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Pleasant surprise at SMKW

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So, Saturday I went to Smoky Mountain Knife Works to look at a few knives.  A few months back I decided I wanted another 'heavy use' belt knife that could serve as an all around utility and 'survival knife' which I could actually carry in public (I generally carry large fixed blades on weekends - can't carry them at work.)  Now, I have to say that spending more than $50 on a knife still feels like a foreign concept to me (with $30 or under feeling much more 'natural') and that it probably won't be something I will do very often.  For that reason, I have been looking at knife usage reviews on YouTube and elsewhere for months.  I had my choices narrowed down to:

Kabar Becker BK2

Kabar Becker BK7

Kabar Heavy Duty Warthog

Ontario RD6

Schrade SCHF38 (just to have a lower cost option in there)

Well, I didn't like the balance in hand of the Warthog.  The RD6 was nice but, even though it starts out at about 1/4 inch thick at the spine it is as fine at the tip as my RAT 5.  I like the RAT 5 a lot but one of the reasons I didn't just stick with it for the purpose (along with the cutting edge only being a little over four inches) is that, honestly, I kind of wanted to go into the 'sharpened pry bar' class of knives for this so the fine tip on the RD6 kind of took it out of the running, for me.  I wanted to look at the SCHF38 because I like the blade profile - not too many 1/4 inch knives with that blade shape in the 'under $100' category.  I already have a 37.  Actually, it is my second 37.  I broke my first one doing light batoning but Schrade, who admitted to having a heat treat issue with a batch of their knives late last year) replaced it quickly and with no hassle and the new one held up when I purposefully used it harder than the one that broke to test it out.  I liked the Schrade a lot  in person and it is a lot of knife for something like $27 but I really wanted something a little 'higher end' so I passed on it.  Sort of (I'll come back to that.)  In the end I was very torn between the BK7 and the BK2.  I liked the extra blade length of the BK7 and it was the same price as the BK2.  I really liked the thickness of the BK2, though, and I wasn't sure how comfortably I could carry something like the BK7 around as a 'weekend edc'.  I already have longer blades for other uses (including the aforementioned SCHF37) so I ultimately went with the BK2 - although I wouldn't be surprised if I own a BK7 at some point in the future.

Now to the pleasant surprise.  The BK2 was priced at $89.99 so when I got to the counter it was just a little over $90 and the lady at the register said, "And you need $100 to get the 20% discount."  Now, when I am in a knife shop and you say to me, "Spend $10 more and get a $20 discount," I hear, "Find a $20 and it will basically be free."  So back to the Schrade counter I went.  Of course, the $27 for the SCHF38 was beyond the $10 I needed but that also meant the 20% was a little more than $20.  The final outcome, then, was that I got the Schrade - which was also on my list of 'possibles' - for about $14.

Now, the BK2 is obviously an awesome knife but I think I am really going to enjoy the SCHF38, as well.  I got rid of the factory edge over the weekend (a v-grind at the very edge of a knife that is 1/4 inch at the spine does not slice worth a crap but convex that edge and suddenly it slices pretty well.)



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Nice! I used to find more bulk buy or closeout deals there. Last one I got was an M-tek Bowie that looks like a spitting image of a CS Trailmaster for under 20. Supposedly 440c steel. I still haven't got the edge on it with my little diamond stones...big hunk of steel.

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21 hours ago, tbenedict said:

Nice! I used to find more bulk buy or closeout deals there. Last one I got was an M-tek Bowie that looks like a spitting image of a CS Trailmaster for under 20. Supposedly 440c steel. I still haven't got the edge on it with my little diamond stones...big hunk of steel.

I ordered that exact knife from Amazon early last year after seeing good reviews on YouTube.  The M-Tech MT-151.  It is something like $23 on Amazon, now but I think I paid under $20 for it when I ordered it.  Yeah, big hunk of very hard steel.  I predict that you will never get a really good edge on it with just the diamond stones or if you do your hands will be worn out.  I kept trying to do it with my whetstones and even the most course stone - which has a texture more akin to a bench grinder stone than most whetstones - wasn't making much progress.  Finally had to take a file to it to get things started and 'pull the edge down' as my uncle who taught me to sharpen knives would call it.  I then went to the stones from most to least course then to a sharpening steel and finally to the old leather belt I use as a strop.  It is wearing a pretty ridiculously sharp (for what it is), convexed edge now - yeah, I like convexed edges and if I ever feel confident enough to try my hand at making a knife from scratch I will probably attempt a full convex grind.  It is not shaving sharp by any means but will slice the heck out of some paper.  It holds the edge, too.  I chopped through a semi-seasoned piece of apple wood that was about 2 1/2 to 3 inches or so in diameter with it, ran it across the leather belt a couple of times and it still sliced paper easily.  The black coating didn't hold up so I took it off.  Didn't have to strip it just hand sanded it off.  I know those coatings help protect carbon steel knives from rust but IMO they make no sense on stainless steel blades, anyway, unless they are tactical blades and are coated to reduce or eliminate glare.

The SCHF38 is pretty sharp now, too.  I can do 'S' cuts in paper with it.  I used a few grits of sandpaper, a couple of diamond stones, my old Schrade flat sharpening steel (old as in I inherited it from my grandfather) and that old leather belt on it.  It isn't quite shaving sharp, either and I don't know that it ever will be.  I can get knives that sharp by hand and have other knives that are - I am sporting a pretty good gash on my thumb where I wasn't paying close enough attention and just barely touched the edge on my edc Spyderco Resilience a week and a half ago - but with blade stock that thick it would be pretty difficult and, honestly, probably isn't really necessary or even all that useful to go that sharp on the MT-151 or the Schrade.  With the uses these knives will see being that sharp would probably just lead to increased chipping of the edge.

The MT-151 is certainly 'worth it', IMO which is what makes the Schrades so amazing at almost the same price point.  Schrade made some of my favorite pocket knives back when they were Schrade-Imperial and based in New York.  Seriously, I liked the three-bladed Schrade Old Timer pocket knives better than the Case three-blades (although Case Sodbuster and Sodbuster, Jr. were and remain a favorite, maybe even more than the Schrade three blade knives.)  Even in my teens I could get a 'be careful how you hold it because the shadow might cut you' edge on those old Schrades with just a couple of pocket stones and a piece of old leather.  The little Sharpfinger was also a favorite of mine for a small belt knife.   When they went under and Taylor Brands picked them up the knives they made at first were pure junk, IMO and I bitterly swore off of them.  In recent years I have decided to give them another shot.  I have one or two of the old Sharpfingers because when I heard that Schrade was going under back in the early '90s I immediately went to Walmart and bought a couple.  I recently picked up a couple of the Taylor Schrade versions and - while I still think the old ones are better - they are pretty nice.  One of them and a cheap Mossy Oak hunting knife (one of the knives in a large and small Mossy Oak knife two-pack I got for $10 at Walmart) skinned and processed the heck out of a deer I was given last season without having to stop to touch up the edge or anything.

The thing I really like about Schrade's Frontier line (the SCHF knives) is that not only are they 1/4 inch thick but they are made of 1095 steel and they sell for around $30.  No matter how many stainless 'super steels' come along I will almost always prefer good, ol' carbon steel to stainless.  That is just what I like.

Taylor Brands - which makes Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, etc. has also been making the Smith and Wesson branded knives for years and now Smith and Wesson has actually acquired Taylor Brands (the announcement was just a couple of weeks ago.)  It will be interesting to see if anything changes or if S&W pretty much just leaves them alone and lets them do their thing.

Edited by JAB
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