My dad was an enthusiastic angler and hunter. When it came to edged tools, he used only one knife—a three-bladed stockman pattern folder. I’ve watched him gut trout, upland birds, small game and deer all with the same knife. He couldn’t see the logic of strapping on a sheath knife or a belt folder pouch. “Why carry all that extra weight and blade length when my pocket knife is fully capable of doing the job,” he said.
In truth, there is a certain sensibility to my father’s rationale. In most instances, a hunter is already loaded down with gear. Carrying a pocket folder that offers secure carry, safe usage and functional performance can be the perfect choice in most situations.
Modern Pocket Pals
Recently, the folks at Knives of Alaska introduced two new lock-blade folders designed to slip into your pants pockets. The knives are light and thin enough that they’re hardly noticeable when carried. “But don’t let their 2-ounce weight fool you; the knives are built to exacting standards for hard use. During our testing process, each blade is locked open and torque tested several times to withstand over 100 pounds of force on the locking mechanism,” Charles Allen, President of Knives of Alaska, told me.
Two models, the “Hunter,” featuring a drop-point blade pattern, and the “Bird/Trout,” which has a Wharncliffe-style blade, are available. The blade steel used in these new folders is D2 tool steel, rightly famous for holding a durable edge and resisting chipping. Heat treated to Rc 60-61, the flat ground, satin-finished blades offer enhanced edge retention, even when dealing with tough sinew, cartilage and bone. The Hunter model has a 2.75-inch blade that’s useful for both general field dressing as well as skinning and detailed trophy work. The Bird/Trout model has a 3-inch blade, which is just the right size for fish and feathered game as well as big-game trophy work. To assist with blade control, a short section of rounded irregularities is positioned along the top of the blade at the place where the tip of the index finger would naturally fall when extended. Used in this manner, the knives are able to cut with the precision of a scalpel.
Looks and Feel
A locking liner within the knife frame of either model, crafted from tough 17-4 stainless spring steel, is used to secure the blade in the open position. And an elongated oval opening situated at the top of the blade back facilitates opening and closing. The blade movement is a bit too stiff to offer instant one-hand-opening, but the functional operation is smooth and the lock mechanism secure.
Both models are available with either carbon fiber or olive drab G10 handle scales. The handle itself is an open design for easy cleaning, with the scales held apart by three internally threaded stainless steel bushings and button head socket screws. The stainless steel main pin, upon which the blade is secured within the handle, is a stout .25-inch in diameter. Even though I put a lot of lateral pressure on the blade, I couldn’t get it to wiggle even a tiny bit. As my father used to say, these knives are “built Hell for stout.” Finally, every edge of the knife handle is slightly rounded so it doesn’t present a wear point when carried in your pocket.
An early deer hunt, followed by an antelope hunt, provided lots of opportunity for testing both knives in actual field work. Best of all, I didn’t have something else hanging on my belt to pull my pants down. Put to use, the Hunter model was a delight to work with. The drop-point blade easily handled all of the basic evisceration, along with skinning. I never once felt that a larger knife was necessary. When it came time to cape the animals, the Bird/Trout Model was used for all of the delicate work. The scalpel-like blade was just the right shape for cutting around the antler/horns, eyes and lips. Later on, the same knife proved itself on a couple of pheasants and a limit of trout.
While the knives in this new series may be small, that doesn’t mean that they come up short in performance. When it comes to most hunting needs, the user-friendly nature of these knives is hard to beat. The MSRP of either model with olive drab G10 handle scales is $69.99. Carbon fiber handle scales are $79.99. For more information, visit www.knivesofalaska.com or call 800-572-0980.
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by Joe Flowers / May 10, 2009