Kershaw Field Knife
By Gary Zinn
Image courtesy of Kershaw Knives.
I already own more knives than I can use in a month, but that doesnít matter. Every once in a while I get the urge to buy a new one (or two). That urge hit me recently, so I treated myself to a new Kershaw Field Knife.
I almost always wear a sheath knife when engaging in outdoor activities. With time and experience, I have developed strong ideas about the attributes that an everyday carry field knife should have and I can summarize these in four words: simple, tough, compact and versatile. It seems the Kershaw folks have read my mind, because their Model 1082 Field Knife has, in my judgment, all of these attributes.
Simple: The Kershaw Field Knife is a single piece of steel, with a pair of handle scales secured with cross pins. It canít get much simpler than that. The only departures from a totally plain steel blank are three features milled into the handle section, including a front quillion, a lanyard hole at the butt end and a small thumb rise with a bit of jimping on the front of the handle spine. There are no bolsters, guards, or other gewgaws to complicate things.
Tough: Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel with G10 handle material equals tough right there. These are among the best materials available for blades and handles, so they can be depended on to be reliable and durable in use.
Compact: For a general use field knife, bigger is not better. A typical Bowie or Kabar type knife is unwieldy for extended carry and awkward for small cutting tasks and close work. If I ever have my dream field knife custom built, it will have a 3-1/4 to 3-1/2-inch blade, a total length of no more than eight inches and it will weigh less than five ounces. Letís see . . . the Kershaw Field Knife has a 3-1/4-inch blade, is 7-1/4 inches long overall and weighs four ounces. Thatís very close to my ideal.
Versatile: Through the years, I have used my field knives to clean small game and fish, as well as field dress and skin deer. In addition, to slice sausage and cheese for lunches, shave kindling for campfires and general camp chores. I have learned that a knifeís suitability to handle different types of tasks is primarily a matter of blade geometry, complemented by good handle design. Iíll go into more detail below, but experience tells me that the blade style of the Field Knife should make it quite versatile.
The hollow ground blade is 1/8-inch thick and 15/16-inch wide at the base. The factory edge was sharp enough to easily shave hair off my arm. The steel has a smooth matte finish that Kershaw calls stonewashed. All milling of the steel was even and smooth. The G10 handle scales have a finely textured surface, about like 100-grit sandpaper. The knife comes with either black or orange handle scales; I chose the orange. There is a black leather friction-fit belt sheath. Itís very plain, but it holds the knife securely, which is priority one for me.
The blade design is the most unique feature of this knife. The spine is an upswept drop point, which is most commonly found in a skinner blade. In a classic skinner pattern the blade spine is upswept for most of its length, with a short drop to the point. The edge of the blade, then, runs straight for about two-thirds of its length before curving upward quickly to a relatively blunt tip. The Buck Model 0103BKS-B is a spot-on example. However, the Kershaw Field Knife has a somewhat longer drop and the edge curves continuously along its length. This gives a more pointed tip than would normally be found on a skinner, with a more gently curved edge. Given all that, Iím beginning to think of the blade as a semi-skinner.
I like curved blades. They are very efficient for slicing, which is what I do most with a knife, and I canít think of many cutting tasks where a straight edge is clearly better than a curved one. I also think that this blade has enough curve and belly to do a good job at skinning. I got the knife after hunting season was over, so it will be awhile before I have opportunity to test it as a skinner. My only concern is that the blade is sharply pointed, which could cause problems while skinning if the tip is not carefully controlled. A true skinner blade has a relatively blunt point for a reason, as anyone who has used one much understands. That said, I think the aggressive point will have advantages for general use.
After playing with it for awhile, I really like the knife overall, but there are two things that I wish were different. First, the handle should be a half-inch longer. My hands are average sized and I felt a bit cramped when using some grip positions. Someone with large hands might not like the feel of this knife. Second, I would eliminate the thumb rise at the front of the handle spine and extend the jimping about an inch onto the blade spine. I think this would be better for grips that put the thumb or index finger on the spine.
For several years my favorite field knives have been a Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter and a CRKT Krommer Kilbuck Hunter. It would be a tough decision if I had to give up one of these knives for the other. The made in USA Kershaw Field Knife may or may not outdo them both in my esteem. Time and field testing will tell, but this knife is definitely a contender.
Copyright 2014, 2015 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.