Friday, March 30, 2012

SCAR Blades Grizzly Review; Multi-Tasking Animal!

     Whenever a new company hits the knife scene, you know I'm always game to take a look.  It's a competitive industry, & many of those who used to rule, are falling to lower standards, overseas manufacture, & just plain old bad customer service & poor consumer communication.  I'll admit the first time I perused SCAR, I was an optimistic skeptic.  Small new company, family owned, in my own Northwest region, tough fixed blades crafted carefully to withstand use & abuse, a lifetime warranty?  It was beginning to sound too good to be true, these are the traits of the companies in this industry who've grown into legends, & these guys are just warming up!

My Grizzly in gray, hanging out with a Fenix E21 flashlight

     Looking at the site got me really curious, as I saw that most of the knives had pretty reasonable suggested retail prices...IF they were as advertised.  Taking a chance on a fixed blade can be just as sketchy as blind-buying a folder, even though there are few, if any moving parts of the knife or sheath system.  I started looking at some of my favorite online knife shops & found one far Southeast of me that has provided me with great service for years.  The SCAR Grizzly caught my eye with its Spartan clean lines & usable look.  It's tactical to the eye, but the size & shape don't rule out all-out tool-type usage.  The pictures showed a nice thick spine & a simple yet ergonomic phenolic (think micarta) handle.  I got hooked on the idea of checking out the Grizzly, I like smaller fixed blades that keep it simple, like the ESEE Izula.  Well this was a step up from the Izula, in size & the fact that it comes with included handle scales & a kydex sheath.  I've espoused my love for ESEE's little ant both here & on the Facebook page, but DAMN if that little skeletonized handle doesn't bite during extended use!!

Standing Tall.

     I went ahead & ordered up my Grizzly in gray, because I just have too much damn black stuff, it all blends together, for real, between clothing, outerwear, gear, underwear, you name it!  I'm no ninja, I decided to lighten things up a bit.  My Grizzly was pleasantly lower in price on the site than the MSRP, you all know the drill in this & many other industries.  I don't judge knives on their retail price, their actual price, or if they can slay a side of frozen beef.  I usually judge the knives I spend my money on by how much enjoyment I get out of them.  Over the course of a couple months with this knife, I've grown to really love it, & appreciate its presence.  A good friend of mine from way back who knows his weapons & tools said "looks like the last knife I'd EVER buy!".  This baffled me..."What do you mean man? It's not dark black enough for you?", he continued "NO NO man!!! I mean it looks like the last knife I'd ever NEED to looks like THE ONE! If you only could choose one."
     He put it well, the Grizzly falls into that category for me based on its concealability, portability, yet ability to handle lager chores that might break your GQ carbon fiber auto, or destroy your $15 licensed firearms brand
Chinese copyright infringement knife.  It does indeed appear to be one of those knives that, should you not lose it, you could pass down to a son or daughter someday, & after they use the hell out of it, maybe they'd pass it down the line.  That's what the SB&T "Snakes" Facebook logo is all about , a smaller, young snake, in front of the older, taller snake, ready to receive his father's wisdom & tools, & know-how.

     The Grizzly is 1095 carbon steel, a proven performer in hard use blades.  Even though it's a non stainless, it takes abnormal use (abuse) & weather very well.  The handle is a well contoured phenolic laminate (again, think micarta).  It's 7 3/4" overall. 3" blade. Full tang. Black handle. Black kydex sheath. Weight: about 7 oz.  Again, big enough to really work, & light enough at under half a pound to pack all day.  I equated the size with Tops excellent Colin Despins Back Bite fighting knife.  Obviously 2 VERY different knives, but made of similar materials & their sizes are close enough, that if you can imagine the Back Bite's dimensions, look at my photos & you'll get a sense of how big this little Grizzly is.

SCARS blades are deferentially heat treated, so the cutting edge lands at about Rc 58, with the 3/16th inch spine remaining a tad softer to take impact & shrug off abuse
Who is SCAR Blades?

    So, over these weeks of carrying this guy around on my belt in the kydex sheath, I grew to like it more & more, the simple, yet impressive claims on their site all appeared to be true.  The sheath is a simple but effective kydex job with an angle-adjustable belt loop.  Of course, as with most sheaths, you could probably very easily modify things to suit your carry preferences.  The Grizzly never bothered me on the belt, & there are plenty of times where I'll throw it into a hoodie kangaroo pocket or the cargo pocket of a pair of shorts, in sheath, & it's even comfortable that way, as I said, around seven ounces, weighs less than some of my super jumbo folders that makes my pants sag.

      As I studied my knife intently I began to read more of the SCAR site.  I found them on Facebook too.  The Radford Brothers, the Radford family really, are the brains & hard work behind the SCAR name.  Casey & Shane Radford share the duties of crafting the Grizzly & its brethren.  Casey's wife Marci handles the office, marketing, & all of the numbers stuff.  SCAR has been building knives, & itself for around 10 years, even though the name is new to many of us.  From what Marci told me about their daily operations, Casey designs most of the blades & concepts, while Shane assists & perfects the superb fitting kydex sheaths they include with each knife.  They are located in Idaho, & as a unit, have 22 years combined experience handcrafting cutting tools that will reach a wide cross section of workers, soldiers & enthusiasts.

