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G. Sakai - New Folding Hunter

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Herlock, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Hi there! I recently got myself this new folder and it has been my EDC for the last month or so now. As usual, I am just sharing my own impressions, thoughts, personal experience with it and few pics, always as a non-expert knives hobbyist and week-end hiker :).

    I came across G. Sakai knives some years ago, while doing some research about H1 steel knives. I ended up in getting the Spyderco Pacific Salt, more suitable for my needs :thumbup:, but found out what seemed to be some great diving/fishing knives from G. Sakai. It was a really unknown brand to me until then. After spending some times researching on the web, I understood G. Sakai mainly works as OEM for major knives brands and only keeps a relatively small own branded knives production. I found some of their knives very interesting at that time, but not to the point of pulling the trigger. Recently I found myself more leaning towards some classic stuff, wood handles, some brass, thick leather... you know, and started searching something of the kind. I’m getting old :D. I was about getting one from the Benchmade Hunt series, when I stumbled into this one instead and, this time, I pulled the trigger. So here we are.

    There was (and there is) really not so much in terms of Customers’ reviews about this G. Sakai model in the web, in spite of the fact advertisements claim “the popularity of this folder is long and steady”. So I try with one. Be aware I am not really testing anything here ;), I just “walk my knives” a bit, use them as an average Joe user, play with them a bit and share some of my own thoughts and experiences. I never misuse or abuse my knives, therefore I only can say something about their intended use. So, don’t be disappointed and bear with me! :)

    Anyway, this knife is the new edition of the G. Sakai Folding Hunter which, it seems, was first introduced back in the late 90ies. The knife was purposely developed for outdoor activities such as hunting and camping :cool:. It’s basically a rather classic, sizeable back-lock hunting/camping folder, featuring a clean drop-point blade shape, made of ATS-34 stainless steel. The thick handle scales are made with what looks to me a top quality Rosewood, which I find aesthetically really appealing, warm to touch and “with a soul”, so to say. It has stainless steel bolsters and it sports real brass liners which I find extremely elegant and a single finger groove. The knife comes with a dark brown, high quality leather belt sheath, with the traditional brass pin flap-closure :thumbup:. Size-wise it’s a bit too big for me to define it really a “pocket gentleman folder”, but otherwise it has all the characteristics to be a king in this category. Fit and finish are superb. It came shaving sharp from the factory and the blade bit my index fingertip already the first day! Two smaller versions were also available at the time of my purchase, one with a blade 73 mm long (medium), another with a blade 60 mm long (small). More “gentleman sizes”, but less usable for my needs. I really started more and more to carry folders on our hikes, rather than fixed blades. We go rather travelled tracks in the Alps or seaside here (not into the “real” wilderness) and, for my needs, they are good enough.

    During these weeks, I put the knife through my usual EDC tasks at work, like cutting packaging materials (mainly plastic and cardboards) and preparing some breakfasts :). At home, I put it at work in the kitchen doing some real food preparation (I ventured myself in sushi prep as well – c’mon the knife is from Japan – with decent results :D). I also had it on the trails for a medium range one day hike, light up a small camp fire, minor food prep and did some pegs to set up the tarp. This knife performs very well in all these tasks. The handle is very smooth and comfortable, I have carved and whittled on woods for extended periods of time with good comfort, the handle hasn’t any hot-spots, even without gloves :thumbup:. The only real downside is it doesn’t offer a super grip when wet. It’s actually rather slippery. In that case, a pair of gloves comes in handy. The blade cuts very well and keeps the edge well. I just touched it up with the ceramic sharpener after use. I find the blade shape, with its classic drop point, very versatile for all my EDC tasks. It does great on food and it’s good in carving and whittling on woods. It makes good kindling and nice feather-sticks for the fire. The knife it’s heavy given its size but, here also, like for the Benchmade Mini-Rukus, “in the good way”. It’s a sturdy, well built, solid knife which reassuring presence I am constantly conscious of. I find the sheath carry option it’s very appropriate in this case, rather than a pocket carry. Great feature on the trails. The pocket carry it’s possible but the knife it’s heavy then :D and a little portion of the tang of the blade is “exposed”, and, having a quite sharp 90° edge, creates some annoyances in the deployment and, rubbing against it, can damage the inner pockets. The lock is rock-solid, no blade play whatsoever, the blade snaps open with a loud, reassuring “thwack”. This is a two hands opening folder, a nail-nick is present. It’s fine with me on this folder, given its intended use.

