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Hard-Use EDC

Diving deep on the Tactical Trout

Spartan Blades has a well-earned reputation for practical designs and flawless execution. Bill Harsey, Jr. is a truly legendary knife designer, with countless accolades under his belt. Put the two of them together and you’re guaranteed to get an amazing knife as a result.

The Harsey Tactical Trout, often just called the Harsey TT, is a mid-sized knife that’s designed for hard use, no matter where you take it. It is intended to be an all-purpose knife, but with a distinctly tactical lean.

It has a 4.5-inch spear point blade that features a flat ground main bevel. Along the top there’s a slight taper as well, which makes for a very strong, yet needle-sharp, point. The CPM S45VN blade has been treated with a PVD coating that protects against corrosion and also provides a bit of a buffer against scratches and such.

The blade is 3/16-inch thick, giving it plenty of strength but not turning it into a sharpened crowbar. As would be expected, this is a full-tang knife. It terminates in an angled skull crusher sort of pommel. For those of us who don’t typically get involved in activities where causing massive injuries to someone’s head is ideal, it can also be used to smash open acorns and other nuts.

The Harsey TT handle is really what makes this knife all sorts of awesome, though. It is contoured linen Micarta and the shape of it just melts into your hand. There are no sharp edges or rough areas that could cause hot spots during extended use. The integral guard protects your hand from sliding up onto the blade, which is something I truly like to see in a knife. Due to a boneheaded move when I was a teenager, I know all too well how it feels to have fingers sliding up against a knife’s sharp edge.

The balance point is right about where the first finger groove is behind the guard. This isn’t a lightweight knife, but it isn’t a boat anchor, either. It tips the scales at 0.46-pound, or 7.36 ounces. The weight lends solidity to the knife, letting you know that this isn’t cheaply made nor too delicate for real work.

The Harsey TT has clean lines and an almost utilitarian look. No fancy bells and whistles, just a razor-sharp edge, a robust build, and quality components. It is deceptively simple in design, and it just plain works.

It comes with a nylon sheath that has a Kydex insert. It is also available with a full Kydex sheath. I’ll be honest, I’m not overly fond of the nylon sheath. It adds a bit of bulk to the overall package and I’d prefer something a little more streamlined. That said, the stock sheath is well made and is quite durable. It has a snap to keep the knife secure, which is always a bit reassuring. However, I’ll probably be seeking out a custom leather sheath at some point soon. Or, I’ll hit up my friends at Delta Sheath and see what stock models they have that might work. I’ll admit that I’m something of a traditionalist and will always prefer a leather sheath for my knives.

Performance

As with most of the knives I review, I carried the knife off and on for a period of time, using it for the standard sorts of knife chores most people see in their typical day-to-day, like breaking down boxes and maybe some minor food prep. The basic idea is to get familiar with the knife, using in a variety of situations and developing a feel for it.

One thing that stands out is just how comfortable the knife is to use. The handle is incredibly ergonomic, something I noticed right away the first time I picked it up. Whether you’re holding it in a standard grip or flipped over into an icepick grip, there’s just no discomfort or awkwardness.

In putting the knife through some more quantitative, formal testing, I found it worked amazingly well with everything from sisal rope and paracord to leather scraps and, of course, corrugated cardboard. It held a great edge throughout and even after extended use, was able to shave paper. Just as importantly, the knife remained comfortable, no matter how it was held or what it was cutting.

The blade is a little thick for detail work, such as slicing up vegetables for dinner. It does okay, but it isn’t ideal in that sort of role. Then again, nobody would look at the TT and mistake it for a kitchen knife.

This isn’t what I’d consider a “white collar” knife. By that, I mean it isn’t something you’d probably carry on the daily if you work in an office type of environment. Heck, in many places doing so would probably result in a visit to HR, if we’re being honest. However, outside that sort of workplace, the TT would be perfectly fine.

All in all, I would recommend the Harsey TT to anyone who’s seeking a robust, solidly built fixed blade knife that’s suitable for field work as well as defense.

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The Perfect Field Knife?

Checking Out the Bravo 1.5

The original Bravo 1 was designed for Force Recon and quickly became Bark River’s all-time bestselling knife, a distinction it still has today. Over the years, they’ve expanded the line considerably, adding several models in various sizes, from the Bravo Micro all the way to the Bravo Machete.

Regardless of length, they all share the same DNA:
• High-quality materials
• Robust construction
• Attention to detail

There seem to be two opposing sides in the knife community. One group consists of mostly collectors and the others are mostly users. What’s great about Bark River is their lineup appeals to both groups. Their designs are aesthetic enough to be safe queens, but durable enough to be taken out into the field with zero qualms. And that is especially true of the Bravo 1.5.

