Testing our new S35vn blades

Discussion in 'ESEE® Knives and Gear' started by Patrick Rollins, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. Patrick Rollins

    Patrick Rollins Lead Instructor Staff Member

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    As you may have heard, in addition to the new 3D handles we are releasing on several of our models, ESEE Knives is also coming out with two knives in S35vn. Many of our customers were asking us to offer some models in a more “premium” steel and S35 was one of the main ones brought up. We decided to release an ESEE 3, and a fixed blade version of our Zancudo folder in S35 just in time for SHOT show.

    After the show, I brought home an ESEE 3, two of the Xancudo fixed blades, and the newest addition to the Expat line the Darien machete. I wanted to try out the new steel and form my own opinions about it. I let Jeff and Mike know what I planned to do and Jeff said “It will shatter like glass”.

    First impressions of the 3 were that it looked great and was razor sharp. Now since I have used our regular 1095 ESEE 3’s for everything under the sun, I knew the design was great. I wanted to see how the steel held up. So, I started out strong with some hardcore batonning. To get a fire going in a wet environment, you may have to process standing dead wood down to get to the drier inside. If your only tool is a knife, you can baton the wood (pound your blade lengthwise through the wood with the aid of a beater stick) to split it. In a lot of cases you can just shave off the wet wood until you get down to the drier parts and not “have” to baton at all.

    It is a topic that is heavily debated “ad nauseam” on the internet. I took a piece of seasoned red oak and went to hammering the 3 through it. Due to the thickness of the wood I was using, the first pass took every bit of 20 minutes to get through. A big reason for this was that only about the last ¾” was all that was visible of the blade. I split, and split, and split. At one point, there was even some noticeable flexing of the blade that concerned me since it is a harder steel. Our S35vn is hardened to 60rc, much harder than our 1095 and I didn’t know what might happen. The blade pounded on through and returned to true. After processing down a good amount of the seasoned oak I checked the edge. Still felt sharp as ever! I was really beginning to like my first experience using a “super steel”. I decided to baton just a little bit more before moving on to some other tasks. After I started the knife into the wood again it became stuck. I thought, “you know what, that’s enough…” and planned on freeing the blade and continuing with other things. I tried to loosen it by hitting the spine on either side of the wood with the baton but it wouldn’t budge. Next, I held the knife by the handle, picking up the wood in the process and hitting the bottom against the stump. I made sure to keep the knife in line with my motion. If you have ever split wood with an axe and had the axe get stuck, you may be familiar with what I am referring to. The first strike felt like I was making progress, and the second strike I heard a loud “tink” sound and was left holding only the knife handle. I shouldn’t have felt as surprised as I did, after all Jeff told me what would happen.

    Luckily Shane had a backup sample and I was able to perform some of the other cutting tasks. I did some more (but much lighter) batonning, cut some thick dirty rope, and cut a bunch of cardboard. Cardboard is very rough on an edge. Many times, you can even see a sand like grit in it. I wanted to see how all of this would affect the S35 steel. After all of this I felt the entire edge and could barely detect a spot in the middle of the blade that felt a little different than the rest. It could still shave and had no trouble making feathersticks. S35 seems to have very good edge retention.

    Next up was the Xancudo fixed blade. It is available with or without a hole in the handle. The hole isn’t meant as a finger hole, it is there to lighten the blade and could be used as an attachment point. If you are in a situation where you had your knife out using it and if it slipped from you grasp it would be gone forever, you would definitely want to have it tethered to you. Some examples could be hanging on the side of a mountain, canoeing/kayaking and so on. The hole is big enough to clip a carabiner in, or you could just tie a dummy cord to it.

    One of the features that attracts folks to S35 is its anti-corrosion properties. I took one of the Xancudo’s and wrapped the blade with a paper towel. I then soaked it with water. This was left out over night to see what would happen. Well, the next morning I checked it and found that nothing had happened. Nothing at all. There weren’t even any water spots.

    I had some initial concerns about the hole in the handle possibly causing hot spots during prolonged use. One of the things I like to do with a knife to check for this is to make a try stick. A try stick is simply a stick that you make different notches on. Mors Kochanski has made it famous as a great way for teaching knife safety, and good knife skills. It is also gives you a chance to see if a knife is going to work for you. I used the Xancudo with the hole and did not have any issues at all. The blade shape and size were perfect for this task. I think the Xancudo will be a great blade for lightweight backpackers, hikers, rock climbers, and so on.

