I’m an ‘each knife has its task’ kinda guy. I’ve seen people over the years try to use one knife for anything and not only is it embarrassing to watch it’s often also dangerous! “Yeah, I’ll open those biscuits with my Junglas” or “it’s ok, this hest will get through eventually if I keep hitting it!”
I have always worked to a 3 knife rule, one for small tasks, one for heavy chopping and a reasonably sized (3 or 4 inch) guy in the middle for the core tasks, certainly around the camp fire.
The heavy slot has long been taken up by my Ontario SP8, it does everything I want a large chopper to do and also wanders into small axe territory for me as well, anyway enough of that. I’ve tried a Junglas but (and this is a whole story in itself) I’ve never moved across to it!
For a long while my trusty original RC3Mil was my go to middle blade, recent times and the arrival of the PR4 have changed that somewhat, what a bit of kit that is!!!
And then we come down to the little guy, a spot held for as long as I can recall by my ESEE Izula, there whenever I need it and fine enough for the majority of small tasks I ask of it. Unfortunately though, the PR4 proved the undoing of the Izzy, it raised the bar a bit higher of what I wanted a blade to do, or moreover how it should feel when doing it.
And a quick word for ESEE, I’m not a fan-boy, those of you who have read my ramblings before know I’ve used and broken all sorts of knives by other makers in the past. I’ve not broken an ESEE yet and if/when I eventually do I may rethink my brand choice, anyway….
I’d heard of the CR2.5 but as it sat in the CR/JG/Camp Lore realm I hadn’t given it much attention. No-one was banging on about it and I can’t recall ever seeing a review of it in any form, good or bad. To this end it just slipped past me, not an option to consider at all.
Then the guys over at ESEE did something very clever, they rebranded their CR2.5, I don’t know why, perhaps a gimmick or maybe as they knew it’s potential hadn’t been realised and they needed to give it a fair crack, either way it worked.
Out it came with a black Oxide finish and orange G10 handle. Same old drills in the UK, no-one planned to stock any so I spoke to a few buddies and ordered a box full.
They landed shortly after the US release and it was clear from the first time I picked it up that it was a purposeful knife, first and foremost. The blade thickness at the thumb felt confident, the blade length felt just right and even for a chap like me with big hands the handle was long enough but just snug enough too.
The orange G10 handle felt soft yet firm enough and the colour shouted out “Go on, try and lose me!” I’ll get onto the handle later but first impressions were good.
It was the second black Oxide finished ESEE I’d owned, with the PR4 impressing me massively, so I was already sold on the finish. If it threw a spark half as well as that knife I’d be happy!
Leather sheath of quality beyond the price although straight away I could tell there wasn’t enough handle showing to draw confidently from it. I’ll get to that bit later!
So initial thoughts were very positive, it seemed a lot of small knife for the money and sat there on the side begging to be abused.
Fast forward a week or so and we were out in the bush. Very quickly this thing came into it’s own, performing a multitude of small tasks confidently and without surrendering any grip when dirty or wet.
From intricate fettling and carving work to cutting V’s in hearth boards for the bow drill, it was positive throughout. Small tasks with meat and game proved no issue with it feeling controlled throughout.
The black Oxide blade threw a spark fantastically and equally matched the PR4!
All in all it was not found lacking! 10/10 so far!
Now to the negatives, pretty much every knife has at least one, but they are always weighed up against the positives.
The sheath needs replacing or modifying, I put a small lanyard on to allow one handed draw without looking but my little finger and the two next to it take the cord whilst I do a 2 finger draw on the actual handle. I’ve spoken to others who find the same thing. Hey it’s not the end of the world but something I’ll have to address for safety reasons more than anything. You control a knife 100% at all times, be it in your hand or sheath, the alternative leads to injury. An easy fix and one I hope to achieve with the modification of the existing sheath in the first instance, the production of a dangler-neck sheath and the acquisition of an Armatus Carry sheath for it in the fullness of time.
Other negatives? It’s point is serious, almost needle-like and shows no sign of rounding or dulling without a fight. This is a positive but context is required to make my point (no pun intended!) Whilst it is clearly comfortable in and around Fish and small game I won’t be using it for gralloching deer or larger game. I like a more rounded tip, gut-hook ideally, when removing organs. This thing is a scalpel and it would be a travesty to keep it anything other than 105% sharp, perhaps it’s testament to my lack of surgical skills but I bet even the greatest neuro-surgeon wouldn’t be at his sharpest on the side of a Scottish hill, with a red stag, in the rain carrying a heavy barrelled .308.
This is a personal thing, not something I could mark it down for with a straight face!
This also leads me away from using it for something’s my Izula would be deployed on. At the range I use the Izzy for clearing the chamber, for a stuck round or similar. It has a wide blade and offers some ‘pry-bar’ ability at the lower end, there’s no way I’d use this fine point for stuff like that. I’m sure it could take it but why abuse it like that?
Another mention is worthy for the handle. I’ve not owned an orange handled knife before, not sure why, perhaps I thought them a bit gimmicky and ‘zombie knife’? This thing has changed all that. I could put it down and not lose it, the confidence this gave me was a new experience for me and I don’t often get those these days.
It’s changed my perspective on handle colours, heck maybe even blade colours, and I know it’s something the ESEE guys have been promoting from their jungle work for a long time. Perhaps it only just hits home when you do it yourself? I certainly think everyone (who actually uses a knife in the bush) should try an orange/green/yellow handle at some point, see how it makes them feel.
So, a minor negative in a sheath, not the knives fault. A personal and very minor negative for applications to suit my lifestyle, but not ones I can hold against it. This thing is excellent!
I’m sure it was a good knife in black/green but it passed me by. Would I use one in those colours now, possibly but why? All my knives are working knives, the thought of losing one in the heat of the moment is ridiculous, so the orange handle is the way forwards! Hey I’m even having some orange scales made up for my PR4 just for that reason!
So a great knife with a a multitude of uses, something that I now use daily and will even more so when Red season opens over here in the UK.
A ten out of ten for me as a blade, very well done ESEE, keep em coming!