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.




ESEE 5 Knife Review

Randall’s Adventure Training was established in 1997. This was an outdoor survival training agency that helped provide global training, gear, and logistical solutions to military and law enforcement agencies and civilians. However, they quickly noticed a lack of survival knives that were equipped to stand up to the challenges that they were encountering. So Randall’s Adventure Training decided to design and produce their own line of knives—ESEE. Many survival knives never actually get tested in the field by the company who is producing them. Instead, they choose qualities that are often good in the field. This is where ESEE sets themselves apart from these other companies. Each of their prototypes have been personally field tested before ESEE puts their finishing touches and mass produce their knives. After it has been field tested, they listen to the feedback and switch up the aspects of the knife that didn’t quite live up to what they had expected. Once they produce the final knife, they have it field tested again. ESEE sends the knife stateside and also to jungle survival outings in the Peruvian Amazon. The people who use the knife during this final phase send in their feedback and ESEE will make any final adjustments that are necessary. This means that when you buy an ESEE knife, you know that it has been specifically designed for real life survival circumstances. Your knife is going to be trust worthy and last you through the toughest experiences. This knife will be your best friend if you ever end up in a survival situation.


The Blade:

The blade on this knife is carved out of 1095 Carbon Steel. This steel is one of the most common high carbon steels that is used for knife blades. 1095 has better wear resistance than most other high carbons steels, however, it is less tough. Even though it is less tough than many other high carbon steels, it is still considered to be a very tough steel. One of the biggest advantages to 1095 steel is that it holds an edge fantastically and is easy to sharpen. Not only that, but it can get a crazy sharp edge. Another benefit to having your blade made out of 1095 high carbon steel is that it is available at a generally low cost. Some other drawbacks to this type of steel is that it has been known to easily chip or have microscopic dings in the edge, especially when it is at its hardest level or with a thin blade. One of the biggest drawbacks to 1095 high carbon steel is that it stains and rusts easily. If you want this blade to not rust, you are going to have to coat it with pretty much every use. To help prevent the rusting and staining, ESEE has finished it with a textured powder coat. This coating goes through four stages to fully complete the process, these four stages are: melt, flow, gel, and cure. The final stage is curing, or introducing extreme heat to the powder coating on the blade. This gives the knife a “final solid, tough, abrasion-resistant coating”. The knife blade comes in a variety of different colors: Olive Drab, black, and a custom venom green.

The ESEE 5 has a sabre grind. This grind has also been called the Scandinavian grind. With a sabre grind, the edge is left thick and thickens quickly beyond the edge. This grind is exceptional if you need to chop things or have other heavy duty tasks to complete with it. This grind also helps to keep the edge for longer periods of time. This grind gives you strength and is great for survival or tactical knives.



The Handle:

The handle is made out of linen Micarta. Micarta is made by soaking thin layers of linen in a phenolic resin. This produces a product that is lightweight and strong and still looks a little bit classier than some of the other plastic-y looking knife handles. One of the disadvantages to having a Micarta handle is that Micarta actually has no surface texture. Because of the resin, it is a smooth material. Of course, this would not work for any knife handle, so the manufacturers use hand labor to carve texture into the knife. Because it requires hand labor, the cost of Micarta is on the more expensive side of the spectrum. The ESEE 5 has had enough texture carved into it that you will also have a secure grip on it, even when it is wet. Many people have expressed that when you are holding this knife, whether you are bare handed or gloved, you will have a very solid grip on it. One of the other drawbacks to Micarta is that it is brittle, so if you knock it on a sharp or hard material, it might chip. Some of the major benefits to Micarta is that it is a very hard material that is not easily scratched. This material holds up to most things with ease.


