Pro Tool, which makes the Woodman’s Pal combination tool, and master outdoorsman and writer J. Wayne Fears have designed three new knives that bear his name (top to bottom): the Ultimate Survival Knife, the Ultimate Outdoor Cook Knife, and the Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Knife. J. Wayne knows about everything there is to know about hunting and staying alive in the wilderness, and the knives show the input of someone who knows what the hell he is doing.
All three are made of 1095 cutlery steel, tempered to Rc 54-56. This steel makes a blade that sharpens easily and takes an edge like a razor, but usually requires a fair amount of resharpening. However, these hold their edges like Grim Death itself. Out of curiosity, I cut the top out of a steel acetone can with the Survival Knife. Its edge needed a little retouching, but otherwise it didn’t seem to mind.
Because tool steel rusts, the Deer Hunter’s Knife and the Survival Knife have their blades and tangs epoxy-powder coated. The Cook Knife does not, and if you leave it in your kitchen knife drawer you must stress to all who may use it that if they put it in the washing machine, they will be stabbed with it. Repeatedly.
The Deer Hunters Knife and the Outdoor Cook’s Knife come with handsome handles made of oil-stained ash. The Survival Knife’s handle is made of sharply checkered orange G-10. Ergometrically, it’s about the best handle I have seen on a knife, period. The only one in a league with it is the handle on Chris Reeve’s Pacific model. As for the orange color, it makes eminent good sense. You’re not going to survive long if you lose your knife.
Both the Deer Hunter’s Knife and the Outdoor Cook’s knife come with high quality leather pouch sheaths, while the Ultimate Survival Knife rides in a black-nylon sheath with two keepers and a hard safety insert.
My favorite of the three is the Survival Knife. John Rambo would not approve because it is too small, too light, and way too practical for the movies. You can do damn near anything with it that can be done with a knife, from gutting a deer to stripping bark off trees to performing major surgery. Because of that wonderful handle you can put a great deal of force behind the blade for a long time without your hand cramping up.
These are simple, practical, rugged, affordable working tools that are made in America. There are fancier knives, but I can’t think of any that are more effective. The Deer Hunters Knife and the Outdoor Cook Knife are $89.95; the Survival Knife is $159.95. You can get the specs and other details here.