Case Ridgeback 533 Hunting Knife

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Case Ridgeback 533.
Illustration courtesy of W.R.Case & Sons Cutlery Co.

In this day and age, when so many American companies are outsourcing their products to Asia, W.R. Case and & Sons ( continues to stand against the tide. Their knives are now, and always have been, made in the USA from domestic steel.

Even if their knives were only of average quality, that would be enough reason for us to buy them over cheap imported steel blades from third world countries. However, in over 125 years, Case has never compromised on quality. William Russell Case would be proud of the knives that bear his name today, as he was more than a century ago when he and his brothers founded the company.

This addition to the Case Ridgeback line was designed by Blackie Collins. With a very high, hollow ground blade, it is an ideal skinning knife. The Zytel handle provides an excellent grip under all conditions.

Most of our readers are used to companies throwing out names for blade and/or handle materials without much explanation as to why they are superior for the purpose. With that in mind, we did some research on Zytel.

Zytel is a nylon polymer made by Dupont. It was developed to survive in harsh environments and resists most chemicals, as well as flames. It remains comfortable to handle whether the climate is hot, cold, wet or humid. It is frequently reinforced with fiberglass for extra strength, which also accounts for its resistance to solvents.

From a manufacturing point of view, Zytel is ideal, as it can be injection molded onto the full tang of the blade. As such, it is unlikely to ever come loose, regardless of the punishment or adverse conditions to which it is subjected.

In short, it is one of the most practical materials you can use for a knife handle. That is why the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Navy SEALs and Green Berets commonly use knives with Zytel handles.

Tru-Sharp surgical steel is used for the blades in the Case Ridgeback series knives. Tru-Sharp is a Case proprietary variation of 420HC steel with a higher carbon content. 420HC is a good quality, hard and tough stainless steel commonly used for knife blades, due to its good balance of desirable traits. This steel works well with Case heat treatment standards, allowing them to produce a knife that maintains its rigidity and toughness. It has decent edge holding capability and allows easy re-sharpening.

The ballistic nylon sheath supplied with the CA533 is double stitched, all around, to insure that it does not come apart. However, the knife fits loosely in the sheath and if one forgets to snap the retaining strap, the knife could fall out. This issue should be addressed by Case, as the Ridgeback is too good a knife not to have a secure sheath.

Features and Specifications

  • Model number: CA533
  • Designed by: Blackie Collins
  • Type: Hunter/skinner
  • Blade type: Fixed drop point, high hollow ground
  • Blade length: 4 inches
  • Blade width: 1.23 inches
  • Blade thickness: 0.101 inches
  • Blade material: True-Sharp Surgical stainless steel
  • Edge: Plain
  • Sheath: Black ballistic nylon
  • Handle: Full tang with Zytel scales
  • Overall length: 8-1/2 inches
  • Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Country of origin: USA
  • 2014 MSRP: $61.00

Despite our comments concerning the sheath, this is a superb knife and well worth the price. We are keeping our sample to use on our fall hunting trip in south Texas.

Back to Cutlery

Copyright 2014, 2016 by Jim and Mary Clary and/or All rights reserved.