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Schrade 280OT Barlow Review

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by btmccutcheon, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. btmccutcheon


    Jul 10, 2013
    A few weeks ago I picked up a Schrade Taylor Brand 280OT, otherwise known as the Old Timer Barlow. I grew up around Schrade knives, and carried either an Uncle Henry or Old Timer from Jr. High until I joined the the Army. I loved those old Schrades for their ease of sharpening, edge retention, quality for the price, and beauty. It was like hearing about an old friend passing when Schrade closed their doors in 2004 after 100 years of production. And, for the past ten years I've been very dubious about a China made "Schrade", but after seeing one firsthand, I decided to give it a chance. I don't have a pre-Taylor Brand 280OT to compare, but I do have a 35-40 year old 34OT I can compare with to an extent.

    The first and most obvious difference to me between the old and new is the colors in the sawcut delrin covers. I have a couple more older OT's and the delrin covers are like this middleman stockman. The grain in the sawcut is finer in the older knife as well. However this old stockman did see a lot of pocket time in my youth. The next thing I noticed was the color of the nickle silver bolsters. I've often heard that nickle silver is simply white brass, but I have haven't researched so more information would be appreciated. The bolsters on the old Stockman are definitely more white than the ones on the Barlow. The Barlow's solid bolsters have a slight yellow tint that I've seen on the Rough Rider knives I have which are also made in China. I'm curious if this material is naturally this way and if location has any bearing.


    Looking for gaps, I didn't initially see any, but then discovered one between the mark side liner and spring once I held it up and saw a very faint sliver of light leak through. It's there but very hard to see. The stockman also doesn't show gaps nor does it leak light. However pocket time and debris may have closed what was there.


    Looking down on the blades I can see they are not centered and both pull toward the center brass liner. However neither are close enough to the liner to rub. I can also see a slight lack of uniformity of the grind of both near the shoulder. Other than that, both blades are straight and well ground in my opinion. They came sharp out of the box as well. Pull is about 5-6. Good walk and talk with no half stops. It has a very authoritative snap on both blades. No play at all, but there is a little flex like the Schrades of old. Likely from very thinly ground blades.



    Another big difference between this new OT and the old OT's is the fact it has stainless blades. OT's of old had carbon blades which distinguished them from Schrade's Uncle Henry line. UH's covers were different, but I still feel that a knife's heart is in the steel. This one sports 7Cr17. Though I'm by no means an expert on steels, I can tell you this one took an edge like the OT's of old. Quickly, and scary sharp. Though it was sharp out of the box, I wanted to see what a stone would do and honed it up on a 20 year old Doublestuff ceramic stone and a strop. It was hair shaving sharp in no time, just like the Schrades of old. Closer inspection of the newly honed polished edge revealed minor imperfections in the uniformity of the original edge. Still scary sharp though. So far it's only done some light work, cutting chicken, packages, and string, so I'm still curious about retention.







    My overall impression of this knife is it is a superb little knife at a spectacular bargain at $19 dollars (the shopkeep is rather proud of his wares). Solid, well built, with a fit and finish that is better than any Rough Rider I have. I have one GEC that leaks way more light. Did I mention how easy it is to get it sharp? It's not American made, and I miss the carbon blades, but I'm impressed and would put it on par with the Schrades of old at a much cheaper price. Well done Taylor Brand.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  2. neeman


    Apr 5, 2007
    nice review thank you
  3. jc57


    Nov 28, 2012
    Todd, I had a similar experience with my recently purchased Taylor Schrade 93OT. I posted something of a review over in the Rough Rider and Related Brands thread. Mine had a few cosmetic issues but functionally it is a very good pocket knife, well worth the $16 it cost. My understanding is that the steel is equivalent to 440A steel. The bolsters polished up to shiny silver with some Simichrome metal polish. Mine was very sharp right out of the box, and took an even sharper edge without much work.

    They have a new release of most of the patterns in a sawcut bone, with polished blades and what they are calling 440C steel. They are still mostly under $20 even in the "genuine bone" handles. I'm thinking about getting one to see how they stack up.
  4. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Thanks for the detailed review :thumbup: I actually ordered the same model six months ago, but unfortunately from a very shabby company, and I never got the knife - though I did eventually get my money back.
  5. btmccutcheon


    Jul 10, 2013
    Let us know if you get one. I personally would like to hear your thoughts on it.

