Hibben Knives

Oct 12, 1998
I have seen a lot of people on here voice their opinions on United Cutlery and "fantasy" knives in general. I was just curious tho as to how many of you here, if any, have at least one of Gil Hibben's fantasy production knives by United Cutlery adorning a wall somewhere in your house.

While we're at it, which one(s)?
I thought about it until I saw how poorly most of them were made.
Gil Hibben's knives are cheaply made, mass produced dumb @s fantasy knives
I've never bought one, nor plan to, but can anyone be a little more specific about what's wrong with them?

[This message has been edited by pk (edited 30 April 1999).]
There's absolutely nothing wrong with them... it's just that nasty elitist attitude rearing its ugly head again.
I think the problem with the majority of the people on this forum is that they all want the "super knife".... the one that can cut through cement walls and steel beams and all that cool stuff you see in the movies. They realize that this knife doesn't exist so they look for the closest thing they can find; hence the tests you read so much about where people are using knives to do everything under the sun except what they are designed for. There are very high quality knives out there than can take an abnormal beating and keep on ticking. These are the knives that win the favor of the majority of people here on the forum. We've also already established the fact that anything made in Taiwan is looked down upon by everyone here, even if it is a decent quality product.
The fact of the matter is that all the Hibben knives manufactured by United are in every way capable of handling just about any task that the average Joe will put it through and then some.
I collect Hibben knives (mainly for aesthetic purposes, not to use) and even have a few of his custom pieces. I do have one that I use regularly and it has never failed me. The only thing I dislike about the United stuff is the 420 J2 steel used in the blades. Some of them have rat tail tangs, also, but I have had no problem with them.
I wouldn't go chopping down oak trees with them or trying to drive them through a car door with a sledge hammer, but for 98% of the mundane tasks that a knife is designed to do, they are quite sufficient.

420 J2 isn't steel, so those ain't knives. They are knife-shaped objects.

Let's remember that Gil Hibben is a talented and VERY experienced knifemaker. I don't know why he sold his soul in this manner (though I can guess), but the United products don't reflect his personal abilities. They do reflect that he chooses to make "fantasy" knives and that's his choice; lord knows there are enough "tactical" makers out there.

And, no, I don't own any and never have.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Jonathan, I like the look of several of his knives, the Highlander Bowie I think is my favorite and I was given it as a present a few years ago. It however is not something I would want to take out in the field.

Better steels are much more functional that the cheap stainless than what United uses. Take D2 for example and make a working fixed blade in the 4" range. Now get United to make another similar one out of its 420 J2. Take the two of them out and use them for a week or so and see if you can't see a difference.

The D2 blade will be much stronger at the same thickness. This means you have the option of making it slimmer and it will still be as strong as the United if you don't need the extra strength. A slimmer blade means of course an extreme increase in cutting power. The D2 blade can also take a much lower final bevel (say <15 degrees) and still have far greater edge holding than the United with a much higher angle (>25 degrees). Of course this also means that the cutting power of the D2 blade is increased (lower angle = better cutting). And of course there is no reason to stop there, the CPM steels, and the new blade materials like Talonite all offer significant advantages over D2 steel let alone the 420 J2 class stainless.

There are also designs that simply will not work with cheap stainless. For example ask United to make a full flat ground blade (no final edge bevel) out of their 420 J2. Try cutting something with that and watch as the edge gets mangled. This design is easily possible with a stronger steel.

Orion :

The only thing I dislike about the United stuff is the 420 J2 steel used in the blades

That is like saying - "The only thing I dislike about getting shot is the dying part."


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 30 April 1999).]
Are all Hibben knives made by United, or are there some that he custom-made himself? Not that I'm going to buy them (not a big fan of fantasy knives).

Just curious,

Hibben makes his own knives, quite a few more styles than ever see production as United pieces. I think he's been at it over 40 years, which is a long time by any maker's standards. Nowadays they are primarily fantasy pieces that fetch enormous prices (and make the production pieces look tame in their designs). Gil Hibben is also a very skilled thrower of knifes, axes, shovels, and other assorted items.

A friend of mine had a Highlander Bowie. It's very pretty, and almost "tame" enough to be good for something if it were of better steel and construction. I can understand buying a knife and then never using it except for display, but I don't care for any "knives" that can be used ONLY for display. They sure to sell to the Ren-Fair folks, though....


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Having lovingly fondled a couple of Gil's old hunters, I can say that I would never buy one of his fantasy "Knives". Pick up a Hibben Alaskan with the gold buffalo pommell and then tell me that you think of his fantasy stuff.Yes, his older stuff is very expensive, but you can see his true talent and workmanship in those knives. By the way, I'm still looking for an affordable Alaskan.
For those interested, here is the Highlander Bowie (pic is from the Knifecenter):


The bottom one is the version I have. I like the heft and feel, and the strong recurve would give good slicing ability.

Here is a more upscale version by David Broadwell


This pic is off of Les Robertson's site. Anyone that has the Broadwell, I would be moe than willing to trade the discontinued "collector" Highlander Bowie for it.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 30 April 1999).]