Pete Winkler’s recent win on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” just proved what some of us already knew: Winkler, owner of Cross Knives, produces some excellent blades.
by Leon Pantenburg
Knivesshipfree is a Survivalcommonsense sponsor. I didn’t receive any free knives, and make no promises on any equipment reviews other than that I will be fair. Many of the knives I review are for sale at a reduced price.
I was a visionary (I claim) when it came to Cross Knives. Long before “Forged in Fire” show featured Pete Winkler, I thought his knives looked really good. I ordered a Little Gent because it was such a pretty knife, and specs showed it was made of top quality components. (Here’s Pete’s win.)
When I opened the box, the workmanship proved to be impeccable. But the handle proved to be too short for my large hands, so I returned it. (Knives Ship Free allows return of products within 30 days of purchase, no questions asked.)
I then ordered a Lil Whitetail Hunter and ran it through its paces. (Check out the review.)
After various whittling, carving, bushcrafting, etc, the finale came when I went deer hunting in October. I didn’t kill anything but time, but a youngster I was hunting with got his first buck.
I used the Whitetail on the mule deer very effectively, using it to gut the buck, split the ribcage and for some of the skinning. The knife performed flawlessly. Most people would have been happy to let it go at that.
But the Whitetail would be a better hunting knife, IMHO, if it had a little longer blade than the four-inch version that comes with it.
Nit-picky, ticky and probably obsessive-compulsive. I know. But that’s how I am when it comes to hunting gear that might be needed for survival tasks. My favorite blade length for a hunting knife is about five inches, and anything less leads to a nagging concern that I might be happier with a different knife…
So when the All Around Hunter came out, I ordered one immediately.
It arrived, in stabilized mesquite. When I opened the box, it was love at first sight.
Here are the specs:
- Model Name: All Around Hunter
- Handle Material:
- Overall Length: 9.26 (235mm)
- Blade Length: 4.53 (115mm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.15 (3.59mm)
- Weight: 7.9oz.
- Blade Steel: A2 Tool Steel
- Made in USA
The good stuff:
Appearance: Don’t buy a knife because it’s pretty. Buy it because it will work well for you. The Hunter has the best of both worlds. The stabilized mesquite handle with the custom pins is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s the kind of knife you’ll be proud to carry. In fact, some people might decide it’s too pretty to use hard, and decide to keep it at home in the safe. Not me. And don’t you be one of those people.
Handle: At 4.73 inches, the handle fits my large hand very well. It is well designed, and the stabilized wood proves to be almost tacky when it gets covered with blood or other slippery fluids. I could use the similar-sized Whitetail handle with complete safety, even though I had to reach inside the buck’s abdominal cavity, through the blood, to cut the esophagus during field dressing.
Steel: A2 and CPM 3V are my favorite knife steels, and frankly, I can’t tell much difference in edge-holding ability. CPM 3V is less likely to stain, but that doesn’t bother me one way or the other. A2 appears to be a little easier to re-sharpen in the field, but again, neither steel will probably need it.
All things considered, I generally give the nod to A2, just because of the lower initial cost.
Point: A drop point with a thin tip is a superior point configuration for a hunting knife. It allows the initial piercing of the carcass to get the field dressing started, and the lower point keeps it from hitting the entrails when making the cut that opens up the abdominal cavity. For skinning around the shoulders and neck, this configuration is hard to beat.
Blade length: A four-to-five inch blade is about perfect for my hunting needs. Like anything, this is subject to individual preferences. (Does blade size matter?)
This 4.53-inch blade will do just fine.
Spine: I like a 90-degree spine. That allows you to scrape a ferrocerium rod to make firemaking sparks or to shred tinder. Save the sharp edge for other tasks.
Sheath: The knife comes with a sturdy leather sheath that is also handmade. Like the knife, it is good-looking.
Based on my experience with the Lil Whitetail, I have nothing but high expectations for the All Around Hunter.
My big game season was a bust this fall. I didn’t draw an elk tag, and because of various tasks associated with selling my house, I only got to hunt for deer on opening day. My usual hunting party had to get along without me this year.
But Oregon has a spring bear hunt, and I have a tag. There is also the potential for turkey hunting. I’ll be using the All Around Hunter. and I’ll let you know how the knife ends up working out.
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