Uncle Henry 153UH Hunting Knife
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Illustrations courtesy of Taylor Brands, LLC.
Taylor Brands, LLC (www.taylorbrandsllc.com) purchased the Schrade, Uncle Henry, Old Timer and Imperial knife brands in 2004, following the bankruptcy of the old Imperial Schrade Corporation. The Uncle Henry brand was Imperial Schrade's premium line and Taylor Marketing has revived many of the classic Uncle Henry knives, which are now manufactured in Communist China.
Having previously reviewed the Taylor Brands Uncle Henry LB7 folding hunter for Guns and Shooting Online, it seemed reasonable to review one of the new Uncle Henry fixed blade hunting knives. After consulting with other members of the G&S Online staff, we decided on the Golden Spike 153UH for this review.
We chose the 153UH because it, at least superficially, resembles a stag handled Randall knife with a brass butt cap. (A fairly common Randall configuration; see our review of the Randall Model 5 on the Outdoor Accessories page.) Hold this Uncle Henry knife pointed up with the blade's sharp edge to the left and it can be seen that, overall, there is a slight "S" curve to this Golden Spike that is reminiscent of some classic Randall knives. Ditto the shape of the finger guard and the use of triple line spacers at each end of the handle. (Okay, I admit, we are suckers for Randall knives.) Not to imply that the reasonably priced 153UH should be compared to a custom Randall Made knife, but it is a good looking knife with derivative styling cues.
7Cr17MoV is a Chinese high carbon stainless steel with properties similar to American 440A stainless. It is a high tensile strength, all-purpose steel selected by Taylor Brands for their Uncle Henry and Old Timer brand knife blades. When heat treated it achieves maximum toughness and a Rockwell hardness about C 56. It offers good corrosion resistance and it can be honed to a very sharp edge. In addition to knife blades, heat treated 7Cr17 is used for dental and surgical instruments. The blade of the 153UH is finished with an attractive, fine satin polish.
The Golden Spike's blade is formed from stock a bit over 1/8" thick with a medium-curved cutting edge and a clip point. It's a versatile design suitable for field dressing big game animals, general cutting chores and detail work. Each side of the blade is machined with three facets, the hollow ground cutting edge, a thicker spine that extends about 2/3's of the way down the blade for strength and a tapered top edge that reduces weight. (Another similarity to classic Randall hunting knives.)
It was sharp out of the box and with a few swipes across a hard Arkansas stone I achieved an even keener edge. The effort required to touch-up the blade was about average for modern, stainless steel knife blades.
The oval (in cross section) handle of the 153UH is mounted over a rat tail tang and secured by an indexed Allan head screw. The handle incorporates three finger grooves. Finger grooves tend to force the hand into a pre-determined position, which in this case positioned the index finger of my medium size hand about 3/8" behind the finger guard. However, for better cutting leverage, I prefer to have my hand all the way forward on the handle of a hunting knife, with my index finger against the finger guard. In this I am not alone and the other staff members who examined the 153UH agreed that they would prefer a smooth handle without finger grooves. Nevertheless, the 153UH has a solid feel in the hand.
The material used for the 153UH handle is called "Staglon." While it resembles the excellent Staglon (imitation stag) used on the old American made Uncle Henry knives, the Chinese version doesn't look or feel quite the same. Unlike American Staglon, the dark brown dye used to fill the grooves in the sides of this knife's grip is smeared across the top and bottom of the handle. In addition, a mold line runs visibly down the length of the handle. None of us on the G&S Online staff found this Chinese copy as attractive as the original Staglon.
Being something of a perfectionist, I decided to see if I could eliminate the mold lines and excess brown dye from the top and bottom of the handle. I used a Dremel Moto-Tool with a sanding disc on a cylindrical #402 mandrel to remove the mold lines and unwanted dye. After the sanding was completed, I polished the sanded surface with a felt polishing wheel. The end result was a considerable improvement in the appearance of the handle, which should have been done at the factory. The photo below shows the handle about half way through the sanding process.
Half-sanded 153UH Staglon handle. Note brass fixtures and triple line spacers. Photo by Chuck Hawks.
The brass finger guard and pommel are attractive, contrasting nicely with the Staglon handle and stainless steel blade. Alternating white-black-white line spacers are used between the guard, handle and pommel.
Supplied with the 153UH is a substantial, brown leather sheath with a 3" belt loop. The sheath has heavy duty stitching and a double layer spline to protect the outer leather layers from the point and edge of the blade. A pouch sewn onto the sheath holds a small sharpening stone. This is a coarse stone, so except for emergency use in the field, I would suggest using a finer stone for normal sharpening.
Like all Taylor Uncle Henry knives, the 153UH comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. This protects the original purchaser against defects in materials, manufacture or assembly. Taylor will repair or replace the knife free of charge if it ever fails.
The Uncle Henry 153UH is a very attractive and reasonably priced hunting knife. Like the other Taylor Brands Uncle Henry and Schrade knives we have reviewed, the Golden Spike 153UH is a lot of knife for the money.
Copyright 2014, 2015 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.