Loving my Arowana!

Discussion in 'W.A. Surls Knives (formerly WAS Knives)' started by hasco, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. hasco

    hasco Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    I want to start out by saying I had not bought a new knife in awhile. I just had not seen anything that really caught my eye until I saw Allen's new Arowana design. Something about it really spoke to me. I normally like a 3-4" blade and I rarely by anything over 4". With a 6" blade, the Arowana was not in my normal range of knives. In the past when I have bought anything over 4" I usually end up selling it because it is more knife than I like and need. The minute I got the Arowana in my hands I knew it was and exception and that it was a great knife for me. The fit and finish is excellent. It came really sharp which I expect and appreciate when I buy a custom knife. The natural micarta over black micarta with the black bolsters is one of my favorite handle configurations. This one came in 5/32" tapered A2 steel.

    A major sign of a great knife for me is when I just can't wait to use it. This knife is like that. I usually don't use a knife this thick as a kitchen knife unless camping, but this has been an exception. It has been sitting on one of my cutting boards since I got it and I have been using it a lot in the kitchen. It feels great in the hand and it is fun to use. At 5/32", it can't compare to a really thin kitchen knife but I still keep grabbing it when I need to cut something up. The first one Allen sold was in 3/32" and I really want to get one in that thickness. An Arowana in cpm154 at 3/32" thick would be insane!!!! I would not pass up the opportunity to get one in A2 at 3/32" either.

    This one being 5/32" means it is a perfect thickness for some heavy work in the woods in my opinion. I would say the weight is balanced a little forward which makes it want to chop. I have made feather sticks, some stop/push cuts and some light chopping and it does great. The only thing that the knife is lacking is a sharp point up front. I like the feeling of holding a knife that could stab if needed. It makes me wonder what this knife would be like with some kind of clip point up front. That small point aside (no pun intended), it is a great knife. Even with the 6" blade, it feels pretty light and nimble, yet strong enough to do some work. I feel like Allen really created something special in this design.






    As close to showing the balance point as I could get.


    Some light chopping on a very seasoned piece of California hazelnut to expose a good edge for feather sticking.


    The length and rocker really make it shine in the kitchen. I can easily keep the tip on the cutting board and chop away.



    Chopping up ingredients for a little trip to the forest with my son and friends to cook some tin foil dinners over the fire.


    I didn't get very good pics of it's maiden voyage to the forest because it was pretty dark but I will get some better ones soon.


    I am working on a sheath for it at the moment and I will try to update this thread with more pics in the near future. I hope you enjoyed the thread and if you have a chance at swooping on one of these, I wouldn't hesitate.
    varga49 likes this.
  2. prom52

    prom52 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 13, 2014
    That's a great looking example of Allen's craftsmanship......classic look w/ awesome A2 spalting :thumbup:
  3. trestle


    Feb 2, 2008
    I haven't been this intrigued by a new knife design in a long time. Great pics and write-up showing its versatility. Combined with a small pointy knife, you have quite a camping combo. Throw in the 12 and there's not much you can't do. Great handle combo too.
  4. gusbuster

    gusbuster Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2011
    Great review. Thanks for sharing. :thumbup:
  5. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    That thing is cool! I want one

    Thanks for the great review.
  6. Comprehensivist

    Comprehensivist Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 23, 2008
    Great write-up and photos Tod. I was a little surprised when I saw you buy this knife because I know from our many PM conversations that you stay away from blades longer than 4". With that said, I think this model does make sense for you because the blade shape strikes me as an extended version of the Fiddleback Camp Nessmuk which is one your favorites blades (and mine too!). I can totally see where the sweeping curve of the blade would work really well in food prep / cutting board applications. The balance looks just about perfect for a blade that size with just a hint of forward chopper bias. The black and natural canvas micarta handle is a practical combo that still has a classy custom look. I agree that 3/32" CPM 154 would be ideal in the food prep role. I am sure that a number of folks will be looking for that configuration to pop up.

    Great job on the design Allen! Congratulations again on scoring that one Tod. Thanks for the review.

  7. Uncle_P


    Jul 11, 2014
    Awesome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. When I held one, I was very surprised at how light it is. Can't wait to see and hear about more field tests.
  8. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    Glad to see the review Tod. That knife remionds me of an asian bolo or golok or something. Really sings primitive to me. Neato model.
  9. allen456

    allen456 Moderator Moderator

    Nov 13, 2012
    Tod, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Arowana. I am a big fan of this model and the idea behind the design was to create a very versatile model that provided a larger blade yet kept you feeling that the over length was smaller while in the hand. A major part of the design was for kitchen use and as a small camp knife as you have stated. Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts and I love seeing my knives in action and how people enjoy them!

    side note, I am surprised the one I posted last Wednesday is still available, I thought it was an eye catcher and slicing machine with the full height grind.
  10. hasco

    hasco Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    I didn't even see that one until you posted this! 1/8" with a full height grind!!! Good thing Jim swooped on that one.
  11. Onedog


    Nov 5, 2013
    :D I've had my eye on it since the sales thread. It was this review that completely sold me. :thumbup: Great write up!
  12. VANCE

    VANCE Allen, I have an axe to grind with you. Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 13, 2006
    I'm a big fan of this model too.

    I'm pretty sure when i get one it would be the perfect replacement for the Padre Kylie claims as hers.

    3/32" O1

    O1 so the patina developes
  13. Onedog


    Nov 5, 2013
    I was originally waiting for another 3/32" to pop up. After seeing Tod's pics of the double duty this knife is capable of I figure 1/8" with a full hight grind would make for an awesome backyard barbecue/campfire knife.
  14. VANCE

    VANCE Allen, I have an axe to grind with you. Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 13, 2006
    thats sound thinking.

    im not looking for one as a dual purpose knife. im looking for a straight up kitchen knife.
  15. Dman3d


    Jul 9, 2013
    Mmmmm mmm another sweet blade to slaver over, nice catch there
  16. hasco

    hasco Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Thanks for the kind words everyone!!!

    I just finished up a sheath for it.

    Apocryphiliac likes this.
  17. ACLakey


    Jan 24, 2016
    Very nice.
  18. Taja


    Feb 17, 2014
    nice review. I like your choice of handle cover - very classic. And like Allen said it is nice to know that somebody use and enjoy the knife rather then it sitting on shelf or in drawer. I am big fan of Allen work, it is always good quality.
  19. schmittie

    schmittie Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    Piggy backin off of your post Todd. Hope that's ok. Cause this just showed up!!!-


    More later after we 'get to know each other' ....
  20. Luca917

    Luca917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 10, 2016
    Oh now that's just beautiful!


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