So pretty knives should be safe queens, and only taken out to be admired?
Nope – this good-looking well-designed knife is intended to be used hard.
by Leon Pantenburg
Disclaimer: Beretta supplied the knife used in this review. Beretta is a Survival Common Sense affiliate, but nobody had any input in this review, and I was not paid to write it. This is my opinion and all I ever promise in any review is a fair shake.
My hunting buddies are used to me pulling out a new, beautiful knife and then using it hard.
Like the Jesse Hemphill Custom Damascus I used for gutting an Oregon Mule deer. Or the Ambush Tundra with the custom antique walnut handle used as a bait knife for catfishing. Or how about the custom Carp LP?- it went on a Mississippi River trip as my primary blade, and it was used for everything from whittling wiener and feather sticks to cooking. The Lon Humphrey Minuteman was fresh out of the box when my brother Mike Pantenburg gutted a whitetail buck with it.
IMHO, knives are for using, and as a knife reviewer, the only valid review is one based on how the knife performs, based on what it is designed for. There is no point in testing a blade to failure – give me a vise and a long piece of pipe and I can break any knife. Forget batonning firewood as a blade test – all that does is take up space on a video. The only batonning video I ever did involved a butter knife.
Out of the box, the Arno Bernard Hunter Model with Giraffe Bone Handle is jaw-dropping gorgeous. For a moment I considered leaving it at home. For a very brief moment. An instant. Then it went into my daypack for a Mississippi swamp deer hunt. I whittled some sticks while on stand. Later, the Hunter was used to help gut, and skin a whitetail buck. It works as well as it looks.
Arno Bernard needs no introduction of hardcore knife enthusiasts. Arno Sr., according to the company website, has been in the business for over 35 years. Arno Bernard has made a business of creating individual pieces of art with the four Bernard boys.
These are custom-made knives.
Here are the specs:
- Bohler N690 steel, Rockwell hardness of 59-60.
- Blade length: 3-1/2 inches
- Cutting edge: 3 inches
- Handle length: 4-1/4 inches
- Overall length: 7-1/4 inches
- Blade thickness: .120 inch
- Made for Beretta by Arno Bernard in South Africa.
Here’s the good stuff:
Steel: The Hunter blade is Bohler N690 stainless steel from Austria. The steel is heat treated and tempered using a liquid nitrogen process, leaving the blade at 59-60 on the Rockwell hardness scale. The blade has a mirror finish so it won’t scratch easily and will ease the cleaning of the blade afterwards. This worked really well. After getting thoroughly covered in blood, a quick wipe with an alcohol pad and paper towel got it looking good again. At home, it wasn’t hard at all to return the knife to pristine condition.
Blade length: At 3-1/2 inches, the blade is a little short for my preferences. In a hunting knife, I like a blade of between four and six inches. My go-to UP Bravo, Ambush Tundra, Bark River Bravo 1.25 LT and Carp LP all fit in this category and they are proven performers.
Point: The drop point is a really good choice for a hunting knife. My favorite is a clip with a swedge, but that isn’t necessarily the best choice for every application.
Handle: The handle is hand-finished for a comfortable fit. A variety of African animals inspired each Arno Bernard knife design, and they are named after these animals. This handle is made of a giraffe shin bone. I’ve never used a giraffe bone handle before, but this one was comfortable to work with and it didn’t get slippery when wet.
Grind: Each Arno Bernard blade is hollow ground freehand and hand polished.
Overall workmanship: Superb. Just plain gorgeous. This knife is a work of art. If it never gets used for anything else (Perish the thought!!!) the Hunter is worth having around just to look at and appreciate.
Sheath: Each sheath is custom fitted to each blade and saddle stitched, so each stitch is individually locked. The sheath is good-looking, as appropriate for a knife of this quality.
Then there’s this
I’m not writing advertising copy here, and you read this far because you might be considering buying a Hunter. I had to get really nit-picky, because I like just about everything about the knife.
Handle size: This is not a criticism of the knife – I wear size large gloves, and want a generous-sized handle. The Hunter’s handle is a little short and slim for my preferences. Someone with big hands might want to check out the other Arno Bernard models. But it works really well as a skinning knife.
Blade length: The Hunter worked very well for the work inside the whitetail’s abdominal cavity. But another inch of blade would have worked better. Again, other Bernard models have this covered.
Do you need an Arno Bernard Hunter?
For the one-knife hunter, this wouldn’t be my first choice. Again, personal preference. My hunting buddies use everything from three-inch folders to nine-inch Bowies, and all of them are successful in the field.
Is the Hunter the best hunting knife? Not for me. But it might be your Grail knife. If you appreciate world class workmanship, quality components and exotic handle materials, the Hunter might be just what you are looking for.
The Hunter retails for $479.50 Order yours here.
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