Review : Mel Sorg Custom 4" Drop Point Hunter

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
This review is online and will probably be update with pictures eventually once I finish the testing:

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Anyway here it is so far:

I started out looking for a small fixed blade that was made for cutting.
I was not interested in being able to pry with it or hack apart oil drums or
anything like that so toughness was not a criteria. I was looking for
something about 4" long, very thin (but still stiff), and full flat grind.
I also wanted a decent steel as abrasion resistance was a must to give
decent edge holding. Along that same line I didn't was the steel tempered
for toughness but left at a very high hardness, a minimum of say 62 RC.

After exchanging a few emails with Mel I knew I had found the right guy
as he was very open and willing to make sure the knife was designed in the
manner to best suit my needs. This was in every aspect a custom knife. The
only element of the design that was fixed from the start was the blade steel
choice of D2.

After looking over some pictures showing a selection of his work, we
discussed every element of the knife including the basics of blade steel
selection, tempering, and primary grinding. We also covered such specifics
as the blade geometry, the balance point, choice of material for the scales
(and thickness) etc.. Even small details like should the final edge be
convex or V ground were covered. This was not me saying I want this or this,
but rather I would state how I wanted the knife to perform and we would then
discuss the specifics.

We settled on a 3/32" thick, 4" long D2 blade uniformly heat treated to
62 RC with Kingwood scales for a durable and comfortable grip. The blade had
a very fine drop point for controlled detailed work and a slight recurve to
enhance slicing ability. Total cost was only $130.

I have only had the knife for a few days but initial testing has been
extremely positive. It came from Mel with a really sharp convex edge. The
blade is very thin but still very stiff. If I take a grip near the tip I can
get it to flex a little much not very much, enough to feel but not visually
significant. It does not flex enough to be noticeable during slicing which is
what I wanted.

Because of the very thin stock, full flat grind and very nice edge it
slices really well. For example if I just use the blade near the tip (not
taking advantage of the recurve) it will still push cut quite easily through
junk mail packed envelopes thicker than it. The edge bites really well and
does not want to slip even when cutting near the tip in this fashion where
the blade is actually curving away from the material. The performance is so
high that when cutting rope I don't have to slice very much at all but can
actually pull the knife right through doing more of a push cut.

As an indication of its performance it far out cuts my mini AFCK in M2
which I have reground to an edge that is far lower than the Benchmade
standard. The mini AFCK has a secondary bevel of about 15 degrees and is
very sharp (will push cut free hanging paper, shave quite easily etc.). It
is a very nice slicer but it feels "sticky" when compared to the custom
fixed blade with thinner stock and lower primary grind. After a few days of
cutting cardboard, rope, hard plastics, some soft metal (thin aluminium), the
M2 edge has degraded much more than the D2 on the drop point hunter (which
is not noticeablely different).

Anyway my initial cutting has been very positive. The knife cuts very
well and has excellent edge retention. I would not hesitate to recommend Mel
Sorg as a custom knife maker. I plan to do some testing in the upcoming days
to see how durable the edge is and how easy it is to resharpen.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 26 February 1999).]
So nice to read your post since I have ordered a 4.5" skinner from Mel and have been giving some thought to a smaller utility companion knife. He knows his stuff.
Apparently you do too.
I chose to leave more of the details (grind,thickness,etc.) to Mel as I feel he knows more about blades than I do. I agree D2 is a great choice of steel. I went with ironwood scales and one of his "swinger" sheaths.
Mel seems like great guy.
You Cut--I Wait.
Mel was extreemly easy to work with and willing to make the knife that would work best for me - I would not hesitate to recommend him.

Note that I left most of the decisions to him. The discussion was along the lines of me describing what I wanted and making my suggestion for the initial specs and then him adjusting them based on his experience. For example I knew I wanted something with very thin stock (hoping to get something thinner than 1/8"). I also knew I didn't want it to flex like a fillet knife. So basically I said Mel choose the thinnest stock that just barely flexes. He was right on with his pick of 3/32" as it will just flex it I try to bend it but it stiff enough not to bend while cutting. It was the same with just about everything else.

It was also the first knife that I bought in a long time that I didn't want to reprofile or even sharpen the edge. It came with a nice low convex bevel that was very sharp, easily able to push cut through paper, cardboard etc.