MAKING THE CUT
THE NEW JUNGLAS-II AND PR4 KNIVES FROM THE SURVIVAL EXPERTS AT ESEE
The new Junglas-ii and PR4 knives from the survival experts at ESEE
Knives can be traced back to early man, who chipped flint and other types of rocks to create an edge for cutting. As centuries passed, man learned to process ore into iron and create steel to fabricate more-modern blades that were used as tools for hunting and fighting. However, early man could never fathom the quality of knives produced today that use modern materials, technology and manufacturing methods. There are numerous different types of steel used to produce knives that provide various levels of hardness, toughness, wear, corrosion resistance and edge retention. Of course, there is no “best” knife steel that maximizes each of the properties, so the steels used in knives are a compromise, or a balance, designed around the intended use of the blade. In general, however, harder steel holds an edge longer but is more brittle, while softer steel is easier to sharpen but loses that edge faster.
To this day, carbon steel is still preferred by many designers, including the experts at ESEE Knives, for its balance of properties to make an excellent knife.
ESEE, pronounced “S-E,” stands for Escuela de Supervivencia (School for Survival) Escape and Evasion. The company was started in 1997 in South America as a survival school to teach realistic tools and skills to both military and civilian students. A few years later, the founders, Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin, started a survival school in Alabama and then created a sister company to produce high-quality knives and gear to their specifications. The pair decided to make knives because they had a very good idea of what they wanted in a real-world survival knife—and they produced that knife.
According to Shane Adams, project manager for ESEE, there is an important reason ESEE uses 1095 carbon steel for all of its knives: It is proven to be a strong steel that can handle the rigors of use, and it can be easily sharpened in the field.
“You might have to sharpen it [carbon steel] more frequently, but it is easy to sharpen,” said Adams. “We’ve always said that users should sharpen their knives when they’re sharp—basically, to keep their knives sharp all the time.”
ESEE knives are designed and developed by instructors with years of survival experience, along with intense knowledge and opinions of what is needed in a knife. Those knives are then prototyped and tested in the field to see if any design changes are needed before moving into production.
ESEE KNIVES ARE DESIGNED AND DEVELOPED BY INSTRUCTORS WITH YEARS OF SURVIVAL EXPERIENCE, ALONG WITH INTENSE KNOWLEDGE AND OPINIONS OF WHAT IS NEEDED IN A KNIFE.
Because of the intense testing performed throughout, from concept to development and into production, ESEE has one of the best warranties on the market. It provides a warranty that covers any type of damage to any knife for any reason, even if the knife is damaged because of use well outside the standard parameters for a knife.
A customer once used a Junglas to pry a woman out of her wrecked car. While the blade didn’t not break, it did bend, and ESEE sent the man a brand-new knife. In fact, it states on the company’s website (www.eseeknives.com) that it even warranties modifications. “We warranty the knife, regardless of modifications. We may call you an idiot for doing a stupid modification or ruining the blade, but we will warranty the knife.”
This unconditional warranty, which is transferable with no receipt required, covers all knives made by ESEE—BUT not knives designed by ESEE and manufactured by other companies—which means the ESEE Junglas-ii and PR4 are both covered, no matter what.
ESEE JUNGLAS-II KNIFE
Like all ESEE knives, the Junglas-ii comes in a nondescript, but durable, white box with a sleeve that shows the company’s name and logo, as well as the proud “Made In The USA” declaration in a corner. But most interesting is that the back of the box is printed with a variety of survival tips, such as how to use UTM with GPS and topo maps, ground-to-air distress signals, escape and evasion tips, declination and more, showcasing the company’s survival training roots while passing some valuable information to the new knife owner.
The Junglas-ii is a large, beefy knife with significant heft in its 14.5-inch length and 19.8-ounce weight. While in many ways it is a smaller version of the Junglas, Adams says the Junglas-ii is a lot more than simply a scaleddown version. Removing the 2 inches from the length results in a much more-balanced knife but still allows it to be a hefty chopper for camp work, cutting trees for shelter and whacking through bones on large game.
The full-tang, black-coated blade is made of 1095 carbon steel, with an overall blade length of 8.38 inches and a cutting length of 7.75 inches. The blade width is 2 inches, with a maximum thickness of .188 inch.
The Junglas-ii feels big and robust in the hand. Its Micarta handle, which is removable, is textured for a secure grip but is still comfortable.
In testing, the Junglas-ii performed admirably for its intended purposes. This is a large survival knife designed for chopping through wood, vines and anything else that gets in the way of the user. It is also big enough to attach to a wooden staff for use as a spear, as well as digging for food or water or to build a shelter. However, it probably wouldn’t make a good throwing knife.
The flat-cut blade was extremely sharp out
TO THIS DAY, CARBON STEEL IS STILL PREFERRED BY MANY DESIGNERS, INCLUDING THE EXPERTS AT ESEE KNIVES, FOR ITS BALANCE OF PROPERTIES TO MAKE AN EXCELLENT KNIFE.
of the box. It cut through a variety of materials with ease, including paper, rope, canvas and more. It was also excellent for chopping through wood—both limbs and an old, weather-hardened fence I was in the process of replacing. While the knife held its edge fairly well, it did become dull quicker than some other knives might have. Nevertheless, it was easily sharpened.
The heavy blade made swinging the Junglas-ii against anything it was put up against very forceful, providing deep penetration. The guards on both sides of the handle protected the hand from sliding forward onto the blade and kept the knife from flying out of the hand during the swing. It even comes with a hammer pommel for striking hard objects, if necessary, along with a lanyard hole for ensuring the Junglas-ii does not get away if dropped during use or in a stressful situation.
