I Need a new fixed blade knife

FlyGuy

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skinning out an elk last month I decided that I need to upgrade my fixed blade knife. I've had my current one for about 3 years and Ive never loved it, but since I don't really get to use it all that often (haha) I stuck with it for a while. Never grew on me. I carry a tyto replaceable blade in my kill kit that I really like for some applications. But I like having an ultralight fixed blade knife with me as well (in my bino harness) for the hide cuts and anything around bone or side pressure/joints. (tho I'd be curious how others might use a combo like this differently, if I could learn something)

There are a number of them out there these days but none are inexpensive. (This would be a great Rokslide comparison article, IMO). I'm Just looking for any valuable feedback before pulling the trigger...


The ones currently on my short list are:

- Benchmade Altitude ($182)

- Kestrel Mountain Caper ($145 - orange)

- Kifaru Helium 1 ($140)
 

Sealee12

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Oct 26, 2018
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PA
I find the true ultralight knives to be such a compromise between weight and actual utility that I decided to carry a much more capable knife at the cost of 2 additional ounces. I went with a benchmade Hidden canyon Hunter. Great size Handle that allow a firm grip and still around 3 oz.
 

Superkodiak38

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Sep 18, 2016
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I dont have any experience with those knives. I have a Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf in D2 that I use for breaking down and skinning. It holds the edge well. I have found starting with a sharp edge it will get through a few deer or a larger animal like an elk no problem.
 

jgill_pursuit

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Wasatch Mountains
The only one I have experience with is the benchmade altitude, and I'll tell you I was not impressed. It's hard to hold on to (handle is way too minimalist. I love minimalist, but you still have to be able to handle it), and the s90v steel is hard to sharpen effectively in the field. And the steel is hard enough (holds a fantastic edge) that it's extremely brittle. Knock the edge against a ball joint or back of a skull and you'll chip your blade edge out without a ton of effort. Sorry, in addition to my hunting addiction I'm also a knife afficionado, so I understand these things more than most people care to hear haha.

I would highly recommend looking at something like an Esee Izula or Izula 2.

https://www.bladehq.com/cat--ESEE-Izula--880#/sort:price_sort_asc:asc


They are cerakoted, so totally rust resistant. The 1095 steel is strong and won't chip, but still holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen in the field. And they are super lightweight (I carry mine as a neck knife), and cheap enough that you won't be totally heartbroken if you accidentally leave it at a carcass.

Sorry for my longwinded reply...
 

TCUHunter34

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Mar 3, 2018
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I just used a Kestrel on a mule deer and processed the whole deer easily while remaining sharp. I was very impressed with it. Wrap some paracord around the handle to grip a little better and you’re set.
 
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FlyGuy

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I would highly recommend looking at something like an Esee Izula or Izula 2.

https://www.bladehq.com/cat--ESEE-Izula--880#/sort:price_sort_asc:asc


They are cerakoted, so totally rust resistant. The 1095 steel is strong and won't chip, but still holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen in the field. And they are super lightweight (I carry mine as a neck knife), and cheap enough that you won't be totally heartbroken if you accidentally leave it at a carcass.

Sorry for my longwinded reply...
[/QUOTE]

Funny, the Esee Izula is the fixed blade I currently have, haha. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I think maybe its the shape of the blade for me more than anything. I like it for a knife, camp knife, edc knife, etc, I've just never really liked it once I'm working inside an animal. And I felt like it dulled too fast? But, I'm hard on everything and certainly not the best blade sharpener either - so it totally could be user error.

Appreciate the feedback on the altitude. I'm surprised it is that brittle and chips? Everyone raves about Benchmade products so i guess i'm surprised to hear they would put something out like that. I'd been leaning towards that one originally but that Kestrel has had my eye for the past year.

Maybe the Kestrel's the way to go. It uses S90V so hardness and price point both fall between the Izula and the Altitude....
 
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FlyGuy

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I find the true ultralight knives to be such a compromise between weight and actual utility that I decided to carry a much more capable knife at the cost of 2 additional ounces. I went with a benchmade Hidden canyon Hunter. Great size Handle that allow a firm grip and still around 3 oz.

