Diefenthal Folding HunterI thought that some of you might like a look around a bit of cutlery produced by one of Solingen’s finest. This is a folding hunting knife made by Diefenthal. It’s not to everyone’s taste, I know. It’s got stag scales. It’s heavy (very heavy). It’s got stainless blades, which are hollow ground AND recurved. It is a lockback, with a rather ungainly looking stud. These are not the virtues designed to appeal to the modern urban knife buyer. Nevertheless, I have wanted one for a long time. I had a stockman by the same people, which I lost quite recently – well, I haven’t seen it for a bit (which is worse). And this big old thing rolled up in the troubled post a couple of weeks back.
I cannot pretend otherwise. I like this knife a lot. There’s a lot to like. In fact, all the qualities indicated as sins above, are the very excuses for loving this thing. It is weighty, textured and positive in the hand. The action is excellent, and the hollow ground recurved main blade is an absolute revelation for me. In short it has a lot of presence.
The stag scales are well chosen. The fit and finish, the detailing of pins and bolsters is admirable. Blades all align perfectly. The steel is listed as D2000, a variation on the 440C recipe, I think, and looks and feels great. Everything that needs to be sharp is razor sharp – especially the saw, which is a bit of a hooligan, and has a complex concave grind. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the knife. It cuts through wood and bone with extreme efficiency, and reminded me of the first time I ever used a jet saw.
It’s seen here, for scale, in the company of Fallkniven U2 and a Northwoods Congress – which is 4” long overall. And there’s a pic with another hunty type – a big Boker lockback.
So, it had a bit of a workout over the past weeks or so. It is very robust. Diefenthal’s knives have been compared with old Pumas. In a sense, this is an accurate comparison. Both are strong, made with similar kinds of materials, even have similar sounding etchings on the blades. I would say that there is something slightly more polished about the Diefenthal though. The tolerances are a fraction higher. The Pumas state cutting problems very effectively, whereas the Diefenthals seem to go one step further in articulating those problems, and refining them. Also Puma don’t do corkscrews, so much!
The main thing to note about this knife in use is the complex geometry of the main blade. There is some portion of the cutting edge that could be used for almost any task. Broad and swedged at the distal end, it is superb for paring, slicing and so forth. The narrower section of the blade near the handle is good for whittly work. Though I should say, whilst plenty stout and easily able to take the strain, you might wish to consider another blade for trimming and shaping wood, especially dry wood. The recurve allows for cuts that seem to roll on effortlessly and endlessly.
The saw features a flattened end which might be useable for a srewdriver – though the length of the saw itself, and the torques involved, might put the pivot pin (though not the saw itself) in jeopardy. It also incorporates a bottle opener/cartridge extractor – much more sucessfully resolved as a design element. The concave grind on the saw indicates its usefulness for cutting through wet stuff like greenwood, bone and the like. This, and features similar, appear often on hunting saws, and is perhaps part of a bespoke tradition. It is a lovely bit of engineering, and quite uncompromising.
As you can see, it is a knife that would prefer a pouch or a hip sheath of some kind. It is bulky for the jeans pocket – though I am quite happy with carting it about like that – but fits the hand very well for the very reason of that bulk. You can really get a hold of it. The knife was not supplied with a sheath, but having got hold of Diefenthal’s address via Ludi, I am going to get in touch with them directly to see if they have one (I got this one from toolshop.de).
The gralloching blade is another piece of beautiful modelling. It has a fine and quite acute hollow grind, and arrived extremely sharp. As a kind of draw-knife it works very well, but again perhaps it would just do – you might want something purpose made for that kind of use. It serves.
I have a soft spot for the German woodland romance that this kind of knife conjures up. It’s all leather shorts, mistiness, feathered caps, forested inclines and vistas – little flasks of herb infused, fortified wine, sausages and dense brown bread (maybe not quite so appealing, when put like that, perhaps ). Hubertus and other German makers produce very similar items, and I look forward to the opportunity of one day having a go with a Hubertus built along these lines. My suspicion is that they are not produced to the same standards, but the designs of the Hubertus are very appealing, nevertheless.
I can’t recommend this for urban edc – well not fully, but that is only because of the carry laws. It is a SAK on the grand scale. I am very impressed not only by the way this is manufactured (the usual ‘built like a BMW’ line that is often rolled out in these circumstances is totally appropriate, here). But I am even more taken by the design of the main blade. The single blade version of this knife looks terrific if you are into the whole bolstered stag/rosewood aesthetic, and is very affordable (approximately £60). I am greatly tempted by it. More slender, more direct. I’d really like to be able to get a hold of one of the blades and send it to someone like Karel Koci, and ask him to work some magic on it. Unfortunately (as Ludi discovered) Diefenthal will not release their blades alone.
The blade is stiff and sharp – not prybar-ish – and directed towards precise outdoor culinary use, and kind of suits me. The steel is hardened to about 57/58. I have yet to tell about its toughness – because it hasn’t dinged, rolled or chipped, and I have had no reason to sharpen it. So, we’ll just see about that. I’ll update when and as. It has picked up a few surface marks, though only as you’d expect.
All in all? Bloody marvellous. A different tip from a Spydie or a Sebbie in the working knives niche, and speaking of older, more European values, I think. Certainly if you are looking for a light and pragmatic knife, don’t buy this. But if you are looking for texture, presence a sense of tradition and personality, maybe give it whirl. Hope you like the pics. I meant to add an ‘in hand’ picture, and will do when I can.
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