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Knife Review: ESEE Camp-Lore Gibson JG3 Bushcraft Knife

Knife Review: ESEE Camp-Lore Gibson JG3 Bushcraft Knife

Posted by SD on Apr 20th 2020

The ESEE Camp-Lore Gibson JG3 Bushcraft Knife

When ESEE explains their history, they say, “Beginning in 1997, Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin started down the path of changing the way the survival and wilderness industry did business. Having become frustrated with the endless amount of exaggeration and hype often associated with “survival” gear and training, they started Randall’s Adventure & Training to bring realistic tools and knowledge to the consumer. Working under contract with the Peruvian Air Force’s “Escuela De Supervivencia En La Selva” (School of Jungle Survival), also known by the acronym ESSEL, they introduced many clients to the art of jungle survival in the vast Peruvian Amazon jungle.

“After several years of operating in South America, they brought their training stateside and added a sister company that produces high quality field grade knives and gear. One of their first designs was the RTAK made by Wicked Knife Company in Arkansas, then later produced by Ontario Knife Company. They also introduced the Laser Strike that was built by TOPS Knives. After spending 5 years designing the RAT line of knives for Ontario, they formed their own knife company named RAT Cutlery with Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho Falls producing their line. The name was later changed to ESEE Knives to avoid confusion with the Ontario produced RAT line of knives. While most all of their current line is now produced by Rowen, Jeff and Mike still design for other companies, such as the Blueridge Knives’ Avispa and Zancudo folders and Ontario’s Model 1 and Model 2 folders.

“Since the inception of Randall’s Adventure & Training in 1997, it has led numerous expeditions and survival training courses in the Amazon jungles of Peru and across the United States, and the ESEE brand now has global distribution and recognition. ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training has a clientele that ranges from military and law enforcement teams to film crews and professional adventurers. Their courses and gear have been featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and in numerous books, outdoor magazines and trade publications.

“The company’s philosophy is simple: treat the customer with respect, keep the prices fair, provide the best in quality, and never teach a skill or provide a piece of gear that hasn’t been tested in the real world. Every student that walks through the doors of Randall’s Adventure & Training leaves with a set of skills that will stay with them throughout their life, and every end-user of an ESEE product knows they are backed by the best warranty and customer service in the industry.

“In the world of factory knives, survival gear and wilderness training, ESEE/Randall’s Adventure & Training is one of the only companies that the owners and employees all live the lifestyle of the gear they produce. No suit and ties, just hard-won experience that is reflected in the world’s best knives, gear and training.”

Today we will be discussing the ESEE Camp-Lore Gibson JG3 Bushcraft knife.

The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of 1095 Carbon Steel. This is a pretty mid-range steel. It is going to get the job done; there will be better steels and there will be much worse steels. Out of the carbon steels, this is going to be the one that you see the most. It has lower corrosion resistance, which can be a drawback for an outdoors knife like this one. You are going to have to keep up on oiling the blade as well as making sure that it is completely dry before you put it back in its sheath. The edge retention on this steel is also average, which means if you are going on a long hunting trip, you should probably bring a means to re-sharpen this knife. However, there are a lot of good things about this steel for the Camp-Lore. For starters, it is going to be an easy steel to sharpen, so you shouldn’t have too many issues sharpening it in the field. When you sharpen it, it is going to take a razor sharp edge, perfect for skinning. This is a tough steel that is not going to chip on you. This means that you can depend on it in the field without needing a backup. 1095 steel is also an inexpensive steel to produce, which will keep the overall cost of the knife down. 1095 carbon steel is a great option for heavy duty fixed blades or even survival knives. If you keep on the oiling, you should be in great shape.

The blade on this knife was stonewashed, which is a fantastic option for this ESEE knife. When you are in the wilderness, you are probably going to encounter situations that scratch your blade. The good thing about a stonewashed finish is that the stonewash finish preserves the original look of the blade overtime. This is accomplished because the finish looks textured, which hides scratches and smudges that are going to accumulate over use. The finish is created when the blade steel is tumbled around with small pebbles or another abrasive 

ESEE JG3 Camp Lore Gibson Knife

material. The blade is then smoothed out and polished. It keeps the rugged look and makes for a great outdoors knife.

