A.G. Russell Knives
While we were spending time in Arkansas in October we had a chance to stop by a great knife company that most knife aficionados know about – but that many other people that like hiking, camping and shooting do not; “A.G. Russell Knives”.
A.G. Russell Knives was established in 1964 and runs the oldest mail order knife business, the oldest knife collectors club and the oldest after-market knife business. They make shopmade knives in their headquarters in Rogers, Arkansas and have their own brand of A.G. Russell knives that are produced around the world. Their store also carries all the major knife brands such as Benchmade, CRKT, Kershaw, Buck, Case, SOG and others – and many different blades from handmade knife makers such as Randall Knives, Bob Dozier, Keith Murr, Dietmar Kressler, William Henry, Arno Bernard, and others.
Although they have a store at their shop location, the bulk of their business is done online. Currently they have over 1,500 different knives on their website (https://agrussell.com/).
One of the things that we like about the A.G Russell website is, that in addition to their products, they are big supporters of the “knife community”. In this vein their website also has some great general information that makes it a good source for knife terms and steel formulations. Here’s some high level information on, and links to, their “Knife Encyclopedia” and “Steel Charts”.
Knife Encyclopedia: To assist knife lovers A.G. Russell thought that putting together a set of terms and drawings/photos about knives would be helpful to his customers. So he contacted Walter Gardiner, the President of Schrade Cutlery, who sent him their "Handbook of Knife Knowledge and Terms" along with Schrade’s approval to put it online. A.G. Russell took many of terms from the Schrade handbook and used it to start an online encyclopedia. Here are the links to the encyclopedia, the fixed blade knife types page and the blade shape page:
Knife Encyclopedia: https://agrussell.com/encyclopedia
Fixed Blade Types: https://agrussell.com/encyclopedia/fixed-blade-knife-types
Blade Shapes: https://agrussell.com/encyclopedia/blade-shapes
Steel Chart: Because of the explosion in the types of steel formulations used to make knives, in 1988 A.G. Russell posted a knife steel chart online. They continue to routinely update the chart in an attempt to keep it up to date with the ever expanding number of steel formulations. Here are the links to both the Stainless Steel and Non-Stainless Steel charts:
Stainless Steel Chart: https://agrussell.com/chart
Non-Stainless Steel Chart: https://agrussell.com/chart/non-stainless
While we were in their store we purchased an A. G. Russell “Agents Office” Knife. The lockback folding knife has a tear drop shape handle with a double ground dagger-like blade (it is only sharp on one side) made from 8Cr13MoV with a 57-59 Rc. hardness. The handle is made of Mother of Pearl with Abalone spacers. The liners, bolsters and caps, and lock bar are all stainless steel. The knife has a 3” blade and measures 3 7/8” closed. It weighs ~2.9 ounces. It also has a leather lanyard through the butt and comes with a leather pouch with a pocket clip. It’s a beauty!
To complement their main website, A.G. Russell also has an online marketplace that “provides a unique service to knife owners who decide to sell knives they own or knife buyers looking for that special knife that is extremely popular or hard to find.”; The Cutting Edge® (http://www.cuttingedge.com/). For over forty-five years, The Cutting Edge® has been the largest aftermarket for knives of all kinds. Most of these knives are owned by individuals and A.G. Russell sells them on consignment.
As if that wasn’t enough, in 1998 A.G. Russell began Russell's For Men (https://russellsformen.com/) “because we appreciate high quality personal products, but could not find the quality we wanted. Then we realized that a lot of our customers were having similar problems finding items that their grandfathers enjoyed. Fine leather goods, watches, gun accessories, home art, and office items are just a few of the many categories of products we carry.”
In addition to founding the company and designing most of their early knives, A.G. Russell was a recognized leader in the knife making industry. His accomplishments and honors included:
Although A. G. Russell III passed away in 1998, his expertise and designs live on in the current A.G. Russell knives. You really ought to look at their websites; they’ll definitely have something that you’ll want to buy.
