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Cold Steel Finn Hawk, by Pat Cascio

Sometimes, something old, can be new again, with minor improvements. The Finnish Puukko knife is one of those things that are old, but new again.

When I was just a young boy – maybe 11 years old, I used to travel to downtown Chicago, to haunt a couple Army/Navy surplus stores. I always had an affinity for anything military surplus. I still do, to a certain extent. Both of the Army/Navy surplus stores I used to haunt were within a block and a half of one another. However, the smaller of the two stores, had a much larger selection of knives and bayonets to choose from. One of the very first knives I purchased was a Finnish Army Puukko fixed blade knife – nothing fancy about it, but there was just “something” about it, that caught my attention – and I purchased it. I don’t recall the exact price, but I want to say it was around ten bucks.

Over the years, many different companies have manufactured their version of the Puukko knife – some were good copies, some pieces of junk. One thing I remember about my genuine Puukko military knife is how sharp it was – and it held the edge forever before it needed to be re-sharpened. Most of the use it received from me, was just sitting on the front stoop, whittling on a piece of wood. Kids today don’t do that – they are more interested in playing video games. They don’t know what they’re missing – spending a summer afternoon, just sitting there, making a big piece of wood into shavings – an entire afternoon could be “wasted” away shaving a piece of wood. Life was soooo much simpler back then, than it is today.

I had quite a knife and bayonet collection at one time. But I needed funds going through a divorce later in life, and I sold the entire collection. I now wish that I hadn’t. Hindsight is wonderful, and I’m sure many will agree with that. Regrets? I have a few…

If you do a web search, and type in “Puukko Knife”, you’ll come up with a lot of versions of this famed knife, some are quite different from the original version, some very similar, some priced right and some priced out of this world.

[1]Cold Steel [2] is no longer owned by long-time friend, Lynn C. Thompson. He sold it about a year ago. I was sad to see that happen. However, a check of their website shows that many of the knives he designed are still available. One is the Finn Hawk, that was co-designed by Thompson and famed custom knife maker Andrew Demko, and without a doubt, it is an improvement on the original Puukko knife, and priced oh-so-right.

[3]The stainless steel blade is 4-inches long, and that is long enough for most survival, camping and hunting needs. You don’t need a “Rambo” length blade to do many of the chores you need to do. The blade is in the traditional Nordic style ‘Scandi Ground” style – very strong to say the least. It is made out German 4116 stainless and is sub-zero quenched for superior edge retention. It has a steep – very steep 7.5 mm blade bevel and curving belly for that is big enough for all but the biggest game processing when it comes to skinning and slicing strokes. This is an outstanding hunting knife – no doubt about it.

[4]The handle materials are worth mentioning. This is from the Cold Steel website: “The Finn Hawks handle is two time injection molded. The first layer of high-impact polyprophylene is strong and durable, and highly weather resistant, while the outer layer is made out of TPR rubber and has a whorled spiral pattern providing a food safe, comfortable and secure grip, even in the worst conditions.” To say that this handle grips you back, is an understatement. It is super-strong, too. The handle has a lanyard hole in the butt, too. The sheath itself is outstanding, it is made out of slim line Secure-Ex material, with an easy on/off belt loop.

[5]There simply isn’t a whole lot more to report on the knife, other than my actual testing. I received this great little knife, from Black Hills Ammunition [6] – from a very limited run that they had made for them, from Cold Steel. You can see their logo on the left side of the blade. This is one of those knives that you simply can’t put down, once you pick it up. Of course, one of the first things I do with any knife, is test how sharp it is out of the box…and this one was extremely sharp…I lost count of the number of times I sliced newsprint as well as typing paper…it got boring after a while.

Next up is the ever popular blackberry vines – and I’m sure many readers on sick and tired about this test I perform, but it is one of the best tests I’ve come up with, to see how well of an edge and bevel a knife has. Blackberry vine are not native to Oregon, it was brought into the state in the 1800s, and it took a foothold, like you wouldn’t believe. The vines are thick when they mature, and fibrous to say the least – tough to cut through, and it takes one heck of a blade to easily slice through a vine with one clean swipe of a knife blade. More than many other knives I’ve tested over the years, this Finn Hawk, sliced through vines – of all sizes, living or dead, with zero effort at all.

Cutting yellow poly rope is always a great test, this stuff is used in the marine industry on boats a lot, and it won’t get ruined or dried-out like other types of ropes, thus those around boats a lot, use it. This is very slick rope – and many knife blades easily slide right off of this material without cutting it. Knives with a serrated edge even have problems cutting this rope, if the serrations are just “so” made into the blade. The Finn Hawk had no problems cutting this rope.

I could easily “stab” this knife into stacked cardboard all the way to the handle without any problems. Sadly, I do very little hunting in my Golden Years, so I didn’t test the blade on any game animals. However, I know this blade would be an outstanding hunting knife, when you need to dress out big (or little) game – not a doubt in my mind. I did use the knife around the kitchen for cutting up meat before preparing it, as well as at the kitchen table, for cutting up food at the table – makes a dandy steak knife.

I did “abuse” this knife a little bit, and I threw it at some dead trees – never could get it to stick, I even ran it over with my Dodge Ram pick-up – no damage to it in the least. I now keep this knife in the center glove box of my truck, and my wife actually uses it more than I do – for opening mail we grab at the post office – and needs to be opened before we get home – just ask her – it’s like a “rule” with her to open mail ASAP.

Now, to be sure, Cold Steel is also making several other “Hawk” knifes with different blade designs…however I believe the Finn Hawk is about the best of the bunch for most cutting chores. The original Puukko is still issued to Finnish military troops, and its an outstanding choice if you ask me. Let’s face facts, today’s modern militaries don’t lead any bayonet charges any longer. However, hand-to-hand combat still come along once in a while. For survival uses, the Puukko will sure get the job done. Now, you’re not going go fell a big tree with this little knife. However, you can still find many other chores that you will need a knife for with camping or during a survival situation.

Now, for the good news – no, make that great news, the full-retail price on the Cold Steel Puukko is only $29.99. However, be sure to shop the ‘net for even better prices. Even if you were to pay full-retail, you’d still be getting one of the best deals out there on a great knife that can get many chores done. I also should mention that the knife is firmly locked in the sheath via a friction fit – there is no way it will accidentally fall out of the sheath, even if you carried the knife in an upside-down carry method.

You don’t always need a huge knife for most of your chores, and more often than not a big knife can get in the way of whatever you’re doing – whereas, a smaller knife is out of the way on your belt or even in your pack of Bug Out Bag. Of course, if you live in an area where you can pack a fixed blade knife on your belt – this would be an outstanding choice if you ask me. For a little knife, it offers a lot of big promise. It would make a great gift for someone who is just getting into preparedness.