Written by Matt
It’s no secret that I am a fan of ESEE. I am a fan of the blades, but perhaps even more, a fan of the people behind the company. They just do business the way it is supposed to be done. They offer killer blade designs, constructed from top-quality materials, at a price that doesn’t break the bank, and they stand behind their products 100%. I have modeled a lot of my business operations practices off of the standard that ESEE has set in the industry. In the past year, ESEE has expanded their knife offerings into a series that they have dubbed, Camp-Lore. The Camp Lore series has been designed for, and have been very popular amongst the survival and bush craft community.
The first three blades released for the Camp Lore Series were the CR2.5, JG3 and RB3 (click the link to see the specs for the original three), and then last summer, ESEE released the PR4, which has been a huge success for them.
The JG5, the newest edition to the ESEE to the Camp Lore series was unveiled at Blade Show 2018, and was announced as a Smokey Mountain Knife Works exclusive offering. ESEE gave official release date for the JG5 as August 31st, but Smokey Mountain knife works has already begun to ship the first preorders that were made, in fact I had the two that I ordered delivered to my doorstep this week,
The JG5 was designed by ESEE survival expert, James Gibson, modeled after the “Nessmuk” knife that was carried by mid-19thcentury adventurer, George Washington Sears, who was known for his writings and early advocacy of conservation.
To anyone that is into camping, hiking, hunting, or just general EDC, it’s no secret that ESEE makes some of the best survival and bushcraft knives on the market. The small fixed blade Izula has become a staple in thousands of EDC kits across the globe, whereas the ESEE 3, 4, 5, and 6 are the go-to for many people heading off into the woods.
ESEE has recently expanded their line of blades in a series that they are calling Camp Lore. The Camp Lore knives are simple designs, but they are rugged. The four knives in the Camp Lore series were designed by individuals who come from unique survival backgrounds, and are well respected in their fields. All of the Camp Lore knives are made from 1095 carbon steel, which is the same steel that ESEE uses in their traditional lineup. Unlike the traditional ESEE lineup, the Camp Lore knives come uncoated, which allows the user to develop a natural patina on the blade.
ESEE Camp-Lore RB3
The ESEE Camp Lore RB3 was designed by Reuben Bolieu – a writer, photographer, and martial arts trainer, that has spent the last 30 years traveling the globe in search of new adventures. Reuben is a well-respected expert in primitive survival techniques and edged weapons, and has gained a reputation for his advocacy of ultralight gear while out on adventure.
The Izula ESEE is one of my go-to EDC blades for more reasons than I have time to articulate into words. The Izula is small yet rugged, simplistic yet robust, and is capable of doing almost any task you can ask of it. The ESEE Izula is a small fixed blade (SFB) knife that is perfect for everything from bushcraft chores to yard work, and from opening mail to food prep. The ESSEE Izula will be able to take on just about any challenge that you can throw at it.
About a year ago I chose to add a defensive folding knife to my EDC. After a long decision process, I finally settled on the BM810 Contego from Benchmade’s Black Class (military and law enforcement line). After almost 12 months of carrying this blade, it’s time that I give the Contego an objective review.
The Contego has a huge blade! At 3.98”, it’s not your typical EDC utility knife, but it wasn’t designed to be. The long blade gives you the reach that you would want should the blade ever need to be deployed in a defensive role. The edge is long and is great for cutting and slicing. The blade is made from CPM-M4 high-speed tool steel and takes an awesome edge. The Contego’s CPM-M4 blade holds its sharpness longer than any other blade steel I have ever used (D2, 154CM, S30V, AUS-8). In the year (almost) that I have owned the Contego, it has only needed sharpening twice – most of the time, a few strokes on the strop does the job. The only warning that needs to be heeded about the CPM-M4 is that it is not stainless steel and the edge needs a light coat of oil every so often to keep rust away.
The “reverse tanto” is an awesome blade design. I have always loved the tip strength, and thrusting performance you get from a tanto blade; but they are hard to sharpen, and you lose a lot of the cutting surface. Benchmade’s reverse tanto fixes that problem. The angled tanto tip is on the non-cutting side of the blade, while the edge itself has a more traditional look and feel.
Most gearheads and disciples of the church of EDC carry a blade – after all, it is one of the most fundamental tools that we can carry. A good blade can be used for many tasks, from breaking down cardboard to food preparation; but how many of us carry a blade dedicated to defensive purposes? I never did. In fact, it never really crossed my mind because I carry a gun. But about a year ago, I decided I wanted to start carrying a knife that would be dedicated only for defense.
Why did I decide to carry a defensive folder?
There were two things that sold me on the fact that I “needed” to carry a defensive folder.
Essential Features (for me).
Once I decided that I was going to carry a knife that would be designated for defensive purposes, I began to list some of the features that I considered essential:
1. A blade made of one of the following steels (154cm, S30V, D2, or CPM-M4)
From my experience, these steels out perform almost all other types of blade steel in terms of durability, ability to take an edge, and edge retention after heavy use. I know blade steel is a debatable issue, but I like the aforementioned steels and wanted to stick with one of those.
2. A blade length of at least 3.5 inches.
If I am going to carry a blade for defensive purposes, I want it to have some reach. I want it to be able to inflict some damage if I have to thrust, while also having a long cutting edge.
3. Full steel liners.
Obviously, a well-made fixed blade knife is going to be stronger than a well-made folder, but carrying a fixed blade was not an option for me. The biggest weakness on folding knives is the pivot point, and while you will never make a folder as strong as a fixed blade, you can combat some of the weakness of the pivot with steel liners to hold the blade firmly in place.
3. G10 or micarta scales (handles).
From my experience, G10 and/or micarta offer a superior grip when compared to other materials. If I would ever have to use my knife to defend myself, I want to make sure that I have a positive grip that wont slip (even when wet). G10 and micarta both offer excellent texture that will stay firmly in your grip in the worst of conditions.
4. A solid locking mechanism.
I am a huge fan of the strength and durability of Benchmade’s Axis Lock. Because of that, Benchmade had the early lead when it came to making my final decision. There are many great liner-lock knives, but from my experience, the Axis Lock is in a league of its own (not to mention the wicked fast deployment of the Axis).
5. A Tanto (or similar) tip.
I like the strength of knives with Tanto tips. While they are a PIA to sharpen correctly, the tips of Tanto knifes are unrivaled for thrusting capability.
6. A tip up, low-profile pocket clip.
To me, tip up is essential for fast deployment. I also wanted a clip that would allow the knife to ride low in the pocket for ultimate concealability.
7. Keep it under $150
There are some who can spend upwards of $500 on a custom blade and feel fine about it – I am not one of them. In fact, I have a hard time spending more than $100 on a knife, even if I know I am going to carry it for a long time. I set an absolute spending ceiling of $150 on the knife I was looking for. With the type of blade steel (and other features) I was looking for, I would have been hard pressed to find a heavy duty, tactical folder for much less.
I looked at a ton of knives from various manufacturers such as Spyderco, Benchmade, Emerson, Zero Tolerance, and Cold Steel, but in the end, only one stood up to all my criterion - the Benchmade 810 Contego. I have been carrying the 810 for almost 9 months now and I have been nothing but impressed.
(A thorough review for the Benchmade 810 Contego will be forthcoming).
In the End
As with any weapon that I carry, I hope to never have to use my knife in a defensive scenario. Moreover, if I ever find myself in a situation where a weapon must be used to defend my life, or the life of others, I hope to be able to use a pistol. That being said, I have a knife that was designed from the ground up to be a hard-use fighting folder. As is the case with most of us EDCers, I would rather be over prepared than under prepared.
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