Case Rough Black Trapper-Lock

By Steve Hanner 

History, What is in a name?

 Let’s start with this from the Case website:

“The story behind Case’s Rough Black pocket knives begins in the 1940’s with the advent of World War II, when many raw materials used to produce consumer goods were diverted to support the war effort. Materials traditionally used to make pocket knife handles were no exception. A race to market knives with new, never-before-seen materials ensued between competing knife manufacturers. In that search, Case product developers came upon a hard black synthetic material which demonstrated high durability, strength and overall appeal. A special jigging pattern was applied to the material surface to create the unique “Rough Black” knife handle slabs. The knives that resulted became known as “Gum Fuddy” knives at Case, a nickname quickly adopted by the consumer market as sales of Rough Black knives grew. Case phased out production of “Gum Fuddy” knives after the war, as traditional handle materials made their way back to market. The knives have since become highly sought after collection pieces.”

We know this knife now by the name Case Rough Black Trapper- Lock. In fact the Trapper- Lock comes in a variety of handle materials with a clip and without a clip. Rough Black was my choice for my farm work review. I figured with a name like Rough Black, toughness would be an inherent quality. For my fellow Case collectors out there, this is the 54L pattern and the complete identifier is 6154 LC SS

The Case Trapper-Lock comes with a thumb stud attached to the blade with a Torx screw.  If you look closely at the thumb stud there is small pattern on the very tip to enhance the knife as well as assist your thumb getting a secure grip. The thumb stud on this knife is firmly attached and does not move. It opens the blade quite easily and makes the knife a one hand opening knife. When using a knife, I do find a one hand opening knife is so much easier to use, is much quicker and helps shave a few seconds off my chore time, many times per day.

My Case Trapper-Lock comes with a locking blade, called a liner lock. When it’s time to close the knife, use your thumb to move the lock bar over and with your index finger close the knife. It all happens with one fluid motion making it a true one hand closing knife. You also may notice on closing that a half stop will keep the blade pointing upwards.  Very handy if you choose to get a picture of your knife open, just want to get your fingers out of the way as you close the blade or you may choose to ignore it all together and complete your close.

The bolsters on this knife are polished nickel. The front bolster is squared and pinched. The back bolster is rounded and fits exactly in the palm of your hand. Both bolsters are flush with the contours of the knife, matching perfectly with no seams or spaces.

The liners on the knife are brass and give the knife a quality feel. They too are flush with the handles of the knife. If you look at the underside of the knife it’s all sanded flush with no spaces or ridges.

This knife comes with a pocket clip attached to the bolster at the top of the knife, on the backside and is designed for tip down carry. It’s mounted quite high allowing for the knife to disappear in your pocket.  The very tip of the knife is above the pocket , giving you an easy way to retrieve. The pocket clip is also flared at the end so it can fit over the stitching on your pocket and easily slides down. There is just enough space allowed beneath the clip so it does not bunch up as it slides down. It’s also a long pocket clip and covers almost three quarters of the way down the knife.

The Work it did

The work we do on the farm varies slightly everyday, especially in the summertime when everything is blooming, the garden is growing and all matter of weeds are growing strong. One of the first jobs I did with the knife was to trim suckers off the bottom of our fruit trees. 

Here in the Midwest vines  love to travel up fences, trees, and utility poles. The vines have a fiberous stem and need to be cut to ensure they die back and don’t interfere with anything, including the electricity to run the farm. Our Case Trapper-Lock made each of these cuts with no problem.

Feed bags can be a challenge as the opening method provided often does not work and requires a cut to open the bag. Sometimes the bags are paper and sometimes a heavy woven plastic. But as hungry animals wait, you need to get them open and fast!

Of course the long blade of the trapper was used to dig my tomatoe seedinlings out of their small growth containers and to place them into the tilled soil. Our winter turnips had come in so I again used the knife to clip leaves for salad and later go back to get the turnip! This is also the time for lots of wild flowers and what better thing to do than cut a new boquet. 

