Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practical Utility Knives

A couple of recent acquisitions. I'm a sucker for "working knives" and I just came upon a couple of offerings from Cold Steel: the "Roach Belly" and the "Finn Bear." Cold Steel makes good, utilitarian stuff and I thought I'd give them a try. Especially at the price: $10.29 and $10.49 respectively from PoorFish Outdoors (through Amazon and even cheaper direct and if you sign up for their newsletter you get $10 off your next order— if you buy at least $100 worth of their stuff), with $4.89 for shipping. Here's the URL for the Finn Bear which is currently on sale for $9.99…http://www.poorfish.com/p-753-cold-steel-finn-bear-knife.aspx)

The blades are stainless (Krupp 4116) and relatively thin (.09") in the old style for outdoorsmen's blades, pre-Marble's. As they come from the factory they are "scary-sharp." I haven't had the need to sharpen them yet, but they look to me like they will be easy to keep well-honed. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I stropped the Finn Bear and, yes, you can shave with the thing!

It was actually the Finn Bear that first caught my eye. I have long looked for a decently priced puuko-style knife. I like the blade shape for a general purpose knife and the (sometimes) triangular handle as well. But I was unwilling to spend over $100 to get one, and didn't care much for the round birch handles on most of them.

The Roach Belly is what might have been called a "scalping knife" in the old days and is a shape much favored by old-time frontiersmen. It also makes a very good kitchen knife, which is not out of character since the old boys did just about everything with their belt knives. Both knives would be excellent for dressing out game of almost all sizes.

The handles on both knives are lightweight and Zytel glass-reinforced. The Finn Bear's is ridged and the Roach Belly is more or less pebble-grained, and both seem to sit well in the hand and provide a good grip. Both knives weigh 2.8 oz which makes them a good choice for long days afield while hunting, and both would do just about anything you called upon them to do. They come with lightweight, plastic-lined nylon sheaths that are ugly but do the job. Not bad for about ten bucks.

10 comments:

The Hermit said...

Alas, most of my knives came from a cheap knife catalog, but BudK has always given me utilitarian blades for little cash. I don't have any nice knives like those except one Kbar I've had for 30 years.

Rio Arriba said...

Hermit! They're ten bucks for pete's sake! Treat y'self! ;-)

BobG said...

Nice lookin' puukko there. The other one looks like a good skinning knife.

The Hermit said...

Humm. Maybe I should. But I can get a gargantuan Bowie knife for ten bucks from Bud K! ;-)

Rio Arriba said...

Yeah, a Bowie from Pakistan is a real prize! ;-)

My experience has been that a knife with a blade much over 4" is not all that useful in the real world. I've also learned to appreciate thinner blades than would have pleased Mr. Marbles.

Bowies of course are super-useless unless you are a knife-fighter who never runs into a gun-fighter!

BobG said...

Out hunting or camping I always carried a couple of knives; one large one, and one small one. Both have their uses.

The Hermit said...

Well, I don't know. I like to drive down the road and brandish it out the window at bicyclists.

Rio Arriba said...

Hermit! You are an unrepentant savage! ;-)

theotherryan said...

Awhile back I wanted a Roach Belly and since the site had a minimum order I doubled down and got a second one. The handle is a bit small for my hand but it is a very utilitarian knife and a lot of bang for your money.

I personally buy moderately priced knives. Usually in the $40-60 range. Think Glock not Hi Point or Ed Brown. Enough of a blade to be quality and useful for the long term but not so much that I would be really sad if the blade got chipped or it got lost.

DRB said...

I bought a Finn Bear a couple of years ago. Great wee knife, I now keep it in the car where I think it is getting lonely....I may have to bring it back into the house again.