It’s probably been at least 20 years since I owned any sort of Schrade knife, and the last one I had was a fixed blade hunting knife. It worked just fine, near as I can recall, dressing out a deer. Schrade has been around for a long, long time, well, sorta. Schrade is now owned by Taylor Brands, and I’m not sure when this takeover took place. As far as I know, all Taylor Brands cutlery is produced in China. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.
I recently purchased a Schrade SCHF3 fixed blade survival knife for testing. You can find it on the Taylor website; however, I purchased it through Amazon.com and only paid $36 for it with free shipping. The knife retails for close to $80 on other websites.
A quick look at the specs of the SCHF3 is in order. The blade is 6.4-inches long and made out of 7CR17 stainless steel that is black powder coated for additional protection from the elements. The handle material is polish Micarta that is a combination black/brown/green in color and nicely sculpted; it fits the hand nicely. The blade is clip point– a good all-around style, and it comes in a Nylon sheath with a plastic liner to protect the blade from cutting through the sheath. The sheath is a nice addition. The blade weighs 22 ounces, and the steel is 1/4 inch thick, unlike many other large fixed blade knives that have a 3/16th-inch thick blade. The blade is partially serrated; however, you can get one that doesn’t have the serrations.
After reading a number of reviews on the SCHF3 that were most favorable, I actually made the purchase and hoped for the best. When the knife arrived, I was impressed with how well ade it was. The grind lines were perfect as was the Micarta handle, albeit a bit thick. Many may not like how thick the handle feels in their hands. There is also a nice lanyard hold on the butt of the knife with a para cord lanyard attached. The sheath also has para cord on it with a nice, large pocket on the front for a sharpening stone (not included) or for carrying a spare handgun magazine or multi-tool.
All-in-all, I was impressed with the knife, except for the sharpness of the blade. It needed some serious work to bring it up to my standards of sharpness. I hope they all don’t come this way. Then we have the serrations on the back/bottom of the blade. I never saw serrations like this, and after testing them I found them to be totally useless for what you’d normally use them for. One of the cutting tests I perform is on poly rope. The serrations did nothing to aid in cutting this slick rope, nor did it help cutting any other rope. Forego the partially serrated version, and get the plain blade version.
As to the sheath, it’s very thin nylon, and I don’t see a long life with it. I’d elect to have a Kydex sheath made for this knife, if I were to carry it long term. I can see the sheath ripping or wearing out and falling off your belt, without knowing it, and you’d lose the knife. These days, you can even obtain Kydex material and form your own sheath. I would also place a sharpening stone in the front pocket on the sheath.
I actually did quite a bit of testing with this Schrade knife. I was more than a bit concerned with the low price I bought it for. Sometimes money is well spent on some items, when you can find them “on the cheap”. Other times, you get what you pay for; you get junk! I live in Western Oregon, where we normally get a lot of rain, and don’t you know, we are in a bit of a drought these days with not much rain. However, I did place the SCHF3 on the patio table when it rained and left it there for several days. There was just a hint of rust on the knife’s edge, where it’s not protected with the black coating. In the test of the knife, I had no problems with rust at all.
I chopped on some dead and downed trees on my little homestead with the SCHF3 and found it to be a fairly good chopper, other than the thick handle. While it felt good in my hand, when actually using the knife to chop with, it tended to twist in my hand for some reason.
One test I always perform when possible is slicing through blackberry vines, which are some tough stuff. The SCHF3 failed me, even with the sharp edge I put on it. I was more than a little disappointed in this test, and I don’t think working the edge over again would give it any better slicing power.
The wife used the knife around the kitchen, where it performed very well slicing meat and veggies. Even with the thick blade, it worked very well. The wife is picky when it comes to knives (and guns), so I was surprised she liked it, other than the thick handle scales, which were too thick for her hand.
Every chance I got, I pulled out the SCHF3 and used it for cutting chores. For the most part, it worked just fine and better than some other knives I’ve tested in the past. I also stabbed the knife into stacked cardboard, and I could easily stab it up to the handle with some effort on my part. (Skinner knives work better in this respect.)
So, in the end, is the Schrade SCHF3 a good buy? Well, it depends on what you plan to use it for. For long-term survival, I’d have to give it a “no-go”. For camping and hunting chores, I’d say “yes”, and it would be a great blade to toss into your survival box in the trunk of your car and forget about it until you need to pull it out and use it. For carrying around the ranch or farm, yep, it would work just fine, so long as you replaced the flimsy Nylon sheath with a molded Kydex sheath; you don’t want to lose the knife, even if it is inexpensive.
All things considered, I was a little surprised that this inexpensive, large, fixed blade knife performed so well, but I would like Schrade to put a better edge on it. While I didn’t have to touch-up the blade during my testing, it was getting dull. In the end, I gave the knife to the manager at the gun shop I haunt, so he could give it to his son, who is into collecting knives lately.
Still, for the money, this isn’t a bad knife. Just know the limitations and don’t buy it if you want it to be your one and only survival-type knife. Instead, get something a little better.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio