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ESEE Laser Strike


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Laser Strike

The ESEE Laser Strike or LS is the new and updated version of the original RAT model (by the same name), which was produced in 2000 by TOPS knives. Both versions were designed by Jeff Randall. He is the founder and co-owner of the well known and popular Randall's Adventure & Training (R.A.T.) company. The following quotes are from their website and tell more about them, than I ever could.

"Randall's Adventure and Training® is a recognized leader in Latin American jungle survival training and domestic survival training. Randall's Adventure and Training® also produces a quality line of survival gear and field grade cutlery for law enforcement, military applications and outdoor bushcraft under the ESEE® brand name. Our knives are made in the USA and backed by a 100 percent "NO QUESTIONS ASKED" warranty against all use and abuse. Currently, our gear is being used worldwide, including the conflict areas of Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Colombia and numerous places in between."

"Since 1997 Randall's Adventure & Training® has designed no-nonsense, affordable field knives specifically targeted to military, law enforcement, and the special operations community. Many of our knives now serve in combat zones around the globe. Our knives have a "no questions asked" lifetime warranty. ESEE Knives® is also setting the standard for many local, state and federal law enforcement officers when it comes to high performance, compact sheath knives with multiple carry options. The NTOA scored our 3-inch fixed blade a 4.77 out of a possible 5. In addition to our knives, we also offer survival, land navigation, tracking and other training courses along with free survival information "

After this short introduction it is time to get to know the subject of this review, my particular LS model.

Specifications:

Steel: AISI 1095 carbon steel @ HRC 55-57
Overall length: 254mm
Blade length: 125mm
Blade width: 36mm
Blade thickness: 5mm
Weight: 240g (including fire-steel and tinder), sheath is another 75g

About the steel:

This tried and true, oil hardening carbon steel is mostly used in springs and cutting tools. Simultaneously, very popular among both the custom knife-makers and the bigger knife-manufacturing companies. It is pretty much the preferred, standard high carbon steel for outdoor, bushcraft and survival knives. Deservedly so. It is tough, strong and resilient. It has decent edge holding and yet, it's still easy to sharpen. It is well worth to mention that, the heat treatment and manufacturing of all ESEE knives are done by Rowen Manufacturing of Idaho Falls, Idaho in the USA. They are one of the best in the business. Also, 1095 is carbon steel (not stainless), so it needs some regular and preventative maintenance to keep the rust away. Be sure to store it dry and to use some form of rust inhibitor or oil on the blade.

Components of the AISI 1095 steel:
 

Carbon: 0.9 – 1.03
Manganese: 0.3 – 0.5
Phosphorus: 0.03
Sulphur: 0.05

Overall impressions:

The knife came in ESEE's usual sealed, clear plastic bag. The package contained the knife and sheath, plus belt clip with mounting hardware, survival tips card, handle removal washer, para-cord lanyard with cord-lock and instructions.

Also, inside of the handle there is a magnesium/ferrocerium rod and two tinder tabs for emergency fire starting. The handle scales are fastened by slot-head screws and easily removable by using the provided flat washer as a screwdriver. Since the cutout is not waterproof, in my opinion moisture and water can and will get underneath the panels and could freely corrode the ferrocerium rod undetected (especially in and near a saltwater environment). Perhaps it is better to remove this little emergency fire kit from the knife handle and store it somewhere else.

At first glance the LS looks a bit "strange". It has a full, broad tang construction and there is a finger choil in the handle. The midsized blade is close to a spear point shape, but it is still a drop point design and it has a high saber grind with a secondary bevel. This edge was very sharp right out of the box. The protective black coat on the blade is very tough, but it has a rough surface texture, which creates more friction and fills up with whatever material is being cut. Eventually with use, this coat will smooth out and wear off. Generally, I am not a big fan of coated blades. The balance point of the knife is just behind the first handle screw (with the fire kit inside). The gray canvas micarta handle scales are flat with rounded edges. Although the handle is shaped and not uncomfortable, it still feels somewhat "boxy/rectilinear". Possibly it could benefit from a little palm swell in the panels. Also I would like to point out that, these micarta slabs are easy to clean with some warm water and soap/detergent in case they get soiled. Let us see some "in hand" shots in a few different grips with and without gloves.

There is an indentation in the right handle panel to use it as a hand-piece/bearing in a bow drill fire-making set. A bit more on this later...