    I only had another knife in ATS-34, several years ago. It was a Linder Champ with stag scales which I donated to a young cousin of mine, the stag was not my cup of tea in terms of grip. Great blade anyway. For the few here who are not familiar with this steel, the ATS-34 is a Japanese steel (developed by Hitachi), very similar to 154CM, a high chromium, high molybdenum stainless tool steel. Knives urban legends claim that ATS-34 was developed for jet engine turbine blades. A nice story, but I never found a verifiable source for this :). For my use, I found ATS-34 is a very good steel. It’s been around since a while and surely it’s not a new, exciting, or proprietary steel; it's not a gimmick, not a “flash in the pan”. Probably it's been around for a while exactly because it is a very good steel. It has a great toughness. Toughness is resistance to breakage or fracture, and this is important to consider in thin blades - like this one - and on blades that will be under lateral stress, impact, or simply are long, where toughness is key to reduce the possibility of fracture. In my opinion, it’s a good steel choice for this specific folder. It has high toughness, good corrosion resistance, relatively moderate pricing and beautiful and flaw-free uniformity. ATS-34, although stainless, is not as corrosion resistant as some other alloys, so it needs a basic care. In this respect, I consider this rather similar to D2. The blade showed a very minor “browning” when I folded the knife without drying it properly or properly cleaning after food prep on the trails. It was a very superficial “staining”, super easy to remove with a cloth and a spray of kitchen stainless steel cleaning agent, the one we use to clean the hob and the sink. The blade also scratches rather easily. I made a stupid thing removing the tar caused by the use of fire steel with a Scotch-Brite sponge (the one I use for dishes) and this caused some major scratching. It was the protective lacquering which melted on the blade spine, a pretty tough thing to remove. Purely aesthetical issue, but still I get crossed when I look at the blade in the light under some angles :D.

    The Rosewood scales are beautiful in my eyes. Wood is a “living” material, warm to the touch, comfortable to hold, and can be long lasting with minimum proper cares. Rosewood it’s a very nice wood choice. Ranging from deep, rosy brown to blonde strips, each scale is unique. Since many years I didn’t have a knife with wooden scales and I am enjoining this a lot.

    Overall I have to say this is a very good folder for my EDC and basic level camping/hiking uses. And it’s just beautiful to my eyes. The look, the feel and smell of the thick leather, the wood, the brass really got me. Also, a more and more important issue here where I live, the impact on public is very good :p. This is a knife that doesn’t scare anyone. Exactly the opposite, to be fair! I took it out at work and in a couple of barbeques with other families and no one reacted badly. This knife, for my own experience, has a very neutral impact on public, very much like handling a SAK. The only thing I really don’t like about this knife is... I cannot disassemble it! :confused: Maybe it’s just me being a bit a knife rookie still :D; it’s not that I disassembly all my knives all the time but still... I really can’t figure out how to open it up for proper cleaning and maintenance. I don’t find any accessible screw here! Only pins. Maybe some of you can help me?

