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6 best hunting knife manufacturers you should look for

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If there is a thing that is sure to be useful to a hunter, even if he hasn’t gotten anything, then it is … Who said “flask”? In fact, this is, of course, a good hunting knife. Moreover, speaking of hunting knives, we encompass not only the meaning of the term given by our legislation (in it a “hunting knife” is a cold weapon acquired only with a valid ROHA series permit for firearms). There are so many loopholes in domestic standards that make it possible to distinguish “cold steel” from “household goods” that a knife of any format can be selected to suit your needs, without going beyond the “household” framework. Therefore, there are so many knives with “household” certificates on our shelves that we could not make a rating of the best hunting knives by the model in any case.

Let’s make it easier – we’ll point out those firms that, in our opinion, deserve the most attention when choosing. Fortunately, Russia has something to be proud of in this regard – we have whole cities of gunsmiths, and the words “Kizlyar”, “Zlatoust”, “Vorsma” and so on for knife lovers have become by no means only geographical concepts. Alas, the limited format of the article will not allow writing about very many manufacturers, therefore, first of all, we will recall the most common products and suitable for the role of a hunter’s working tool.

AiR, Zlatoust

The firm “AiR” (Arkhipov and Rogozin), since its foundation in 1999, has actually become the “face” of its city, although it is not deprived of craftsmen: cold steel has been massively produced in Zlatoust for more than 200 years, and the development of the industry was helped by specialists discharged from Solingen.

The assortment of A&R knives includes a huge number of mass models – from harmless kitchen knives (hmm … although according to police statistics you cannot say that) to serious models certified as cold steel. Not to mention the “overgrown knives” (kukri, machete) and even more sabers: there is plenty to choose from, not even mentioning special orders.

Almost every model of a knife can be produced in several versions – you can choose the material of the handle and the steel of the blade, and the choice of steel will definitely make the knife lovers break their heads. From simple 95X18, which is very popular for making inexpensive tourist and hunting knives, you can go to AUS-8, Elmax … If high-chromium steels, albeit practical ones, do not suit you aesthetically, then what can compare with Damascus? Yes, it is, of course, difficult to clean because of the embossed surface, and because of this it quickly rusts, but at least the last one is successfully combated by Zlatoust craftsmen: customers are offered a special weather-resistant damascus Zladinox ZDI-1016, created by the company’s craftsmen.

What else can you say? Let’s just list just a small part of the awards already won by the company: the first places won many times in the nominations of the international exhibition “Blade – Tradition and Modernity”, “Blade of the Year” at the Nuremberg IWA-2009.

The main advantages:
  • Rich assortment of “basic” models
  • Build quality, pulling slopes
Minuses:
  • Most models with a choice of steel to order are made only on a prepaid basis, and it takes a long time to wait
  • Steel is not available for all models

LLC “Vorsmensky knife”, Vorsma

The ten thousandth town of Vorsma can compete with many millionaires in fame: since the 18th century, workshops for the production of various blades have been concentrated here, and the traditions of handicraftsmen are still alive today: speaking of knives from Vorsma, we are primarily talking about small private workshops.

Although it cannot be said that A. Sedov’s firm (not to be confused with S. Sedov, who also lives in Vorma … and guess what he does?) Is so small – even if it has few employees, the fruits of their labors are well known. The production is based on a system of basic knife designs, and already from them the client can choose the blade material and handle design of interest to him – for example, if you liked the Leader hunting knife, then it is not necessary, fighting off the strangling toad, to pay 14,500 rubles for a damask blade and figured casting from cupronickel: an excellent working option would be a knife made of D2 steel (4900 rubles), Damascus (4050 rubles) – well, in any case, the handle can be chosen to taste. If desired, cupronickel castings for the design of the handle can be bought separately from the craftsmen, in order to “refine” a previously purchased knife or homemade product.

The choice of steels for this workshop is one of the best: here they work with “diamond” steel XB5, and with damask steel, and with several types of damascus. Lovers of foreign steels will find their acquaintances Elmax, S390, M390, AISI in the catalog. So the possibilities of choosing a knife “for yourself” are very large, although we are talking about a set of standard designs.

