During a recent visit, a friend of mine was showing me his new rifle. As I handled the firearm, noticeable scratches were visible on the butt stock. When I inquired about the damage, my friend pointed to the knife clipped to his pants pocket. Apparently, when the stock came into contact with the clip, it marred the pristine wood finish. And that wasn’t the first time I’d seen this type of damage.
Don’t get me wrong, I like folding knives that can be clipped to the edge of almost anything, but the exposed clip can scratch whatever it comes into contact with.
The easy solution to this problem is either to switch the knife to the opposite pocket (which many forget to do), or simply carry a pocket folder without a clip. In this arena, there is no more famous folding knife manufacturer than W. R. Case & Sons.
In 1889, the Case brothers, William, Russell, Jean, John and Andrew, began selling knives in small New York towns from the back of their wagon. By the turn-of-the century, the Case brand was well established and seen as a manufacturer of quality cutlery. Currently owned by Zippo Manufacturing, the more-than-a-century-old firm is still going strong with a line of pocket folders to meet every cutlery need, including big game hunting.
The Case Hunter-Trapper folder (pattern number 6354GS SS) has been my own choice for many years. A simple slip-joint (non-locking) three bladed folder, the knife combines three separate blades (elongated clip, gut hook and saw blade) in a unitized pocketknife configuration. Overall, the entire knife weighs just 5.6 ounces and measures a compact 4 1/8 inches when closed. The knife frame is stainless with brass liners, nickel silver bolsters and each of the blades crafted from Case’s proprietary Tru-Sharp Surgical stainless steel. The handle scales are jigged (resembles natural stag) amber bone, with the traditional oval-shaped Case shield.
The main blade is a 3 1/4 inch elongated clip (similar to the Turkish style clip found on most bird knives) that is useful for general field dressing, skinning and trophy work. The blade features a flat grind with a traditional nail nick for manual opening. The gut hook blade is also 3 1/4 inch-long, possesses a deep and pronounced hook and a nail nick to facilitate opening. The final blade in this trio is a 3 7/8 inch-long bone saw blade with the tip fashioned into a flat ground screwdriver. The saw blade is also opened by means of an integrated nail nick and like its other two blade mates is highly polished for ease of maintenance.
Even though the blade steel has its own proprietary nomenclature, in reality it’s nothing more than typical 420HC (high carbon) stainless steel (widely used by both Buck Knives and Gerber). The basic steel formulation contains: .45% carbon, .80% manganese, 13% chromium, .80% silicon and less than .05% nickel. This formulation features good corrosion resistance, solid hardenability and excellent tensile strength. And the extra-hard microcrystalline structure provides the necessary hardness to produce a stable and sharp edge. Rockwell hardened to about Rc 56 this steel is easy to sharpen, but has somewhat limited edge life.
The three blades contained in this knife frame provide the necessary edges to perform basic field care (gutting/skinning), slitting open tough animal hide without compromising the underlying viscera or muscle tissue, as well as easily dealing with cutting through bone and tough cartilage. And all three blades are quickly opened or closed without hesitation or dealing with difficult unlocking procedures.
I’ve used my own Case Hunter-Trapper folder on deer, antelope and wild pigs and the performance doesn’t disappoint. Due to the sleek design, the knife is almost unnoticeable in my pocket and always ready at hand. Moreover, the irregularity of the jigged bone handle scales provides excellent hand-to-knife contact without the danger of an accidental slip when working under difficult conditions. Priced at $79.99 (suggested retail), this particular Case knife model has been one of most often used edged tools for basic big game field care.