All posts tagged BHK

I’ve been on a knife kick lately.  Why not?!  I carry a knife every single day – everyone should!  While most of the time I carry a small utility, EDC or “gentleman” folder, I do agree with the experts who recommend having a “one tool option” in your collection.  So, with that in mind, but knowing a “one tool option” is something I’ll rarely use, I forced myself to choose a product from the more broadly affordable end of the spectrum, from a lesser known knife maker, instead of going my usual best of breed, high-end, well known route.  I got my hands on the Pathfinder Exclusive, Jeff White Heavy Duty Camp King, which retails for $175 with a leather sheath, but there are MUCH BETTER options!!



Photo courtesy of Self Reliance Outfitters


First, I gotta say the Jeff White HD Camp King is really a great looking knife.  It looks beautiful.  The overall design is based on the classic French Trapper / French Trade knife commonly found on the American frontier throughout the 18th Century, but still today a very useable design.  The rough, blackened bade, complete with hammer strikes and makers marks, the curly maple scales with simple brass pins all combine to give it an authentic, unfinished look.  This knife has gobs of Second Kind of Cool.  

Second, the Jeff White HD Camp King certainly ticks all the boxes, and has the stuff to make it a “one tool option,”  at least on paper:

  • 6-1/4 inch cutting edge (most experts recommend at least a 5″ blade for a one tool option.)


  • 3/16th inch thick (anything thinner than 5/32 is  generally considered too thin for a one tool option because it could bend under hard, heavy use, such as batoning through hard woods.)


  • 1095 high carbon steel (even though they rust easily, O1 and 1095 are considered great one tool option steels, because they take a wicked edge, sharpen relatively easily in the field, and can throw sparks from a flint.)


  • 90* sharpened spine (useful for tasks like throwing sparks from a ferrocerium rod and for general scraping, in any situation you may not want to use your blade.)


  • Full, exposed tang construction (full tang construction is extremely important for overall strength and durability, especially under hard, heavy use, as it significantly reduces the risk that the cutting edge will break away from the handle.)

Third, the convex grind, an inherently strong design, came razor sharp out of the box.


The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Unfortunately, despite my research (there wasn’t much out there in InterWeb land on this particular knife), and despite how good the Jeff White Heavy Duty Camp King looked on paper, I was very disappointed when I finally put the knife in hand.  There are a few fundamental design flaws, one I consider downright dangerous, that ruin an otherwise potentially viable one tool option.


  • Purely for reference purposes, I wear a men’s Large glove, though I’m no gorilla, and I found the length, and shape of the Jeff White Heavy Duty Camp King handle very uncomfortable.  I just couldn’t get a good, comfortable hold on the knife.  As you see in the pictures below, my hand felt cramped between the butt and the blade in what I would consider a normal hold, and gripping the knife further back on the handle, as if for chopping, was no better, as it didn’t feel like I really had control of the blade.




  • More importantly, I believe the design of the Jeff White HD Camp King knife is downright dangerous for any real-World use.





To be fair to Jeff White, my understanding is that he specializes in 18th Century Reproduction Knives and Accessories, primarily for the reenactment crowd, which is a scene I know very little about.  That said, and while I mean no disrespect to anyone, to me, that sounds like more show than go, more bark than bite, more about looking the part and acting, than real-World hard use.


Net-net, I do not recommend choosing the Jeff White Heavy Duty Camp King for a current day, one tool option.  Just like everything else, and while still extremely useable, the original French Trapper / Trade design has evolved for the better over the last three hundred years or so.  Jeff’s version is a little too true to the original – which makes sense when you consider his primary target audience. 


BETTER Competitive Options, for less money!

There are much better competitive options for the same money, or less!  The ESEE-6, KA-BAR Becker 7, Ontario Knife Company RAT-7and Cold Steel Recon Scout all immediately jump to mind as better options, and can all be purchase for ~$100 – 140.



