I know, I know... you're all tired of knife threads. Yeah, right, the knife reviews are probably the only reason anyone shows up here.
Anyway, I decided that I wanted to do a kind of "budget" sheath knife review. There are plenty of half way decent outdoor, hiking, camping knives that won't break the budget. Here are a few I found, all under $40.
Gerber's Left to Right: Profile Fixed $25, Freeman Guide $32, Big Rock Serrated $37
There are plenty of other good, cheap knives that could have easily fit in to this post, but it turned out that the three I could get my hands on were all Gerber knives. I'm not usually a fan of Gerber, I find that their quality is kind of hit or miss. I've had $20 Gerber folders that worked great and $40 dollar ones that I hated. Unlike some brands, you have to really get your hands on the knife before you can get a feeling about the quality. However, in my short time looking for 'discount' sheath knives, these were the easiest to get a hold of.
All of these are full tang sheath knives, each would probably work relatively well on a camping trip or bug out. However, each one of these three has a different style blade, grip, and sheath. Ultimately you have to try out a few different types to see what you like best, but I'll go over a few things that I look for when buying a knife, especially if it's relatively cheap.
Gerber Profile Fixed $25
This is a pretty cool looking knife for the price. This knife has a lot of metal, which I consider a good thing. It's heavy, which is a preference of mine. A sharp blade with some weight behind it requires less effort to use. A sharp blade with less weight means you have to push harder to get the same result. That's the experience I've had.
The handle is a little bit of a negative for me on this knife. You can see in the photo above, if I keep my fingers together my middle finger hits one of the points on the handle.
If I separate my first finger, look where my pinkie ends up. For my hand type, this handle is a little awkward to use. I can make it work but it would throw me off. The next problem I had was with the sheath.
It's made of what looks like quality material, but this style is like two pieces of plastic sewn together around the edges with fabric on the outside. It's totally flat. It holds the knife, it's probably pretty durable, but you have to basically force the blade between the two pieces of plastic sewn together.
The sheath isn't a deal breaker to me. I mean, how hard is it to replace a sheath? With this knife I would probably swap it out.
Gerber Freeman Guide $32:
This is a slightly more conventional looking knife. Right off the bat, look at the difference in how the handle fits my hand. Definitely more comfortable for hands my size.
Like a glove, as Ace Ventura would say. I really like the shape of the blade, the fit in my hand. The only complaint I had with the knife itself was the textured area on the back of the blade. It's hard to see in the photos, but there are notches in the metal where you would put your thumb if you were carving. Those notches were annoying, and seemed like they would probably tear up your thumb if you were whittling for a while.
Now, lets look at the sheath.
What the heck is this thing? It looks like it's built for a knife twice this size, or a machete, or something.
Yeah, it covers almost the entire knife. It's super easy to slide the blade into the sheath... it's getting it back out that's awkward. I went with two fingers, tweezers-like, on the big metal piece at the bottom of the handle to pull it up high enough to grab it better. Not easy.
Again, it isn't a deal breaker, but it's annoying.
Again, look at the difference in the layout of the grip. It felt a lot like the Freeman Guide, but it was thicker and I like that better. If the handle isn't a hand full than the knife usually feels too small for me. I like big handles and I will not lie.
Over all it seemed like a nice knife. The only thing that was a little weird was the knob (my thumb is on it in the above photo), it looks kind of funny and might or might not be comfortable when carving with the knife. It's hard to tell without using it for a while and I haven't had an excuse to use it yet.
And the sheath?
This sheath is surprisingly good after the complaints I had with the first two. It has a plastic form for the blade inside the fabric. The knife slides in, easy as pie, doesn't slide around, and secures nicely. It's not the prettiest sheath, but I probably wouldn't swap this one out. The only complaint I had with the sheath is how big the belt loop is, it starts where the blade ends and goes all the way up to the top. I'm not sure if that would cause problems with the sheath sliding around, or it is just convenient for people who like big belts. Just something to watch.
Here's the three knives, side by side. Pretty easy to see the differences in the blades and handles.
The three sheaths, side by side.
I was amazed at how different they all were. The first and third look similar, but the first is completely flat and the third has the plastic form inside so it is way thicker, it's easier to get the knife in and out.
Any of these three knives would make a decent choice for the budget camper. They're all full tang, decently sharp, seemingly well made blades. They're all under $40 and readily available at a lot of outdoor stores and online.
I wanted to do this post to show you some of the things to look for when determining basic knife quality. I wanted to look at the differences between common sheath knives and show how important it is to really handle them, get a feel for them, to see which types work best for you. Remember, these are camping/outdoor knives, practical knives. If you want something a little more intimidating, there are other options.