OK – I didn’t need another custom knife.
But I couldn’t resist when Alabama knifemaker Kendall Carpenter offered to make a hunting knife to my specs. The result is the Carp Knives LP (the letters stand for Lower Peninsula).
by Leon Pantenburg
When Kendall contacted me about a knife design, I already had a good idea of what I wanted. When the Bark River UP (Upper Peninsula) Bravo came out last year it was close to perfect (for me). Any improvements would be strictly nit-picky, quirky things that probably only I would want. I previously field tested two Carp knives, the Skinner and a Drop Point Hunter and was really impressed with the workmanship and quality.
My Carp knife would very closely resemble the UP Bravo, but there are two significant differences: the blade would be thin. The handle would be thick.
I don’t like knives with thick blades – with today’s superior steels, there is little need or use for a thick blade. IMO, a thick blade adds unnecessary weight and bulk, with little gain. In decades of outdoor activities, I’ve never broken a blade, and I’m not the only one who prefers a thinner blade.
A thick handle is also better for me personally. I have large, working man hands, and a slim, slender handle doesn’t work for me. (Here is how to measure your hand for the best handle fit.) A slender handle might twist in your hand during use, and that could be disastrous.
The blade design would be a Canadian style. This is one of my favorites, and I have used enough of them in the field to appreciate the configuration. The blade/handle combination would have to be useful, since all my knives are users. I like pretty cutlery, but eye candy doesn’t always work in the field.
Here’s how the LP has played out so far.
Overall length: 10 inches
Blade length: 5-3/8 inches
Handle: Stabilized maple burl with blue spacers
Grind: Flat grind with micro bevel
Steel: CPM 3V
Comes with leather sheath
The good stuff:
Steel: CPM 3V is one of my favorite steels, and I have several knives that feature it. Is CPM 3V the best steel? It depends on how the knife will be used. It is relatively stain-less but it can build up a patina with use. MY SOP is to take along an alcohol wipe and clean the blade after getting blood or fish scales and goo on it. That will generally keep any staining from happening until the blade can be thoroughly cleaned.
The LP, according to Kendall, is tempered back to a 57/58 Rockwell. It should be a little easier to sharpen, he says, but keep the toughness of 3v. Time will tell.
Grind: Flat grind with micro bevel. A convex grind is my favorite, and I’ve proven to my satisfaction that that configuration works best for what I use a knife for. A flat grind, with regular stropping, will eventually evolve into a convex configuration.
As is, the knife is a great slicer, and there is no reason this knife won’t be a superior hunting knife.
Spear-ish Point: A spear point is an extremely useful point – many users prefer it over any other. It is hard to argue against a spear point for an overall knife. While I generally prefer a drop or clip point, I also have and use several knives with spear points. (I wouldn’t want to be without my L.T. Wright Genesis!)
The LP has a spear/drop point. It works very well.
Handle: This is where the custom knife comes in. I have large hands – my right palm measures four inches across – and long fingers. This means that the average knife handle (the average American male hand is 3-1/2 inches wide) will usually be slightly too small for me. The LP was designed for my hand, and it is thick and generous. I can get a solid hammer grip on it and it is very comfortable to use. Kendall can make your knife with any size handle. It is worth measuring your hand before ordering any custom knife.
My LP came with maple burl, but Kendall can use virtually any handle material to make your LP. Carp Knives also does re-handling.
Blade thickness: At about .10 inch, the LP definately has a thin blade, and this is one of the LP’s best attributes. The combination of thin blade and flat grind makes this a superb slicer. The LP’s blade thickness is just right.
Price: The LP’s base price is probably a little north of $200. This will vary depending on the materials used. This price is a steal for a custom, handmade knife created to your specifications. If that seems too expensive, you don’t deserve a knife of this quality.
Made in the USA: All Carp Knives are made in Alabama by an American craftsman. Carp Knives pays local, state and federal taxes, and the business contributes to the local community. Buy American!
Then there’s this nitpicking:
You didn’t read this far to just hear me praise the LP – I mean, I ‘m not writing advertising and don’t work for Carp Knives. While this knife is going to work very well for me, there are some things that could be a put-off to you.
The handle could benefit from being extended about one quarter-inch more onto the blade. Bark River’s Bravo handle is about perfect for most of us knife users, and this LP handle would fit many people better if it was longer. Maybe put a short quillon in that space? A brass crosspiece would look way cool!
More hump in the spine? I love the Canadian humped spine – it keeps the point from piercing the entrails when performing that initial spine-down, edge-up cut that opens up the abdomen of a big game animal. While this spine will suit most users, I’d like to see a little more curve.
Drop the point slightly? This fits with the increased spine hump and makes it more of a hunting tool.
Do you need a Carp Knives LP?
Well, do you like pretty knives, with a proven design that will work under the most extreme conditions? And do you like seeing quality custom work, where the pride in workmanship is evident? Do you want to support an American knifemaker who does excellent work?
If so, you might need a LP. Give Kendall a call and discuss your wants in a custom knife.
Mine’s not for sale.
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