Spartan Blades CQB tool. Real world tests on blades are a challenge when that blade has one primary purpose: to push through flesh quickly, again and again. To test the edge as well as the CQB tool’s durability, I took it out commercial fishing in Alaska. For 30 straight days, I used it in an abrasive salt-water environment. I didn’t clean it or even wipe it off. It saw the insides of dozens of sockeye salmon, countless coho and a handful of king salmon. At the end of the season, I washed it off and checked the blade: still exceptionally sharp, having lost little of its edge.
ESEE knives are popular amongst Loadout Room writers. From the SERE instructor to our editor, ESEE knives receive a lot of praise and for a good reason. I have owned an ESEE 6 for years, but I only recently got my hands on the ESEE-3 MIL, and it certainly does not disappoint. The ESEE-3 MIL may be the smallest out of the ESEE lineup, but its a versatile knife tailored to meet the needs of military personnel, law enforcement, and bushcrafters alike.
- Overall Length: 8.31″
- Cutting Edge Length: 3.38″
- Overall Blade Length: 3.88″
- Maximum Thickness: .125″
- 1095 Carbon Steel, 55 – 57 Rc.
- Weight: 5.2 Ounces (Knife Only)
- Weight: 9.3 Ounces (Knife w/ Sheath)
- Molded Sheet & Clip Plate
My thoughts and review
Superior heat treatment process
Knife experts know that Rowen Manufacturing uses a superior heat treatment process that makes ESEE Knives some of the best outdoors knives in the world. For those of you who are unfamiliar, heat treatment for knives is the process of altering the properties in the steel by putting it through extreme temperatures. You can have two knives of the same exact steel, but depending on the heat treatment applied, one can immensely outperform the other. The heat treatment process will determine how hard and tough your knife is as well as how well it can hold its edge. For this reason, heat treatment processes are proprietary and therefore a manufacturer’s reputation is monumental to its success. Rowen Manufacturing and ESEE Knives have a prestige that is well-deserved and never fails to disappoint.
For those of you more interested in learning about the heat treatment process, you can check out this 15-minute video for an expert illustration.
The ESEE-3 MIL’s size is probably the most important factor to consider. I can’t offer any general reassurances on the matter, but I can say that I find the knife to be a convenient size and weight. The handle feels small in the hand, but it isn’t so small that you can’t achieve a strong grip on the knife. The blade’s choil and aggressive jimping along the spine help tremendously with controlling the knife. I find that the ESEE-3 MIL’s size adds to its versatility rather than being a drawback. In certain environments, carrying a smaller fixed blade may be preferable to avoid appearing too menacing. For those of you who want a concealable knife, the ESEE-3 MIL is a practical size to do so. The biggest appeal of this knife is that you can always have it on you without having to worry about additional weight, bulkiness, or discomfort.
1095 steel isn’t something you would see in an EDC folder, but it is popular for bushcraft and survival knives for a reason. 1095 is a high carbon steel, it is designed to hold up to the abuse that you can expect to put it through in a survival situation. In addition to being an ideal steel, Rowen Manufacturing’s heat treatment brings out the best of the steel. The ESEE-3 MIL is going to be a knife that sharpens well, but still holds its edge, and doesn’t break on you when you need it most. The one downside for all of its perks is that it isn’t corrosion-resistant. ESEE Knives require continued maintenance, but the upkeep is minimal. A word of advice, if you plan to use your ESEE knife to prepare food, ensure that you are using a non-toxic oil or lubricant when maintaining it.
If I could change one thing about the ESEE-3 MIL, it would be to replace the Micarta handle. Micarta makes for a strong and durable handle, but the material offers poor texture and therefore, a poor grip on the knife. Fortunately, the scales are replaceable, and there are other aftermarket options. The Micarta handle isn’t an absolute deal-breaker though. It looks good on the ESEE-3 MIL, it just isn’t the most practical material that I would want on a handle, especially if I might have to use it in a wet environment. I will say that the canvas Micarta does feel slightly more textured than the linen Micarta handles, but certainly not as much as it looks to be (looks can be deceiving).
