Stone River Change-Blade Hunting Knife
As most of our readers know, we have given positive reviews to several Stone River products that we have previously field tested. What folks do not know is that, early on, we tested one of their ceramic knives and did not find the design to our liking. We sent it back with suggestions for improvement.
A year later, after the knife was modified, they sent it back and we shipped it to Florida for testing. It was a great success. In fact, that was the knife that our alligator guide, Bart Carter, used to field dress, skin out the leather and debone the meat from over twenty alligators. It was still, in his words, "scary sharp". Our bottom line is: unless we like products and find them useful, we do not waste time writing about them.
As useful as ceramic blades are, there are situations when a steel blade is needed. With that in mind, the folks at Stone River developed an 8.75" (overall length) interchangeable blade hunting knife. The set includes the handle, two ceramic blades, a steel blade and an innovative sheath. All three blades have 3.5" cutting edges. They call this system the "Change-Blade Hunting Knife."
The two white ceramic zirconium blades, one clip point and one drop point, will stay sharp 10-12 times longer than conventional steel blades. They are the same type of blades that Stone River uses on their line of fixed and folding blade hunters that we reviewed last year. Those blades were used to dress out and skin twenty alligators in Florida (SRG4RPB & SRG4PBF), a dozen wild boar and whitetail deer in Texas (SRG41RCW & SRG41RCB) and a Persian Ibex in New Mexico (SRG2GLW), all without having to be sharpened. If the ceramic blades ever need resharpening, SRG will sharpen both blades for only $10 to cover shipping and handling.
The clip point, AUS-8 Stainless steel skinning blade is ideal for working around heavy bones and joints. AUS-8 steel is used by SOG, CRKT and Cold Steel in their tactical knives and has a Rockwell hardness of Rc 58-59. Stone River did not go cheap on their steel blade. When it comes to steel blades, you should not consider buying a knife unless the manufacturer is willing to let you know what kind of steel they are using. We were very happy when the folks at SRG selected a good quality steel for the blade in this set. It comes well sharpened and has held that edge after multiple uses around our camp.
The G10 handle is solid and contoured for a comfortable grip. G10 material is preferable to aluminum or titanium in working hunting knives, because of its low specific heat. This means in hot weather there is a cooler grip and in winter weather you don't feel like you are holding an ice cube.
Due to a Quick Release locking mechanism in the handle, you don't have to remove a blade from the sheath to put it into the handle. Just push the handle down on the shank of the blade you need and it locks up. When you are finished cutting, push the blade back into its scabbard in the sheath, press the unlock mechanism on the handle and withdraw the handle. This unique feature prevents one from accidentally slicing a finger by trying to remove the blade without the handle.
The nylon sheath has a special feature found only in this set. The sheath incorporates a separate blade protector for each blade. (See photo at top of page.) These high quality polymer scabbards not only protect the blade edges, but they also prevent the blades from cutting into the sheath when stored or being removed, a thoughtful touch.
Now, I have to tell our readers, Jim is the tightest guy on earth with a buck. When he opens his wallet, the presidents have to put on their sun glasses. He rarely jumps on new gadgets that come on the market. However, this time he did. We got two of the Change-Blade knives, one for each of us. (Jim doesn't share very well.)
The Change Blade Hunting Knife is somewhat heavier and bulkier than your regular sheath knife, but given its versatility, it is a small price to pay. If you are one of those folks who don't want to wear a belt knife, strap it onto your backpack and it will be ready when you need it. You won't need any other knife on your trips into the woods. This set has you covered.
With an MSRP of $149.95, it is not particularly cheap. However, because it serves as an all-around camp and hunting knife, giving you three blades in one package, it is worth the price. If the Stone River Change-Blade Hunting Knife is not available at your local sporting goods store, it can be purchased directly from Stone River on their website: www.stoneriveroutdoors.com
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