ESEE 4 Survival Knife Review

Randall Adventure Training has been around since 1997 as a military training school in the art of jungle survival. They also trained law enforcement and civilians in jungle survival. Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin realized that there weren’t any knives best suited for what they were teaching. So they developed their own line. The very first knife design that they developed was the RTAK. For them to be able to produce this knife, they signed a five-year contract with Ontario Knives. Jeff and Mike then wanted to, “build a higher quality line of knives outside of the mass production capabilities of Ontario”, so they began their own company which they named RAT Cutlery. However, they later changed their name to ESEE to avoid confusion. They currently make fixed blades and survival gear in the United States of America. ESEE focuses on making survival knives that can take heavy use and a hard beating. They have a very loyal following because of how reliable their knives are and because the knives are always backed by a warranty; one of the best warranties in the knife industry. Today I decided to focus on one of their knives in particular—the ESEE 4.


The ESEE 4 is what they call the “wilderness” model of the ESEE 3. Some of the main differences in the two knives are that the ESEE 4 has a thicker blade. It is a stronger, heavier duty version of the ESEE 3, but it is not as tough as the ESEE 5. The ESEE 4 is mainly designed to be a heavier duty camping knife—a knife that can stand up to the adventures of the woods. Many people carry this knife as their everyday carry knife, because it is a dependable knife that can stand up to almost any task. Yet, it is not a huge knife like the ESEE 5.


The blade on this knife is a 4.5-inch blade. Of this length, you can cut with 4.1 inches of it. The thickness of the blade is .188 inches. You can get this blade in either a partially serrated version or a plain edge option. This blade is shorter than the ESEE 6 blade, and really it is shorter than most outdoor or survival knife’s blade, but having the shorter blade makes this knife a better candidate for a survival situation. With the smaller blade, you have more control over it. This means that you can skin, cut, and even use the knife for sewing. The knife has a full tang, which means that the steel of the blade extends all the way through to the butt of the handle. Having a full tang gives you a more durable knife that can take on the heavier duty tasks that you throw at it. If you are using this knife for a survival situation, you are going to be very grateful that you have a full tang. Another huge benefit of having a full tang knife is that if your handle breaks, which it never should, but if it does, you still have a handle on your blade. You can wrap almost anything around the bottom half of the steel and you still have a full knife.


The blade is flat ground and has a drop point silhouette. The drop point design makes this a great candidate for using on almost any purpose. It has a large belly, which helps slice things. The drop point style gets its name because the point of the blade is low compared to the spine. Some pros of the drop point design are that the energy of cutting starts to disappear as it approaches the tip, which gives you more control. A drop point makes for a great hunting knife because it excels at skinning. The shape of the blade also works very well for pushing strokes, which is what you do when you are shaving wood to make tinder. It also is fantastic for survival situations, because you do have a strong, controlled tip. The spine of the knife is a thicker spine, and that along with the drop point make the knife fantastic for batoning. However, because of the thick spine and the drop point this is not a good knife for piercing and stabbing.


The blade on this knife has a large choil, which is the unsharpened part of the blade that connects to the handle. Because of the size of the choil, it makes the blade easier to sharpen than a knife without a choil. This blade on this knife is a crazy sharp blade that can hold an edge adequately.


On the spine of the blade, there is jimping. Jimping is serrations that are on the back of the blade. These serrations give your thumb a place to sit and add texture so that you can have a better grip while performing intricate cutting details.



The steel of this blade is 1095 high carbon steel. This steel is tough, but it is not a stainless steel. This means that the knife is going to be prone to rusting, staining, and corrosion. To prevent the staining, rusting, and corrosion, ESEE powder coats the knife. You still need to make sure the blade stays as dry as you can. Another thing you can do to extend the life of the steel is to lubricate it. By lubricating it after use, you can prevent stains and rusts. The powder coating on this blade is a thicker coating, which cuts down on your slicing abilities.  Unfortunately, this steel is also more prone to chipping than some other steels that you could find. But a pro of the 1095 steel is that it makes the blade very easy to sharpen, even in the field or on the go.

ESEE noticed its users distress over the poor quality steel on the original version, so they have recently released a new version of the 4. This new blade is made out of 440C stainless steel. This steel is very resistant to corrosion. This is a high strength steel with moderate corrosion resistance. It has good hardness and wear resistance.  This is a better choice of steel if you are going to be using it for your outdoor adventures and tasks. But, the 1095 steel is a tougher steel. This steel is also uncoated, which makes it a more suitable knife for slicing.

Because the 1095 steel is tougher than the 440C steel, you will get ESEE’s lifetime warranty with the 1095. You do not get the lifetime warranty if you choose the 440C steel. One of the most commonly heard complaints about the ESSE 4 is the two options of steel you are presented with. But, if ESEE were to truly upgrade the type and quality of steel, you would have to pay a much higher price for the knife.



The handle on this knife is made out of linen Micarta scales. Linen Micarta is one of the most common forms of Micarta that you are going to find. It is made similarly to G-10. To build linen Micarta, you take layers of linen cloths and soak them in phenolic resin. The finished material is lightweight, strong, and it looks classier than G10. Micarta really has no surface texture because it is so smooth to touch. But, because this handle is made out of scales, you will have a very good grip on your handle. This grip remains whether the handle is wet or dry. Another big bonus about having such a large choil is that when you need to choke up on the knife, this choil will work as a finger groove.


ESEE has been known for how well they design their handles. This specific knife is definitely not exempt from that reputation. The handle on this knife is the same handle of the ESEE 3, except it does not have the same thickness. They keep using this handle because it is trusted and well liked. This handle has been tested when it was put on the ESEE 3 and it had fantastic reactions. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This handle fits fantastically in almost any hand. On the butt of the handle there is a rounded pommel with a convenient lanyard hole.


The sheath on this blade is truly a fantastic sheath. This is surprising because a lot of companies just try to make an adequate sheath. Something to cover and store your blade in. This sheath is designed to be fantastic. It was thought out and designed perfectly. The sheath is friction-fit molded so that the knife can lock firmly into place. There is also an attachment clip plate that can be mounted or attached to either side. Because you can attach it to either side, it makes this an ambidextrous carry knife. When ESEE first designed this knife, it came with a Kydex sheath. Which is a moderate sheath. The Kydex sheath is more than adequate. But it now comes with an injection molded sheath. While this is a more expensive process and it does add to the cost of the knife, the sheath can now stand up to hotter temperatures. The sheath has eyelets that you can use to thread a cord through and attach the sheath to your backpack.


Included with the sheath is a stretch of 550 cord and a cord lock. This cord can be used to attach the sheath/knife onto your backpack or belt. This cord is also perfect for using as a lanyard. If you want to purchase a MOLLE backing which is made out of ballistic black nylon, that is an option, but it is not included in your original purchase. This backing can be attached to any MOLLE gear or used as a leg sheath.


The overall length of this knife is 9 inches long and the width of the blade is 1.25 inches. This knife weighs 8 ounces. This knife is made in the United States of America. This knife comes in many different color options—the blade and the handle. Some of the options that BladeOps carries for the handle are: desert tan, orange, canvas, and gray. Some of the options that BladeOps carries for the blade are: desert tan, black, olive drab, plain stainless steel, and a special venom green.



This is an amazing knife, especially if you are looking for a survival knife. If you, or anyone you know, is going to be spending time in the woods, you/they need this knife. This is also a great option to put in your emergency kit. This knife is durable, reliable, quality, and the perfect option for you. There are hundreds of different hunting, camping, and survival knives out on the market today. Deciding which one to pick can be a battle, because each one is going to excel at something that another option lacks in. The ESEE 4 is a knife that will work for any task that you throw at it. It is a knife that has many pros and hardly and cons.  Some things that people love in this knife are the different options that you are presented with. There are two different types of steels, many different blade colors, you can choose whether you want a partially serrated blade or a plain edged blade, you can also choose between many different handle color options. This knife is also an affordable knife, BladeOps offers this knife for between $92 and $127, depending on which version, materials, and options that you choose. ESEE offers a lifetime warranty on this knife, as long as you get the version with the 1095 carbon steel. This means that if it breaks, ESEE will replace it. Another thing that many people love about this knife is that it was made in the US, this means that you can trust the quality of the craftsmanship. This knife should definitely be on your radar. It is a great knife to add to your collection.  You can find the entire line of ESEE 4 knives here on our website.




Just In — Fodale Knives Hale Fixed Blade Knife

We just got a shipment of the Hale fixed blade knife from Fodale Knives.  This is a new brand to BladeOps and we are really excited about the knives that Cody is producing over at Fodale Knives.