Now, that is a good looking knife...
 

jgill_pursuit

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Wasatch Mountains
I would highly recommend looking at something like an Esee Izula or Izula 2.

https://www.bladehq.com/cat--ESEE-Izula--880#/sort:price_sort_asc:asc


They are cerakoted, so totally rust resistant. The 1095 steel is strong and won't chip, but still holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen in the field. And they are super lightweight (I carry mine as a neck knife), and cheap enough that you won't be totally heartbroken if you accidentally leave it at a carcass.

Sorry for my longwinded reply...

Funny, the Esee Izula is the fixed blade I currently have, haha. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I think maybe its the shape of the blade for me more than anything. I like it for a knife, camp knife, edc knife, etc, I've just never really liked it once I'm working inside an animal. And I felt like it dulled too fast? But, I'm hard on everything and certainly not the best blade sharpener either - so it totally could be user error.

Appreciate the feedback on the altitude. I'm surprised it is that brittle and chips? Everyone raves about Benchmade products so i guess i'm surprised to hear they would put something out like that. I'd been leaning towards that one originally but that Kestrel has had my eye for the past year.

Maybe the Kestrel's the way to go. It uses S90V so hardness and price point both fall between the Izula and the Altitude....
[/QUOTE]

Oh man now I feel bad haha! My bad! I'm not surprised you felt like it dulled fast, it's a softer steel which is why the blade doesn't chip. Instead, it rolls, so you should be able to touch it up super fast!

The chipping thing isn't as much a Benchmade problem (though, in the knife community, Benchmade is known for having inconsistent heat treats from time to time and iffy quality control relative to other brands) as it is a steel issue. S90V is just way too hard for an application where it will potentially come into contact with other hard surfaces. If you NEVER touch it to anything but fat and hide, it'll most likely last an elk and a couple of mule deer before it needs sharpening. But if it ever comes in contact with a bone, it could be a bad day. It's just so hard that it breaks instead of rolling or flattening. Additionally, if you're not a great sharpener, S90V will take you sooooooooooooooo long to sharpen effectively, especially if there's a chip in the blade. Not ideal on the mountain!

Esee makes a few of their larger fixed blades (not giant, but the next size up from the Izula) in S35VN blade steel. S35VN is much improved over S30V or even S90V as far as toughness. It'll be easier to sharpen, and it'll be much more stable in the off chance you come into contact with some bone. It should roll and not break. One of my main everyday carry knives (Spyderco PM2) is S35VN, and I touch the edge up in about 10 seconds roughly every 6 weeks. I've used it on elk, food, and everything in between, and it's a great steel!

https://www.bladehq.com/?search=esee+s35vn

I honestly may be crazy, I have a different view of these things because of the fact that I am in the knife world. So I tend to potentially make a bigger deal of things than they actually are. But, from a knife guy's perspective, knowing what I know about heat treats and blade steel makeup, S90V is one of the few steels I wouldn't want in the elk woods. I've seen tips break easily and edges chip out to the point where the knife needs to go back for warranty work. If that happens in the dark on the hill, doesn't matter how great the warranty is if you can't finish cutting up the elk!
 

thinhorn_AK

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I like my Benchmade hidden canyon hunter, it’s taken care of 6 moose, as many caribou and a sheep in the last 3 years, usually just touch it up before each hunt but it hasn’t had any trouble getting through a moose And a caribou before sharpening. I’ve never had it chip, not sure I’ve ever seen a knife chip from hunting use.
 

sndmn11

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Mar 28, 2017
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Littleton, Colorado
Appreciate the feedback on the altitude. I'm surprised it is that brittle and chips? Everyone raves about Benchmade products so i guess i'm surprised to hear they would put something out like that. I'd been leaning towards that one originally but that Kestrel has had my eye for the past year.

Maybe the Kestrel's the way to go. It uses S90V so hardness and price point both fall between the Izula and the Altitude....

The altitude and kestrel will behave similarly with edge retention and brittleness because they are the same steel. The kestrel is listed as being treated to be harder, so may be more prone to chipping.

I think poorly of s30v and don't think s35v ( of the helium or argali knives) would be much different.

I think if you want stainless the altitude is your best choice if you remember to not torque the edge, and to keep it touched up because a full resharpen would be some work.

If you want a tool steel knives of alaska has made some skeletonized blades from d2 (knives of alaska extreme skeletonized) that you might be able to find.

