When I wrote about The Ka-Bar, I mentioned it was an old design, and better-fixed blade devices exist these days. When I wrote that, the knife I had in mind was the ESEE 4. The ESEE 4 is a knife that has benefitted from decades of improving design and modern mission orientation. Unlike the Ka-Bar, the ESEE 4 was not designed as a fighting knife but as a survival, utility, and field knife. The chances of getting in a knife fight are near zero, but the chances of needing a field knife are much higher.
The ESEE 4 comes from Randall’s Adventure, Training, and Equipment Group. These fine fellas are born adventurers with decades of experience. For full disclosure, I have visited the team and made friends with them. However, I loved this knife long before I ever met the men and women behind the scenes. This group teaches a variety of survival-based classes with a focus on surviving the worst environments. They know what works, and the ESEE 4 is designed with that knowledge behind it.
Breaking Down The ESEE 4
The ESEE 4 comes in either a stainless steel model or a carbon steel model. I went with carbon steel. While it doesn’t have the same corrosion resistance as stainless steel, it gets very sharp, it is easier to sharpen, and it stays sharp longer. It does require oil to keep it from rusting, but a little maintenance is not too much to ask.
The ESEE 4 features a short 4.5-inch blade with a 9-inch overall length. The 4.5-inch edge makes the knife very maneuverable and easier to use. It’s never too much knife and never tricky to wield. 4.5 inches seems to be the sweet spot for hard work and easy maneuverability.
The blade is 1.25 inches wide and .187 inches thick. This is a big chunky knife, and the focus is on durability. Yet, the knife only weighs 8 ounces. That’s plenty light, and it’s an easy blade to belt carry. The knife has a full tang, meaning the blade and handle are one complete piece. This is highly desirable as it contributes significantly to knife strength and durability. The handle of the ESEE 4 had removable grip panels that fill out the blade and make it more comfortable to use.
The ESEE 4 comes with either a leather sheath or a molded polymer variant. The polymer will be the more durable option and the more accessible. The leather does provide an old school cool appeal that’s hard to beat.
The ESEE 4 In Use
I’ve been using my ESEE 4 for every hunting season I can escape into. It’s a constant companion when I go to the field. Be it camping, hunting, fishing, and beyond. I’ve used the knife to practice various survival techniques, and I can confidently say I’m well versed in its design.
The ESEE 4 features two G-10 grip panels. These panels are rounded and comfortable. They are designed to fit inside the hand and provide a comfortable grip. Those grip panels are also heavily textured. That texturing sticks the knife to your hand. It doesn’t slip, slide, or move when used heavily and under pressure. Even with shooting gloves the knife stays put. The blade has a small circular cut out and jimping to allow for a steady grip on the knife for more precision-oriented tasks. The grip is still long enough to let you get a full-fingered hold without using the cut out for more forceful and less precise tasks.
The ESEE 4’s blade has a deep and prominent belly that allows for deep and easy cuts. You can easily skin and clean a deer or hog with the ESEE 4. The knife makes long haul endurance-based tasks possible without discomfort or pain. The ESEE 4 conquers heavy-duty work and spares your hands.
The backside of the blade is super flat and squared off. The squared rear makes it easy to strike ferrous rods or to be struck when batoning wood to pieces. Splitting wood logs into tiny pieces is easy, and the ESEE 4 is tough enough to do it. Starting fires with ferrous rods isn’t easy, but the squared-off blade makes the first step of spraying sparks easy.
The guys who designed the ESEE 4 thought of everything when it came to making the world’s finest survival knife. The ESEE 4 isn’t an expensive knife compared to most but has a healthy price tag. I will say it’s well worth every dollar spent.