, much tougher feeling than the Fiddleback, though, and while I've batoned quite a bit with my little Bushfinger I don't think it would stand a chance against the HDFK or EDC in toughness. My Fiddleback has a FFG grind and is the best slicer I own, it would outperform any of the CPK knives in slicing simply based off of grind type. The O1 is well treated and performs magnificently, but it wouldn't hold a candle to the D3V for toughness and edge retention; it's a breeze to sharpen, though, and will hold an edge far beyond what I expected.

tl;dr: CPK is tougher, has better steel, and holds an edge longer; Fiddleback has better ergonomics and F&F, and feels more handmade. Both are great designers and companies that I would support if I had the funds to do so.
 

Lorien

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Messages
20,640
in my experience, no other manufacturer quite compares to CPK in terms of the product produced- and all that that entails. That's not to diminish what others do at all, but to my way of thinking, (biased as it is) CPK stands somewhat apart
 

TommyGun56

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Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
7,002
All the qualities I look for in a knife (toughness D3V, Edge Holding, and Rust Resistance are found in my CPK Knives! I have used Busse's, FF, Survive, and Bark Rivers, all good knives, but IMHO D3V-Nathan's Offerings are without question the one's I prefer to use and purchase! The price is right, the quality is phenomenal, and the Customer Service is Second to None:p
 

Casinostocks

Factotum
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Mar 20, 2016
Messages
11,831
in my experience, no other manufacturer quite compares to CPK in terms of the product produced- and all that that entails. That's not to diminish what others do at all, but to my way of thinking, (biased as it is) CPK stands somewhat considerably [SIC] apart

Matty somewhat stirring :)
 

ndmiller

Platinum Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2015
Messages
1,613
Have both use both, just apples and oranges in terms of manufacture, level of finish and precision to get to final product.

Each Fiddleback is unique among the same model as they are hand done, while CPK's are pretty much identical in tolerances.

D3V versus A2/O1 again is just another steel thread waiting to happen, but can assure you both perform to a level of any normal hard use. Cutting cinderblock, metal or other kill my knife type stuff will highlight the steel and model differences without a doubt.

The Fiddleback range is pretty extensive with many many models from 2-3" to 5"+ with custom handles in wood and synthetics...most readily available here and at multiple dealers online. The CPK range is limited with availability by model 0 to 20 available Friday to Preorder available.

Both are great, addictive and can quickly consume any disposable income you have + future if you aren't careful. BUT, they both have great resale value, minimizing the effect of a back selection choice on the buy.
 

David45

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
277
Well I got a lull in the action today so I put in a bid for an EDCII. I was probably too late but someone may drop out. It’s fun just to be involved.
It’s easier to find a 4” FB and they sure are pretty.
But pretty is, as pretty does - so I’ll stay in the hunt for a CPK (at Carothers price)
 
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