The Mechanism:

The ESEE 5 is a fixed blade. There are many advantages to having your knife, especially your survival knife, be a fixed blade. First of all, fixed blades are stronger than a folding knife. Folding knives have many moving mechanisms and parts which also mean that they have weaker spots. A fixed blade can easily pry, twist, hammer, pierce, and pull while a folding knife might be able to struggle through those tasks, they would most likely break before you could complete it. A second big advantage to having a fixed blade is that they are easier to maintain. Like I mentioned, folding knives have many moving parts and many small parts inside. So after completing a messy task, you are going to have to take your knife apart to be able to clean it thoroughly. With a fixed blade, you can easily wipe the blade and handle down without worrying about all of the insides—because there are no insides to access. A third major advantage to having your knife be a fixed blade is that you can have a larger knife. Often times, your fixed blade is for survival or heavy duty tasks. These are two scenarios that you are going to desire a larger blade, which is easier to find on a fixed blade. However, the longer the blade is, the longer the handle needs to be. So if you increase the blade size, you have to also increase the handle size to maintain a good balance. A fourth advantage to having a fixed blade is that they are easier to get into action when needed. All you have to typically do is pull it out of its sheath. With a folding knife, you have to pull the knife out of whatever you are storing it in and then also open it. While it is just a couple of seconds, in a tactical situation, it’s the seconds that make a difference. There are a few disadvantages to having a fixed blade. One is that they are harder to carry with you, because they are bigger. Another drawback is that they are harder to conceal. This is partly due to the size, but also because the blade can’t be folded into the handle, it has to be sheathed.


The Extras:

This knife has a few extra features that sets it apart from the other survival knives available. The first extra is that on the butt of the handle, there is a pommel designed to be a glass breaker. This is a pommel designed out of hard metal that has been shaped into a point. You slam the pommel against the glass and it breaks it.

The second feature is that it has a bow drill divot in the handle. This divot is used to start a fire. A common way to start a fire is to use friction to create heat, which eventually turns to fire. Commonly, people actually use their hands to rub the two pieces of wood together and this can beat up your hands a little bit. This bow drill divot is where you put one of the pieces of wood, and instead of rubbing your hands down the length of that wood, you grip the knife and twist it. In a survival situation, this can help create a fire much quicker and easier.


The Sheath:

The sheath that is included with this knife is a kydex sheath. Kydex is a thermoplastic material that has extreme durability. This material can actually be submerged in salt water and maintain its quality. A kydex sheath can also withstand many other extreme environments without failing or falling apart. However, there are some drawbacks. A minor drawback is that it has no character to it, it’s basically a lump of plain plastic. Secondly, kydex is a loud material when you are trying to remove your knife or putting your knife back. Lastly, if you are repeatedly taking your knife in and out of the sheath, your knife edge will be dulled.


The Specs:

The blade on the ESEE 5 is 5.25 inches long, with a thickness of 0.25 inches. The width of the blade is 1.56 inches. The overall length of the knife is 11 inches long. The weight of the knife, not including the sheath, is 16 ounces.


The Pros of the ESEE 5:

  • The steel choice on the blade is a tough steel.
  • The steel is easy to sharpen and can get crazy sharp; plus, the edge lasts for long periods of time.
  • The steel choice is relatively inexpensive.
  • To help prevent rusting, ESEE has added a powder coating to the steel which helps add hardness, strength, and corrosion resistance.
  • All ESEE knives are field tested multiple times in multiple occasions, so you can be sure that this knife will be able to accomplish what you want it to.
  • The blade comes in a few different color choices.
  • The Saber grind of this knife helps add strength and gives it great ability to chop.
  • The linen Micarta is tough and durable.
  • The handle provides you with excellent grip, no matter the weather or conditions that you are in.
  • Micarta is hard to scratch.
  • The fixed blade “mechanism” adds strength, durability, and makes this knife more versatile.
  • Because the ESEE 5 is a fixed blade, it is very easily maintained—a quick wipe down will suffice.
  • At the butt of the handle, there is a glass breaking pommel included.
  • On the handle, there is a bow drill divot carved in, which helps assist starting fires.
  • This is a large, heavy knife, which will give you the strength to survive almost any situation.
  • The kydex sheath is durable and can stand up to a variety of different environments.