How Our Knife Performed

The blades on our Case knife are Case Tru-Sharp™ Stainless Steel (SS) – where special high-carbon steel  helps the blades hold an edge longer than conventional steel. It also offers extraordinary blade strength and corrosion resistanc The single, sabre  ground  blade has no wiggle or play. It feels solid when cutting and remains firm throughout your cutting stroke. When closed the blade sits right in the middle, time after time.

The open and close of our Case Trapper-Lock is extremely smooth, thanks to a special bushing used by Case. The action  remained stable through over one hundred openings and closings. To carry this knife, the pocket clip works well or alternately the knife would easily fit in a belt pouch. Either way this Case Rough Black Trapper- Lock performed well and is indeed as tough as its name. 

Where to Buy

Your Favorite Case Dealer

Buck QuickFire

By Steve Hanner

This Buck QuickFire comes in two color options that I can sure relate to… Black or Blue.  When I am out working for 14 to 16 hours I sometimes come in black and blue from something!  The hazards might be due to directing a falling tree closer to the desired direction or convincing one of the animals to slide into the corral but no matter, my blue Buck QuickFire was with me every step of the way.

Other than color one of the first things you notice about this knife is the fast opening capability of the QuickFire. This assisted-opening knife comes with ASAP Technology®. According to Buck the reason for the QuickFires’ fast release is found in dual springs used to provide an easy and safe blade release. The end result is easy and fast one handed opening. So many times during the day’s chores I need a knife and I need it quickly to accomplish something and this Buck knife is indeed a QuickFire  knife.

The Buck QuickFire is a lockback knife. The locking mechanism is along the back of the knife. The lock holds the blade securely, with no wiggle or blade play. Press down on the lock and the blade is easily disengaged allowing for a one handed close . In addition the knife is equipped with right and left hand thumb stud to assist opening. The steel in this blade is 420C and is an attractive drop point design. The blade length is 2 3/4. The hardened steel results in a Rockwell Hardness of RC58. Buck knives steel is  made up of alloys combined with chromium steel that is very corrosion resistant. The QuickFire blade held an edge as I went about daily chores and after much use re-sharpens very easily.

The knife has a stainless steel pocket clip and is designed to be carried blade tip down. In addition the Buck QuickFire has a lock that secures the blade and acts as a safety in the open or closed blade position. With this lock in the closed position the blade absolutely will not open in your pocket.The thermoplastic handle of the QuickFire has a sculpted design that gives the knife a unique look and provides a solid grip. The QuickFire also has steel liners that add to the strength and overall quality and weight of the knife The overall size of the knife in the open position is over seven inches and is perfect size for opening bags of range cubes or chicken feed. A lanyard hole is designed right into the back of the knife and blends perfectly with the overall look of the knife.

The knife was designed by Buck Knives own in house design team with Mark McLean. Originally the knife made its debut as the 288 Catapult and was offered in a silver gray. In this redesigned, relaunched and renamed version, the Buck QuickFire has been widely acclaimed.

The Buck QuickFire is a hard working knife and has been my go to EDC (Every Day Carry)for nearly two months. It never failed to perform. Opening and closing the knife is consistently easy to do. The pocket clip keeps the knife ready and is not too tight or too loose, placing just enough pressure to hold it securely in my pocket.

The QuickFire is Made in the USA and Buck’s Forever Warranty applies.

To purchase:

Smoky Mountain Knife Works


Case Ridgeback Skinner

By  Steve Hanner

If I told you today you could get a US made fixed blade for under $50 would you beleive me? How about if I told you the knife was produced by W.R. Case and when shipped included a sheath? I can’t wait to tell you about this knife! If you are a hunter  you most likely need a good skinning blade when on the trail. A good knife can make a skinning job go quickly and save you hours.

First let’s look at the requirements of a good knife for skinning:

  • A sharp blade, preferably a good fixed blade knife
  • Good rust resistance 
  • A non slip handle
  • A sharp tip that gets in all the small spots
  • A wide belly for scraping

This Blackie Collins designed Case Ridgeback skinner really fulfills all those requirements and more. The size of the knife is a handy 8 1/2 inches long. It is very important that the knife you use for the job is not too large or too small to get the job done. A knife used for skinning will need to be cleaned and when it is cleaned you don’t want the knife to rust.This Case full tang blade is brushed Tru-Sharp Surgical Stainless Steel. The knife has an upswept blade, a sharp point, and a wide belly. The handle is Zytel Camo.

For detail work, on the top of this 1/8 inch wide blade are some grooves called gimping which allow for choke up on the knife. All in all there are three potential hand positions on this knife.

  • The first position is grasping the handle with a regular grip
  • The second position involves moving the thumb to the first set of gimping and placing your index finger in the choil. (Illustrated)
  • The final position involves placing your thumb over the second set of gimping, much closer to the tip of the knife. This grip greatly increases your control of the Case knife.(Illustrated)

Here are some samples of the last two positions:


Knifemaker and designer Blackie Collins worked with Case to design this knife. Who is this designer? His actual name was Walter Wells Collins (1939 -July 20th, 2011) but went by the name Blackie. He was an American knife maker who designed and popularized the assisted opening mechanisms and various automatic knife designs within the art of knifemaking. Other knifemakers and collectors call him one of the most innovative knife designers in the world. He was an author and founder of what became Blade Magazine. Collins died July 20th, 2011 in a motorcycle accident.
The Case Ridgeback Skinner is handcrafted in the U.S.A. And comes complete with the Case Limited Lifetime Warranty. The working knife was designed for a hunter. The handle is large with a rough surface and flared at the base to assure a good grip. A lanyard hole, another great feature of the knife, let’s you secure some paracord or leather to help you maintain control of the knife when skinning.

A nice black nylon sheath comes with the Case Ridgeback which provides a way to secure the knife for carry. It can be worn on a belt and is marked with a Case XX. A snap closure keeps the knife securely in place.

This knife is an excellent value at twice the price. Fit and finish of the knife were just beautiful. This is a hard working knife I am proud to carry.
Where to purchase: Smoky Mountain Knifeworks

War Eagle Blades Button Assist Lock Folder

By Steve Hanner

When you manage a farm, you end up going in multiple directions every day and often with a handful of tools, bags of feed or square bales of hay. As many of you know I carry a knife every single day and the easier the knife is to locate, open, close and then put away quickly sometimes makes all the difference in the time it takes to get something done. That urgency is what got me looking at a new knife offering by A.G.Russell called the Button Assist Lock.

First a little history on the name…War Eagle Blades.  In the 1970’s A.G.Russell did sell a brand called War Eagle, but that was War Eagle Whetstones from his farm on War Eagle Creek in Northwest Arkansas.  As you may know A.G. Russell has placed his trademark on knives designed by top knife makers and designers for many years.  War Eagle Blades come from unknown knife makers or designers and but come with the same guarantee offered by A.G.Russell.

The guarantee is what told me it would have quality  and the Button assist lock on this knife is what intrigued me to buy the knife. The Button assist lock was pioneered in 1991 with a Japanese made City Knife, designed by a Japanese designer and sold by A.G.Russell. This same Button assist lock is on the knife I am using right now.

The War Eagle Blades Button Assist lock folder opens as any normal knife equipped with a thumb stud opens. Use the thumb stud to open the knife completely or you use the thumb stud to open about 30% of the way and then you can snap your wrist and the blade opens and securely locks in place. 

Now for the close and this is where the Button Assist comes in handy. First press the button and disengage the lock. release the button and finish closing the blade. You cannot close the blade entirely until you have released the button. This helps to keep you fingers out of the way of the blade, different but safer than a standard liner lock. The knife can be closed against your pants, a door, a shelf or whatever is handy. It is one-handed opening and closing at its best and absolutely no auto assist. It’s safe because your fingers never cross the blade on the close as the knife settles back into the handle. As I said earlier, in a normal day I may be carrying feed bags or buckets, tools, equipment or square baled hay and with that one free hand I need a knife! I need that knife opened and closed easily.

The handle of this knife is black G-10  which offers a very usable surface and the black G-10 almost looks to be outlined with a white underlay.  There is some gimping  at the top of the knife for your thumb and at the bottom of the knife. It all assists to keep your hand where you want it to be. 