United Cutlery M48 Tactical War Hammer with Vortec Sheath
Over the years we’ve found that Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear comes in 4 categories:
1) Essential Necessities – Gear that you absolutely must have to even consider a Hiking, Camping or Shooting adventure. Gear like a good pair of hiking boots, a quality tent or hearing protection. Without these items you either can’t start your activity, or you risk having a bad outcome during the outing.
2) Need to Have Gear – This is gear that is one step up from the minimum necessary gear. Gear that you might get away with not having initially, but that really need to have to be prepared for the Hiking, Camping or Shooting activity. This type of gear includes items like a hiking first aid kit, lightweight trail food, a sleeping pad, slings or paper targets.
3) Nice to Have Gear – This category includes the gear that you invest in as you participate in more Hiking, Camping or Shooting adventures. You really don’t “have to have” this gear, but it makes doing the activity easier or more fun. In this category we would include a camera to take on your hikes, a good saw to take camping with you and a good range bag to keep all your stuff together when you go shooting.
4) Want to Have Gear – Finally there is the category that includes all the gear that you really don’t need – but want so much that you purchase it anyway. Here we include multiple compasses (since there’s always a better one out there on the market somewhere), another knife or other bladed tool (after all who doesn’t need a pocket knife, mid-sized locking blade knife, fixed blade survival knife, machete, hatchet, axe, etc.,), or another firearm that’s a different caliber or design than the ones that you already own.
In our opinion, the problem with being a long time Hiker, Camper and Shooter is that you quickly acquire the “essential necessities” and “need to have” items since they are what really make your adventures possible, practical and fun. Then, over the next several of years, you buy the “nice to have” items since they allow you to do more and make your adventures easier and more comfortable. After that you’re just gilding the lily by purchasing more and more gear that seems novel, better or just cool.
Well, we’ve been Hiking, Camping and Shooting for quite a while, so we are now clearly in Phase 4 – purchasing gear that we “want to have” – but really don’t need. Being in that mode leads to purchases like the United Cutlery M48 Tactical War Hammer with Vortec Sheath; an item that you can have a lot of fun with – but has no real practical value.
The M48 Tactical War Hammer (Item #: UC3069) is a hammer/axe combination with a 7 ¾” black oxide-coated stainless steel head (cast 2Cr13) with a 5-spiked war hammerhead on the face and a piercing spike on the back side. The hammer is 15 ½” in length and weighs 2 ¼ pounds. The hammer has a reinforced nylon handle that includes 30% fiberglass in its construction. The axe head is attached to the handle by three metal bolts. Since the hammer face and the rear spike are so sharp it comes with a Vortec Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) cover for the entire head. The TPR cover folds in the middle so that you can easily put it on and take it off.
The design allows for comfortable one-handed use even though the hammer feels pretty solid and hefty when you are swinging it. The hammer face has four edge spikes and a thick central pyramid spike that gives it real smashing power. The backside spike is quite sharp and penetrates deeply into wood and everything else that we have used it on. Although it might be useful as a demolition tool, we just use it for fun (poor watermelons, pumpkins and cantaloupes). If you want to see the M48 Tactical War Hammer in action here’s a great video from Adam Celadin, a 4 time World Champion knife thrower, using it to destroy everything in sight.
You can buy the United Cutlery M48 Tactical War Hammer on Amazon.
In addition, if you like tactical bladed weapons, then you might want to check out United Cutlery’s entire M48 line of products at:
UST Hammer Beast Multi-Tool
Like most of the outdoor enthusiasts that we know, we’re always on the lookout for Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear that serves a useful purpose – even if we don’t really need it. Well last week we ran across just such a piece of gear; the UST Hammer Beast Multi-Tool.
