Schrade Uncle Henry LB7 Bear Paw Folding Hunter
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Uncle Henry LB7. Photo by Chuck Hawks
The Schrade Cutlery Company was once the largest knife manufacturer in the United States. Founded in 1904 by brothers Joe, Lewis and George Schrade in Walden, New York, the Company went into receivership in 2004, a victim of post-9/11/2001 knife travel bans and cheap Chinese knock-offs of their designs. That's 100 years of producing fine knives in the USA, so there are millions of Schrade Old Timer and Uncle Henry knives still in use. Uncle Henry line knives had stainless steel blades and mechanisms, while Schrade's Old Timer line used 1095 high carbon steel blades and mechanisms. Old Timer scales (handles) were Delrin and Uncle Henry scales were usually Staglon. These are actually the same material, but they look different. As the name implies, Staglon looks like a genuine stag grip, but is more durable.
The Uncle Henry line was named in honor of Cutlery Hall of Fame member Henry Baer. Albert Baer and his brother Henry headed a group that purchased Schrade in 1946, when it became a division of Imperial Knife. In 1985 the Company was renamed Imperial Schrade Corporation. Genuine Uncle Henry knives were hand cutlered, 100% hand inspected and came with a lifetime warrantee. There was even a one year guarantee against loss. (The warrantee, of course, is no longer honored, since the Company closed its doors in 2004.) Uncle Henry knives are high quality cutlery, still treasured by those who own and use them.
The Uncle Henry LB7 folding hunter was introduced in 1979 and remained in the line until the plant closed in 2004. It is essentially the same size and shape as the Buck 110 folding hunter (see the Outdoor Accessories index page), uses a similar lockback mechanism and competed for the same market share. Like the Buck 110, the LB7 came with a leather sheath for belt carry.
This is one of the most expensive and impressive Uncle Henry knives and it looks the part. LB7's were produced with either wood or Staglon scales. It is a large, heavy knife, weighing over a half-pound and measuring 5" long when closed. With the blade open, you are holding an 8-3/4" long hunting knife. This is not a pocket knife; use the supplied brown leather belt pouch for carrying this knife in the field.
There seems to be some confusion between the LB7 (Bear Paw) and LB8 (Papa Bear) models. These are apparently very similar knives, except for the handle material. Some sources list the LB7 with wood scales and the LB8 with Staglon scales. However, our sample's blade is clearly stamped "Uncle Henry / Schrade+ / LB7 USA" in three lines and it has a Staglon handle. Obviously, LB7's were made with Staglon handles.
Very attractive it is, too. The heavy bolsters, liners and pins are brass, except for a stainless steel blade hinge pin. The blade and locking mechanism are polished stainless steel. The combination of brass, Staglon and stainless steel make this perhaps the best looking folding hunter we have encountered. It is certainly one of the best made; the whole knife exudes quality. The folks at Schrade knew their Uncle Henry LB7 was competing with a legend in the form of the Buck 110, so they went all out.
In handle shape, blade shape and overall style, the LB7 and Buck 110 are very similar. The LB7 has a similar concave curve to the handle and a gently curved, hollow ground, clip point blade measuring slightly over 1/10" thick. The handle shape allows a secure hold and the blade shape is excellent for field dressing big game animals and detail work. The LB7 handle is thicker than the Buck 110 (approximately 0.72" for our LB7and 0.59" for our Buck 110) and the top and bottom surfaces of the LB7 handle are slightly angled (effectively rounded). We found the LB7 a bit more comfortable in the hand. Its extra heft makes it a bit heavier to carry, but feels good when cutting.
The blade has a big nail notch for opening, but it isn't necessary. There is plenty of blade surface above the handle to make opening easy with two hands. There is quite a bit of spring tension keeping the blade closed, a good safety feature in the field, which makes opening the LB7 with one hand impractical. This is a hunting knife and a dead game animal isn't going anywhere, so opening speed is irrelevant.
We found the LB7 a bit easier to sharpen than the Buck 110, due to a slightly different edge angle and perhaps its steel is not quite as hard. However, it cuts well and holds an edge well. We found the LB7 blade an excellent balance of desirable qualities.
We have compared the Uncle Henry LB7 to the Buck 110 in the course of this review, because while the American made Uncle Henry LB7 was discontinued in 2004, the Buck 110 is the type standard, very well known and still popular today.
The Schrade and Uncle Henry brands (but no Schrade existing stock or parts) were purchased by Taylor Brands, LLC after Schrade went broke. An imported "Uncle Henry LB7" model is offered in 2013. It comes with a wood handle, a 7Cr17 stainless steel blade, weighs 7.6 ounces and looks essentially identical to the original. The 2013 online retail price for the Taylor Brands Uncle Henry LB7 is $26.65 (not including shipping). We have not examined one of these knives, but we have read they are being made in Red China.
The original, American made, Uncle Henry LB7 was designed to last for a lifetime of normal use. If you can find one in good condition (we did), you will have a heck of a knife.
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