From The Mailbox

I like getting letters such as this one from Longtime Reader Topcat1957:

I don’t know if you’re a knife guy (besides the obligatory Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting knife, which all men with chests need), but here are a couple of mine from a S’Affrikin maker, Arno Bernard. Good bunch of guys putting out quality knives. A little pricey, but worth the money, I reckon.

The top one is a handy little field knife (Fin and Feather) with African blackwood and warthog tusk scales. I don’t hunt anything bigger than quail anymore, and only fish for brook trout, but this will make short work of both.
The bottom one is a small utility knife, also finished in warthog tusk.

Great Vulcan’s testicles, but those are exquisite.  I had no idea that warthog tusks made such lovely handles [makes note to ask Doc Russia and Mr. Free Market to get me a couple on their next African safari together].

I am not really a “knife” man — I own barely more than three dozen in total, and only a couple thereof are of comparable beauty/value withal — for the simple reason that I regard knives (even more than guns) as tools.  As such, I use them and wear them out.

Yes, I do have a couple decent ones, such as the Big Guys:

…the Little Guys:

…and what I refer to as the “Working Class”:

…along with sundry bayonets, pen knives and utility knives.

But none of them even begins to compare with Topcat’s two.  Hell, even the elephant-hide sheath for his little knife is sublime.

I welcome all similar offerings from my Readers on their fine cutlery…


  1. Am I correct in thinking that the top lock back is a Schrade? Buck 110s usually had three or four rivets and I think that the older Schrades had two. I’ve got an early 80s vintage folder marked Craftsman – sold back when Sears carried good stuff. My research said that those folders were made by Schrade and were decent inexpensive knives. Of course $25 in 1982 wasn’t as inexpensive as it is now.

    I’ve got four or five Buck 110S in the collection. They’ve gone up significantly in price but are still a good utility blade and you won’t cry too much if you lose one.

    Interesting that in law enforcement circles – at least out here – “Buck knife” is a generic term for a lockback belt carried folding knife. E.g. “This individual is known to carry a Buck knife. ” Of course that’s not much help because that description fits most of the male and female population over the age of eight in this part of the world.

    1. It’s a Buck “Gent”. Bought it in, of all places, New York City, the first time I came over in 1982.

    2. Long time Buck 112 user here. Buck guarantees their knives for life. Few years ago, doing something stupid, I snapped the tip off my 35 yo 112. I sent it to Buck with a 10 dollar bill for return shipping and they sent me what appears to be a brand new knife. What a company!

      My newest knife is the Becker BK2, man what a tool! lol
      Been wanting it for a long time. I see it is now 30% off! Might get another one.

      Went ahead and got the micarta scales for it.

      And a custom Valhalla kydex sheath.

      It’s a worker and I’m pleased with it.

  2. When a knife or a firearm is so pretty that you would hesitate to carry it.
    Kind of like a beautiful woman, you just want to sit there and admire/fondle them.

  3. As you say, a knife is a tool. I couldn’t justify spending too much on something I’d probably use to scrape paint or open tin cans.

    My wife spent too much money on a stainless Spiderco, with malachite and turquoise scales, then got mad because I left it in a drawer where it would be safe. Okay, I’ll carry it to make her happy. I dropped it on concrete and shattered the scales and soon after that, broke the tip off.

    I also had several of those Craftsman knockoffs of the Buck 55. All lost or broken, now.

    The sharpest knife out of the box I’ve had was a Gerber LST. It weighed next to nothing but wasn’t really suited for the all abuse it received. A featherlight razor blade.

    My current favorite knife is a Kershaw Leek. It fits into my hand naturally and pops open with a finger with one handed closing. I haven’t broken one yet, but have lost all 6 or 7 that I’ve had. I’m still looking but haven’t seen one in the stores lately.

  4. hard to beat a nice knife.

    I used to watch Forged in Fire then followed up with the shops these guys built. Their custom knives are gorgeous but too nice looking and EXPENSIVE to use in the field. Someone from the military gave me some good advice, although the fancy knives are nice, they can get lost or “re-appropriated” by the wrong people. A good quality easily replaceable knife might be a better answer than an expensive knife.

    My field bag has a smaller knife like the top one made from a file. It cost me about $20 at a gun show two decades ago. Now the price of them has more than doubled. Hard to ditch the SAK in my pocket since the 80s although I have tried with a Leatherman type tool. A Benchmade mini griptillian is a nice size and shape for more civilized work.

    We need to update knife laws. Some places make it unlawful to carry a useful sized knife which is utterly wrong. The tool isnt the problem. The problem is the person using the tool inappropriately.


    1. I had a buddy who was a navy diver, and a watch guy. He said he showed up to dive school with a really nice (I don’t remember the brand, call it a Citizen) divers watch. He said he got there and all the old timers were wearing cheap Timex Qshocks.

      1. Preussenotto,
        I am not surprised at all.

        I like a nicer than average or average watch. I have had a Timex and you can’t beat them. I worked with a Construction Superintendent and he picked up a couple of Walmart special Timex watches. They were quartz so they kept very good time and if the band broke and he lost it on the job site he didn’t care one bit. I think there was one cast into a concrete pad at a truck stop or parking lot that someone finished over and it kept good time until the battery died. Currently I wear a Seiko field watch that came out last year. it’s mechanical so it never needs a battery. It keeps good time. It’s rugged enough for my needs but it’s very hard to top the durability of a Timex G shock


  5. When I get a chance to look over any finely crafted gun or knife (especially blued steel and Walnut) I have to make a conscious effort not to drool.

    That said, my field knife is a Glock, with the plastic scabbard. It hits a lot of check boxes.
    Light weight.
    Decent steel.
    Ugly stick. Dropped it in the lake? Well, shit. Buy another just like it.

    I also have a CRKT Homefront, but haven’t had the opportunity to take afield much.

    For decades, my every day carry has been a CRKT M16-01K. Grip frame is aluminum, color is British racing green.

    1. Someone said a few years ago that if you wanted to buy a good sheath knife for about $100 dollars, buy six Swedish Moraknivs and use each one until it breaks or can’t be sharpened.
      But I have to admit that aside from my Swiss Army Tourist, my favorites are a Grohmann’s Original Belt Knife with a rosewood handle and a Russell Green River Skinner.

      1. Windy,
        I have heard the same about Moraknivs. they have a very cheap one that is $20 or less and is supposed to be very good for its cost.


  6. I’m a sucker for a nice blade, either fixed or folder. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to carry even a pocket-knife in public here, unless you are, for example, fishing. Farmers on their property, OK. If they go into town, take it off!

  7. Growing up in rural Georgia in the 70s, Bucks in a leather belt pouch were so common you’d think they gave them out on the first day of school like pencils and tablets. In middle school I think you got your 30.06 for the back window of the truck.

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