ESEE Knives – Laser Strike Review

posted in: Gear Review, What's New | 14

 

Back in the winter of 2011, my wife gave me the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife as a Christmas gift.  Since then, I’ve been using the knife for everything from trailer camping to backpacking to handy work around the house.  It’s held up well and was extremely easy to keep sharp.  The only problem I ran into during my 1+ year of solid use was that during home remodeling, I was using it as a pry bar to remove old baseboards from the wall.  During this time, I noticed the tip of the knife had bent slightly in the direction I was prying.  Now I know the knife wasn’t made to be a pry bar, but still, I was alittle disappointed by it bending.  Otherwise, the knife performed excellent and I still feel it’s a great knife, especially at the price.

ESEE Knives – Laser Strike

That said, I know a lot of guys out there, including myself, are always looking for that one, “do it all” -  “go to” knife.  Well, recently a friend of mine introduced me to the ESEE brand of knives and upon inspecting his ESEE Laser Strike, I had to get one.  I mean this thing is awesome and in my opinion, it’s a well designed and well made bushcraft / survival knife.

I ordered mine from an online company called Knifeworks.  They were having a sale and I was able to get mine with custom laser engraving for around $120 shipped.  Knifeworks.com provided accurate shipping information and I received my knife in just a few days.

The knife arrived packed nicely in a plastic bag with some ESEE literature regarding the knife as seen in the pictures below.

ESEE Laser Strike included literature
ESEE Laser Strike included literature page 1
ESEE Laser Strike included literature page 2
ESEE Laser Strike included literature page 2

Besides the paper literature, the package also contained a small plastic card with basic survival information printed on it.  I thought this was a nice touch and (no surprise) fits perfectly into the optional accessory pouch (more on that later).

ESEE Laser Strike survival card
ESEE Laser Strike survival card – front
ESEE Laser Strike survival card - back
ESEE Laser Strike survival card – back

The blade and overall length is a good size at 10″ and everything about the construction of the knife and a sheath appeared to be high quality.  Note the blotches on the handle is just water from the grass and NOT a factory defect.

 ESEE Laser Strike overall length
ESEE Laser Strike overall length

The  ESEE Laser Strike comes with a very well made Kydex sheath.  I say well made because the knife clicks into place with almost zero free play.  You can adjust the retention of the knife by tightening or loosening the tension screw located towards the opening of the sheath.  There are holes drilled along the side of the sheath for adding accessories.  As you can see in the picture below, ESEE supplies you with a small washer attached to a length of 550 paracord.  This washer can be used to unscrew the handles to access your emergency fire starting materials (more on this later as well).

 ESEE Laser Strike overview
ESEE Laser Strike overview
 ESEE Laser Strike handle removal tool - the washer
ESEE Laser Strike handle removal tool – the washer

For attaching the knife, ESEE Laser Strike comes with a standard belt clip that’s surprisingly strong.  It is held in place by screws and appears to be removable for using other types of belt or attachment clips.  I recently wore it on a hike where I made lots of jumping movements and there was no fear of the knife or sheath accidentally coming off.

 ESEE Laser Strike included belt clip
ESEE Laser Strike included belt clip

Earlier, I mentioned this being a well designed bushcraft / survival knife.  Here’s one of the reasons why.  Check out the dimple in the handle.  It’s not there just for looks.  It’s a bow drill divot designed into the handle!  Pretty cool, right?  It’s something so small, yet it shows the level of thought that ESEE put into designing their knives.

 ESEE Laser Strike bow drill divot
ESEE Laser Strike bow drill divot

Moving onto the blade.  The blade is 4.75″ long with a 4.5″ cutting edge. It is .188″ thick and made of 1095 high carbon steel with a Rockwell hardness scale of 55-57RC.   What does that mean?  It basically means it’s a very hard tool steel used to make chisels and fine knife blades.   As you can see in the second picture below, there is some nice jimping along the top.  Not the most aggressive, but certainly substantial enough for use.  What’s more, these knives are still made right here in the USA by Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Be careful, this knife ships extremely sharp!

 ESEE Laser Strike - made in USA - thank you ESEE for not selling out for higher profits
ESEE Laser Strike – made in USA – thank you ESEE for not selling out to higher profits
ESEE Laser Strike blade thickness and jimping
ESEE Laser Strike blade thickness and jimping

When I ordered my knife from Knifeworks.com, they offered laser engraving and I thought it would be neat to get “Modern Bushman” engraved.  What I didn’t realize was how nice the engraving would turn out.  Good work Knifeworks.com!

The Modern Bushman edition ESEE Laser Strike
The Modern Bushman edition ESEE Laser Strike

Now, as I said earlier, this is a bushcraft / survival knife.  Staying true to form, the folks at ESEE built the very essence of survival into the knife.  Yes, we’re talking about fire: more specifically, the ability to create fire.  Remember that washer I mentioned earlier?  That washer is used to disassemble the handle to reveal a hollowed out section which contains a magnesium bar with an attached flint and two fire tinder tabs.  The tinder tabs are compressed in there, so before you use it, it’s a good idea to fluff it out a bit.

ESEE Laser Strike - handles removed to show fire building materials
ESEE Laser Strike – handles removed to show fire building materials
Close up of the fire building materials inside the ESEE Laser Strike
Close up of the fire building materials inside the ESEE Laser Strike

Now for the accessories.  Well, per ESEE’s website, there aren’t many accessories for the Laser Strike.  As of 05Apr2013, the only accessories available for the Laser Strike is Molle Back and the Molle Clips.  However, based on my friend’s suggestion, I ordered the ESEE 5 Accessory Pouch and a ESEE 4 Tek Lok.

ESEE Laser Strike Accessories
ESEE Laser Strike Accessories
ESEE 5 Accessory pouch with included tin
ESEE 5 Accessory pouch with included tin

The accessory pouch is designed to fit a large Altoid candy tin (included) which can be used to hold a small survival kit.  The ESEE 5 Accessory pouch, while not designed for the Laser Strike, fits perfectly on the Laser Strike’s kydex sheath and securely fastens with the supplied screws.  The Tek Lok on the other hand, is a different story.  The Tek Lok is just another way to securely attach the knife to a belt (my preferred method).  However, since the Tek Lok wasn’t designed for the Laser Strike, some additional materials are required to secure it to the sheath.  When I do this modification, I will post an update.

ESEE 5 Accessory Pouch attached to the Laser Strike
ESEE 5 Accessory Pouch attached to the Laser Strike

That pretty much covers how the ESEE Laser Strike is shipped from their dealer.  Now in a effort to make it more useful to me, I’ve added a few things to complete my kit.  On the outside, I’ve added an emergency whistle on one side and a ferro rod on the other side.  Both pieces are held in by 550 paracord, however, I plan on replacing the 550 paracord with a 1/8″ inch elastic cord in the near future.

Completed kit as seen from above
Completed kit as seen from above
Emergency whistle attached to the accessory pouch
Emergency whistle attached to the accessory pouch
View of the ferro rod attached to the sheath
View of the ferro rod attached to the sheath

Here I go bringing up that washer again, but I didn’t like the way the washer was just dangling off the 550 paracord.  Running, the tiny washer would flop around and make a tiny sound which was slightly annoying.  So, in an effort to get rid of the aforementioned annoyances, I sewed the washer into the sheath.  My logic was that in an event where I have to use the fire kit out of the handle, the last thing I was going to worry about was tearing the stitching off the washer.

A new home for the ESEE washer
A new home for the ESEE washer

Inside the tin I’ve added a few things I thought may come in handy during a survival situation.  My kit includes:

  • plain condoms – for use as a water container x 2
  • tube of petroleum jelly – lip balm and fire starting x 2
  • cotton balls – for cleaning a wound and fire starting x 4
  • large safety pins – various uses x 4
  • LED pinch light – illumination and signaling x 1
  • small Bic lighter – fire starting x 1
  • tube of Chloro-Prep – disinfectant x 1
  • rubber tourniquet – first aid use and fastening x 2 feet
ESEE Laser Strike survival kit
ESEE Laser Strike survival kit

Overall, I feel the ESEE Laser Strike represents quality.  It’s appears to be trail worthy and designed with functionality in mind.  In other words, the knife is very well thought out and I have no doubts about the quality of the ESEE Laser Strike.  This knife now has a permanent spot in my survival tool box and I have a feeling it will provide anyone with a lifetime of serviceability.

ESEE Laser Strike review
ESEE Laser Strike
~ John, Modern Bushman

14 Responses

  1. I know a number of bushcrafters swear by their ESEE knives, its a great choice. They are definitely pricey however.

    As an experiment, I bought the Ontario Old Hickory 7″ butcher knife. Its 9 dollars, and its 1095 high carbon heat treated steel. I am going to run a battery of tests on it and see how it hold up. For 10 dollars, its a worth a shot. It also fits in the standard KABAR sheath, also cost about 10 bucks. It doesn’t have any fancy features, but its great steel at a super low price, hopefully it holds up well!

    • Kirk: Yeah, how’s it going Kirk? It’s been awhile. I’m sure your experiment with the Old Hickory will further prove that the best knife in the world is the one you have on you when you need it. That being said I have a feeling it will hold up well to everyday use just fine unless you plan on doing some serious bushcrafting. And even then, I’m sure it will last quite a long time with care. Just think, back in the day, folks fashioned very crude blades from stones and bones and still manage to live as long as they did – John

  2. Its going well! I have been hiking and trail running quite a bit, but I haven’t been camping or hunting as much as I would like. I am going to try adventure racing to brush up on my map/mountaineering skills.

    Yea I wanted to go “old school” and see if I can hack it! And if it doesn’t work, I didn’t burn alot of cash trying.

    • Kirk: sounds like a good plan. I plan on going out for an overnight hike tomorrow. Going to do alittle fishing and test out my new ESEE Laser Strike.

  3. Richard

    I bought one of these, mostly to try it. It’s truly a great knife, but I ended up giving it to my son. I’ve been carrying a Chris Reeve Pacific for years now, and I’ve never run across anything that made me want to retire it. Yes, I know it’s a pricey thing, and their leather sheath for it comes dear as well. But the quality of this thing is amazing, and it takes (and holds) an edge that’s not to be believed (I use an edge-pro sharpener). If you’ve ever picked up a tool that seemed perfectly proportioned to your hand, you’ll know how this knife feels in mine.

  4. Kool bit of kit bushman. Very good review.

  5. I received the Laser Strike from my wife and I want to get a tek-lok for horizontal belt carry, did you ever post that update? What do I need to make it work?

    • Tim M: I haven’t installed the Tek Lok on my Laser Strike yet. I’ve been so busy with the baby. Anyway, if you get yours done first, please let me know how it goes.

  6. Thank you for the review! I finally had to retire my fathers survival knife he carried in Vietnam. I was looking at several different knives and you sold me on the Laser Strike. What an amazing tool. When I hold it it feels mated to my hand. The first real test for it will be next month on and excursion to Yellowstone.

    I didn’t care for the washer either but I added a second washer and slip lock to the other side to stabilize the washers and make it easier to lash. My wife mad me a lanyard out of 8.5′ of 550 cord. The way she braided it gives me enough room for my wrist and an extra handle for chopping leverage. As a former Ranger I hate wasted space and useless weight. Thanks Bushman!
    James

    • James: I’m glad you liked the LaserStrike. I’ve just it here and there for awhile now and I absolutely love the knife. Lately, the LaserStrike has been going out when I go hiking/backpacking and although it’s on the heavy side in terms of ultralight backpacking, my fondness for the knife offsets the weight penalty.

  7. […] sheath is very comfortable. If you’d like a more indepth look at the ESEE Laser Strike, click here for the full review of the ESEE Laser […]

  8. It is a bit on the heavy side but as you said well worth it. I used it to split seasoned firewood and the only damage was to the paint. I left my mallet behind to save o weight so I used it for tent stake installation as well. On a hike we got rained on for a few hours and due to my neglect the knife was left in the sheath and rusted the laser etching over night. A piece of steel wool and oil fixed that. I have to thank you again I would’ve gone with a BK or something else had I not read your review. I keep this knife with me as much as possible. I love this knife and trust it as well.

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