Buying Guide

Choosing the right knife...


Hunting Knives

Hunting knives are traditionally designed for cutting rather than stabbing, and have only one sharpened edge. The blade is slightly curved, and some hunting knives may have a blade that has both a curved portion for skinning, and a straight portion for cutting slices of meat.

Bowie Knives

The historical Bowie knife was not a single design, but was a series of knives improved several times by Jim Bowie over the years.

The version most commonly known as the historical Bowie knife was rather large and of massive construction, as knives go, having usually a blade at least six inches (15 cm) long and 12 inches (30 cm) was not uncommon, with a relatively broad blade that was an inch and a half to two inches wide (4 to 5 cm) and made of steel usually between 3/16" and 1/4" thick (from 4.8 to 6.4 millimeters). The back of the blade often had a strip of soft metal (normally brass or copper) inlaid intended to catch an opponent's blade, a concept borrowed from the medieval Scottish dirk, and also often had an upper guard that bent forward at an angle, also intended to catch an opponent's blade. The back edge of the curved clip point, also called the "false edge," was often sharpened in order to allow someone trained in European techniques of saber fencing to execute the maneuver called the "back cut" or "back slash." A brass quillon was attached to protect the hand, usually cast in a mold. It is likely that the blade shape was derived from the Spanish navaja clasp knives carried in Spain and the Spanish colonies in the Americas.

The shape and style of blade was chosen so that the Bowie knife could serve usefully as a camp and hunting tool as well as a weapon. Many knives and daggers existed that could serve well as weapons, and many knives existed that could serve well as tools for hunters and trappers, but the Bowie knife was designed to do both jobs well, and is still popular with hunters and sportsmen even in the present day.

The curved portion of the edge, toward the point, is for removing the skin from a carcass, and the straight portion of the edge, toward the guard, is for chores involving cutting slices, similar in concept to the traditional Finnish hunting knife, the "puukko" (though the typical early 19th Century Bowie knife was far larger and heavier than the typical puukko). The blade is generally long enough and heavy enough that the knife can be used as a hatchet or machete, but not so heavy or long as to be cumbersome. Most such knives intended for hunting are only sharpened on one edge, to reduce the danger of cutting oneself while butchering and skinning the carcass.

Since the late 1970s, Bowie knives with sawteeth machined into the back side of the blade have had a certain popularity among collectors, possibly due to the appearance of such a knife in the first Rambo film with Sylvester Stallone. Knives with this feature are still being made and sold, often called "survival knives" and incorporating a hollow handle that can theoretically be used to carry assorted survival gear, of quality ranging from the excellent to the very poor. The actual utility of sawteeth on a knife is debatable (to say nothing of hollow handles, which may be prone to breaking if the knife is poorly constructed), and many hold that the sharp teeth endanger the user when used to gut and skin a large animal carcass such as a deer or elk, as well as making the knife much less useful as a weapon as they make it prone to getting stuck (though in some instances they can serve to scrape the scales off fish). A proper Bowie knife is long enough and heavy enough that the user can usually chop through wood with it much faster than he could use the saw teeth. Nonetheless Bowie knives with sawteeth on the back of the blade have become popular.

It is said that for a knife to be considered a Bowie knife, it must be long enough to use as a sword, sharp enough to use as razor, wide enough to use as a paddle, and heavy enough to use as a hatchet.

Locking Knives

Locking knives, such as the claspknife, lock-knife, or lockback knife, have locking mechanism such as a twisting ring or catch that must be released in a distinct action before the knife can be folded. This lock improves safety by preventing accidental blade closure while cutting. In contrast, slipjoint knives have only a sliding spring keeping the blade open, and if enough force is applied to the back of the knife, the blade will close. These knives are exceedingly common in some areas of the world.

Locking knives may have appeared as early as the 15th century, in Spain. The Spanish navaja is a traditional folding knife with a long history. In the late 1800s locking pocket knives were popularized and marketed on a wider scale. The most popular form, the lockback knife (or buck knife) is a refinement of the slipjoint, where the spring along the back of the knife has a hook on it and the blade has a notch. When the blade is fully open the hook and notch align, locking the blade in place. Closing the blade requires the user releasing the blade to apply pressure to the back of the blade and in addition press on a lever located on the back of the knife handle to disengage the hook from the notch and thus release the blade. There are other types of locks; some of the more popular ones are the Walker Linerlock, the frame lock, where the bolster inside the knife is spring loaded to engage the blade when open and thus hold it in place, and the Axis lock. The Swiss Army knife product range has adopted dual liner locks on their 111 mm models. Leatherman and SOG tools are now available with locking blades. Opinel knives use a ring lock, where a ferrule rotates to lock the blade open.

Tactical Knives

A tactical knife is a knife designed for military use. A common misconception is that "tactical knives" are specialized for combat use, whereas since the end of trench warfare, military knives have been primarily designed for utility/tool use (clearing foliage, chopping branches for cover, opening ammo crates, etc). An example of a knife designed for close combat is the trench knife - such knives are ilegal in the UK.

Modern tactical knives come in many shapes and sizes. Most military forces today have standardized the types of tactical knives issued to infantry soldiers. In the United States Marine Corps, the standard issue tactical knife since World War II is the KA-BAR. The Chilean Commando forces are trained in the use of the Corvo knife, a traditional Chilean military weapon. One well-known tactical knife is the British Fairbairn-Sykes, which is better classified as a dagger with its double-edged design. This dagger is one of the few modern tactical knives designed for fighting instead of for field use. The Gurkha regiments favor the Kukri, a broad-bladed curved weapon that more closely resembles a machete or Filipino Bolo than a knife. One of the most famous tactical knives is the survival knife made famous by the film First Blood and its sequels Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III and Rambo.

Swords

A sword fundamentally consists of a blade and a hilt, typically with one or two edges for striking and cutting, and a point for thrusting. The basic intent and physics of swordsmanship have remained fairly constant through the centuries, but the actual techniques vary among cultures and periods as a result of the differences in blade design and purpose. Unlike, say, the bow or spear, the sword is a purely military weapon, and this has made it symbolic of warfare or naked state power in many cultures. The names given to many swords in mythology, literature, and history reflect the high prestige of the weapon.

Knife Care

All Hunters Knives are formed from 440 grade stainless steel, which needs to be maintained to ensure performance and longevity. We recommend that knife joints, springs and hinges are occasionally oilled depending on how regular it is used. We recommend WD40 or a good quality general use oil. This will assure easier opening and closing and will prevent rust and lessen wear.