Knife selection advice

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GDSO

Full Member
Apr 21, 2020
66
9
43
West Sussex
Hi All,

I would like to ask for a little advice. I have recently come accross the James Brand Hell Gap (https://shop.thejamesbrand.com/products/the-hell-gap?variant=20548820107334) which looks like a great shape. However, it's sold from the USA, made in China from s35vn and seems expensive.

hell gap.jpg

Does anyone have any suggestions for knives that are most similar in shape? The exact grind isn't important, but a similar size and shape. If it comes in a premium steel (M390, niolox etc) all the better. I've had a rummage on HH and found a few, looking for better ideas.

Thanks.
 

gra_farmer

Full Member
Mar 29, 2016
997
577
Kent
Anything from the lionsteel offerings would be better and price friendly. They have a few in similar style.

Real Steel have a good line up too
 

Terry.m.

Forager
Dec 2, 2014
203
20
Kent
Pathfinder oPK 1/2or 3 I think .
I have one can’t remember which but bomb proof, like a French trade knife.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

GDSO

Full Member
Apr 21, 2020
66
9
43
West Sussex
Thanks all. I was going to mention that I have the LionSteel M4 in M390 (which is superb) and am looking for something a little finer. The TRC Freedom being the ultimate, but it's out of my price range.

ESEE 3 looks interesting.
 
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Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,855
868
Canada
I like the look of the Falkniven R2 that came out a little while ago. But, then I'm not buying another knife, so I turned my critical eye off. :)

The F1 remains a good and moderately affordable knife, though it benefits from a bit of slimming behind the edge. The H1 remains, straightforwardly, a very good knife.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,855
868
Canada
This is just an opinion, but I think that Hell Gap knife is quite a specific thing. It looks like it will turn in the hand with that narrow unfigured handle, plus the extra bit of torque you get having a broader blade than handle. It's not the end of the world, like, but either a slightly more contoured handle or a flatter broader handle will stay put better in the hand.

It says it's a hunting knife.
 

Murat_Cyp

Full Member
Sep 16, 2020
107
28
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East Midlands
Way overpriced in my opinion. You can get a custom made knife from top UK maker for that money. This a general use knife I am sure you can find something similar in design for 1/3 of price fron Heinnie or Moonraker shops.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,377
1,356
Berlin
To ask for more than 300 £ for a Chinese industrial made knife while the European, Japanese and North American competitors usually sell such stuff for half the price is pretty brave!

I guess you could get a copy here custom made.

;)
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,770
1,741
Bedfordshire
Where does it say it is a hunting knife? The blurb on the James website portrays it as a general every day carry, suitable for both digging roots in the yard or dicing onions.

Upon further inspection and reading I do not think I would want to buy anything from the James store. I get the strong sense that they are selling their brand very hard. I think they are aiming to sell knives to people who do not otherwise know much about knives. The website is so over the top stylish, beautiful to look at, and heavy on telling you about the people that make the business and "stories" but very light on technical information, and repetitive of what there is.

What is the steel thickness, what is the hardness, what is the handle thickness, is it bonded or just held together by those two tiny screws? It doesn't matter whether this info is available elsewhere, the people that designed it, sell it and show it off with a dozen high quality photos don't tell you. That is the difference between marketing for people that don't know knives and people that do.

The sheath is nothing special. The knife is CNC profiled and the scales are CNC cut with nothing but some rounding over. It is like someone who is a designer of other things, maybe an artist, designed a knife on the basis of looks alone.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
Yes, it looks like the design of an artist who cancelled the job before the sheath was done.
 
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Fadcode

Full Member
Feb 13, 2016
2,755
780
Cornwall
Knife itself is a nice shape, but the handle leaves a lot to be desired, when wet would not give a good grip, you should look for a knife that is made to cover all types of conditions and has been designed to give you a good grip, such as this, even has
jimping on the hilt of the blade to give you a really good grip when using it. I am not sure whether this maker (MLL Knives) is still making he comes from Portugal, was on Faceache.
mll2.jpg
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,377
1,356
Berlin
I ask myself if you need such a ricasso at such a construction.

