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Survival knives

L.T. Wright Rogue River – best all-around knife?

L.T. Wright Rogue River – best all-around knife?

The L.T. Wright Rogue River might be what you’re looking for in an all-around fixed blade knife.

by Leon Pantenburg

I was not paid to do this review and L.T. Wright supplied the knife used for testing. (See editor’s note below.) Knivesshipfree.com is a distributer of L.T. Wright knives, and a SurvivalCommonSense.com sponsor.

L.T. Wright makes great knives. I tested and have wrung out five different models, (the Next Gen, Genesis, GNS,  Patriot, , and Bushcrafter) and  they have all performed magnificently.

New in 2015 was the Rogue River, a model that immediately caught my eye. Oregon’s Rogue River is not that far from where I live, and the whitewater and steelhead fishing of that beautiful area deserve commemoration somehow. And while some of my most-used knives have African names, I like the American connection!

Family portrait: I have tried and tested these L.T. Wright knives and like them very much: From top: next Gen, Genesis, GNS and Rogur River.

Family portrait: I have tried and tested these L.T. Wright knives and like them very much: From top: Next Gen, Genesis, GNS and Rogue River.

Also, the Rogue River’s design is attractive, and it looked to be a good user.

Here are the specs:

  • Total Length: 8 2/3″ (220mm)
  • Blade Length: 4″ (104mm)
  • Blade Thickness: 1/8″ (3.07mm)
  • Blade-Steel: A-2 Steel
  • Other Features: Ground Spine, Lanyard Hole, High-Quality Leather Sheath

What I like about the Rogue River:

Blade length: If I had to pick the perfect, all-around useful blade length, I’d go with four inches. I’ve used a four-inch blade on everything from whittling wiener sticks to field dressing big game. I’d prefer a two-to-three-inch blade for  small game and wood carving, and a five-to-six-inch blade for buschcrafting and wilderness survival use. But a four-inch blade is the all-around champ.

Handle: At 4-2/3 inches this handle fits my hand really well.  A perpetual problem for those of us who wear size large gloves is finding a handle that’s long enough to use for extended wear.

The Rogue River handle fits my glove size large hands well

The Rogue River micarta handle fits my glove-size large hands well

I prefer micarta when ordering a knife for testing. The material is probably bulletproof, and holds up really, really well to hard use and abuse. Also, the material gets tacky when wet, so that nice, smooth handle never gets too slippery when field dressing big game or cleaning fish. Because of my Irish heritage, I generally get green.

But I also have a weakness for curly maple and desert ironwood, and the Rogue River is available with wood handle options.

Blade thickness: This is another topic for debate. Check out daggers, swords and knives in museums. Most of them (with the exception of  some broadswords) tend to be thin. I like a thin blade. I think they slice and skin better, and are overall, more useful.

And with today’s super steels, there is little danger of breaking a blade unless it is deliberately abused. The 1/8-inch thickness of the Rogue River is about right. It should be sturdy enough to disjoint big game animals with no danger of blade damage.

A-2 steel: I love A-2, and it is a tossup between it and CPM 3V, as to which I have the most knives in. A-2 holds an edge like crazy. I completely gutted, skinned, dis-jointed and quartered a whitetail buck one November with my Sahara in A-2 and it was still shaving sharp at the end of the job. Without any touch-up, the Sahara did a fine job of carving the Thanksgiving turkey the next day. The desert ironwood handle looked classy, along with the family china and formal dining room.

In my experience, A-2 has tremendous edge-holding ability, and is easy to keep sharp. You can’t go wrong with A-2.

Saber grind: Knife grind is another personal preference, and I have examples of virtually everything. My favorite is convex. Scandi is excellent for bushcraft, and is a good grind for teaching people how to sharpen.

I like the flat, saber grind, because it makes a really good slicer and whittler. The Rogue River’s blade grind ends with a micro bevel, which comes razor sharp. With use and stropping, the saber will eventually evolve into a convex grind.

The Rogue River comes with a sturdy leather dangler sheath.

The Rogue River comes with a sturdy leather dangler sheath.

Sheath: The Rogue River comes with a sturdy leather sheath, equipped with a belt loop that makes it a dangler. This is my favorite design of sheath.  A dangler sheath allows the knife to freely move on your belt, while still safely securing the blade.

Drop point: While my favorite point is still a clip, the drop point is a really good choice for a do-it-all knife. The point works well for hunting and field dressing big game. It also works well for drilling holes in wood.

Here’s the bottom line:  If you’re looking for a durable, well-designed user, that can handle most camping, hiking and outdoor tasks, take a hard look at the Rogue River. You can’t go wrong with this knife.

Editor’s note: All I ever promise on any knife review is a fair shake. If a knife is a piece of junk, I’ll report that.

I contacted L.T. Wright last November, asking what they would charge to re-grind my GNS from a scandi to flat grind.  I have beaten the crap out of the GNS, testing and using it, and didn’t ask for or expect any warranty work. And I am very, very satisfied with the knife.

Re-grinding would be difficult, L.T. explained. Apparently, since I wasn’t absolutely, positively, completely satisfied with the GNS, L.T. asked if I would accept a Rogue River (with a flat grind) instead. That’s the kind of customer service you can expect from L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives. Buy American.

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Survival knives

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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