Unlike most multi-tools, the UST Hammer Beast is built around a smooth-faced hammer instead of pliers like Leatherman-type tools. The Hammer Beast also has ten other tools to include: pliers, wire cutter, flat head screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, nail puller, file, saw, knife blade, bottle opener and a wrench. The tool has a durable anodized aluminum handle for rust resistance and it’s orange so that you can easily spot it if you drop it in the backcountry. The Hammer Beast measures 5.75 x 1.75 x 0.6 inches and weighs 10.8 ounces.
Here’s a photo that will give you a good look at all of the tools when they are open:
So if you’ve got room in your pack, or travel kit that you take with you when you’re hiking or camping, you ought to check it out. You can purchase the “UST Hammer Beast Multi-Tool” at Amazon.
Lansky QuadSharp Knife Sharpener
Since a sharp knife is critical to so many outdoor activities, we have lots of tools to try to keep our cutting edges as honed as possible. That leads to us having several ways to sharpen our blades – from files and 6,000 grit whetstones to use at home - to small sharpening stones to use in the field (as can be seen on our Camping/Tools page).
We recently added another small tool to our kit; the “Lansky QuadSharp Knife Sharpener” since it’s a compact tool specifically made to maintain your knives at the exact angle you need their edges to be while you’re in the field. The QuadSharp has preset carbide “V” grooves for four sharpening angles to help you sharpen your blade in 3 or 4 strokes:
The QuadSharp also has a sturdy metal body, an 800 grit ceramic benchstone for fine polishing, and can be used on regular, serrated (by sharpening one serration at a time by pulling the ceramic element against the grooved side of the serration) and filet knives. Measuring 4 ½” x 1 ½” x 3/8”, and weighing ~3 ounces, the QuadSharp is a small tool that’s easy to add to your gear and easy to use in the field when you can’t get to a larger sharpening stone.
You can purchase the “Lansky QuadSharp Knife Sharpener” at Amazon.
Unimi Professional Sharpening Water Stones (600/1,000 Grit and 2,000/6,000 Grit)
Keeping your knives and other blades sharp is critical since a sharp blade really reduces the effort you need to expend to cut something. In our experience, to really sharpen your blades correctly you need three sharpening stones - one to rough-grind, one to sharpen and one to hone. So, although we already have a file for when we’ve really nicked up our machete, hatchet or axe blades, a dedicated sharpening stone (325/750 grit) for normal sharpening, and a small sharpening stone (120/400 grit) for on the spot touchups, and backup in the outback, we decided to add some finer (e.g. higher grit number) sharpening stones to our gear – especially for our knives. To that end, for medium to fine sharpening and honing we purchased two different dual-sided Unimi Professional sharpening water stones; one with 600/1,000 grit and the other with 2,000/6,000 grit – both for use before we head out on any adventure.
You can find the details about the Unimi Professional Sharpening Water Stones on the Camping/Tools page.
Silky Ultra Accel Curved Blade Folding Saw, Large Teeth 240mm, 446-24
Like most of you we got some new gear for Christmas. One of the best items was a new Silky Ultra Accel Curved Blade folding saw. Although we normally use wood that either is deadfall, or is easily chopped with our hatchet or pack axe, sometimes we find that we need to saw something. If pack weight is not an overriding consideration the best option is a folding saw. As with all of the Silky curved blade outdoor saws, these are pure Japanese pull stroke saws with Silky's proprietary tooth design. While technically there is some cutting done on the push stroke, it is very minimal. The saw will easily cut through logs up to 6” in diameter, and larger logs if you can either rotate the log or vary your cutting position.
You can find the details about the Silky Ultra Accel Curved Blade Folding Saw on the Camping/Tools page.
Real Avid .30, .308, 7.62mm Bore Boss
Since all firearms need to be kept clean to operate efficiently we recently got around to purchasing a bore snake for our 7.62 x 39mm Norinco MAK-90. Although all of our other bore snakes are from Hoppe’s, when we were looking for the 7.62mm snake we ran across the Real Avid Bore Boss. Since we really like our Real Avid cleaning mat (because of the thought that they put into it) and the Bore Boss appeared to be a “reimagined” version of a bore snake, we decided to give it a shot. We’re glad we did.