The ambidextrous, "pancake style" sheath is made out of black Kydex and has lots of mounting options via the eyelets or the provided clip attachment. It provides a nice fit and excellent retention even in "upside down", inverted carry and has a sliding sheath-tension adjusting screw to fine tune tightness. Also, the bottom of the sheath has a nice sized drainage hole for quickly getting rid of any water or other liquid and built up moisture. This comes handy for cleaning, as well. The top edge of the sheath acts as a thumb rest and facilitates the one handed draw of the knife. The Laser Strike slides into its sheath with a nice audible click.

Practical use:

I have this knife for about 2-3 months now and I took it along on day-trips to the woods quite a few times, also used it for food preparation and other assorted tasks. Here are my observations and experience with this blade so far, grouped by field of use.

Woodwork and field use:

This is the arena where I have used my LS the most extensively. I made lots of feather-sticks for fire and just for fun. It was very easy to get nice, thin and curly shavings from both "plain" wood and fatwood.

The blade handled batoning and wood splitting well with minimal "damage" to the blade coating.

Some fruits of the batoning...

A little fire preparation here...

To test the strength of the blade-tip I did some stabbing and prying in some big logs. It worked rather well. There was no damage, whatsoever to the point of the knife.

Also, tried drilling with the tip. No problem there either.

Of course, I did not leave out some whittling from my scheduled assignments. Very fine point on a stick...

Nice, clean power-slice in some frozen stick, courtesy of the Laser Strike and the chest lever grip...

Some more assorted whittling...

I used the LS to make a bow-drill set without the bearing piece. Since the handle of the knife provides a good bearing for bow-drilling practice, I took advantage of it and tested this feature, as well. I have to say that, I have never had a problem making/improvising a hand-piece in the field, but this pre-made bearing saves time and effort and works rather well. (It goes without saying... Keep the knife securely sheathed during the drilling process!)

The Laser Strike performed nicely in the field/outdoor theater. It was quite handy and easy to direct, it had good control and gave no hot spots during longer or heavier work-sessions. However, in my opinion a convexed edge would improve the carving abilities of the blade. This easily can be done at home via a strop or sandpaper/mouse combo, for example...

Cutting, slicing:

Here are some photos of the knife working with as many different kind of materials, as I could find. This way we can get a good idea of the blade cutting and slicing capabilities. I have used "rubbery"stuff, such as pneumatic air-hose...

...bicycle inner tube...

...old car tire.

Fibrous materials, like rope...

..another kind of rope...

...and nylon webbing.

Some "plastic" materials, like PVC hose...

...electrical pipe...

...two different kind of plumbing pipes.

Of course I did not leave out the paper products. Sliced up some newsprint...

...and for good measure, quickly reduced this big cardboard box...

...to shreds.

The knife had no problems cleanly and easily slicing and cutting any of these materials.

Food preparation:

The Laser Strike is not going to replace your main kitchen knives, but the high flat, saber grind geometry of the blade performed nicely in the food processing assignments. Furthermore, I think this knife would do even better in the kitchen without the rough protective coating. Here are some of the pictures taken during these proceedings. Nice, thin and even salami slices...

You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and machine-sliced bread...

The LS brings home the bacon...

Cleaned and chopped some pineapples easily.

I experienced just a little tendency here to split (rather than slice) the harder vegetables.

Dealing with an apple in the field...

Conclusions:

This knife has a no nonsense, simple and straightforward design. It is well built from time proven, popular materials. It is tough and strong in a nice, useful size. It has an excellent sheath and the best warranty in the business. In addition, this package has some extra features, such as the hidden fire-kit and the bow-drilling divot in the handle panel. The Laser Strike managed every task in my scheduled trials pretty good. Throughout these tests the knife suffered no damages at all, other than the normal wear in the form of scratches in the protective blade coating. Like I said earlier, the handle did not have a tendency to create hot spots in one's hand during heavy work or extended time periods. I have touched up the edge of the blade on the fine Sharpmaker rods once with a few swipes in order to restore the original "hair-popping" sharpness. The blade has good edge holding and still sharpens up quick and easy. In my opinion this knife would serve anybody well as a survival/field/outdoor knife or even fulfill a tactical/military role. If you are in the market for a midsized outdoor knife, I can wholeheartedly recommend this ESEE LS model for your consideration.

Thanks for reading!
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