I have written a couple of articles in the past discussing the perks of having a good knife within arm’s reach. While I’m somewhat of a hobbyist, I think it’s fair to say those articles stuck with practicality, reliability, and function over shock and awe. Shoot, most of the time a simple little belt knife seems to be enough to ruffle feathers out amongst the masses.
There are those of us however who require more than what most normal blades can provide from time to time. The Leatherman tool was invented and has evolved into a dadgum handheld tool chest. The Wyoming knife is either loved or hated and has either cleaned many animals or gathered dust in the shed. When it comes to military, LEO, and EMTs or survivalists, hunters, and general outdoorsman, there is a newer knife available that more than deserves some serious consideration.
I will preface this review by saying that in all fairness I consider this item to fall somewhere in between a knife and a multi tool. The features of this tool alone offer up more options and advantages than any other knife I’ve used with just about the only downside being its inherent mass. With that being said…
I was made aware of this product and quickly got in touch with Keith over at SlySteel to set up a review. Fortunately for them, they were headed to Reno and were selling their goods so rapidly I had to wait for a new order to be turned out by their supplier before I was sent not one, but TWO of these bad boys to put through their paces. Let me give you some background before I tell you how it went.
Keith Newberry and Oliver Hannan did some work on US Navy subs, moved to Idaho, and became friends. Realizing that serving on subs would be hard to one-up, they decided the next best thing was to design a knife together. They got together with Mike Fuller of TOPS knives in Idaho Falls, ID and decided TOPS was the place to get their knife manufactured. It appears they made a good decision.
The most unique feature of the tool is what they call their Split Finger Guard design, which has a pending patent. When I pulled out the larger version of the Shark Tooth Hunter, which stacks up at 10.5 inches overall compared to the 9.5 inches of the small one, I was surprised at how dexterous it was compared to how it looked. The integral finger guard produces a very wide blade, but the grip itself helps the knife feel fairly nimble with a taper opposite most knives, i.e. getting narrower toward where the pommel “should” be. The micarta handle scales lead to a glass breaker/prying tool that succeeded in smashing all sorts of things as well as popping the top off a paint can while not damaging the knife’s tip.
These knives are coated 1095 steel, which for me is a pro and con combined. I like 1095, but I don’t generally care for the powder coat option. I don’t mind a little bit of upkeep on carbon blades and I like having the option to spark a ferro rod off the spine of the knife, which a coating prohibits. After thinking about it for a bit, I came to the conclusion that knives like these are going to be used by folks who wear the snot out of their gear, and since a little bit of file work can expose some steel while leaving the majority of the blade protected I’m for it. (I reserve the right to pass judgment on coated knives on a case-by-case basis)
The kydex sheaths that came with the knives are great, although I replaced the MOLLE-compatible clip that comes mounted with an IWB Pull-the-Dot loop to ensure positive retention on my person. I was very pleased with the location they chose for the mounting hardware as it allows for a nice high carry when worn on the belt.
In the interest of time, I passed around the Tactical model to a few different guys at work for evaluation while retaining the Hunter for personal carry, assessment, and use. I’d made it about three hours before I got a call. “Dude, I just cut through an ammo can with this monster.” After clarifying that the Marine in question was talking about one of those green steel ammo cans I was excited to see how it held up. The ammo can was cut in two, and there was not even a nick on the knife’s edge. The finish was scraped all up, but that was it.
Figuring that wasn’t enough, I lent the knife to a machine gunner going through a leader’s course. He strapped it to his flak for 20-kilometer movements, used the wide blade as an e-tool for building up a defensive position, pried open ammo crates, and probably one or two other atrocities he was afraid to admit to. Without having been re-sharpened after all that, it still managed to cut Para cord for his shelter.
I’ve used the Hunter to baton four-inch logs into kindling, dig in bipods at the range, make feather sticks, strip wires, start fires, and other various chores needed around the range and/or camp site. The amount of work this knife can do compared to its weight and blade length have to be attributed to its design. While I’m not sure if the hand guard will get in the way of cleaning a deer, I’ll let you all know for sure come October.
As you know I don’t like advertising the tools I have on my person at any given time. I’ve generally stuck with smaller fixed blades because I feel they don’t jump out and make people take a second look at me. I never once felt exposed with both this knife and an IWB 1911 on my belt under a slightly oversized button down shirt. The slim and high carry afforded by this knife and its sheath configuration work well in attire suited to all seasons, and at the least one of these knife/tools deserves a place on your flak, in the top of your ruck, or in your EDC bag.
Chances are good the majority of people who come across this company and their products are going to immediately assume this knife is for combative applications. While I believe it would excel in that arena that thought process takes away from what this tool can do for you on a daily basis. Not many knives can go from breaching a wrecked automobile to trimming down a Ziploc bag to use as an occlusive dressing, but there’s no doubt in my mind this American-made blade can do just that.
As you go about your day, think about what you may have to react and respond to. If you top it off by praying about it, well, that just may make things a bit easier.