I guess the clueless clients who buy the James knife will cut themselves into the index finger of the holding hand because there is no ricasso.

I think that's the really weak point of that design. You can already see that problem in one of the photos of their homepage.

And that's surely the reason why no serious maker offers a knife that looks exactly like this.

You don't need a ricasso or finger guard if the handle is long enough and shaped correctly.

But I know the problem very well.
If I use a for me too small Opinel No7 instead of the for me correctly sized Opinel No8, and do pretty fast without special attention to this point a lot of different cuts with force, like it's usual if I take poles and pegs out of the wood in the evening, already tired, I also touch with the index finger the edge of the Opinel No7 from time to time.
Because I keep it shaving sharp I cut my skin immediately of course.
On longer tours it's nearly impossible to avoid that, it happens sooner or later, because you simply don't keep the attention every evening in regular use, especially if you aren't a beginner, because experienced persons use the knife intuitive. Of course I don't think about how to grab the handle each time. I rather look and concentrate at the piece of wood that I carve and the part of the blade that touches it.

That doesn't happen if I use the for me correctly sized No8, because the shape of the larger handle causes enough distance between index finger and edge.

If you look at the pure barrel shape of a classical wood handled Mora knife it's more obvious what's going on. The handle shape keeps your hand in the right place. You never touch the edge if you use the Mora Classic properly. There is no need to think about avoiding to touch the edge with the knife holding hand.

If it's sensible to buy a knife without hidden tang is a different question.
There are still quite a lot of summer survival knives on the market.
;)
 
Last edited:

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,770
1,741
Bedfordshire
As a further cross reference to support my position that James is all style over substance:
Carothers Performance Knives.

This is the sort of information one wants to see in the "about" section describing a knife.

Now the DEK1 is an EDC/defence knife designed for holding in sabre and reverse grips, so not what we really want for camping, but since the HellGap is described as EDC it isn't a bad choice. It is also currently available and is at exactly the same price point. It is also made with CNC profiled blade and CNC cut handles....but the similarity ends there.
Made in the USA, fully contoured handle executed by someone who knows knives and has professional experience with advanced CAD surface modelling, and in the 3V version, a custom heat treat tweaked to each batch of steel.
 
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Murat_Cyp

Full Member
Sep 16, 2020
107
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East Midlands
As a further cross reference to support my position that James is all style over substance:
Carothers Performance Knives.

This is the sort of information one wants to see in the "about" section describing a knife.

Now the DEK1 is an EDC/defence knife designed for holding in sabre and reverse grips, so not what we really want for camping, but since the HellGap is described as EDC it isn't a bad choice. It is also currently available and is at exactly the same price point. It is also made with CNC profiled blade and CNC cut handles....but the similarity ends there.
Made in the USA, fully contoured handle executed by someone who knows knives and has professional experience with advanced CAD surface modelling, and in the 3V version, a custom heat treat tweaked to each batch of steel.
I recently acquired their Behemother model and I can testify to the quality of fit and finish and good design decisions. When you convert the prices of CPK to GBP you will see that they sell the knives for less than most high-end production knives. Some people criticise them for using CNC, but I received several production and custom knives with uneven primary and or secondary grinds. When I have received my Behemoth I am impressed with the precision and symmetry of the bevels, I have never seen anything like it. Also, the sharpening on it was next level compared to other makers and companies. The edge came was hair popping sharp which was unexpected surprise for such a large knife. I got custom knives with a zero scandi grinds including sloyd knives which were not as sharp.
 
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GDSO

Full Member
Apr 21, 2020
66
9
43
West Sussex
Thanks all. I wasn't considering buying the Hell Gap given the price and Chinese manufacture, but was after something of a similar shape. That MLL looks nice.
 

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