The Cons of the ESSE 5:

  • The steel is very prone to staining and rusting.
  • Because the steel is prone to staining and rusting, there is lots of maintenance required—you will need to oil the blade with every use.
  • The steel is easily chipped or getting microscopic dings in the edges.
  • Because Micarta requires lots of hand labor to give you adequate texture, the knife cost is going to be costlier.
  • Fixed blades are harder to carry and conceal.
  • The kydex sheath lacks personality.
  • The kydex sheath will dull your blade if you pull your knife out and put it back in often.
  • The kydex sheath is not quiet; if you are trying to conceal yourself, the classic “snap” of the kydex will give you away.



ESEE is a great knife company because they do field test each and every one of their knife prototypes to guarantee they are providing you with the best possible survival knife. The ESEE 5 is an exceptional survival knife with super tough steel and a sabre grind to provide you with extra strength. The Micarta handle is easily maintained, lightweight, and durable. The ESEE 5 will give you a solid feel with strength behind it to help you accomplish any task.

ESEE Junglas — Quick Review

ESEE Junglas

Several years ago, I purchased an ESEE Junglas.  I initially decided to get the Junglas for my emergency go bag.  It is a rather large knife, measuring in at 16.5″, but I thought it would be a good tool to have in case of a disaster or emergency.  I have found so many more uses for this knife since my initial purchase.

About a month after I picked up my Junglas, I decided I needed to give it a good trial run to make sure it was as sturdy and durable as I thought.  I figured the worst case scenario would be to get it out in an actual emergency and realize it wasn’t the all around tool I had initially thought.  To put it through its paces, I first picked one of our peach trees out back.  I hadn’t properly pruned the tree for a couple of years and because of this, it was a bit out of control.  The tree had several 1″ to 2″ limbs that needed to be removed.  Sure, I could have just pulled out the pruners and taken care of business like normal people do, but I had a Junglas and I was on a mission to use it.  I took a few tentative whacks on the first limb.  To my delight, even though I wasn’t putting my all into the swing, the blade sliced neatly into the branch.  With just a few strikes, I had the first job done.  I spent the next five or ten minutes “pruning” the larger branches that needed to be removed.

Ours never grew so nice!
Ours never grew so nice!

Delighted with the performance of my new ESEE Junglas, I moved on to a row of three Nishiki Willow trees that my wife had decided to remove.  When we first planted these trees, they were perfect.  Over time, they grew a bit larger around than we expected.  They were also shorter than we had thought they would be.  This combination of larger around and shorter made them into path bullies–they crowded our stone path and made it so everyone walking into the backyard had to duck and dodge to avoid the branches.  So I got the assignment to remove the trees.  The trunks were between 5″ and 8″ thick.  One of the trees never really got very strong, the other two had better growing conditions and had larger trunks.

So I readied myself and chopped the first tree down. The wood was dense and very wet.  Not the best cutting conditions for any tool.  The Junglas powered through with little difficulty.  I took several swings at the trunk and quickly had cut a nice notch in the direction I wanted the tree to fall.  I switched sides on the trunk and with a few swings was able to cut the tree down.  It took only a few minutes.  Much less time than it would have taken to pull my chainsaw out, oil and prep it, start it up and cut the tree down.

The ESEE Junglas Survival knife is more of a machete than it is a knife.  Built with a 1095 steel blade featuring a black powder coat, the blade swings nice and easy.  The balance is perfect.  I have used a few machetes in my life and many of them are either weighted strange so they swing weird or they are not designed for maximum comfort.  The Junglas not only lends itself to a smooth swing, the contoured handle makes it comfortable to use for prolonged periods of time.

If you are looking for a quality, large sized knife for your survival kit or even for a bit of backyard work, check out the ESEE Junglas.  You will be glad you did.



  • O.A Length: 16.5″
  • O.A. Handle Length: 5.88″
  • Maximum thickness: 3/16″
  • Weight: 22.5 ounces (Knife Only)
  • Weight: 33 ounces (Knife and Sheath)
  • High Sabre Blade Grind
  • Hammer Pommel
  • Canvas Micarta Handles
  • Black Textured Powder Coat Finish
  • 1095 Steel
  • Serial Number On Pommel
  • Standard Equipment: Kydex Sheath w/ Cordura Backing