Fodale Knives Hale Fixed Blade
Fodale Knives Hale Fixed Blade

The Hale boasts a D2 blade with a variety of finishes available including stonewash, acid stonewash, or beadblasted.  The handle scales are G10 and also come in a variety of colors including classic black, coyote brown (as pictured above) or even a unique jade green color which I think is pretty fantastic because you don’t see it often on knives.

The Hale is specifically designed as an all purpose survival knife that can get serious heavy work don.  The D2 blade is a whopping .187″ thick which makes it eligible for batoning when you need to cut through really thick wood.  It has a 13 degree bevel and a razor sharp edge.

The handle is attached to the full tang blade with six hardened screws.  You can rest assured that the scales aren’t going anywhere without the rest of the knife.  I especially like the horizontal grooves on the handle.  These give your hand plenty of purchase for a nice, secure grip and they are nicely machined so they feel smooth and comfortable even during long cutting sessions.

The knife comes with a fantastic Kydex sheath that also has a pair of IWB loops so you can attach it to your belt or bag nearly any way you want to.

Fodale Knives Hale Knife
Fodale Knives Hale Knife with Jade Green G10 Handle Scales

As you can see, the sheath is perfect for tactical use as well as hunting, camping or especially for your survival bag.  (Like how I took that shot of the sheath with the Jade Green handle so you could see how cool that color is?)

If you are looking for a great all around survival knife, the Hale will definitely get the job done. Find it on our website Fodale Hale Knife.


  • Knife Category: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length: 3 3/4″
  • Blade Height: 1″
  • Blade Thickness: .187″
  • Blade Finish: Stonewash
  • Overall Length: 8″
  • Weight: 179 grams, 6.31 oz
  • Handle Material: Coyote Brown G-10 scales
  • Nylon Sheath
  • Made in the USA

The EDC Emergency Survival Blade, by N.W.

EDC Emergency Knife
EDC Emergency Knife

In an actual survival situation, what blade would you prefer to have on your person in order to help you survive? Think about that perfect blade, now forget about it. Survival situations do not happen on your schedule, and unless you EDC that perfect survival blade on you every day of your life, it is not going to help when the situation calls for it. Natural disasters or the inopportune flat tire in the middle of no where arejust a couple examples of when an emergency survival blade could be employed.

An emergency survival blade is any blade you happen to have on you when chaos strikes, for most individuals this would usually be a folding knife of some sort. There are pocket survival kits that are available which are normally housed in an Altoids tin and have just enough room for a small knife or razor blade, along with a way to start a fire, etc. However, considering one of your most important tools in a survival situation is a cutting device, a tiny knife or a razor blade can only be used to a certain point. A much more beneficial option is the folding knife you carry every day.

On a regular basis, your EDC may only be used for light tasks such as opening letters, cutting boxes, etc. Although this may be the image you think of, your EDC is capable of so much more. Nearly any folding knife can be put into the role of an emergency survival knife, because honestly, at the time you have no choice. You would have to use what you have available.

The edge itself is the most important aspect of the knife, which is why we use knives in the first place. But once the user knows the physical limitations of the knife, the strengths of the model’s design, and efficient techniques in using the knife for which ever type of task, the capability of the knife is increased one hundred fold. The basis for this knowledge and ability comes down to personal experience with the particular knife, skills, and knowledge of edged weapons.

Manual folders, spring assisted, old design styles, automatics, and well made OTF knives are all capable of filling the role as an emergency survival blade. This is not to say that the user should simply buy which ever knife is the cheapest, though it can be compared to the old firearm saying, “a .22 in the hand is better than a .45 at home.”

Which ever knife you choose to carry will fill multiple roles in its lifetime, from every day utility tasks to self defense. Look at your EDC and ask yourself, “If I had to, could I use this in an survival situation?” Do you have the experience to use the blade to it’s full potential? If not, what do you have to learn to make it so? A knife is limited only by the skill of the user.

Tips for Choosing Your Survival Knife

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

If you walk into a room of knife enthusiasts and ask what is the best survival knife, you are certain to get as many answers as there are people in the room.  The choice of a survival knife is very personal and has as much to do with the specific needs, strengths and preferences of the individual as it does the materials in the knife. There are several things to consider when choosing the best survival knife for you, because, regardless of which survival knife is best for you, there are certain characteristics that nearly every good survival knife shares in common.

