31-01-05, 08:45 PM
I ordered this knife from Ray to fill a Bushcraft/utility role after experimenting with a Mora knife and a Kellam Wolverine. The knife is featured on page 2 of the 'knives for sale' on Ray's website, which is www.rakerknives.com. It is a spear point design forged from 52100 with a full, flat, grind. The handle is made from Bois D'Arc (orange osage) which is both pinned x 3 and glued to the full tang. The tapered tang has also been drilled to reduce weight and improve balance. The balance point is just a finger's width behind the start of the handle. The knife comes with a smart looking pouch type sheath which appears sturdy enough to protect both the knife and the user. I didn't ask for a fire steel but one could easily be added by the sheath maker if required. The knives dimensions are: OAL 9.7", blade 5.25" long and 1.1" wide and at the ricasso it is nearly 0.25" thick. The handle measures just under 4.5". Although the blade may seem long, the ricasso is 0.75", which I like as I like to be able to choke up on the knife when required. When I first received the knife I was immediately impressed by the quality of the whole package. The knife sat snug and deep in the pouch sheath and required just a little tug to retrieve it. Even now after owning the knife for 5 months, the knife cannot be shaken from the sheath even when held upside down. The knife is as gorgeous to look at as it is functional with everything as it should be, i.e. the blade is straight in line with the handle and the grind lines are crisp, even and beautifully radiused. The grain of the wood gives the handle a striking appearance and is very comfortable, even after extended use with no sign of any hot spots developing on the hand. The first task the knife was used for was vegetable preparation. As I would expect from a knife of this design, it zipped through a range of different vegetables with ease. It only faltered slightly on large, hard vegetables such as potatoes and onions, this being inevitable due to the blade's thickness at the spine. Ray had put a nice toothy edge on the knife so it easily cut excess fat from meat and sliced chicken breasts. An added bonus which I hadn't expected is that the blade length is just long enough to cut slices of bread. As an aside, the acid in the onion gave the blade a beautiful patina. I then used the knife on a hunting trip to Scotland where it performed the task of camp knife admirably. The knife did everything from gutting and bacon trimming to slicing bread and only required sharpening after cleaning 4 animals and caping 2 of them. At that point it would not even grab the hair on my arm let alone shave it. When caping we did try to bring the edge back a little using a fungus to strop the knife on which worked well for a while (I am led to believe this is a trick used by Ray Mears). Upon getting home the knife was sharpened easily using my Spyderco sharpmaker using the edges of the brown stones at a 30 degree angle and just to finish off I stropped the blade on a piece of leather loaded with rouge. I have since used a Norton India oil stone to sharpen the knife with similar results. After sharpening and stropping, the knife will shave the hair from your arm, push cut newspaper yet still be toothy enough to slice through poly rope with ease. I find poly rope a good test as if the knife's edge is too polished, the knife will merely slide over the rope. Over several weekends I undertook several bushcraft type tasks; including shelter building, friction fire starting and wood carving projects. I will not go into detail of these tasks I would just like to highlight the aspects of the knives design or performance I consider good. The point of the knife is very fine, which is useful for fine carving. Initially I was a little dubious as to whether it would hold up, so I took the bull by the horns and used it to stab and dig my way through a couple of 2 x 4's which had absolutely no effect on the point. When carving the knife was nice and comfortable in the hand and thanks to the wide spine, which is gently rounded, my thumb didn't suffer. The only potentially uncomfortable place on the knife is the ricasso. I requested that Ray leave the edges nice and square as this is where I wanted to strike my fire steel. This was my personal choice as I feel it more comfortable to have a sharp edge against my forefinger which I use less than I would use my thumb on the spine. Whatever your choice, I am sure Ray would be happy to work with you to give you a knife of your preference. The extra length in the blade when using a baton to split or chop through wood proved very useful. The lack of blade length is one of the main reasons I discounted the Mora and the Wolverine. One other test I performed was rope cutting using the hemp rope from a cat scratching post (my wife hasn't forgiven me yet). I proceeded to cut slivers and I must admit I got bored and ceased testing when I got to 200 cuts as the edge would still shave hair from my arm. In conclusion, I feel that this knife fills all my criteria of a good knife. It is comfortable in the hand, tough, yet capable of holding a good edge. The only problem I have had with the knife has been that the wooden slabs on the handle have expanded slightly (about 0.5mm) which causes a lip between the tang and the handle slabs. I have put this down to the fact that the knife has come from the warm and dry environment of Oklahoma and now that the knife gets damp regularly, it has expanded slightly. If it bothered me I could just sand off the excess wood but as yet it hasn't caused either blisters or hot spots on my hand. I am not sure I would change anything about the knife although perhaps I would be interested in experimenting with knives of the same design with incrimentally smaller blades, dropping the blade length by 0.25" a time just to see whether this improved things or not, although I think the utility value may be lost with a smaller blade. I am sure if you would like something similar with your own little features Ray would be pleased to oblige. I have been happy enough with his work to order 3 knives from him and can highly commend him to you all.