Question about steel for a field knife.

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I am starting to shop for my first quality field knife. I am looking for a knife to do all camping/hunting chores other than chopping. I will use an Axe for that. I am looking for something around 4 to 5 inches with a convex grind. Also I think I have big hands but not huge. My new BM710hs Is a good fit. A fixed blade with a drop point that is the same size or a little bigger that the 710 would probably be good. My ideas so far are:

BRKT Gameskeeper: http://www.barkriverknifetool.com/biggame/index.html
Fox River: http://www.barkriverknifetool.com/professional/index.html
North Star: http://www.barkriverknifetool.com/outdoor-bushcraft/index.html

Swamp Rat Howling Rat:http://www.swamprat.com/knives.html

Fehrman Knives Last Chance or Peace Maker: http://www.fehrmanknives.com/knives.htm

Busse: ???? don't know what one as it would probably have to be a EBAY find

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions but what I am mostly interested in at this point is a comparison of each makers blade steel as treated by them. (A2, SR101, CPM-3V, INFI)
 
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My preferences (in order) based on the knives and makers you listed: INFI, SR101, A2, and 3V.

If you’d like something a little different check out Fallkniven’s F1: laminated VG10 blade, and a full convex grind.
 
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I've just ordered a Fallkniven S1 after being very pleased with VG-10 in kitchen knives....The steels you mention are not stainless. I have no idea what SR 101 is . A2 is an excellent knife steel wear resistant and tough. This is what Chris Reeve uses in his one piece series. CPM 3V is a very tough steel, excellent choice for a 'beater knife'.It should withstand anything.INFI is a good steel but comes with lots of hype !!
 

Cliff Stamp

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bigox said:
I am starting to shop for my first quality field knife. I am looking for a knife to do all camping/hunting chores other than chopping.

If you are talking more of a specific cutting tool the BRKT is a more optimal design than the Howling Rat (or Fehrman or Busse) due to geometry, specifically the BRKT profiles run much more acute at the edge which will lead to better cutting ability and ease of sharpening. You can however achieve the same thing with the Howling Rat with maybe 10-15 minutes on an x-coarse stone. If you are not chopping or prying with your camp knife, I would look towards something really slim and light, the A. G. Russell Deerhunter stands out strongly for that.

mete said:
I have no idea what SR 101 is .

A slight modification of 52100, solid performance, solid toughness, it is *way* tougher than Reeve's A2 even when not differentially hardened, not as tough as some 3V blades I have seen (Schott) but tougher than others (Fehrman).

INFI is a good steel but comes with lots of hype !!

The performance of INFI has been demonstrated live on multiple occasions and is guaranteed by Busse and confirmed on many occasions by independent guys like Turber and Vo doing direct comparisons against other blades.

-Cliff
 
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Oldie but goldie: 440C. It's one of the best all-purpose alloys around. It doesn't excel in any one category, but it doesn't have any weaknesses either.
 
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Some pretty good arguments can be made for $50-class fixed-blade knives with 1095 or similar material (Kabar, Becker, etc.) for survival/camping environments:
- Won't break your heart if you lose them.
- Easy to sharpen in the field.
- Take a very good edge.
- Less subject to edge-chipping (digging in dirt = digging in rocks).
- They're tough, for tasks such as chopping, batoning or prying.

Pride-of-ownership is diminished and stain-resistance is nil, but overall performance is quite good.
 

rowdy27

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Anything under 6" is a fishin knife to me.
For a wilderness week camping,I'd like to have at least a 7" or 8" blade like a Kabar or Ontario SP-6.
The new Kabar Impact clip-point in D2 would be about perfect.
Check out the Kershaw Echo if your heart's set on a 4" drop point.
 
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Cliff, I must have skipped some of your reviews, I'm a little started to see SR 101 being tougher than any well-done 3V. Do you have an opinion as to what's happened?

bigox, Given that you have an axe, a 4" blade is as much knife as you'll need. I agree with Cliff that if you won't be doing any prying, chopping, etc, with that fixed blade, then go for performance. AG Russell's Deerhunter has a whisper-thin blade, absolutely super for cutting, but you will not be prying at all with it. It'll be the best pure cutting performer, and is the best choice if you're doing all your medium-duty or harder work with the axe.

One difference between the knives you mention above is that the BRKTs have a more narrow blade (measured from spine to edge), the erstwhile tacticals all have very wide blades. Both blade types work fine in the woods, IMO, but the more narrow blades work way better (for me, this could all be more about my lack of skill than anything else) for any kind of tip work, for example what you'd do with a paring knife. Wider blades work better for what you might typically do with a chef's knife. For most other jobs, they both work fine, though the narrower blade might have a lower chance of wedging if you baton it ('course, you have an axe, you don't need to baton, right?).

All the steels you mention are great choices, and the relative merits are outlined above and will doubtless continue to be debated. However, I'd urge you strongly to look closely at the rest of the knife, since quite frankly you'll see good performance from any of these, especially give that you have an axe for the big stuff so you should pick functionality over super strength. The difference in handle and blade shapes may be more important than the steel differences for you. If you didn't have an axe, I might retract that statement, but since you do, go for function and performance.

Joe
 
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rowdy27 said:
Anything under 6" is a fishin knife to me.
For a wilderness week camping,I'd like to have at least a 7" or 8" blade like a Kabar or Ontario SP-6.
The new Kabar Impact clip-point in D2 would be about perfect.
Check out the Kershaw Echo if your heart's set on a 4" drop point.