The main advantages:
  • Choice of steel and handle design for any model
  • A wide range of steels, of which there are several options for Damascus (end
  • Forging and sharpening quality
Minuses:
  • The company is not so well represented in the retail network, in many cities knives will have to be ordered online

Check out: Tops BOB 154cm review

LLC PP Kizlyar, Kizlyar

Dagestan blades are a “brand” dating back to tsarist times, and modern knife production in Kizlyar (not to be confused with the Kizlyar Supreme brand, these are different enterprises) successfully combines tradition with modern fashion: you can also choose from the company’s catalog classic Caucasian daggers with silver trim, and tactical knives made of imported steel. At the same time, the prices for the Kizlyar blades are quite budgetary, if you do not aim at exclusive models with expensive finishes. That is why among lovers of knives the word “Kizlyar” has become a household name: someone sees in him solid “working” blades without any special frills, someone contemptuously curses his lip – they say, mass stamping. However, the Kizlyar knives are not only mass “Sterkhi”, “KO-1”, “Korshuny” or “Bikers”, but also works of authorship for “completely different money” (“Isma”, “Caspian”, “Leopard” ).

Alas, it was the mass character that once served the company a disservice – the term “Kozlyar” was even established on the forums of knife lovers, which appeared due to numerous flaws in the gross budgetary product and the indifferent attitude of the management to customer reviews. Some of the problems, of course, were more aesthetic than really influencing the use of the knife (for example, the asymmetry of the descents, which is also present in the author at Pavlov’s “Okhotnik-2”, which does not prevent this knife from working for 8 years already), but poor wood impregnation already demanded a close selection of a good hunting knife when buying.

Be that as it may, Kizlyar knives remain one of the most common, so there will be no problems with the choice, and the reviews of recent years on specialized forums are much more favorable than the words addressed to LLC PP “Kizlyar” ten years ago. The firm now offers a lifetime warranty against factory defects for mass-produced models. If you need just a good working hunting knife, and not a beautiful “shelf” for your collection – why not?

The main advantages:
  • A large number of budget models of good quality
  • Choice of steels – from 65X18 to Japanese AUS-8 or French Z160
  • Mass production (up to 1000 knives per day), there is no need to wait for the production of the model you like
Minuses:
  • Floating quality as a consequence of mass production – the knife should be carefully examined when choosing
  • There is no guarantee for exclusive works and products with precious stones.

Forge Semina Yu.M., Vorsma

Let’s continue about the masters of the Nizhny Novgorod region: Yuri Semin began his work in 1995, and now this master can already be recognized as famous throughout Russia, and beyond its borders. In 2016, you could get acquainted with Semin’s knives at 21 (!) Exhibitions, held from Moscow to Irkutsk. And, what is there to hide, the very fact of purchasing a knife from a particular master, and not a faceless brand of any company, can also become an argument when choosing: manual work will always be appreciated.

What does the master offer us today? There are many interesting things in the standard row. For example, practical “folds” can be ordered with Damascus blades, which are not offered by many companies. Knives made of D2 steel, one of the most popular foreign “semi-stainless steel” (chromium content – 12%), are close in price to Damascus.

Do you like big knives? Then it is worth looking in the direction of the models like “Cossack” (224 mm blade), “Pharaoh” (247 mm), “Caesar” (246 mm). Well, let’s not forget about the machete. The master also makes axes, and even a stone (!) Ax is offered for lovers of “complete exclusiveness”.

What first comes to mind by association with the word “Damascus”? Of course, damask steel – a blacksmith works with this steel, and offers blades from crucible damask steel, and alloyed. Their price, alas, is several times higher than that of any other options from “simpler” steels, and they are made by a master only on prepayment.

The main advantages:
  • Wide range of designs and steels, including damask steel
  • A wide price range – a knife from 65X13 will cost less than 2,000 rubles, while a damask one will cost up to 20 thousand.
Minuses:
  • Many models are made only on a prepaid basis, you will have to wait for them.
  • Damascus on “mass” models sold in tourist shops rather than being made to order may have minor forging defects.

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Helle

Among connoisseurs of high-quality classic knives, the Norwegian company, founded in 1932, is well known, and not only for its difficult-to-pronounce names: their quality is undeniable, and the strict appearance of a Scandinavian knife is perfectly combined with modern materials.