ESEE boasts a 100% unconditional lifetime guarantee. According to their warranty page, “This means if you break it, we will repair or replace it. We will not question the validity of your warranty claim for a broken knife. Warranty is lifetime and transferable.” Considering that the ESEE 3 is about a $100 knife, more than an average Joe would want to spend, it’s comforting to know that you can push your ESEE knife to its absolute limits.
- Lightweight (5.2 oz)
- Superior heat treatment
- Tough enough to handle any task
- Micarta handle can feel a little too smooth
- Will easily rust if not maintained
ESEE knives have rightfully earned their place among the military, bushcraft, and outdoors communities. Their popularity stems not just from their aesthetic look, but their proven and reliable performance in the field. The ESEE-3 MIL may not be a heavy duty bushcraft knife like its big brothers, but its combination of features makes it the most versatile knife capable of performing many field tasks. The ESEE-3 MIL is my fixed knife of choice when it comes to a day hike or short wilderness trip. If the ESEE-3 MIL seems too small for your liking, consider the ESEE 4. At the time of writing this review, the ESEE-3 MIL has an MSRP of $188.60 but is available for about $100 from other online retailers. Additionally, ESEE offers exclusive discounts for all law enforcement and active duty military service members.
As always, if you have any experience with ESEE Knives, let us know what you think in the comments below!
I love thick knives. They survive the rigors of the field better than the thinner blades I’ve seen in many “survival” and “utility” knives. I use my knives quite a bit. At a minimum, they are doing 1-2 weeks in the field per month building fires and gutting animals. I’ve seen many knives break in my time being in the military. Overall I see many trends that lead to knives failing. These experiences directly influence the way I look at knives. It’s not often I’m impressed when I pull a knife out of the box. The Toor Knives Raider did it for me.
This knife was designed by professionals for professionals. The Raider is a 3/16″ thick knife measuring at 4.25″ with a full tang, a deep choil and a thumb rise for aggressive work in adverse conditions. The blade is made of CPM S35vn steel, which is, in my opinion, one of the best choices for a utility knife. As it offers excellent wear resistance and isn’t terribly difficult to sharpen. The handle of the Toor Knives Raider is Maroon G10 or it can be customized with many different options via the Toor Knives website.
The sheath that comes with the knife is functional and simple and can be ordered as a belt or MOLLE mounted system. The retention of the knife is excellent and I have no qualms about it staying in place during exercises or actual situations. One thing that really impresses me right off the bat is the balance, the balance of the knife is an often overlooked but none the less important feature of any knife. A well-balanced knife can lead to less fatigue and more intuitive use and makes using the blade feel much more natural. The Raider has a balance dead center in its choil which is perfect for the vast majority of people.
I still need more time on this knife before I can give a definitive answer. However, my initial impression is that this knife is going to be my new go-to knife for survival. The simplicity, robust steel, and strong sheath make for a great package.
Arc’teryx apparel can be found in some military units, and exclusively seen on the new History TV show Six, but how about using it in your civilian life without being too tactical? You may have read a few of my previous posts in continuing to acquire and test low-visibility clothing that makes carrying a concealed firearm efficient and with minimal printing to blend into areas or while operating abroad. The Skyline shirt is a slick-looking, airy, long sleeve, moisture wicking Diem™ polyester shirt with comfort stretch and contemporary styling that is great for concealed carry while maintaining a high degree of professionalism at both formal and informal events.
Arc’teryx updates the classic button down with technical performance and clean, urban lines. Light, trim fitting and quick drying, the Skyline LS Shirt can easily wick moisture and stays cool. Articulated patterning, mechanical stretch and gusseted underarms extend ergonomic freedom, and the soft, UPF 50 + Diem™ polyester fabric is wrinkle resistant, making the Skyline a smart choice for the athletic worker, traveler, and concealed firearm carrier.
