Schrade SCH503 Sure-Lock Folding Knife
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Illustration courtesy of Taylor Brands, LLC.
Schrade, along with the Uncle Henry, Old Timer and Imperial knife brands, was purchased by Taylor Brands, LLC (http://taylorbrandsllc.com) in 2004. In order to remain competitive in what has become an international marketplace, most of the Taylor Brands knives are produced to their design in the People's Republic of China. They have recreated many of the classic Uncle Henry, Old Timer and Schrade knives in this manner.
However, some of their upper line knives are produced in Taiwan and the SCH503, a big folding hunter, is one of these. This is a new Schrade design, patented in the US.
The SCH503 combines a husky, 3.64 inch, satin silver, drop point blade with a moderately curved cutting edge and a large, 4.94 inch, ergonomic handle. The handle scales are matte silver aluminum with black rubber inserts and there are comfortable finger grooves for a firm grip. A lanyard hole and a removable pocket clip are provided.
There are three cosmetic variations of this knife. The SCH503B is identical to the SCH503, except for its all black blade and handle finish. The SCH503RB is identical to the SCH503B, except the rubber gripping inserts in the black handle are red. Our friends at Taylor Brands sent us both an SCH503 and a SCH503B for this review.
The 0.133 inch thick blade has ambidextrous thumb knobs and a thumb ramp with jimping. The blade material is AUS-8, a high quality Japanese stainless steel made by the Aichi Steel Corporation. Hardened to HRC 58-60 for a knife blade, it is extremely tough, holds an edge very well, is easy to sharpen and has great corrosion resistance. It has a high chromium, nickel and silicon content and, as a blade steel, is sometimes compared to American 440B steel.
The blade locks securely open by means of the Schrade Sure-Lock. This is basically a back lock with a twist. Instead of a cut-out in the back of the handle to release the blade, there is a small, spring-loaded button in a slot in the front of the left handle scale. Slide the button to unlock the blade. Doing so pushes the front of the lock bar upward and clear of the blade's locking notch. Pushing the lock bar up in front of the pivot pin has the same effect as pushing the rear of the lock bar (behind the pivot pin) down.
The advantage of the Schrade Sure-Lock system, compared to a typical back lock, is that it allows one hand opening and closing of the blade. On the other hand, it takes a fair amount of thumb pressure to push the little release button to free the blade, which digs the button uncomfortably into the flesh of the thumb if you repeatedly open and close the blade.
Alternatively, you can open the blade with one hand using the thumb studs. This requires some effort, as the thumb studs are placed too close to the pivot pin for best leverage. Moving them a couple of millimeters farther away, which could be done without changing the shape of the blade, would help.
Or, you can simply pinch the back of the blade between the thumb and index finger of one hand, while holding the handle in the other hand, as you would open a conventional pocket knife. Although there is no nail notch, the handle's finger grooves leave an adequate amount of blade exposed for a decent grip. We found this two-hand method to be the easiest way to open the knife.
The fasteners used to assemble the SCH503 are Torx head screws. This makes them easy to tighten, if required, without damage. It also makes it easy to remove the pocket clip, if desired.
We found these Schrade Sure-Lock folders to be very attractive knives in either black or sliver finish. Not only do they look good, the ergonomic handles are also exceptionally comfortable and provide excellent cutting control and leverage, whether the knife is held cutting edge up or down. In either position, there is a comfortable and secure rest for the thumb of the cutting hand.
Given its big handle and high quality blade, the SCH503 was clearly designed for serious cutting, with convenient carrying a secondary consideration. The blade length and shape is excellent for field dressing deer and other game. It is also a heck of a strong folding hunter, more than adequate for typical camp chores.
This is a big, heavy folding knife; too big for comfortable pocket carry. We even found it too long and heavy when we used the pocket clip. A more comfortable carry method is to clip the knife inside the waistband.
However, the tension on the pocket clip makes it difficult to dislodge the knife for use and even more difficult to replace after use. For example, we could not force the spring-clip over typical belts.
Rather than fumbling with the super strong pocket clip, a more convenient carry method is a belt pouch. Unfortunately, these knives are not supplied with carry pouches. We suggest Taylor Brands delete the pocket clip and supply a belt pouch, instead.
We found that an Uncle Mike's nylon magazine pouch adequately serves the purpose. The SCH503 to too big for a Buck 510 folding hunter belt pouch (we told you this is a big knife), but it will (barely) fit in the leather belt pouch that came with an Old Timer folding hunter. We did not have one on hand to try, but it would presumably fit in the Schrade Nylon Belt Sheath (#SNYLON), which currently retails for $6.66 on the Taylor Brands website.
Testing with a small magnet verified that the blade, sure-lock, lock bar, liners and fasteners are all steel. The spacer that fills the area behind the lock bar is black polymer and the handle scales are aluminum. There can be no doubt this folding knife is built for heavy use. (Heavy, as in weight, being the operative word.)
When received, the blade pivot of our test knives was a bit stiff. A drop of Rem Oil on the pivot pin and an evening spent opening and closing the blades was all that was required to smooth the action so that a snap of the wrist would flip the blade open or closed while the Sure-Lock was held open.
The blade was sharp out of the box, easily capable of shaving hair from arms and slicing curls from paper. We gave the edge a half dozen strokes on our Lansky deluxe (white) crock sticks, using the 20 degree sharpening angle, which seemed about right. It wasn't really necessary, but didn't hurt, either.
The SCH503 is covered by Taylor Brands Limited Lifetime Warranty. This warranty applies only to the original purchaser and covers defects in materials, manufacture or assembly. Taylor Brands, LLC will repair or replace the knife free of charge if it fails. Note that this warranty does not cover damage caused by abuse, misuse, improper handling, etc.
In conclusion, we found the Schrade SCH503 to be a high quality, modern, heavy duty, folding hunter. We would like to see a carrying pouch included, but given the very reasonable 2016 MSRP of $69.32 you can certainly afford an accessory nylon belt pouch, if desired.
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