    Man, I hate that you had a bad experience, but I'm glad you got your money back. Are you going to try again for one?
  6. 5K Qs

    5K Qs Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 20, 2014
    Thanks for the in-depth review, btmac; well done! :thumbup::thumbup:
    When I first started lurking in this subforum, there seemed to never be anything good said about Taylor-made Schrades. But lately, several people who have actually tried them seem to compare them favorably with the old USA Schrades, or at least rate them as good knives for the price. And as John pointed out, they now offer bone (and I think ironwood) options for the covers, which is an interesting feature to me.

    - GT
  7. jc57


    Nov 28, 2012
    Ordered it last night - 34OTB. I see you have a 34OT so I might just send it over to you to do a side-by-side if you want to. Should show up later this week. Though by the time we mail it back and forth it would cost almost as much as another knife. :)
  8. swaybacksteve


    Apr 7, 2015
    good to see more reviews of the new Schrades...and they seem to be good ones. I've been thinking about a cheap barlow and this sounds like it will give good competition for a RR. I absolutely love my old usa made Schrades and it's good that the company is trying to carry the good name well.
    I just might get one of these due to this review. Thanks
  9. btmccutcheon


    Jul 10, 2013
    Update: Since I like this little 280OT as much as I do, I ordered the Red Bone version of it last night. I'm looking forward to seeing how the covers look. It should be a nice addition to my collection.
  10. Captain O

    Captain O Banned BANNED

    Apr 14, 2015
    People thought that I was kidding when I told them that Schrade/Taylor's 7Cr17 was decent steel for pocket knives and some of their larger fixed blades. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" and it sounds as if a few of the members have been enjoying their fill. The Barlow is a great pattern and if you want an "entry level" Barlow, this is an excellent knife to buy. The 280OT is a good place to start!

    To paraphrase an old Alka-Seltzer commercial from the 1970's. "Buy it, you'll like it"! ;)
  11. deltaboy


    Jul 6, 2014
    Great knifes. I love them.
  12. billsch8


    Oct 25, 2010
    Great review! I have the same knife and it is excellent in terms of quality, fit & finish, etc. Mine has no gaps whatsoever, flush springs in open and closed position, slightly off center blades ( no rubbing), no wobble and came very sharp. The pull is pretty strong, I'd rate it maybe 7+ to 8 and that is the only criticism I have on mine. But heck, I only paid $12! I have a couple of other Taylor Schrade Old Timers and they are similar in terms of quality, etc. Well made and quite a bargain!
  13. Captain O

    Captain O Banned BANNED

    Apr 14, 2015
    If you want an inexpensive Barlow but with a significantly better steel (9Cr18Mov) you can order a Boker Plus Barlow. (These are about $25.00 from and online vendor). These have a great fit and finish and have superior steel. (The Boker Plus Barlow is touted as being 440C when it is, in fact, 9Cr18Mov steel). This is almost as good as 440C, but from a different formula.

    I like mine.
    filedog likes this.
  14. PNWJimbo


    Sep 29, 2015
    Something very cool about that clip point's profile while sitting at the half stop. Great review :)
  15. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    My dad bought himself a 3 piece collectors set last week, and at 20$ for the 3 of them I'm impressed with their quality, especially since their actually better than both of my old timers ( only because they were both defective though, and would be way better had they not been )
    They seem like pretty decent knives, but there's just something about them that doesn't really scream old timer to me.
  16. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Because I'm in Europe, obtaining US made old Schrades is not easy. Couple of years back I was interested in getting hold of the small 3 OT lockback and a Sharpfinger. But the prices sought on the Bay seemed outrageous to me and these were good honest knives but no frills in their day, a workman's knife.
    Also, I have heard that knives made shortly before the 04 closure are often rather poor in QC, not surprisingly. I have a Yello Jaket made by Camillus just before they shut down, it's a very similar small lock back to the 3 OT. On getting it out the other day I was shocked at how frankly poor the fit&finish is, forgotten that.

    So I got hold of a couple of Chinese manufactured Schrade OT 3 and I've found them to be more than good. Tight construction no blade play, sturdy little knives with seemingly good stainless. One is in Buffalo Horn and has stood up to 6 years light use, I say stood up because horn can shrink or warp badly in the dry, this hasn't. It also has nickel silver liners, a bonus. The other one is the sawn delrin. F&F is very good indeed, nice rounded pins and excellent lock-up, sharp out of the box. The delrin itself is not too pleasant in colour, a rather anaemic pinkish hue to it but the construction quality is good. I can report the same about the Sharpfinger, nice finish a decent enough sheath and good steel. I'd like a US made one but the cost is very high and I'm afraid, not really worth it.

    I certainly understand why people would like a US made knife but in a way these contemporary foreign made Schrades have got back to a certain root: simple, well made tough knives with good steel at moderate price.

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