The Bore Boss has a round case with an attached rubber cover that stores the cable/brush/mop and acts as an ergonomic grip that helps you pull the tight-fitting cable through your rifle. The snake stays in its container until needed with the cable wrapped neatly around the case to ensure that it doesn’t get tied into knots while it is stored. The case also keeps the cleaning brush from grabbing fabric or poking you, and keeps the dirty mop away from other items in your range bag.
You can find the details about the Real Avid Bore Boss on the Shooting/Cleaning Supplies page.
Decided Which #8 Shot Shells to Use
Back in July we posted a blog related to “Trying Out New #8 Shot Shells” for 3-Gun activities – and ended by saying that we would let you know what we figured out after we had completed our testing of the following 4 types of 12 Gauge 2 ¾” #8 shot shells:
1) Winchester Super X - Upland Game
2) Winchester Super Target - Light Target
3) Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads
4) Federal Premium Gold Medal Grand™ Competition Clay Target Loads
Normally we use 2 ¾” 00 Buckshot shells in our shotguns since they are “tactical” in nature (as opposed to being used for skeet shooting or hunting). However, because we had been doing more 3-gun shooting, where 00 Buckshot is overkill when shooting at clay and paper targets, we decided that we needed to find a good #8 shot shell for the 3-gun range.
Well, after putting a lot of lead down range, we’ve decided to use the “Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads” 2 ¾” #8 shot shells (Manufacturer #12SD1L8, UPC #762344705538) going forward for our 3-gun activities.
Although all 4 of the shells that we tested worked well, we decided to choose the Fiocchi shells for a variety of reasons.
1) Fiocchi is the world leader in shot shell manufacturing making more than 500 million
cases each year. Fiocchi also helped pioneer the lower recoil 1 oz load.
2) Good quality shotgun shells.
3) Gives a nice tight pattern due to the 1,170 fps velocity and lead pellet
4) Never had a FTF or FTE - always reliable.
5) Good combination of economy and performance – cost per shell ~$0.25
6) One-piece shot cup
7) Clean-burning powder
8) Reliable Fiocchi primers
9) Cushioned wads
10) First-run chilled shot. High-antimony (5%) lead pellets with nearly perfect
You can find the details about the #8 Shot Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics Target Loads on the Shooting/Ammunition page.
Seirus Innovation 1171 Mens Xtreme Waterproof All Weather Form Fit Glove with Soundtouch Touch Screen Technology
If you’re outdoors, and the weather is both cold and wet, one invaluable piece of gear that you need is a good pair of waterproof gloves – especially here in New England. The only problem is that many waterproof gloves don’t breathe, don’t allow you to have good dexterity and aren’t sturdy enough for actually doing real work - like chopping wood.
Recently we’ve spent a fair amount of time looking for a good pair of waterproof gloves and finally found a pair that we liked; the Seirus Innovation 1171 Mens Xtreme Waterproof gloves. We like the fact that they provide a tight fit and have a tall wrist cuff that keeps out the cold air and snow – while allowing us the dexterity to use tools in the cold.
You can find the details about the Seirus Mens Xtreme Waterproof gloves on the Camping/Tools page.
Trying Out New #8 Shot Shells
Normally we use 2 ¾” 00 Buckshot shells in our shotguns since they are “tactical” in nature (as opposed to being used for skeet shooting or hunting). However, recently we have been doing more 3-gun shooting, where 00 Buckshot is overkill when shooting at clay and paper targets.
Because of this we decided to try a few different types of #8 shot shells. The four types of #8 shells that we are trying out are:
If you want to read more about why #8 shot is better than 00 Buckshot for 3-gun shooting you might want to check out the detailed blog post about shotgun shells last November.
Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what we figure out after we’ve run a bunch of them through our shotguns.
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