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by Leon Pantenburg
Essentially, the do-it-all everyday knife debate boils down to big knife versus small knife. You need a knife big enough to do the job, but small enough so it is comfortable for continued carry. The knife has to be so easy to integrate into your wardrobe that it is routinely picked up with your wallet. But regardless of size, the knife has to be so well-designed it can handle a variety of daily duties.
Both sides of this knife debate have history to prove their point.
Check out prehistoric stones knives at a museum sometime. Archeologists have found evidence that ancient man used small, two-inch stone knives to skin mammoths and bison. The stone age people would have made whatever size blade that worked well, yet most stone knives I’ve seen have been tiny.
Fast forward to the American frontier in the 1700s. The famed longhunters were commercial hunters, and they killed and processed an enormous amount of game on a daily basis. The standard was a six-to-10 inch sheath knife, and it did everything from peeling potatoes to scalping. The frontiersman’s everyday knife was a kitchen tool as well as a weapon. There are good reasons the Native Americans called the settlers “Long Knives.”
Today, my everyday carry knife is a Swiss Army Knife Tinker. I use it to cut the plastic bands on bundles of newspapers, for cutting string and opening mail and various office activities. But the knife is also capable of skinning a rabbit or squirrel, whittling a wiener stick or processing tinder.
A few months ago, I marked the small blade of my SAK to see how much blade I actually used. The great majority of everything I cut could be handled with a blade about one inch long.
So I was open to the idea of a small, fixed blade knife that would do everything and could be easily carried.
Here are The Patriot’s specifications:
- Overall Length: 5 5/8”
- Sharpened Edge: 2 1/2”
- Steel: 1/8″ D2 Tool Steel
- Grind: Flat
- Handle: Dyed bone
- Other Features: Hand-peened brass pins, handmade leather sheath
The Patriot Knife, according to the company website, is a great all day, every day knife and is intend to do everything from opening boxes at the office to being an impromptu bug out knife and emergency blade. L.T Wright Knives uses 1/8″ D2 Tool Steel for superior edge retention and its semi-stainless qualities.
In a bushcrafting role, the flat grind will cut through just about anything and you can use the sharpened spine for tinder gathering. The Patriot is also a great little skinning and game prep knife, the website claims, because of the deep belly and flat grind.
The Patriot features in-house dyed handles, joined to the tang of the knife with a high strength, industrial adhesive and a set of hand peened brass pins. You will also receive a hand made leather sheath with the knife.
Unboxing the Patriot showed the quality I expect from a L.T. Wright knife. The knife is attractive and – dare I say this – “cute.” Workmanship is outstanding, and the small knife has the same solid feel as the Genesis.
The Patriot went immediately into use as an everyday knife. It was carried in my briefcase to the office, and rode on my hip in the outdoors.
Here’s the good stuff:
Steel: L.T. Wright knives are made of D2 tool steel. I like it a lot. D2 holds an edge well and sharpens easily. I’ve used my Genesis pretty extensively, and while the blade is not pristine, there are no objectionable stains or discoloring on the surface. I think any D2 steel blade will look good for a long time.
Grind: The Patriot has a flat grind, which makes for good slicing. This isn’t the best choice for batonning firewood, but that is not something I am concerned about. My favorite grind is convex, but the flat grind has its place in an everyday knife.
Spine: The spine has the classic 90-degree-angles grind. This works well for processing tinder, scraping a ferrocerium rod to make sparks for firemaking and other scraping tasks. I don’t anticipate using this knife for such things, but it’s nice to have the option.
Blade design: IMHO there is no better bushcraft point design than a drop point. The point is useful for drilling in wood, and the Patriot would be a great skinner for parts of a big game carcass, such as on the cape and around the eyes and ears areas for a head mount. I did clean some fish with the Patriot. While it worked fine, it wouldn’t be my first choice for a fish knife. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but I bet this will be a superb knife for small game hunting. (Check out this post on choosing the best knife point.)
Carry: The strong point of this knife is the ease of carry. It rode on my hip for a couple weeks, and it was easy to forget it was there. I stuck it in my fanny pack when I went deer hunting, and I planned on using it for some skinning tasks. It fit in equally well in my brief case when I headed in to my office. I don’t use neck carry knives – no reason for that, really – but this knife would work really well as a necker.
Size: The Patriot is a small knife. Don’t expect it to be able to do the same jobs a large knife. In the context of what it was designed for – i.e. a compact tool that can be easily carried – the Patriot is appropriately sized.
Sheath: The well-designed sheath is made of quality leather, and it rides very well on my belt. I added a D ring to the belt loop, as I always do, so it could be carried as a dangler. This D ring also makes the knife easier to carry in my brief case, as a neck knife, or clipped onto a daypack.
And the jury is still out:
Handle: I wear size large gloves, and The Patriot’s 2-7/8- inch handle felt too short to me. I just couldn’t get used to it. The end of the handle hits in the middle of my palm. While I can get a solid three-finger grip. I just don’t get the same control with the shorter handle, as I do with a longer version. I felt a little uneasy handling The Patriot when the handle was wet with blood, guts and had fish slime. Also, I would think it would be difficult to use the knife in cold weather, when wearing gloves might be necessary. After several weeks of everyday carry, I still didn’t feel comfortable using the short handle.
But these are not a design problems, they are my personal preferences and you might disagree. My daughter likes The Patriot, mainly because it’s pretty and works well with her hand size. Some of the smaller Boy Scouts I hang out with are going to love The Patriot. Overall, there is a lot to like about this knife.
With any piece of cutlery, you have to look at purpose it was designed for, then decide if it is going to work for you.
Convenience is one of the most important aspects of any piece of survival gear. If the item is easy to take along, chances are it goes along. And a small knife that’s with you is much better than a heavier, more efficient knife that got left at the trailhead.
In my case, the Patriot is not likely to becomes my everyday carry knife. (Hey, L.T., make this knife with a 3-3/4 inch handle, or better yet, a four-inch handle, and The Patriot would be on my short list of everyday knives!) But with The Patriot’s superb workmanship, materials and useful design, it could make a great everyday carry knife for you.
(Editor’s note: The Next Gen has a four-inch handle and three-inch blade, and it works really well for me!)
The Patriot is well worth checking out, and is a sound investment, if you’re considering a small fixed-blade everyday knife.
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