Just note all of those competitive options are coated.  Ya know, industry trends are funny thing.  Some years back, everyone wanted coated high carbon steel blades, to help prevent rusting.  Back then, it wasn’t a real survival knife if it didn’t have coating.  Of late, coatings have fallen out of fashion.  Some folks simply don’t like the look.  Some say it impedes slicing and cutting performance.  Some fear the coating will rub off over time, possibly into whatever you’re cutting.  In my experience, this can happen during batoning, but is not at all likely while processing game or other food.   Some say it could harbor bacteria.  I’ve never let my blades stay dirty enough to test this out.  Anyway, apparently now, in late 2015,  you need an uncoated blade to have a real survival knife…haha.  I call TOTAL BS on that!!  If the coating bothers you that much, simply strip, or sand it off before using.  

Let’s be honest.  If you’re really in a situation that truly requires your one tool option, and if you’re lucky enough to have your one tool option with you at the time, you’re gonna have much more important things to worry about than whether or not your blade is coated!  I strongly suspect a blade coating won’t be the deciding factor in your survival or sustainability.


Spending a bit more gets you a MUCH BETTER semi-custom blade, and puts you on a higher level.

If you must have an uncoated blade from the factory as your one tool option, or just want to take your knife collection to the next level, Battle Horse Knives (BHK), Bark River Knives and Doug Wilson from Yellow Hawk Custom Kydex all make excellent alternatives for your one tool option, all of which, again, are based on the traditional French Trade / Trapper design.  Just expect to pay in the $250 – 400 range for the choices below.

  • Battle Horse (BHK), offers the Scout Knife and the PLSK1, which can be had in exclusive Pathfinder Editions, or directly from BHK, though they might not be called the exact same thing.



  • Doug Wilson, of Yellow Hawk Custom Kydex, offers the BMF2 system.  While I believe his original BMF2 system is still available for immediate purchase on eBayclick here for info on Mike’s newest BMF2 prototype.  After recently working with Mike on a custom sheath for my Jessmuk JX2 (look for upcoming reviews on both that knife, and the YHCK sheath) I can’t wait to get my hands on one of his new BMF2 designs.  Now that I personally know just how kick-ass, and high-quality his sheath systems are, as well as how much the sheath alone can cost, I really don’t think you’ll find a better value than his BMF2 system!! 

Photo courtesy of Doug Wilson’s eBay Listing


There you have it.  My thoughts on French Trade / Trapper influenced knives that could serve as your One Tool Option in a bet-your-life-on-it situation, including why I don’t think the Pathfinder Exclusive Jeff White Heavy Duty Camp King is a realistic option, and what are some better choices.


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2016 Inside The X Ring.

It was late on a dark, bone-chilling, record setting February night in the Northeast.  The family needed a fire.  After too much time cooped-up in the house, I needed a quick Bushcraft fix.  So out came my trusty BHK (Battle Horse Knives) CanteenShop Woodcrafter, and my BHK Small Workhorse to prep kindling, and practice my feather sticking skills.


Both the are made from O1 tool steel, which means they take a wicked, shaving sharp edge, exhibit good edge retention, and are fairly easy to resharpen.  You DO have to keep them oiled to prevent rust.  (Neither would be my choice for a dedicated in-shore / off-shore fishing knife, nor for any kind of long-term use in a salt-water environment.)

The BHK CanteenShop Woodcrafter, the bigger of the two, has a 4-inch, 5/32-inch thick (new versions are 1/8″ thick, in-line with current trends), spear-point blade, and features the Bushcrafter’s favorite, classic Scandanavian (Scandi) grind, along with a 90* sharpened spine for throwing sparks from a firesteel, like a ferrocerium (ferro) rod.  Built specifically for Bushcraft use, the BHK CanteenShop Woodcrafter excels at tasks like batoning (splitting) wood for kindling, making feather sticks, making bow drill sets and other carving / woodworking tasks, like making tent stakes.  Though they’ll certainly get the job done, Scandi’s generally aren’t the best food prep knives, or slicers.

The BHK Small Workhorse, the smaller of the two, has a 3 1/8-inch, 1/8-inch thick, drop-point blade, and features the more general-use Saber grind.  A scaled-down version of another BHK favorite, the Small Workhorse is specifically designed as a hunting knife, for field dressing small to medium sized game, like whitetail deer.  However, with it’s more general-purpose Saber ground blade, the Small Workhorse also excels as an EDC, utility, camping / campcraft and food prep knife.  Me thinks it’ll make a great bird-n-trout knife.  As long as you respect the limits imposed by blade length, the Small Workhorse also makes a very good Bushcraft knife.  In fact, most people, especially beginners, have an easier time making feather sticks with a Saber ground blade than they do with a Scandi.  Most of those finer, thinner, smaller, tighter curls you see in the pics below came from the Small Workhorse.  The only thing I’d like to see on the Small Workhorse is a 90* sharpened spine, like that on the Woodcrafter and other BHK Bushcraft knives.  I may just add that myself.