The shirt can be worn either tucked or with a more modern untucked look. The cuffs fit over large crown watches as well as any of FitBit or Apple Watches and are made with snaps to facilitate the transition to rolled sleeves for an even more casual look. The traditional oxford button down style shirt is replaced with hidden snaps that give the shirt a formal appearance without looking out-of-place in an informal environment. The snaps also provide rapid and unrestricted access to your firearm when the situation arises. The moisture wicking fabric allows you to still be athletic without looking like a you just went swimming. While the site states it is a great shirt of warm environments, I have worn this shirt in many temperate environments and functions just as well in either.
Features of the Shirt:
- Diem™—100 polyester, 110 g/m². Lightweight, breathable, stretchy textile that is quick-drying, wrinkle resistant
- articulated patterning for unrestricted mobility
- front placket with hidden snap closures
- snaps cuff & sleeve configuration
- UPF Rating 50+
Check out this Video for a more in-depth view:
Gear seen in this article
- Arc’teryx – Skyline shirt LS for $99.00
- Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement Knife for $55.24
- Crossbreed Classic Gun Belt for $59.95
- Tactical Distributors (TD) – Stand Your Ground Jeans (SYG) for $66.95
- Bravo Concealment AIWB Custom 1911Holster for $69.99 & Colt Defender 1911 .45cal with Pachmayr grips for $899.00
As seen in Video
- Marathon Search & Rescue Divers Automatic (GSAR) –USMC watch w/ leather NATO Strap– for $1300.00 watch $65.00 for leather strap
- Fitbit Surge Black for $249.95
Not every encounter or engagement is going to be a static target 25 yards away. Most attacks happen within what’s called the combative bubble. If you were to draw a circle around yourself that was 7 yards from your centerline, that is your combative bubble. Anything that happens within this 7 yards will more likely than not happen too quickly for you to present your primary weapon (your pistol). In this case, you need to have a backup plan and that plan typically is a blade.
Now that we have determined that your secondary weapon is a blade, we could go down a rat hole for hours about what type of blade, type of steel, the design, and carry options. I recently wrote up an article about a Navy SEAL who ended up dispatching a pirate using his blade. In that article, I discuss the reasoning behind a fixed blade over a folding knife.
When seconds count you want a fixed blade. Folding knives are great to have for everyday carry stuff, but when it comes to a secondary weapon for defense I want a fixed blade that I can easily deploy and not have to worry about opening the knife (If it’s a folder) or the lock failing under stress. There are several companies in the industry that make concealable fixed blade knives for this purpose.
Take a look at the following video to see Kyle Defoor discuss using a blade in a close quarters combatives scenario.
*featured Image courtesy of AMTAC Shooting
Recently Bill Rapier of AMTAC Shooting has been posting some photos of an interesting knife and sheath combination. When asked about it, Bill pointed me to his new website, AMTAC Blades to sign up for updates of the release which is on Thanksgiving Day. Here is what little we know about the blade, courtesy of his website.
The Northman is a small fixed blade knife designed to replace the cutting tool carried in your pocket. Quickly deployable and rugged enough for backcountry use, this blade is also great for combatives. The blade, firesheath, trainer, and storage sheath are included.
- Steel: M390
- Blade thickness: 5/32
- Blade length: 3.5 inches
- Overall length: 6 7/8 inches
- Blade weight: 4.3 oz
- Firesheath weight: 1.6 oz
View this post on Instagram
Important things that fit in your pocket. #amtacshooting #amtacblades #sayoctactical #gustavomachadobjj #atienzakali #proofresearch #blackhillsammo #vortexoptics #blackpointtactical #headhunterblades #sayoc #coreshootingsolutions #jakehobackknives #vdmsr #usnightvision #max_venom_product_group #kuiu #hillpeoplegear #surefire
I was immediately intrigued by the photos and description of the blade. So many concealable fixed blades out there are built for just defensive purposes, not really any utility work. The Northman is designed for both, plus the sheath comes with a ferro rod built into it. How cool is that! I’ve already signed up for the updates, and you should too.