The blade on this knife is a drop point blade shape, which is perfect for a hunting knife. The drop point blade is not only the most popular blade shape that is in use, but also the most popular hunting blade shape ever. This is because it sports a lowered tip, which gives you more control. This means that you will be able to skin your game cleaner and you won’t have to worry about slipping and nicking organs or ruining the meat. The lowered tip on the drop point is also broad, which will give the knife more strength. This means that you can use it for more than just dressing your game; you will be able to rely on it for all of your needs while outside. One of the last reasons that the drop point blade shape is such a great option for a hunting knife is because it has a very large belly. This allows you to more easily slice, which will assist you in skinning your game, along with many others.

The Handle:

The handle on this knife is made out of canvas micarta handle scales that are removable. Micarta is a material that is made out of the resin Phenol. The manufacturer takes layers of canvas and then soaks them in the phenolic resin. The process yields a material that is strong enough to take on the outdoors with you, but lightweight enough that you won’t have to lug this knife around with you either. This material also looks more natural than plastics and out of the resin laminates, it is one of the classiest looking. That being said, the resin mixed with the canvas creates a material that has zero surface texture. The manufacturer has to go in and add in surface texture. This is done by carving grooves into the material, but it also means that there is a high amount of hand labor that has to be done. This does increase the cost of the material pretty significantly, which means that it is going to raise the cost of the knife as well. Micarta is a very hard material, which can be nice in some situations, but it does mean that it is going to be a brittle material.

The handle is designed to give you enough texture and grip without being excessive. This knife is not there for style, but for utility. The spine curves toward the rounded butt slowly. The belly of the knife begins with a finger groove and then bulges out in the middle. This bulge will give you the comfort you need to use it for long periods of time as well as the grip that you are going to need when you are getting messy with this knife. The butt of the knife flares out slightly.

The Mechanism:

This is a full-tang, fixed blade knife. Full tang just means that the metal from the blade is going to extend through to the end of the handle and is just covered by the micarta handle scales. Having a full tang knife is going to increase the durability and the strength of this knife. This is because there is no weaker spots where the blade and the handle have been welded together. It also means that if your handle scales happen to break, you will still have the entire shape of the knife. You won’t be left stranded, because you still have a complete knife, just one that is not going to be as comfortable as it once was.

Fixed blades are ideal for a Bushcraft knife because you are going to be spending a lot of time in the outdoors with this knife. The blade is going to be thicker and longer than that on a folding knife, because the blade does not have to fit inside of the handle. Fixed blade knives are easy to clean and maintain. Lastly, a fixed blade knife is going to quip you to take on a lot more than just slicing with this knife. Some people pry, some people hammer, you can use it as a food preparation tool, a first aid tool, a hunting tool, and much more.

The Sheath:

The Camp-Lore comes with a leather sheath. A leather sheath is going to be one of the more common sheath materials that you see, especially for a camping knife or outdoors knife such as this one. Leather was one of the first materials that was used for knives, because it’s been around so long. It is also a natural material, unlike the newer materials, which are man-made. Leather is super durable, because it is not going to break apart like plastic or some of the other newer materials do. It does stretch slightly, but only enough to give this knife a custom fitting sheath once it has been broken in. After that, it is not going to get stretched out as long as you are treating it well. One of the only things that can really “break” on a leather sheath is the stitches coming undone. However, this isn’t even a serious issue, because they will be easy to resew. One of the bigger advantages about a leather sheath for this knife specifically is that it is going to be incredibly quiet. You can put this knife in its sheath and withdraw it as well without making a sound. If you are using this knife for hunting, it will be the biggest advantage so that you don’t scare away your potential game if you happen to need to use the knife.

One of the disadvantages about leather is that it is not resistant to rot, mildew, or even water. If the leather is around water too often, it will dry out the natural oils and the leather will begin to crack. This is the same deal if you are taking the sheath into extreme heat. The good news about both of these is that if you oil your leather occasionally, it should prevent cracking. If you take exceptional care of this sheath, it will only look better with age.

The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.5 inches long with a thickness of 0.125 inches. The overall length of this knife measures in at 7.625 inches long. This knife was made in the United States of America.


The ESEE Knives Camp-Lore knife is designed by some of the most experienced woodsmen in the world. Built in the USA, the JG3 is a James Gibson design and has an uncoated 1095 steel blade with a stonewash finish. The flat ground blade excels at serious bushcraft work. The tan Micarta handles are comfortable in the hand and provide a superior grip. Comes with a leather sheath that has a belt loop for convenient carry. You can pick up this fantastic knife today at BladeOps.