Suffice it to say, both are GREAT, American-Made, heirloom quality knives, and both are an absolute pleasure to use!

I’ll tell ya, carving some curls isn’t a bad way to relax…

IMG_5356   IMG_5357

IMG_5361  IMG_5363

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.

Earlier this month I was an official media guest of the NRA at the Great American Outdoor Show.  It’s  a big show, with plenty to see and do. The Great American Outdoor Show is open to the public, and open for business!  That’s right, in many cases, you can buy products and book trips right on the spot!



Direct form their site, The Great American Outdoor Show is a nine day event celebrating hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions that are treasured by millions of Americans and their families. The show features over 1,000 exhibitors ranging from shooting manufacturers to outfitters to fishing boats and RV’s, and archery to art covering 650,000 square feet of exhibit hall space! Not to mention a jam packed schedule including country concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and much more!”

A major highlight for me was ALL of the major firearms and accessory manufacturers in attendance, who brought plenty of guns and products for attendees to handle, and plenty of expert reps to happily answer your questions.

Another personal favorite were the many new, smaller, niche-market vendors I met, some with extremely innovative, exciting new products.  It’s the quintessential, grass-roots American Dream in action. 

I spent the better par of the day and evening at the show, but there were so many manufacturers and vendors to visit, products to see, demos to watch and seminars to attend, I wish I had at least two full days to cover everything!


Highlights, with Specials Thanks To…

Major Firearms & Accessory Manufacturers

Representatives from Mossberg, SIG Sauer, and Winchester Repeating Arms all spent a lot of time with me discussing their products, giving me detailed, hands-on demos, or even just finding product catalogs when they weren’t otherwise available.  I certainly appreciate their attention.

Geissele Automatics
Based in North Wales, PA, Geissele Automatics makes products for “the Competitor, the Warfighter and the Protector.”  In short, their triggers are the best you can put in your firearm!  This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the U.S. Government.  In fact, the DOD tapped Geissele for triggers for semi-automatic sniper rifles, and M4 carbines.  (Now you understand why a Geissele S3G found it’s way into my own AR.)  Geissele brought some great guns to the Great American Outdoor Show, all of which were, of course, fitted with Geissele triggers.  They also had a bunch of trick, innovative trigger housings that let attendees try out the triggers without having to install them in a firearm, and without damaging the trigger mechanism.  I spent a lot of time talking to James about their products, the guns they brought, and my own build.  The forest green AK they brought, with their new ALG AK-47 Trigger was lusted after by many!



Up & Coming Firearms Manufacturers

Bond Arms, makers of the Derringer style Hand Cannon, and  IWI (Israel Weapon Industries), were on hand, and very happy to speak with me at length, about their products.

Since I had already highlighted Bond Arms in my 2015 SHOT Show coverage, it was great to get more hands-on with their product line, and to meet some of the key folks behind this innovative company, including President Gordon Bond.  As I examined all the different models of Hand Cannons, the interchangeable barrels, beautifully crafted grips, holsters and even Buck based knives, the words that kept coming to mind were, functional, overbuilt, high-class, and quality.  I can’t wait to spend some time at the range with a few of these models!

BondArms2  BondArms


IWI US, Inc. was also on-hand with an impressive selection of UZI PRO pistols, GALIL’s and TAVOR bullpups. In case your not familiar, IWI has an 80 year history, dating back to the (IMI) Israel Military Industries, of producing some of, “the most innovative, and legendary firearm brands used by militaries, law enforcement agencies and security personnel around the world.   IWI’s TAVOR SAR, launched in 2013, was the company’s first firearm squarely aimed (pun intended) at the US civilian / commercial market.  New 2015, after an almost 25 year hiatus, the AK-47 based GALIL ACE family of riles and pistols is coming back to the US civilian / commercial market. One of the IWI reps spent a lot of time with me reviewing their products – some of which I had never before seen up close, or wasn’t familiar with at all.  She even took the time to field-strip the TAVOR, right there, in mere seconds, with nothing more than a pen.  (The fact that she probably could have just as easily killed me with the same pen did not escape me…)  I can’t wait to get my hands on a GALIL for a detailed review!