    Overall length : 212 mm
    Closed length: 122 m
    Blade length : 90 mm
    Blade thickness: 2.9 mm
    Blade Material : ATS-34 (satin finish)
    Hardness : 59-60 HRC
    Handle Material : Rosewood
    Weight : 165 g
    Locking type : Lock-back
    Opening: Nail-nick
    Sheath material : Leather
    Country of origin: Japan

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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
    WILLIAM.M and jstrange like this.
  2. jfk1110

    jfk1110

    Mar 9, 2013
    Real pretty knife. Looks solid as well. Enjoy n use it well
     
  3. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    Many, many nice pics of how you use your knife. It is certainly of good service to you. I would greatly prefer to carry my knife with a pocket-clip, but yours seems to work out very well for you. Apparently, this knife has performed better for you than your old Pacific Salt...which also has a good rep for holding an edge in the fully-serrated version. Not so good in the plain edge...I hear.
    Interesting review. Very complete. Thank you.
     
  4. vic2367

    vic2367

    Sep 15, 2006
    nice looking knife,,thanks for the review
     
  5. J D Wijbenga

    J D Wijbenga

    942
    Oct 17, 1998
    Good looking knife! Thanks for the write-up!
     
  6. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    nice knife and excellent pictures. that was originally a gerber product that had m2 hss blade and is a high dollar collector model when in really good condition. the ats 34 steel used in this should make it a great user as well and it is probably more practical. I've looked at those on the JKD website for a few years and despite liking it I never was in a position to purchase one. Thanks for the review.

    Joe
     
  7. FCCBCT

    FCCBCT

    166
    Jul 23, 2014
    Hi, G Sakai make great knives (especially kitchen knives) and as you say yes they are mainly OEM. I saw many models once on a tour of SEKI city and only wish I had bought some. None of the ones we had in Australia were similar but still aimed at the hunter, they were very popular. Great pics! It's a very nice knife.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
  8. FCCBCT

    FCCBCT

    166
    Jul 23, 2014
    Like the pic too with the plums. Just been eating lots of those, good for some Rakia??

    FCCBCT
     
  9. FCCBCT

    FCCBCT

    166
    Jul 23, 2014
    Yep u won't be able to disassemble it either just have to use some high pressure air/nitorgen, cotton bud or better still lint free tissues like kim wipes wrapped around an wooden skewer, careful with any solvent that may affect that beautiful wood. WD40 will def ruin the wood finish, unlike spraying it on Swiss army/Victorinox/Wegner's etc.

    FCCBCT
     
  10. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Man I had one of those back in the eighties it was superbly well made . . . no idea where it went alas!
     
  11. Herlock

    Herlock

    841
    May 13, 2015
    Hello! Thank-you all for kind comments. Glad you liked the post and this little knife :).

    @ Sonnydaze: Thanks! Yes, the sheath carry, in this case, it's OK for me, thou I also, generally prefer a pocket clip (low carry ones:)). The Pacific Salt it's my "holiday knife", I use it when in/around water. I agree for some tasks like woodcarving, its PE model it's not the best ever. For food prep (the main task it goes through ;)) it works just fine for me. This one is a different knife, I use it more as EDC (within rotation :)) and hikes.

    @ The Mastiff: Thanks! Also for the history information. Very interesting. I didn't know that. Within its intended use, I can only recommend to get one. It's truly a user :thumbup:. I had a fair price, not crazy expensive. Check it out on line ;)

    @ FCCBCT: Thanks for the very valuable tips about care and maintenance! I will follow your suggestions.

    Ciao!
     
  12. tlweldon

    tlweldon

    80
    Nov 25, 2005
    I have a Gerber EFH3 (the first production of what became the NFH) my father gave me around 1984, after Big 5 sold out a bunch for $36. They did not sell well @ $75, the intended price point. I don't think they are M2 HSS, I used mine, forgetting to clean the blood/fat from it, a year in my hunting pack resulted in zero rust/discoloration to the re-sharpened edge ( or anywhere else). Most sources indicate they were AUS 8. Later, ATS34 became common, as is used in the current NFH. A great folder, ez to keep sharp enough to shave forearm hair, I have used mine for 30+ years, it's still tight and essentially like new. I bought some for grandkids, used & NIB, on ebay until the bids went nuts last year.
     

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