Nearly every survival knife will be a fixed blade knife with a full tang.  Fixed blade knives are generally beefier than their folding counterparts.  With thicker blades and bigger handles that aren’t designed to be stuffed into a pocket, a survival knife is big enough and tough enough to handle cutting branches and small trees and then chopping these into pieces of firewood.  A well-built survival knife can handle being banged on the spine with a heavy log or rock to chop through a thick piece of wood while most pocket knives would succumb to such abuse.

Also, fixed blade knives have no moving parts, which increases their strength and durability under harsh conditions.  Along these lines, a full tang is almost an absolute necessity when choosing a survival knife.  For some reason, there is a certain subset of “survival” guys that insist a hollow handle is the way to go–they like the storage compartment found in some so-called survival knives.  Let’s put that idea to rest.  A hollow spot is a weak spot.  A weak spot is a future broken knife, and in a true survival situation, a broken knife spells catastrophe.  I know the ESEE lovers are going to come out with their knives drawn because I said this–and I will admit, there are a few knives out there that seem to have figured out how to create a very strong skeletonized survival knife, put some scales on it for more comfortable use, and then use the spaces in the skeletonized handle for storage.  But they are few and far between.  And these knives aren’t necessarily what I am referring to anyway.  I am talking about the “rambo”esque knives that have a hollow handle with a little compass on the butt.  Those knives look neat, and definitely have their place.  But they are not survival knives, no matter what Rambo says.

Your survival knife must have a good blade made of good steel.  Choice of steel will vary.  So will choice of blade shape.  ESEE makes some great survival knives and they use 1095 steel for all of their blades.  Benchmade just came out with their Bushcrafter knife and it has S30V.  SOG uses AUS-8 for most of their military survival knives and Fallkniven uses laminated VG-10 in their extremely popular line of survival knives.  Gerber uses 420HC in their best-selling LMF knives.  And so you see, even the knife makers don’t agree.  What you want is a knife that you can work with.  For some people, S30V will be the best choice because they want a blade that will keep an edge for a long time–even though when sharpening time comes, it will be a bit more tough for them than for others.  Other people will say, give me 1095 any day of the week for my survival knife, that way, if the knife gets dull when I am out in the wilderness, I can resharpen it in just a few minutes.  Whichever knife steel you choose for your survival knife, just make sure you understand the properties of the steel and how to sharpen your knife.

Most survival knives have an extra thick blade so they can be used for heavy cutting and chopping.  You should even be able to set the blade in a big chunk of wood and then bang on the spine of your blade with a small piece of wood to help “chop” the wood.  A blade that is 1/4″ thick is not uncommon in the survival knife arena.  How about length?  Most survival knife blades run from about 4 inches all the way up to 6 inches long, although there are many that are even longer than that and some that are a bit shorter that do just fine.  Once again, before you make your survival knife choice, make sure you understand what you are going to use your knife for.  If you anticipate needing to chop a whole lot of wood, the ESEE Candiru is not going to be a good choice for you.  But if you need a utility survival knife that can get you through some rough spots and doesn’t take up much storage room in your gear bag, then the Candiru could very well be the very best choice for you.

A good full tang, fixed blade knife should also have a pommel that can handle being banged on.  While you are banging on the pommel, let your eyes wander over to the handle.  A great survival knife will have a handle that is comfortable in your hand.  It will also allow you to get a good, solid grip and keep that in inclement weather and conditions.  Here is where a whole lot of the debate arises as to which survival knife is best.  Everyone has different size hands.  What may feel great in my hand, could feel terrible in yours.  Just because your buddy has a knife that he insists is the end all, be all survival knife, which it may well be for him, but it doesn’t mean it will be for you also.  Consider the material used for your knife handle.  Micarta and G-10 are common choices because they have good weight to strength ratios and are durable enough to handle heavy use.

Most good survival knives will have a lanyard hole at the butt end so you can tie a lanyard on your knife and then slide the lanyard over your wrist for extra security.  That way, if on a particularly hard chop, you lose the grip on your knife, it isn’t going to fly off into the underbrush and be lost forever–leaving you in the wilderness without a tool.

Whichever survival knife you choose, remember to consider these points.

  1. Full tang
  2. Blade Steel
  3. Blade Thickness
  4. Blade Length
  5. Steel Type
  6. Handle Material
  7. Handle Shape

The choice of a survival knife is personal.  If you are comfortable with your knife, you are going to get the production you need out of it.  Make sure your survival knife is the very best there is. . . for you.