Up and Coming Products

Viper Holsters, LLC.A good holster is like a comfortable pair of jeans.  If you don’t find a good, comfortable holster, you’ll likely start leaving your gun at home.  That’s not a good thing.  Unfortunately, you can’t test holsters until you buy them, and with an overwhelming array of choices out there – from super cheap to luxury items that are more fashion than function – most of us end up with a rather expensive box of “not quite right” holsters.  Well, Joe from Viper Holsters noticed this trend, and has created a line of Kydex and leather products to address the need for economical, high-quality, comfortable holsters.  Joe highlighted some of the product features that set his Viper Holsters apart from existing competitors, and it all makes perfect sense to me.  I did see both  quality and feature improvements in the samples Joe highlighted, when compared to commonly known competitors.  I’m hoping to get my hands on some of Joe’s Viper Holsters for a more in-depth review and  comparison.

TacticalWalls – This company’s “hidden in plain sight” idea is gonna make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  Let’s face it, if you have guns in the home, it’s a major responsibility to keep those guns out of the wrong hands.  At the same time, if you have guns in the home for protection, quick, easy access to your guns, and probably when you least expect it, is important for all the obvious reasons.  Made right here in the USA of high-quality (real wood), furniture grade components with high-end fit and finish, TacticalWalls has come up with a novel solution to both the security, and quick-access challenges.   I spent a lot of time speaking with Chris, and am really impressed by not only the basic idea, but how well it’s executed, the fit & finish, and the people behind TacticalWalls.  I’ll tell ya, even the Sig Sauer folks, who were right across the isle, couldn’t get enough, and helped make sure the TacticalWalls booth didn’t go unnoticed.  Look for an upcoming, detailed product review.

 TacticalWallsMirror TacticalWallsShelf





Knives, Holsters & Other Gear

Battle Horse Knives – Let’s face it, guns and knives go together like peanut butter and jelly!  If you’re into the shooting scene – be it for recreational, tactical, or hunting reasons –  you’re probably into the broader outdoor scene, to include fishing, camping, hiking and bushcraft.  This means, you’re probably  into knives.  WellBHK makes custom quality knives at production prices, so you won’t be afraid to actually take ’em out and use em in the woods!  Since I already have a couple of their knives and sheaths,  it was great to see them, and the rest of their product line in person, at the Great American Outdoor Show.  Look for some future in-depth reviews, and a special one-off project already in the works with BHK.   In the meantime, you gotta check ’em out: Battle Horse Knives


Ballistol – “The world’s most useful and environmentally friendly lubricant.”  I first learned of Ballistol from fellow firearms enthusiast and product reviewer Hickok45, and his Youtube channel.  (Hickok45 is on a very short-list of video bloggers, or vloggers, I find spot-on in terms of their logic & information, and first-rate in terms of quality.)  Supposedly good for firearms, knives, tools & hardware, leather, home & garden,  marine, road & trail, I’ve been seeking out Ballistol ever since.  I walked away from the Great American Outdoor Show with some product in hand, so look for an upcoming review.


Cold Steel – I’m a big fan of their products, which can easily be summed up as High-Value.  The Cold Steel Recon 1 and Voyager knives, both with the Tri-Ad lock, are regarded by many as two of the best hard-use folders on the market.  Cold Steel was in attendance with product on hand, and some phenominal pricing.  In fact, the Cold Steel Recon 4 and Lawman products I wanted were long gone.

OK Auto 4WD & Tire While guns, knives, related gear, fishing equipment, hunting guides, and taxidermy services dominated that show, there was a section dedicated to ATV’s, RV’s, 4×4’s and boats.  The guys from OK Auto 4WD & Tire spent a lot of time with me showing off tricked out vehicles from their shop and AEV.  If you’re not familiar with OK, click this link for a great, in-depth write-up.


Finally, I’d like to thank the NRA, America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group, for not only such a great event, but also for being such gracious, easy to work with media & press hosts!  I’m certainly looking forward to the next large scale NRA event!


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.