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Kephart, Pro Kephart, or Both??

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by LostViking, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    Howdy Fiddleback Folks,

    Haven't been stopping by much. Was real busy up until December. Then got laid off via Email on the Friday before Chriatmas. Courageous soul my ex boss.

    One door slamming shut blows another one open. I should be traveling to North Carolina in a few weeks to interview for a position that could be exciting. And it may very well leave me a decent amount woods time. In a smoking nice treed and mountainous region.

    We're all knife nuts. And I'm no exception. This new job should allow me to open carry a fixie knife. Something that I haven't been able to do since my logging days. I'm very excited about that.

    Somewhere along the line. I traded parts of my soul for the promise of higher incomes, and a better way of life. Turns out it was mostly higher stress, stupid long days, with never ending, and ever increasing sales quotas.

    After a bit of soul searching. I have come to see my electronic downsizing as a blessing in disguise.

    When I was young. I swore I'd never work any place I couldn't carry a fixed blade knife. I compromised on that promise to myself, and spent 18 years dealing with Corporate Sales Managers who would steal from their own mothers.

    I never fit in, and I rarely tried. They never understood or appreciated my approach to sales. It seems telling the truth, and doing the right thing, is frowned upon these days. Even if you post some of the best numbers in the company.

    At one place I worked. I broke the all time company sales record at just north of four million dollars. At our annual meeting they handed me an Applebees Gift card for fifty dollars. And proceeded to tell me. If I used it during happy hour "it would be like getting one hundred dollars"

    I slid it back to them saying. Give it to the shop guys, so they can have a few beers after work. I was done two weeks later.

    Enough about that!

    New doors, new horizons, new challenges, New Knife??

    I have way too many knives. How do I fix that?
    Buy another knife.

    Did I mentioned I was a bit deranged?

    Owning knives, like life itself, is an evolution. The whole thing should be a learning experience. And in order to learn. You have to try. Like the toddler who picks up the wooden block and puts it in his mouth. He is testing. Trying things on for size. I consider myself only slightly more advanced than that toddler. And in some cases we may be on an even plane.

    I seem to have accumulated draws ful of scandi knives. I have a few I really like. At least for woodworking. And that's the rub. They are great in wood. But not so much in potatoes, carrots, onions, and other media that needs slicing. Yes, they rock in wood. But in truth. Some of the best curls I have ever made were done with my trusty Buck Woodsman. (Woodsman, Who Knew?)

    We live pretty simply. I don't have much overhead. I don't smoke, I do drink beer, but never go to bars, and I don't drink that much. We're not big vacation people. I already live in a wooded paradise. Where would I go?

    I chuckle when I go "Camping" to meet my old and dear friends. I leave a quiet, secluded, peaceful haven. And arrive at a packed, loud, tent city. Sure I have fun. But I am always glad to return home.

    About now. You are probably asking yourselves. Where the heck is he going with this?

    My research, and general musings have convinced me. That I could probably unload a draw full of those scandi blades. With just the purchase of one Fiddleback Kephart.

    Ironically Fiddleback popped back into my head doing research for the existence of the Brown Recluse in NC. I'm a northern boy. We don't have such creatures up here. Wolf spiders yes. But not the Recluse. Not a fan of the Recluse!

    BMurray's excellent review of his Pro Kephart has helped solidify this thought process. Plus, I have long been aware of Brian's fondness for this blade as well. He and I both seem to share some affinity for certain knife design points. Like points for instance.

    To be honest with all of you, and with myself. I want less knives. Way less Knives. And I'm not afraid to buy more knives to make that happen. Makes sense right?

    Well at least in the Happy Valley Home for the Criminally Insane it does.

    I haven't yet tried one of Andy's Production models. But the Pro Kephart looks the business. It looks not too big. Slicy, pointy, and more than tough enough. If I need to section rounds of Elm. I have axes for that. One thing I like about sub four inch knives is you can't beat them through ten inch logs.

    I my mind's Eye, I'm looking for an EDC that fills the role of General Purpose knife. From Kitchen Table to Campfire, and everything in between. Just your basic do everything knife. And one that won't have me being mocked by some grizzled up old Mountaineer out of Kephart's own "Our Southern Highlanders"

    So, Pro or Custom???.
    I'm a pretty solid fan of A2. But the S35VN would be nice in an Every day carry for it's stain resistance.

    Am I correct that Nathan builds the slabs for the Pro models?

    Having owned several of Andy's Knives. I always find the fit and finish second to none. So much so. That I don't even worry about it with his knives.

    So, all of that to say. I need feedback. Custom, or Pro or both?

    How, why, what, and pictures of working knives is always good. Brian's reviews are always good because he uses his blades. I get a lot more info out of seeing a well used, less pretty knife, than a pristine safe queen.

    Enlighten me!

    And thanks,

    I guess that was a bit of a vent/rant.
    Sorry about that.
  2. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    Hah! I got a kick out of reading this! You fit right in here, stick around.

    As for the knife(ves)...

    I haven't had the opportunity to really use a Kephart in either iteration, but I have plenty of experience with other pro and non-pro options. I'll just lay it out as I see it and you can take it from there! I'm sure others will help shortly.

    Pros of the pro:

    -Available right now - https://fiddlebackoutpost.com/colle...n-knives/products/kephart?variant=17100814593
    -Grippy, tough, removable scales
    -Not too hard on the wallet
    -Hard to beat


    -It's not custom
    -Only 1/8
    -Not A2, if you prefer that steel
    -Bob might buy them all if you don't hurry
    -You'll buy more (is this really a con though?)

