MAK­ING THE CUT

THE NEW JUN­GLAS-II AND PR4 KNIVES FROM THE SUR­VIVAL EX­PERTS AT ESEE

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Paul Rack­ley

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.

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