Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Heart the Izula, from ESEE Knives

from top; Izula II with micarta handle slabs and an extra half inch of handle length, orange ltd. ed. Izula, and basic black Izula

Bullet ants rule! An appropriate namesake for such a small, yet powerful & adaptable knife

My Izula pile, sans green & tan.  I'm ready to go outside!
           I sometimes get a little compulsive, well...maybe a little obsessive too.  I have an original Tan colored Izula, from back when Esee Knives was RAT Cutlery.  I also have an Esee Izula in Green, which is cool.  My 3rd Izula was the black one you see here.  I received the micarta-clad Izula II as a gift this past holiday season, & of course, the Safety Orange Izula was a no-brainer, introduced as a knifeworks.com exclusive.  I've also seen a cement gray Izula around, but at this point, I think I pretty much have the whole "hard-use, skeletonized neck knife" thing covered pretty well.  I've found I don't need the "survival kit" that comes as a fairly pricey add-on option to these knives.  I'm happy to throw any of these on a ball-chain, or light cord with a cordlock, around my neck.  They're simple, tough as nails, and depending on where you shop, very reasonably priced, especially if you forgo the survival kit option.  1095 is a great steel, very adaptable to almost any task, it sharpens up easy on pretty much whatever you have on hand.  Forgot your ceramic sharpening kit or pocket diamond hone on a camping trip?  Use the textured ring on the bottom of your ceramic coffee mug.  One of my favorite improv-sharpening techniques!  1095 is one of those steels that can take an edge with this sort of MacGyver-ism.

     The skeleton-style basic Izula weighs barely 2 oz. & includes a polymer (pretty much injection molded plastic) sheath.  It's not Kydex, but it sure retains the knife well, each knife snaps in solid, and Esee's tolerances are so tight, that each Izula, regardless of handle style, is 100% interchangeable with the sheath of any of its counterparts.  I like the simplicity, first and foremost; tough sheath with a fail-proof fit, good strong carbon tool steel which sharpens up like a dream, and a total lack of "bells & whistles" (as long as you get the basic kit, without all the survival stuff).  That being said, the survival kit options are pretty cool, you get a bunch of little nicknacks to round out your personal survival kit; a MOLLE lock, paracord, ferro fire rod, hardware and a whistle, among other cool stuff.

This is what you get when you pay for the survival kit option, some neat little odds & ends, I just already have most of this stuff, so I personally don't need it.
          My original tan Izula is numbered 0144, from RAT (Randall's Adventure Training) Cutlery's original run back in, I believe 2008, I ordered it around the Holiday season that year.  I liked it immediately, and it quickly found a place around my neck, or in a jacket pocket, performing daily tasks normally suited for my right-front pocket folder, which varies day-to-day.  Rowen Manufacturing is Esee's manufacturing partner, and they craft excellent stuff.  It's safe to say if Rowen ever wanted to produce a knife line under their own name, they'd have a ready-made fanbase, as their name is on every fixed blade Esee knife, and I understand they have collaborated with Idaho's TOPS Knives (an excellent company as well) on occasion.  Lion Steel, Italy's king of big, burly custom-quality folding knives, is producing the Esee folding HEST DPx knife, a folding variation of the Esee/Robert Young Pelton knife.  I still haven't held one, but I know there are lots of us wanting to get our hands on one, it's safe to say it's going to be a beast.  Esee is also working on a folding variation of the Izula, with Lion Steel at the helm, that's another knife I'm looking forward to!

     It seems the mighty little Izula fixed blade knives are thought of, primarily as outdoor knives.  They seem to fill the role well, and eagerly keep on going under hard use.  That's one of the neat things about Jeff Randall, Mike Perrin & Co., they are survivalists & outdoorsmen first, all of their knife designs come from the fact that these men are walking survival technique encyclopedias who put performance first in their knives, never worrying about trends like fashionable blade styles, or buzzword super-steels.  I don't specifically carry knives as weapons, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about those "what if?" moments.  How would my carry-choice on a given day affect the outcome of a random attack or confrontation perpetrated by a random, violent individual?  Would my past martial arts experience help me at all, or am I too out of shape ?  Has it been too long?  Those questions aside, & the fact that the Izula is an outstanding little camp blade aside as well...I'm convinced that if called upon, in properly trained hands, or the hands of somebody defending life & limb while running on adrenaline, that the Izula could operate as an excellent force equalizer, after all, they say the best weapon is the one you have with you when you need it.  I guess that's why I appreciate this simple design so much, it's so rudimentary, so basic, but that's the beauty, and the reason it can fill so many different knife roles, it's a knife capable of being what you need it to be.  It's adaptable to nearly any situation.
"Escuela" being school, Esee is an acronym for "School of Survival, Escape & Evasion"
Formerly RAT, for Randall's Adventure Training, namesake of founder, Jeff Randall

The Izula II is a bit heavier, because of the micarta handles, but only .5 inches longer, it's still within my acceptable range to wear as a neck knife.  It can even be thrown in a pocket comfortably.

More info @ Eseeknives.com


CTone said...

"1095 is one of those steels that can take an edge with this sort of MacGyver-ism."

That's exactly why it's my favorite steel. I find that it's pretty hard to get even a decent edge from some of the steel coming out of Crucible.

Aaron said...

for sure!!
a person doesn't even need to be "good" or practiced at sharpening to usually get at least a satisfactory edge on steels like 1095 etc. I agree, I find CPM S30V to be ok to do light "touchup" sharpening on a well worn diamond, or medium ceramic hone, but full scale sharpening...forget it! D2 is seeing a comeback too lately, and despite being a non-stainless, I find it difficult to re-sharpen from just plain dull. Good thing is though, that D2 edges tend to go & go. I agree on some of the hi tech Crucible steels for sure, I hear reports of them being too brittle sometimes as well, edge chipping etc.
take care!

rawhide said...

this drew the last straw. been eyeing this one for quite some time. im on an izula frenzy since i saw this. i even dreamt of the knife last night. the big problem is there are no dealers of it here in manila.. not cool! my sister will have to buy one for me when she visits socal by march. i'll get two, cause im lovin the micarta scales, as much as im eager to do paracord magic on another one. thanks for a wonderful post man.

Aaron said...

hey rawhide! sorry it took me awhile to put up your comment, I've been offline for a few days...yeah you can usually do international shipping on the big retail knife sites, but shipping can get VERY expensive outside of the USA. Definitely get one though! they are very cool! As you can see I'm a bit obsessed, it's just such a cool, basic little knife. My "carry" Izula is the plain black one, i thread a bead-chain through the holes & slot on the sheath so it stays flat hanging against my chest when it's around my neck. I also sometimes carry an Izula on a piece of thick (but soft) cotton cord, using a cord-lock to secure it, that way, just like a bead-chain, it'll release if it snags or somebody pulls on it trying to choke me! ;)
Seriously though, good decision, send your Sister some $$ and ask her to buy you 2 of em! you won't regret it!
take care