I think the best suggestion is a Spyderco Mule in PD1, that steel is is among the toughest, easy to sharpen to a fine edge, and would be better at edge retention than any options other than the possibly brittle S90v. I have been putting cork handles on some with minimal weight addition. Obviously you could put cork handles on any of these skeletonized knives from any maker. There are 20 something other Mule steels you can find that all have slightly different properties, for a game processing blade, I think PD1 is the best option for most folks. I do have a few of these blanks left, as well as a plethora of handle material and two boltaron sheath choices if you are interested.

If you like that concept but want stainless and available from Spyderco, they should be coming out with S45v and Spy27, which are allegedly better than s30v and s35v.


Lastly, I think the Iron will knives are good quality.

Here is my personal cork handles Spyderco Mule and how I carry it.
PXL_20201002_123611164.jpg

Here's an Iron Will knife I added a handle to (they now sell g10) and how I carried it on my harness. https://www.rokslide.com/forums/threads/iron-will-k1-knife-with-cork-handle.182892/
Screenshot_20201002-064025.png
 

TX_Diver

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May 27, 2019
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483
I tried the IW K1 knife this year (with G10 handle) I'm still undecided but will let you know what I think after this season is over and I butcher a few sheep with it (The sheep make a good testing ground for all my hunting/butchering things).

My all time favorite so far is the outdoor edge swingblaze but it's definitely not what I'd consider ultra-light.

Benchmade steep country is probably the next one I'll try if I don't end up keeping the IW.
 

BiggMc

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Sep 28, 2017
Messages
18
Location
canada
I find the true ultralight knives to be such a compromise between weight and actual utility that I decided to carry a much more capable knife at the cost of 2 additional ounces. I went with a benchmade Hidden canyon Hunter. Great size Handle that allow a firm grip and still around 3 oz.

This is true, I find myself firmly on the ultralight side of the spectrum and deisre a more solid tool. But I love what I got.
 

JollyRoger

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Jan 8, 2016
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739
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SW Idaho
I recently got a fixed blade and love it. It’s not perfect for everything but it’s durable and makes somethings much easier.

Check out the Toor knives Field 2.0 and the Chris Reeves Nyala


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2020
Messages
7
skinning out an elk last month I decided that I need to upgrade my fixed blade knife. I've had my current one for about 3 years and Ive never loved it, but since I don't really get to use it all that often (haha) I stuck with it for a while. Never grew on me. I carry a tyto replaceable blade in my kill kit that I really like for some applications. But I like having an ultralight fixed blade knife with me as well (in my bino harness) for the hide cuts and anything around bone or side pressure/joints. (tho I'd be curious how others might use a combo like this differently, if I could learn something)

There are a number of them out there these days but none are inexpensive. (This would be a great Rokslide comparison article, IMO). I'm Just looking for any valuable feedback before pulling the trigger...


The ones currently on my short list are:

- Benchmade Altitude ($182)

- Kestrel Mountain Caper ($145 - orange)

- Kifaru Helium 1 ($140)

Call Behring Made - James/Grant can make whatever you need and fit/finish are stellar. I've ran a lot of their knives over the years and am particularly fond of a little caper I got from him awhile back. Good luck with the search.
 
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FlyGuy

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The Woodlands, TX
I decided to give the Kestrel Mountain Caper a try. It had a pretty decent price point and a steel I’ve never tried so we’ll see how it goes. I had to hold myself back from that Hidden Canyon from Benchmade tho. It is a sexy knife! But, ultimately I like to keep my fixed blade knife in the little side mesh pocket of my AGC bino harness, tucked tight against the side of the bino case. anything with handle scales on isn’t going to sit tight and flush. I leave my replaceable blade knife in my kill kit inside my pack, but I like to have the fixed with me even if I drop my pack for a stalk. That ended up being the decision maker for me. Maybe not the best way to decide on a knife, but that’s what it came down to for me. I’ve got a handful of tags left in my pocket and Hopefully I get to put this thing through the paces.




You can’t cheat the mountain
 

Austink47

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Dec 1, 2018
Messages
377
I was given a Dozier and it is great. I use it paired with a replaceable blade knife to break down game. It stays sharp with the occasional pass through a little smith sharpener. I have had other D2 knives that did not preform nearly as well, don’t know if it is heat treatment, or the grind, or magic. It is just a damn good knife.
 
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