       Most readers know I'm not super-heavy on the abusive reviews to see whether the knife I just paid for will withstand a forward stab into a cement block or a ballistic jelly torso.  I'm more interested in the dynamics of these knife companies, knifemakers, & the people behind the blades.  Of course I'll tell you that the Grizzly excelled at simple & mundane work like breaking down recycling, whittling & even silly things like making sandwiches.  It's actually a pretty impressive all around food knife...AND a knife that you'll find perfect to use to process your food, the kind you just stalked & shot, & that will feed your family for a year or more!
I don't hunt, primarily simply because I've never had the opportunity come up at an opportune time, & I'd rather sit & fish with a beer in my hand!  But I have enough family & friends who hunt & I've been doing this long enough to unequivocally say that this is a fine hunter's knife, you'll notice how much belly the stout blade has for skinning, the tip comes up in a unique way so that the knife definitely has a sharp tip, but is almost curved to the point where the tip meets the spine for fine work.

  I like to show readers pretty pictures of my knives, so I usually tweak the best settings on my old 2007 point n shoot & shoot knives before I start using them.  It's YOUR job to go out & beat on your knife & see what I mean about the best of the best that you often see here.  I DID however, get a rare wild hare & decide to start using the blade to shave at & pry into a simple piece of thick firewood.  Squirming, not wanting to make my clean knife un-pretty, I used a thick stick to baton the Grizz into the wood, & I pulled it out about halfway down into the block, prying & levering from below the handle.  As expected, the knife looked pretty darn good, edge undamaged, & just a few discolorations from the wood friction that were easily wiped away with a wet rag.  The Grizzly was like "what dude? it's just a piece of firewood!?"

kydex sheath with simple belt loop & 360 deg rotation
     The kydex sheath supplied with this knife has an AWESOME fit.  It snaps in audibly the way a knife should, & just takes a grip of the handle & a push of your thumb against the top of the sheath & out snaps the knife.  There are no rough areas that rub the beautiful edge while the knife is being drawn or returned to the sheath, & there is no audible movement or sloppiness in side the sheath.  This sheath was crafted just as carefully as the knife, & I believe, is just as tough as far as sheaths go.  Yeah, you can wear the thing rotated upside down & the knife won't fall out.  Dunno why you'd need to, but the knife is in there good, & it takes obvious applied human mechanics to withdraw it, that said, it draws smooth & quick & is easy with both hands.  Shane Radford knows kydex as well as his brother Casey knows design.  The brothers of the Grizzly, the rest of the SCAR catalog is equally, if not more visually impacting than the Grizzly.  They make a knife for every occasion, & they'll even work with you if you want a more custom feel to your knife.  The aggressively angled Scorpion is an obvious military & law enforcement weapon, while knives like mine & their Hawkeye are more multi-purpose knives than can do whatever you make them do, whatever needs to be done.

yes indeed!
     Although SCAR has some time, & lots of experience under its belt, it seems it wasn't until the major web shops started carrying their stuff that people started taking notice.  In terms of the growing knife industry, sure they're the new kid on the block, but it appears to me they're earning their spot & that the best is yet to come.  I've talked to readers & friends who have since ordered a large number of the various knives SCAR offers & the feedback I have been getting is very good.  Just read all the comments on my preview post of this knife awhile back (a few posts back).  I handle, play with, look at or carry my Grizzly every day since I received it, & that's a feat considering how many knives I own.  I've been adding to the vault for probably 18 years & have blown entire paychecks on knives, gotten tons as gifts & traded so many that I cannot remember where they all came from.  It's not often that one single knife, especially a fixed blade, earns my respect enough that i keep it within arm's reach a couple of months after the initial "magic" of a new purchase has worn off.

     I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what this knife is capable of, my life isn't that exciting!  For much of the time I've had the knife I've been busier than usual with educational opportunities, but in general, it's not until summer that I get out & actually get some real color, & get off the computer & away from my foreign movie addiction.  The Grizzly will go with me.  My summer knife, regardless of what else I carry, is my old John Greco Companion fixed blade, built circa 1998 or so.  It is similarly built, but will be replaced by the new bear in town when I go out to camp & hike this summer.
     I think all of those "too good to be true" claims have been validated, I'm comfortable saying that this is probably the best "blind" knife purchase I've ever made, as far as being unfamiliar with a company & their output, & making the decision to put their wares to the test.  SCAR doesn't build cookie cutter knives, as one of our readers told me, he's a new SCAR fan, & I believe he now owns 3 of their knives.  He's right, these knives are made here in the USA with intent, & it's plain to me that the Radford brothers, & their SCAR Blades are just getting started.  I'm excited to see what this family has in store for the industry, & we, the knife buyers who fuel this fickle industry.  I'm glad to have one more SCAR (sorry, I couldn't resist!).


Dan said...

Great review Aaron! I think you have convinced me to check out SCAR's offerings. Unfortunately when I went to their site it doesn't look like they are making the Grizzly any more - well, I couldn't find it on their page at least. I hope that isn't the case because this seems like a nice size like you mentioned. I have also been getting into smaller fixed blades that can be EDCd without raising too many eyebrows so I totally see the appeal.

I'm also glad you took a leap here - as a webmaster, you have the ability to spread the good word to thousands of people so in some ways it's a noble gamble. I should probably roll the dice more often myself. Thanks again.

Dan @ BladeReviews

Aaron said...

Thanks Dan! The Grizzly is on their site but it's sort of hidden if I recall, I think you have to click on a heading that shows all the knives at once. Grizzly should be at the bottom.

Aaron said...