The Savage Hunter's Edge Folding Knife
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Savage's aptly named Hunter's Edge is a replaceable blade, folding hunting knife. It carries the concept of the folding hunter, popularized by the famous 4" Buck knife of that name, into the future. The knife and its interchangeable blades are manufactured in Seki City, Japan of high grade, heat treated and tempered stainless steel.
The Hunter's Edge is supplied with four extremely sharp blades, an industrial diamond sharpening steel, a heavy-duty nylon case and an instruction sheet. Unlike the instruction sheets supplied with many knives, this one is actually useful. Along with the usual safety warnings, it describes how to use the sharpening steel and how to safely interchange blades.
Basically, this is accomplished by opening the blade half way, where a slight "notch" can be felt. Then the blade is lifted from the hinge pin in the end of the handle. Blades are replaced by depressing the lock button and snicking the hook end of the blade, again holding the blade at about a 90 degree angle to the handle, over the hinge pin. Once the blade is hooked over the hinge pin, open the blade fully. If it correctly locks in the open position, all is well. The blade can now be opened and closed safely and the knife used normally.
The instruction sheet suggests opening and closing the knife with two hands. We suggest that you do not attempt to flip the blade open, as the centrifugal force might cause the blade to come loose. It would not be cool to flip the blade across the room while the handle stayed in your hand. Just open the Hunter's Edge normally, like an ordinary pocketknife, and all will be well. This knife is not intended to be a toy or a weapon; it is a tool for the serious hunter and outdoorsman.
The double-stitched black nylon case has separate internal pouches for three extra blades and an external loop sheath for the sharpening steel sewn onto one side. It is supplied with a pair of belt loops sewn onto the back, and these loops are held closed (or opened for easy attachment to a belt) by Velcro. A front flap secures the folded knife in the sheath and is secured by a heavy-duty snap. The case has loops to attach to a belt for carry in the conventional vertical position, or in a horizontal position (parallel to the belt). The unusual horizontal carry position is quite comfortable, particularly when sitting down. The sheath can also be attached to most rifle slings.
Every thing about the Hunter's Edge sheath worked well, except the external holder for the sharpening steel. It was too loose, allowing the steel to drop free anytime the sheath was inverted. After almost losing the steel we slipped it into the back slot inside of the sheath, alongside the hook blade, which has no sharp outside edges.
The stainless steel handles of the Hunter's Edge include bolsters front and back and inlaid hardwood gripping surfaces. There is a 0.1365" (3.47 mm) hole drilled through the rear bolsters to permit the attachment of a lanyard. The wood in the test knife is nicely figured with straight grain of contrasting colors. There are shallow finger grooves in the handle to aid retention, especially with bloody hands.
The stainless steel hinge pin is replaceable, and can be tightened with an Allen wrench if required. The blade lock/release is a button in the front bolster, located where it can be conveniently depressed by a right-handed person's thumb. All in all, the handle is well designed for its purpose and comfortable in use.
The supplied blades include a general purpose clip point blade, a straight-back fillet blade, a gut hook blade and a saw blade. Either of the first two would be satisfactory for field dressing a deer or cleaning a fish.
The blade stock measures 0.1185" (3 mm) in thickness, which is pretty substantial. The installed clip point blade measures 3 3/4" from the front of the bolster to the tip of the blade. Removed from the knife, the blade measures 4 1/2" in overall length. The other blades are similar, although not exactly identical, in size.
In use, the subtle concave curve of the dull, upper edge clip point blade allows the thumb of the cutting hand to be placed there as required, allowing very considerable downward cutting force to be exerted. There is another concave surface just in front of the handle on the lower surface of all of the blades, before the start of the sharpened edge. This allows the user to "choke up" on the blade if necessary.
We found that the easiest way to remove a blade from the handle was to push up with the thumb of the "handle" hand against this lower concave area while grasping the back of the blade with the "off" hand. It is not necessary to depress the lock button to remove a blade, although it is necessary to depress the lock button to insert a blade.
The clip point blade is hollow ground (concave sides when viewed in cross section), while the fillet/utility blade is not. The straight-edged saw blade incorporates two rows of (staggered) teeth. The hook blade is sharpened only in the actual curve of the hook. All blades are razor sharp and should be treated with respect.
The fillet blade, which we subjected to the most use, held its edge well. This blade, due to its straight taper cross section, is the easiest of the four blades to sharpen. The supplied sharpening steel works to touch-up both conventional knife blades and the gut hook blade. A hard sharpening stone (Arkansas stone) is probably the best way to fully sharpen the clip point and fillet blades. We made no attempt to sharpen the saw blade, and the sharpening of this blade is not mentioned in the instruction sheet.
After intentionally (lightly) dulling the fillet blade, we sharpened it with a hard Arkansas stone, restoring the edge without any special problem. This was possible because, while the steel is quite hard and will require more swipes across the stone than lower quality knives, the angle of the factory edge is correct and this simplifies the chore of sharpening.
While we had no serious criticisms of the Hunter's Edge, we did come up with a few suggestions to make a good product even better. Jack Seeling, Bob Fleck and Chuck Hawks all suggested rounding off the semi-points at the rear of the handle. Bob and Nathan Rauzon suggested a shorter utility type blade for cleaning small game and other precise work. Nathan also suggested an optional, longer (perhaps around 10") saw blade with its own sheath. These additional blades could be sold as optional extras that customers could order as needed on the Savage web site.
Ron Coburn, Savage Chairman and CEO, is quoted on the Savage web site as follows:
"One knife with a single blade design does not suit all applications, and that is why we designed the Hunter's Edge to offer the full gamut. Considering the harshness of the environment you're often in, we knew it was necessary to provide multiple edged tools that would stand up to severe conditions, including water, cold, snow, salt air, etc. It's definitely a hunters and fishermans friend and each blade is easy to attach, detach and clean. There were no shortcuts when it comes to the materials and design of this product."
Basically, after experiencing the Hunter's Edge first hand, we here at Guns and Shooting Online agree that it is a unique and useful knife that advances the state of the art of the folding hunter. The Hunter's Edge is not inexpensive, but neither is it particularly expensive and considering its quality and versatility it is an excellent value.
The Hunter's Edge (Item #65000) costs $60 (the price is subject to change) and is available exclusively through the Savage Online Store. Visit the Savage web site at www.savagearms.com.
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