Rowdy, I'd agree with you if he had no big blade, but as it is, he has an axe. Given that he can do all his woodwork with that, there's nothing that can't be done with a 4" blade, and I'd argue that a 4" blade will be much easier to use for the other types of cutting. In addition, he can go thinner with higher-performance cutting, given that the axe is taking the load off the small fixed blade. The 6"-8" knife to me is the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none range, to me. If you already have an axe, no reason to carry another big knife that doesn't excel at small cutting jobs ... instead, optimize that small knife! I think even 5" for the fixed blade is too big ... I'd go 4" max.



Joe
 
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It might help if you listed some of the specific camping and hunting chores you expect to handle with this knife. For animals that are no larger than deer I would avoid hunting knives with blades longer than 4 inches. If I wanted the knife to be able to work on game as small as rabbits I would want a clip point to get into tight places. For this range of game a Benchmade Rant Bowie has a good combination of proportions (yes it is hollow ground rather than convex, but I'm just talking about general shape). http://www.newgraham.com/rant_fecas.htm The moderate blade length and fine point covers a lot of hunting bases. For big game like elk you might want a longer blade (but probably wouldn't need it). The Gameskeeper or a Cold Steel Master Hunter would have reasonable proportions. These knive just wouldn't work well on small game.

For me a major use of a "camp" knife is involved in food preperation. For that use a lighter and longer blade is handy. There are slicing and dicing chores that work best with around a 5 inch blade. One great choice is Trace Rinaldi's Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife (TTKK). http://www.thrblades.com/TTKK.htm
 
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This would be a general cutting blade. I am looking for that knife that you always have with you in the woods to do all your general work. Dressing game from deer on down, food prep etc. I am leaning toward a combo of either a Northstar or Fox River and a Mini Canadian. They seem to be well respected knives and I can have the two at a reasonable price. I don't think I will have a need for anything bigger but if I do a future Ratweiler would seem to compliment them well and a small axe would be even better. The more I look the more I think a Busse or Fehrman are not what I am looking for. The A. G. Russell Deer Hunter is looking good and I am looking at Dozier but I wanted to try a convex blade.
 
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Oh yeah, you asked about blade alloy. If you aren't chopping with the knife most of the alloys that you are talking about are tougher than you need. I would favor A2 since it sharpens well. You might do just as well with a stainless steel that is fairly tough and takes a good edge. I would favor BG42 or VG-10. I might split the difference and look for a D2 blade.
 
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Note that the Deerhunter is, I think, .10" thick. The next thinnest blade you're looking at is around .18" thick, I think ... or nearly double the thickness. Just to give you an idea of how thin it is. That's why it cuts so well, and also why you won't pry with it. You can get the TTKK down to .125", also nice and thin, but stronger. Both are flat ground, though.

I have a Fox River. It is an awesome knife, I've been batoning it through whatever I can get my hands on and it's still shaving. I like the Northstar better profile-wise, but haven't tried it out. In the past I've liked convex blades best for woodworking and least for food prep ...
 
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Hello Bigox.

You mention some really nice knives here (all of them). Personally I like the BRKT Gameskeeper better than the other two from BRKT. I think the solid pins are better than the rivets (look better, and easier to keep clean), and I also like the single hilt (guard) that will offer your fingers protection while working in the cold, inside the chest cavity of deer. I can always get A2 blades sharper than everything else, however, A2 will rust and stain pretty easily if not kept clean and oiled. You probably already know this but never store any knives in the sheath for long periods of time or they can get stained or rusty.

I think the Peacemaker knife has a better blade profile than the last chance for hunting and food related camp chores although the last chance would be be nice for heavier work.

D2 steel holds a decent edge for a very long time, longer than most, but again it will stain/rust if not taken care of (better stain resistence than A2). D2 has 12% chrome in its makeup and 13% or more is considered stainless. I really like D2 because I've had good luck with it holding an edge. In addition to the choices you mention I think you should take a look at Bob Dozier knives. He builds working knives out of D2 that really hold an edge. You can view them at: http://www.dozierknives.com/

Just an idea I figured I'd mention to you, and that is to carry 2 knives. The smaller knife can be used for gutting, skinning, food prep etc..., and the larger knife can be used for all the heavier work.

I like carrying a small and large fixed bladed knife as well as a hatchet when hunting or camping. I like the small fixed blade to have a blade length of 3.5to 4.5 inches, and the large fixed blade to have a blade length of 6 to 8 inches. The Bob Dozier K-2 would fit the small knife criteria, and a cheaper more robust knife like a Cold Steel SRK, Becker, or Ka-Bar would fit the large knife criteria. The reason I say cheaper is because this is for heavier use like cutting kindling, bone, etc...and thus is more abused.

Hope I helped, but all the knives you mention are quality knives and wouldn't disappoint you. Good Luck, and let us know what you decide.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Joe Talmadge said:
I'm a little started to see SR 101 being tougher than any well-done 3V. Do you have an opinion as to what's happened?

The Fehrman EJ chipped readily on hard impacts, surprised me based on what I saw on Schott's. There are many reasons why steels can be problematic, flaws in the steel, problems with the heat treat or after hardening grinding.

-Cliff
 
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