At the time of the beginning of production, knives were forged by hand in a family smithy, in a village where there was not even electricity, and the company entered the “market” … more precisely, went on a bicycle, on which one of the founding brothers plunged with a full backpack of knives and went to Oslo … Since then, a lot has changed in the workshop, but to this day the essence of production has not changed: Helle knives are forged and assembled only by hand, and they are very popular among European hunters. And in Russia, even despite the very noticeably increased prices, the company has enough fans. And it cannot be denied that the design, tested by generations of anglers and hunters, works great.

In the production of blades, a sandwich structure, or laminated steel, is used – the central part is made of high carbon steel, which gives the knife sharpening resistance. But in order to exclude rapid rusting and the likelihood of fracture (hardened “high-carbon” is very fragile), the outer parts are already made of high-chromium stainless steel. Therefore, any person who has had a chance to own a Helle knife knows perfectly well how well these knives keep sharpening and at the same time are not afraid of moisture – and this is very important for a hunter, especially when it comes to the most massive hunting for waterfowl in our country.

The main advantages:
  • Classic Scandinavian design – practicality and laconic forms
  • High quality three-layer blades
Minuses:
  • Significant price increase in Russia

Mora of Sweden

Another representative of Scandinavia, with a history dating back to the 19th century: although the Mora brand itself appeared not so long ago, with the merger in 2005 of KJ Eriksson and Frost Knivfabrik, both of them began production a long time ago. Erik Frost’s knives have been in production since 1891, and Krang-Johan Eriksson has been making knives since 1912, so Mora is an amalgamation of two of Sweden’s oldest and largest knife factories.

As befits true Scandinavians, Mora knives are the perfect combination of affordability, practicality and quality. The price in Russia for products under this brand starts from three-digit: knives such as the Morakniv Classic 611 cost less than 1,000 rubles, and for this money you get a really high-quality knife with a blade made of durable carbon steel. Well, in the more expensive series, either Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel or “laminate” is used.

In short, if you are looking for the perfect embodiment of a working knife concept that is inexpensive, practical and reliable, then the Mora knife circle will definitely welcome you.

The main advantages:
  • Quality at extremely budget prices
Minuses:
  • Sandvik 12C27 – the steel is quite soft (close to our 40X13), therefore it requires frequent dressing
  • Most of the knives in the line are too versatile, many hunters will not like it purely for design.

What is the best steel for a hunting knife?

Hunting is a paradoxical occupation. Here age-old classics are perfectly combined with modernity, and practicality – with the delights of art. On the hunt, you can see the old Tula hammer, and a new semi-automatic, a budget gun in black plastic and a one-off shotgun whose price is comparable to the cost of an apartment. So the knives are used here very different: someone will choose an externally simple knife without carving and engravings, someone in a scabbard will carry an exclusive handmade.

Therefore, we will focus on what is inside – on the materials. The choice of knives is great, each has its own pros and cons.

Perhaps the most democratic option is carbon steels: they are inexpensive, easy to heat-treat, durable, and keep sharpening well. By adding chromium to the alloy, we reliably protect the knife from the harmful effects of moisture. Here one of the best budget alloys is 95X18 and its American counterparts 440D / 440C. They keep sharpening well, are durable, therefore they are very popular.

On sale you can also find knives made of tool steel, originally developed for cutting tools (drills, taps, dies). Their plus is the ability to obtain high hardness, but that is why they are sensitive to heat treatment modes: in case of an error, it is easy to get an overheated knife, which will quickly crumble along the edge, and it will be very difficult to sharpen by hand. When bent, such a knife will completely break. And finally, the corrosion resistance of tool steel developers was not particularly worried – but rust on the knife is inappropriate. You should not take such a knife for hunting or fishing.

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For this reason, damask and damask, despite the romantic flair around these words, they also have certain disadvantages. They need careful care because because of the embossed surface, it is easier for water to penetrate microcracks. Cheap damascus, poorly forged, can quickly begin to crack and crumble. On the other hand, modern metallurgy has made it possible to create Damascus that is not susceptible to rust, and even to produce such steel industrially – for example, the Swedish Damasteel: one of its grades was developed for the manufacture of firearm barrels, and there the requirements for alloy strength are much higher than in production knives. And laminated Damascus is well insured against chipping of the cutting edge – a homogeneous plate of high-carbon steel cuts in such knives, and Damascus “linings” serve only aesthetic purposes.

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