My long-time friend and fellow gun writer, John Taffin, has been on a life-long search for what he calls the “Perfect Packin’ Pistol”, and it has been a long but fun search for him. I suspect that each and every one of us has also been on that search, even if we didn’t know it or want to admit it. There is that “one” handgun that we all are searching for– that one handgun that will fulfill every chore we’d need it for. I’m sure there is a Perfect Packin’ Pistol for each and every one of us, but the search continues.
When it comes to survival knives, or just an everyday knife, we all are probably on a search for the Perfect Packin’ Knife, and quite honestly I don’t know if such a thing really exists. I’ve been around knives all my life, and I’ve been testing and writing about knives since 1992. I’m also something of a knife designer, having designed at least a dozen knives and had many built by custom knife makers over the years. Additionally, several of my knife designs have been picked up by knife companies for mass production, including my latest design– the OC3, which was a joint effort by myself and custom knife maker, Brian Wagner, of Okuden Knives– that Columbia River Knife & Tool is producing. To be sure, this is a shameless plug for my OC3; forgive me!
About six months ago, I was looking at some knives called “Esee Knives”, and I was favorably impressed by what I was reading about their line of knives. I have plenty of big, fixed blade knives, designed for various duties. However, their Esee-4 model caught my attention for some reason. A quick run down on the Esee-4 shows it has a blade of 4.1 inches, made out of 1095 carbon steel, with an overall length of nine inches. BTW, it is a fixed blade knife, too. The Rockwell on the blade is 55-57 for the carbon steel model, and they also manufacture a stainless steel version. The handle material is Micarta, and the blade is a hefty 3/16th inches thick with a black powder coating to help protect the carbon steel blade from the elements. A nice poly sheath (mine was tan colored) comes with the knife, and the knife weighs eight ounces. The blade is a drop point style, which is one of the most popular and useful blade styles in my humble opinion. There is a lanyard hole in the butt of the knife, too, and if you work around water a lanyard comes in handy, so you won’t lose your knife.
The Esee-4 also comes in several different colors, including bright rescue orange as well as OD green. Sheath colors vary, so be advised with shopping around for one. Prices on this little knife are all over the place– anywhere from $90 on up to $130. So, shop around for the best deal you can find on the Internet. I liked the version I bought, with the black powder coated blade and the grayish/black Micarta handle scales.
The Esee line of knives comes from Randall’s Adventure Training & Equipment Group, and they have designed quite a few survival and all around knives over the years. They were being marketed under a different name, but for whatever reason they are now marketed under the “Esee” name.
BTW, a word on the sheath, it is hard molded, and the knife stays put without any snaps or loops or anything like that. Plus, there is a belt clip that holds the knife on your belt or on a pack or combat vest, and this isn’t a cheap clip; it is heavy duty. There are no worries about it bending out of shape or breaking. There are also plenty of lashing holes around the sheath, if you desire to “tie” it to a combat vest.
The handle design on the Esee-4 is about perfect for my hand. Many other people said the same thing: that it just felt great, and the knife is hard to put down. There are also some shallow friction grooves CNC machined into the top of the blade, where it meets the handle for a sure thumb purchase on the Esee-4. It’s nice! On one side of the blade, at the juncture of the blade and the handle, is the word “Rowen”. I have no idea what that means, and I tried to get some info on it, all to no avail. I don’t know if that is the person who designed the Esee-4 or what. Strange!
Now, to be sure, the Esee-4 wasn’t designed to be a “combat” knife of any sort. Instead, it is meant to be an everyday use knife, for all kinds of cutting chores. It will also easily double as a hunting knife, ideal for dressing out game as well as camp chores. It would work nicely as a survival knife. Just keep in mind the length of the blade. It isn’t designed for chopping down trees; it is designed for everyday use.
While a folding knife is always clipped in one of my front pockets, sometimes I have two folders– one in each pocket– when testing folders for articles. No matter who makes them, they can only making a folder with a lock that is just “so” strong and no stronger, and a folder can and will fail under the right conditions. So, if you are one who abuses your knives everyday, a fixed blade might just be what you need. The Esee-4 will fill that need without worry of it failing you, like a folding knife might.
Over the course of carrying the Esee-4, it was used almost daily by me, my wife, or even friends, who are always asking “do you have a knife?” Like “duh”, you know I write about and test knives, so of course I have a knife! Kitchen chores were an easy task for the Esee-4, as were opening boxes from FedEx or UPS. I also used the Esee-4 to chop down the ever-present blackberry vines around my small homestead. The blackberry vines were no match for the super-sharp 1095 carbon steel blade.
One of the nice things about 1095 carbon steel is that, it holds an edge a good long time, and it is extremely easy to re-sharpen or touch-up on a set of croc sticks. Plus, unlike some stainless steels used for knife blades, the 1095 won’t easily chip the fine edge on a knife. If you look at a lot of stainless steel knife blades – under magnification – you will see a lot of small and rather large chips in the blade’s edge.
I was totally blown away by the Esee-4. It just might be the “Perfect Packin’ Knife” for a lot of folks,. And, if the Esee-4 isn’t quite right for you, check out many of the larger and even smaller fixed blade knives in the Esee line-up. I’m betting you’ll find something that will catch your attention. To be sure, shop around on the ‘net because, as I stated before, prices are all over the place on Esee Knives. Get the best deal you can. As for me, I’m in the market for another one or two Esee Knives for my knife collection.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio