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ESEE 4 Survival Knife Review

ESEE 4 Survival Knife Review

Posted by admin on Jul 8th 2017

Randall Adventure Training has been around since 1997 as a military training school in the art of jungle survival. They also trained law enforcement and civilians in jungle survival. Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin realized that there weren’t any knives best suited for what they were teaching. So they developed their own line. The very first knife design that they developed was the RTAK. For them to be able to produce this knife, they signed a five-year contract with Ontario Knives. Jeff and Mike then wanted to, “build a higher quality line of knives outside of the mass production capabilities of Ontario”, so they began their own company which they named RAT Cutlery. However, they later changed their name to ESEE to avoid confusion. They currently make fixed blades and survival gear in the United States of America. ESEE focuses on making survival knives that can take heavy use and a hard beating. They have a very loyal following because of how reliable their knives are and because the knives are always backed by a warranty; one of the best warranties in the knife industry. Today I decided to focus on one of their knives in particular—the ESEE 4.


The ESEE 4 is what they call the “wilderness” model of the ESEE 3. Some of the main differences in the two knives are that the ESEE 4 has a thicker blade. It is a stronger, heavier duty version of the ESEE 3, but it is not as tough as the ESEE 5. The ESEE 4 is mainly designed to be a heavier duty camping knife—a knife that can stand up to the adventures of the woods. Many people carry this knife as their everyday carry knife, because it is a dependable knife that can stand up to almost any task. Yet, it is not a huge knife like the ESEE 5.


The blade on this knife is a 4.5-inch blade. Of this length, you can cut with 4.1 inches of it. The thickness of the blade is .188 inches. You can get this blade in either a partially serrated version or a plain edge option. This blade is shorter than the ESEE 6 blade, and really it is shorter than most outdoor or survival knife’s blade, but having the shorter blade makes this knife a better candidate for a survival situation. With the smaller blade, you have more control over it. This means that you can skin, cut, and even use the knife for sewing. The knife has a full tang, which means that the steel of the blade extends all the way through to the butt of the handle. Having a full tang gives you a more durable knife that can take on the heavier duty tasks that you throw at it. If you are using this knife for a survival situation, you are going to be very grateful that you have a full tang. Another huge benefit of having a full tang knife is that if your handle breaks, which it never should, but if it does, you still have a handle on your blade. You can wrap almost anything around the bottom half of the steel and you still have a full knife.


The blade is flat ground and has a drop point silhouette. The drop point design makes this a great candidate for using on almost any purpose. It has a large belly, which helps slice things. The drop point style gets its name because the point of the blade is low compared to the spine. Some pros of the drop point design are that the energy of cutting starts to disappear as it approaches the tip, which gives you more control. A drop point makes for a great hunting knife because it excels at skinning. The shape of the blade also works very well for pushing strokes, which is what you do when you are shaving wood to make tinder. It also is fantastic for survival situations, because you do have a strong, controlled tip. The spine of the knife is a thicker spine, and that along with the drop point make the knife fantastic for batoning. However, because of the thick spine and the drop point this is not a good knife for piercing and stabbing.


The blade on this knife has a large choil, which is the unsharpened part of the blade that connects to the handle. Because of the size of the choil, it makes the blade easier to sharpen than a knife without a choil. This blade on this knife is a crazy sharp blade that can hold an edge adequately.


On the spine of the blade, there is jimping. Jimping is serrations that are on the back of the blade. These serrations give your thumb a place to sit and add texture so that you can have a better grip while performing intricate cutting details.



The steel of this blade is 1095 high carbon steel. This steel is tough, but it is not a stainless steel. This means that the knife is going to be prone to rusting, staining, and corrosion. To prevent the staining, rusting, and corrosion, ESEE powder coats the knife. You still need to make sure the blade stays as dry as you can. Another thing you can do to extend the life of the steel is to lubricate it. By lubricating it after use, you can prevent stains and rusts. The powder coating on this blade is a thicker coating, which cuts down on your slicing abilities.  Unfortunately, this steel is also more prone to chipping than some other steels that you could find. But a pro of the 1095 steel is that it makes the blade very easy to sharpen, even in the field or on the go.

ESEE noticed its users distress over the poor quality steel on the original version, so they have recently released a new version of the 4. This new blade is made out of 440C stainless steel. This steel is very resistant to corrosion. This is a high strength steel with moderate corrosion resistance. It has good hardness and wear resistance.  This is a better choice of steel if you are going to be using it for your outdoor adventures and tasks. But, the 1095 steel is a tougher steel. This steel is also uncoated, which makes it a more suitable knife for slicing.

Because the 1095 steel is tougher than the 440C steel, you will get ESEE’s lifetime warranty with the 1095. You do not get the lifetime warranty if you choose the 440C steel. One of the most commonly heard complaints about the ESSE 4 is the two options of steel you are presented with. But, if ESEE were to truly upgrade the type and quality of steel, you would have to pay a much higher price for the knife.



The handle on this knife is made out of linen Micarta scales. Linen Micarta is one of the most common forms of Micarta that you are going to find. It is made similarly to G-10. To build linen Micarta, you take layers of linen cloths and soak them in phenolic resin. The finished material is lightweight, strong, and it looks classier than G10. Micarta really has no surface texture because it is so smooth to touch. But, because this handle is made out of scales, you will have a very good grip on your handle. This grip remains whether the handle is wet or dry. Another big bonus about having such a large choil is that when you need to choke up on the knife, this choil will work as a finger groove.


ESEE has been known for how well they design their handles. This specific knife is definitely not exempt from that reputation. The handle on this knife is the same handle of the ESEE 3, except it does not have the same thickness. They keep using this handle because it is trusted and well liked. This handle has been tested when it was put on the ESEE 3 and it had fantastic reactions. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This handle fits fantastically in almost any hand. On the butt of the handle there is a rounded pommel with a convenient lanyard hole.


The sheath on this blade is truly a fantastic sheath. This is surprising because a lot of companies just try to make an adequate sheath. Something to cover and store your blade in. This sheath is designed to be fantastic. It was thought out and designed perfectly. The sheath is friction-fit molded so that the knife can lock firmly into place. There is also an attachment clip plate that can be mounted or attached to either side. Because you can attach it to either side, it makes this an ambidextrous carry knife. When ESEE first designed this knife, it came with a Kydex sheath. Which is a moderate sheath. The Kydex sheath is more than adequate. But it now comes with an injection molded sheath. While this is a more expensive process and it does add to the cost of the knife, the sheath can now stand up to hotter temperatures. The sheath has eyelets that you can use to thread a cord through and attach the sheath to your backpack.


Included with the sheath is a stretch of 550 cord and a cord lock. This cord can be used to attach the sheath/knife onto your backpack or belt. This cord is also perfect for using as a lanyard. If you want to purchase a MOLLE backing which is made out of ballistic black nylon, that is an option, but it is not included in your original purchase. This backing can be attached to any MOLLE gear or used as a leg sheath.


The overall length of this knife is 9 inches long and the width of the blade is 1.25 inches. This knife weighs 8 ounces. This knife is made in the United States of America. This knife comes in many different color options—the blade and the handle. Some of the options that BladeOps carries for the handle are: desert tan, orange, canvas, and gray. Some of the options that BladeOps carries for the blade are: desert tan, black, olive drab, plain stainless steel, and a special venom green.



This is an amazing knife, especially if you are looking for a survival knife. If you, or anyone you know, is going to be spending time in the woods, you/they need this knife. This is also a great option to put in your emergency kit. This knife is durable, reliable, quality, and the perfect option for you. There are hundreds of different hunting, camping, and survival knives out on the market today. Deciding which one to pick can be a battle, because each one is going to excel at something that another option lacks in. The ESEE 4 is a knife that will work for any task that you throw at it. It is a knife that has many pros and hardly and cons.  Some things that people love in this knife are the different options that you are presented with. There are two different types of steels, many different blade colors, you can choose whether you want a partially serrated blade or a plain edged blade, you can also choose between many different handle color options. This knife is also an affordable knife, BladeOps offers this knife for between $92 and $127, depending on which version, materials, and options that you choose. ESEE offers a lifetime warranty on this knife, as long as you get the version with the 1095 carbon steel. This means that if it breaks, ESEE will replace it. Another thing that many people love about this knife is that it was made in the US, this means that you can trust the quality of the craftsmanship. This knife should definitely be on your radar. It is a great knife to add to your collection.  You can find the entire line of ESEE 4 knives here on our website.