    This was my first venture using anything in S35vn. The edge retention and anti-corrosion properties are some of the best I have seen. It will definitely hold an edge longer than 1095, however it will be a more difficult to sharpen. If you are wanting a good all-around camp or hiking knife, that holds an edge for a long time, is very rust resistant, and don’t see any need in beating the brakes off of it, then either of these two (ESEE 3, or Xancudo) would be fine. If you want a knife that sharpens easily in the field, and can take a pounding that borderlines on abuse, and rusts when it gets wet if isn’t dried off, then stick with 1095HC. It all comes down to what properties you are looking for and how you perceive yourself using it. In my opinion, S35v is best suited to smaller blades, not anything that you would ever baton with. If I could only carry one knife, and there was a chance my life would depend on that knife’s ability to withstand hard use, then it would definitely be 1095 high carbon. Not anything with the words “premium” or “super” anywhere in the description.

    A review on the Expat Knives Darien machete will be coming soon!
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  2. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall ESEE Knives / Randall's Adventure & Training Staff Member

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    Our first junk steel knife.
     
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  3. KnOeFz

    KnOeFz Member

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    Auch... Great testing though.
     
  4. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    Right tool for the job. Id imagine if you wanted the knife for being a knife then it would rock. Its when we push our tools beyond the intended role that it fails. Ive abused the heck out of my ESEE 4. Its never failed. I wouldn't do that to the new s35 blades. Great information. Great testing.
     
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  5. Frigin

    Frigin Member

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    Great job. This is why I love my 1095 but can’t wait to try out the s35 in situation like my fishing knife.
     
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  6. Black5

    Black5 Member

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    I admit I've pretty much stopped using knives as screwdrivers and prybars, and I really can't sharpen a knife for squat compared to others on here. I've admitted to knocking chunks out of blades and filing them back out again.

    Esee knives have held up to my stupid abuse and inadequate maintenance.
    So if Jeff Randall says he wouldn't own one, I see no reason to change my perspective.
     
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  7. CWB

    CWB Member

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    that was possibly a stress or week point of the knife. you have the jimping and choil in that area. I was batoning thru a 2x4 while at our farm and it caught a knot. I beat it thru and it literally bent the edge area out 3/8" like a bad blister on your finger . When I got home I tapped it back into shape with a hammer and the back of my vice. That was something I'd expect out of 1095 but not s35vn.

    I also snorkeled in the keys with an s35vn knife and it held up well. When I first got out of the water after about 2 hours, it had an orange looking sludge covering it while e in the sheath. I just wiped it off and it was fine. I did soak and rinse it when I got back to the hotel later.

    So after some experience with the steel, I think it's my favorite all around. Especially since we're moving to the Fl panhandle this summer around salt water.
     
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  8. OfficerLucky

    OfficerLucky Member

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    I’m still looking Forward to it. My intent with the S35 3 is a handy fixed blade in my work bag. I work in the city and it’s mostly a get home bag. I have a stainless 4 for beating on.
     
  9. Fielder

    Fielder Member

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    Very good write up. And good advice.
    I'd love to see some knives made in Aeb-l, it's far tougher than s35vn, still stainless and sharpens more easily. Some say it's like a stainless carbon steel. Much more suitable for hard use outdoor knives.
     
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  10. CWB

    CWB Member

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    Not sure I’d say it’s far tougher. Besides if S35vn broke in this condition then AEB-L would have also.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  11. Fielder

    Fielder Member

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    I know the Internet isn't infallible, but a search about the toughness of Aeb-l would indicate otherwise.
    Also, in my own, limited, experience I'm very impressed.
     
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  12. Eric Kendrick

    Eric Kendrick Member

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    Just pre-ordered a 3 in s35vn... going to be my go to fishing blade. So stoked!!! Any idea when they are going to start shipping?
     
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  13. shaneadams90

    shaneadams90 ESEE Knives Marketing Director Staff Member

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    Already seeing some in the wild....ours were shipped first in/first out so depending on who you ordered from it should be headed that way soon....
     
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  14. Eric Kendrick

    Eric Kendrick Member

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    Awesome Shane. Any idea of how many Esee 3 s35vn knives are in the "first production run" ?
     
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  15. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall ESEE Knives / Randall's Adventure & Training Staff Member

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  16. Eric Kendrick

    Eric Kendrick Member

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    Thanks Jeff... now just waiting for the new Xancudo fixed blade with an all black handle option, then I'll buy one of those as well. I love the idea of a hole in the handle for tethering purposes.
     
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  17. mtngoat

    mtngoat Member

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    Anyone have a source of the new scales?
     
  18. IW17

    IW17 Member

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    Knife with new scales, or just the scales? I was informed that the scales wouldn't be available separately, at least not for a while if they do offer them.
     
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  19. shaneadams90

    shaneadams90 ESEE Knives Marketing Director Staff Member

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    Scales will NOT be available separately for a while as we are still trying to produce complete sets to match production demands...No ETA on when scales will be available as a stand alone item.
     
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  20. mtngoat

    mtngoat Member

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    Thanks for the info.
     

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