Unboxing

The Bravo 1.5 runs 10.625 inches from end to end, with the blade taking up 5.75 inches. The A2 steel is 0.20-inch thick. At the widest point, the blade is 1.125-inch high. This is a robust knife, weighing in at 8.8 ounces. While it won’t be a boat anchor on your hip, you’ll be confident this knife will handle anything you need it to do.

As with every Bark River knife, it comes with a durable, well-made leather sheath. It is a pouch-style sheath, keeping the knife secure until you need it. Now, we need to talk for a moment about Bark River sheaths, as some customers are troubled by them at first. The sheaths are designed to be snug the first time you insert the knife. Go slow, but apply steady pressure, and the knife will slide in. Leave it there for a day or two and the leather will stretch just enough to accommodate the knife. Wet forming the sheath is another option, if you want to go that route.

The model shown has Green Micarta handle scales. However, there are numerous other options to choose from, including various types of Micarta as well as G-10.

The Bravo 1.5 is absolutely razor-sharp right out of the box, requiring no tuning or touch up at all prior to using. Having visited the Bark River shop myself more than once, I know from experience that every knife is checked for sharpness multiple times before it ships out. The knife has the standard Bark River convex grind.

The blade’s spine takes an ever-so-slight dip as it reaches the tip. I suppose in a technical sense that makes it a drop point blade profile, but it is very subtle.

Mine has a ramp, but there are rampless models available. Failing that, you can always send a ramped knife to Bark River and they will grind it off for you. They cannot, however, add a ramp. They’re good, very good, but even they can’t create steel where there was none before.

There is a lanyard hole at the base of the handle. Because the knife rides fairly deep into the pouch sheath, adding a lanyard will give you a little extra purchase for drawing the knife out.

The hallmark of the Bravo line is the handle profile. No matter which model it is, that handle is there, albeit occasionally resized to fit the blade length. Many users report that the Bravo handle is the most comfortable handle they’ve ever held, and for good reason. It is incredibly ergonomic, creating no hot spots even after extended use. What’s more, the contours and palm swells keep this handle locked in your hand during use, even if your hand gets wet or cold.

Use

I don’t like torture testing knives. Aside from shock and awe value, it is fairly meaningless. If I’m ever in a truly dire situation and need my knife to, let’s say, pry apart a few bricks, and my very survival depends upon it, I’m not going to worry too much about whether the same sort of knife held up to that kind of testing in someone’s YouTube video.

My approach is to simply use the knife as a knife and see how it performs. As a practical matter, we’re not so much testing whether the knife will cut the material, but rather how the knife handles while doing so. Let’s face it, if a knife can’t cut through rope, there’s person who made the knife might want to find a different vocation or hobby.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve used the Bravo 1.5 in a variety of capacities, from breaking down cardboard boxes to light chopping of brush in the backyard. It handled marvelously, very comfortable and easy to wield in different grips. I will say that the thickness of the blade precludes it from being especially handy with some food prep chores. It’ll cut through just about anything, but fine work like slicing mini peppers and the like gets frustrating, simply because the knife isn’t designed to handle delicate jobs.

Every knife reviewer ends up accumulating a stash of odds and ends they can use for testing knives. From my goodie box, I grabbed a piece of scrap leather and used long, dragging cuts to slice it up into smaller pieces. The Bravo 1.5 dug deep and made short work of it. I then used it to slice the end off of an old rubber hose. This wasn’t quite as easy, just because thick rubber hose can be a pain to cut with any knife, but it got the job done in short order.

Even after all that, it still carves paper quite easily, too. The edge holding is absolutely stellar with this knife.

Final Verdict

The Bravo 1.5 is a beast of a knife, without being just a sharpened crowbar. While the size might not make for a great EDC fixed blade for those who live or work in urban or suburban areas, it would be a valuable addition to the load out any time you’re headed out into the field. The A2 steel is a great choice as it will hold a good edge while also not being impossible to sharpen. The Bravo 1.5 is definitely not meant to be a safe queen. It will be happiest getting work done around the house or homestead as well as out in the wild.

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The Perfect EDC Blade?

Checking out the Interloper from Night Watch Knives

I’m a little late to the game when it comes to Night Watch Knives. Alex Harrison has been perfecting his craft for a few years now, but it was only recently that I was introduced to his bladework. I have to admit that the first time I saw his sort of jacked-up looking handles, I didn’t know what to make of them. They’re distinctive, no doubt, but is the design just a gimmick?

Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

When it comes to buying custom or semi-custom knives, there are three main qualities I tend to look for:

Aesthetics: Is the knife attractive in appearance? Is it something I’d be proud to own?

Quality: How well does the knife perform? Is it ergonomic? How well is the design executed?

Value: Do the craftsmanship and materials justify the price?

In many cases, you’ll get two of three. The knife might look great and function superbly, but you’re going to pay through the nose. Or the price tag might be quite reasonable and the knife looks really cool, but you might not want to actually use it…or even take it outdoors. Could be that the knife handles incredibly well, and has a very attractive price, but it is kind of blah in the looks department.

Alex manages to pull a hat trick and nail all three at once. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was a deal with a crossroads demon somewhere in his recent past. Honestly, he just shouldn’t be this good this early in his knife making career.

Let’s take a closer look.

Aesthetics

The first thing I noticed about the Interloper was the handle design. The two-finger choil is unique, no question, and it looks pretty cool. The handle is scalloped where it meets the blade on either side, again adding to the unique appearance. The scales are rounded from top to bottom as well as tapered from blade to butt.

Speaking of tapered, the Interloper features a tapered tang, getting quite thin toward the bottom. In addition to giving the knife a cool look, this reduces the overall weight by a fair amount. The scales are affixed by adhesive as well as a nice mosaic pin. The lanyard tube at the base is a nice touch, too. On this model, there are yellow liners under the scales, giving a nice pop of color.

The AEB-L steel blade has what Alex calls a “War Wash” finish, which is a custom acid-etch. The edge is hollow-ground and ridiculously sharp.

The Interloper is 7.0 inches long, with a 3.25-inch blade. It weighs a mere 2.4 ounces. For perspective, that’s less than three AA batteries.

This is a very attractive knife, something that punches weigh above its weight class in aesthetics.

Quality

The moment I picked up the Interloper and held it in my hand, I had one of those “Aha!” moments. I absolutely, completely understood the handle shape and design. It just locks into your hand like it was custom fit. I’m serious when I say that the ergonomics of this knife are out of this world.

The scallops near the blade allow you to hold the knife in a very comfortable pinch grip, which is excellent for a wide range of tasks. In fact, you’ll find yourself instinctively going with that sort of grip often with the Interloper.

I’m not exactly sure what Alex uses in his sharpening process, but I’m fairly certain it must involve some sort of esoteric techniques taught only on mountaintops by ancient masters. That’s just how incredibly sharp the knife is right out of the box. If you needed to shave electrons from an atom, the Interloper could handle the job.

Overall, the quality of the build and the execution of the design with the Interloper are absolutely impeccable.

Value

Here’s the thing. The base price for the Interloper is $325.00. If you handed this knife to pretty much any experienced knife maker, someone familiar with the amount of work required to create the quality and aesthetics present with this blade, they’d probably quote you at least $100 higher.

Alex works on his own, in his home workshop, turning these knives out one by one. He’s not shortchanging the materials, the design, or the amount of work put into each blade. When he comes up with a new design, he typically seeks input from other makers in his circle to get their thoughts. To those outside the knife world, that might sound odd, to ask for opinions from those who would might be termed competitors. The reality is that the knife community is pretty tight-knit and most makers consider one another to be colleagues, if not actual friends. By seeking this design input, potential problems are usually worked out well before the steel hits the grinding wheel. In a very real sense, the end user gets the benefit of not just the individual maker’s expertise, but the years of experience of other makers as well.

The value here is incredible. I could easily see this knife going for a much higher price without any question from experienced buyers. This is a knife that will not just hold up to use but that could be passed down to the next generation after many years of loyal service.

Not Too Big, Not Too Small

I’ll admit that I have an affinity for smaller fixed blade knives. Given a free and open choice between carrying a folder or a fixed blade for EDC, I’ll go fixed every time. The problem is finding something that’s large enough to be useful but small enough to be comfortable to carry everywhere. I mean, sure, if you’re headed out into the field and you want to carry a five-inch blade on your hip, no one will think twice when they see it. Wear the same knife in an urban area, such as if you work in an office environment, HR might want to talk to you.

The Interloper hits that sweet spot right in the middle. It has enough blade to be practical and useful, but is so lightweight it disappears in the pocket or on the belt until it’s needed.

This is one of the best EDC knives I’ve had the pleasure of owning and using. I absolutely cannot recommend it highly enough.