The sheath is a combination of Kydex and Cordura and holds the knife securely. The Kydex is molded to fit the blade and handle, and it has a snap for even more retention. It has multiple attachment locations for securing the knife to belts and packs, including a MOLLE style that works with most military rigging. While many companies seem to consider the sheath an afterthought, this is not the case with the Junglas-ii. The sheath is as well made as the knife.
If weight is not an issue, or if a user needs a knife that can perform many duties—from camp work to trail-busting and even digging and fighting—the Junglas-ii has the necessary features to perform all these tasks and more.
ESEE CAMP-LORE PR4 KNIFE
The PR4 is a much smaller and lighter knife than the Junglas-ii: It measures 8.9 inches overall, with a 4.19-inch blade length and 6.3-ounce weight. The knife is basically Patrick Rollins’ take on a classic design by Horace Kephart.
The knife features a full-tang 1095 carbon steel blade, which has a nonreflective, tumbled, black oxide coating. The scalloped Micarta handle has large impressions to enhance grip during use. The very straight handle provides a secure grip, but the handle texturing requires some getting used to. The guard, which prevents the hand from sliding during use, is fairly small but is significant enough to do its prescribed job.
The blade edge runs very close to the handle and is straight, allowing good leverage for cutting, even when performing finer cuts such as making tools and carving. The edge on the PR4 was not quite as sharp out of the box as the Junglas-ii, but it was very close. It performed well against all materials it was confronted
IF WEIGHT IS NOT AN ISSUE, OR IF A USER NEEDS A KNIFE THAT CAN PERFORM MANY DUTIES ... THE JUNGLAS-II HAS THE NECESSARY FEATURES TO PERFORM ALL THESE TASKS AND MORE.
with, including paper, rope, wood and plastic. It even performed some excellent finework on a couple of pumpkins that were turned into jacko-lanterns featuring a witch and a cat.
Even better, the PR4 comes with a beautiful leather sheath that holds the knife securely. The sheath does, however, limit its ability to quickly access the knife, because it covers all but a small part of the handle. But, because the PR4 is designed more for work than for fighting, this is not really an issue. A user could probably draw the knife much faster with practice, but the PR4 was designed more as a tool than a fighter. That said, the handle can be removed. This allows the knife to be turned into a very good spear, which
can be used for both stabbing and throwing as a result of its excellent balance and a spear point.
Rollins is a traditional bushcraft practitioner who wanted a knife that could perform the needed duties of the backwoods, such as camp work, skinning, fire-making, tool-making and more. The PR4 performs all of these tasks with stellar ability. The blade has the backbone for deep cuts but is still manageable for more-delicate cutting. This is the true beauty of this knife: It is an all-around knife light enough to carry in a pack or on the belt on pretty much any trip into the wild, whether hunting, fishing or just gathering with a group in camp. It is not much of a chopper, but it can perform most tasks that it is put to in good order.
THE PERFECT COMBO
In fact, paired together, the Junglas-ii and the PR4 just might be the perfect combination for basecamp and survival situations. The Junglas-ii has the ability to slice through vines, saplings and bones, as well as chop through most trees to clear an area for camp and make shelter. And the PR4 can handle pretty much any other camp chore, including making tools that might be needed. It can also skin game, process dinner and shave wood for kindling.
If anything ever happens to either knife, regardless of whether the actual fault is part of the manufacturing process or user error, ESEE will replace it, no matter what. The knives are excellent and will handle years of use and abuse with a minimum of care (a little oil is needed to keep the 1095 carbon steel from rusting). In addition, the warranty is the best on the market and is a reason unto itself for users to consider these or another one of this company’s knives. ESEE offers many good models that were designed by people who understand what is needed in a knife.
IF ANYTHING EVER HAPPENS TO EITHER KNIFE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ACTUAL FAULT IS PART OF THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS OR USER ERROR, ESEE WILL REPLACE IT, NO MATTER WHAT.
Far left: While the handle on the PR4 takes some getting used to, it does provide a decent grip. (Photo: ESEE Knives) h
Below: Although small in comparison to the Junglas-ii, the PR4 is up to most tasks required of a knife in the bush, including slicing shavings off an old board for starting a fire. h
Near left: The guard on the PR4 is compact but big enough to do the job. (Photo: ESEE Knives)
Below: These two knives differ greatly in size and style. But together, they make an excellent team for those who need to handle a variety of knife chores. (Photo: Paul Rackley) h
Near right: Whether chopping into boards or a stubborn stump in the woods, the Junglas-ii cut quickly and confidently. i
Far right: ESEE’S logo features a skull over crossed knives, as well as the name of the company’s survival school. (Photo: Paul Rackley) i
The PR4 (right) has a straight blade, spear tip and a lot of backbone. It can shave kindling quickly and easily. (Photo: ESEE Knives) h
The beefyjunglas-ii knife makes chopping easy, but it’s still controllable and won’t tire you as quickly as a larger knife might. (Photo: ESEE Knives) h
Above: The Junglas-ii is a midsized survival and fighting knife that is still fit for big jobs. (Photo: ESEE Knives) h
Top right: The Junglas-ii is a great multi-role tool that won't let you down, even against an old, weather-hardened board. i
Bottom right: i The Junglas-ii made quick work of this weathered board from an old fence the author found in the woods.
i Above: The Junglas-ii is a great chopper, making quick work of old, dog-eared fence boards. This was the first swing.