    Pros of the handmade:

    -Pieces of very functional art
    -Impressive to competing mountain men
    -Lots of options for steel, thickness, handles, pins, etc
    -Never another exactly the same


    -More expensive
    -Waiting for the "perfect one" can take months, especially if you're as picky as I am...
    -You'll buy more (see above)

    Now a couple final additions to make things harder. First, occasionally you can find a "Custom Shop" version which is the pro blade with custom handles. Exhibit A (They're pretty rare now a days so if you like that one I might suggest getting it... I've considering claiming it myself a few times). Second, they've started releasing a few handmades in AEB-L, I think the first two were both Kepharts. If you like stainless and want full custom that's another option. Finally, I would also suggest checking out some of the Cumming Bladeworks models. I just received and then gifted a Trailmaster and Utility to my best friend, very impressed. I will be getting my own for sure. :thumbsup:
  3. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    If I may chime in, and I will. I have both and love both. What makes me favor the pro over the customs are those damn awesome, addicting scales on the pros. They are second to none. I love a knife that has some corners on the handle. When you close your hands as gripping a knife it’s not a round shape. This knife really locks into that shape of your hand and will not twist causing fatigue or a lack of control. I’ve found when I lay a knife on its spine and it stays put without wobbling or falling over, its in the plus category for me.

    The steel is irrelevant for most arguments but I’m going to be eventually moving to Perdido Key Florida and most of my outdoors will be a bit salty and or humid. The A2 would hold up ok I’m sure but the S35vn did awesome on some little test I did last year.

    If I were forced to, I would sell every custom knife I own to keep the Pro-Kephart as I've found the ultimate all around knife. There are a few knives close such as the pro-bushfinger (needs liners to thicken) and a few knives from Dave Wenger and one or two from Carothers. I bet I’ll eventually only have user knives and very few pretty customs in my collection.
    Tekton, Nbrackett, LostViking and 2 others like this.
  4. Bmurray

    Bmurray Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    I almost forgot. Big companies just suck to work for as most of the higher ups are douche bags and liars. They also tend to cheat you eventually. This comes from someone who’s changing jobs in about a month after 28 years. It’s the most excited I’ve been in a long time.
    Tekton, rswanson, Nbrackett and 2 others like this.
  5. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    Thanks guys!

    With snow on the ground here six plus months a year. Grip is important. Perharps it will be less so in North Carolina. But that is far from a done deal at this point.

    I have never held a Fiddleback that didn't impress me. I have a Leuku that hasn't seen the action it should have. But that has more to do with me than the capability of the knife.

    The feedback above is solid and it makes sense.
  6. Lady1911

    Lady1911 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2018
    FYI....there’s a Production Kephart at Arizona Custom Knives right now for an excellent price.
    LostViking and Bmurray like this.
  7. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    Thanks for the heads up. I'll have a look.

    Edit to add;
    Gonzo, but that's ok. I think I like the natuaral slabs more anyway.

    Thanks for the efforts on my behalf!
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
    Lady1911 and Bmurray like this.
  8. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    Lady1911 and Bmurray like this.
  9. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    For handle comfort and balance I prefer the hand made knives. For the gulf coast I prefer the mid-tech knives. If salt water isn't a factor, and you see a handle combination that catches your eye, I would go with hand made. If you spend a good bit of time near the ocean I'd suggest the mid-techs, or one of the VERY rare hand made versions in the CPM steels.
    LostViking and Bmurray like this.
  10. TrainedBullets


    Apr 23, 2017
    Cool, rambling thread! I share your distain for poor leaders and the brown recluse. When I was in the military, one if my squad leaders got bit by the spider and didn’t seek immediate treatment. It was pretty horrific. Luckily, I’ve only been bitten by the occasional bad leader and moved on quickly.

    As far as the knife goes, I’m firmly in the carbon steel camp for fixed blades. SS is probably totally fine. All my experience though is with carbon steel and I’m sticking with what I know. Adding Andy’s insanely comfortable handmade handles is icing in the cake.

    Crap, I think I just talked myself into getting a FF Kephart...
    LostViking likes this.
  11. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    I caved.
    Fiddleback Outpost just got an order for a NCM Field Grade Kephart.

    I figure this is a good place to start with the Kephart. Now the wait begins. I hope I like mine half as much as Bmurray and Lady1911 like theirs.

    This purchase will however trigger some other knives to be put on the block. Which in reality was the plan from the get go.
    Lady1911, rswanson, Odaon and 3 others like this.
  12. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    My Kephart Pro arrived safe and sound yesterday. Thanks to Fiddleback Outpost!

    I think I like it. We are in the throes of a snow/ice storm here. So I haven't done too much yet.

    It feels good in the hand. But, it plows snow really poorly.

    The point is a tad thinner than I expected. But that's ok. I like the overall size and shape. The sheath is fine.

    I did use it to make lunch today. Slices onions nicely, and had its way with some liverwurst and cheddar cheese too. All good.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
    Lady1911 and Bmurray like this.
  13. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    Cool post LV. Getting laid off sucks, but it sounds like it worked out in your favor. I think there is a consistency of handle shape/size in the production, where size variation in the hand carved customs is inevitable.
  14. wildmanh

    wildmanh Part time Leather Bender/Sheath maker

    Jul 9, 2000
    The tip was thinner then I expected too. Kitchen use sounds great! Got pictures? Congrats on the new knife.
  15. LostViking

    LostViking Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    Thank you!

    No photos of indoor stuff. My camera's flash gave up the ghost a few weeks back. So I'm relegated to outdoor photograpghy only at this point. Until I figure out what I want to replace it with.

    Yes, ot does very well with peppers and onions. Chopping bacon, cheese is so so. But that's normal. Hard cheeses are fine. Softer ones like jack give a little feedback.

    Still snowing here. I guess I'll just have to suck it up.

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