This is a sabre ground, drop point blade made of 8Cr13MoV steel, hardened to 57-59 Rc.  The blade length is 3 3/8 inches. It has a black TiNi coating and the blade is in good proportion to the rest of the knife. It is an ideal size for the things I do on the farm. The knife also has the convenience of a lanyard hole so you can even strap this to your wrist or hang it from your neck. It also includes a right handed tip up pocket clip, if you choose to use the clip.

I have had the chance to use this knife for about two months and use it for virtually every knife related farm chore there is to do. It has only  required a brief sharpening touch up on the blade. The knife opens and closes well and still looks to be new. I would recommend this for rotation as an Every Day Carry knife.

Where to buy:

H9 Takin Real Steel

 By Steve Hanner

As a farmer and livestock man I daily use one kind of cutting tool or the other. Hearing all the talk about the Real Steel brand imported from China, my curiosity got the best of me and I scouted out the Real Steel Knives web-site for a product for my own test. After some serious consideration I chose the Model H9 from the H-Series. I must say I am glad I did. Because of my work on the farm I do like a big knife. Especially during winter when in the cold it sure helps to have something that will work even when you have gloves. The H9 fills that requirement as its the largest in the Real Steel lineup. The knife has an open length of 9.65 inches and an effective blade length of 4.4 inches. The blade is made of 14C28N  stainless steel which is flat ground into a nice modified Wharncliffe or hook bill blade design. The steel is from Sandvik Industries and one of its most recent products. It is a high grade steel offering a combination of excellent edge performance, a functional hardness of 55-62 HRC and good corrosion resistance. This knife is equipped with a liner lock and G10 handle. All in all it does make for an attractive and useful knife.

The open knife in the above picture is so big it is difficult to get it all in a picture! It is well designed though and has a rugged yet sophisticated look. The knife is also well balanced and just feels right in your hand. The blade is sharp right out of the box. After two months of heavy use this knife still looks brand new with no signs of corrosion nor chips in the stonewashed blade.

The blade locking system is quite good  and it holds the blade firmly. There is no blade play or movement.

Centering is just a fraction off and quite honestly this might be more my fault as I have used and abused this knife!


 Included in my purchase of this $45 -$50 package is a nylon sheath. It is light weight not likely to stand up to rugged use. For myself, I had better use of the pocket clip, which is quite secure. In looking at the pocket clip, it appears small for such a large knife but actually it works quite well.

All in all this an outstanding knife. Although I bought the largest available Real Steel knife, they do have many other models that come in smaller sizes. For a startup company in China, it would appear they are  quite prepared to continue in what they have started. Their motto is interesting: Technological know-how, perfect production, elaborate and classy design. For the H9 they seem to have achieved much if not all of that motto.


Where to buy this product: 

Just the right Noot (🎼)

For quite some time now I have been acquainted with Alexander Noot( pronounced note). He started as a collector and user of knives and eventually began to make his own. He makes his home in Netherlands and has been practicing the craft for a while attending shows and often selling out!

I received this knife a few years ago and every year I faithfully take it out in the winter and it becomes my go to blade when putting out hay for my goats. Unlike the cows we used to raise, goats do better when the round bale is split apart and evenly distributed. The other difference is goats eat weeds, leaves and seeds. Very little if any grass. I use this knife to help split the bales which often contain multiflora( a wickedly thorny rose like bush).

The design was to create a type of Bob Loveless knife, at least a similar style. I had asked him if he could make this style but make it very sturdy. And that he did using a nicholson file and grinding it to suit my needs. The knife was heat treated as well to a hardness of about 60. The knife has some jimping along the spine.

The handle is wooden and fits well. In order to better control the knife and not drop it in the hay bale, I did add a lanyard through this hole:

So here is a picture of the knife today, outfitted with some paracord and my latest bead from schmuckatelli(found on IG as @schmuchatellico) it’s a Kiko Tiki bead in pewter:

You can reach Alexander on IG as @lxemergency. Follow him there or send a message. I guarantee he can make what you might need in a variety of steels and handle materials. Sheath making is a family affair now and his wife is turning out some fashionable and unique sheaths that make it a total custom.

As far as I am concerned this is one hard working knife and I am pleased to add it to my working knives!

CRKT M4, a Kit Carson design

Recently I purchased a CRKT M4 02W, as a possible EDC knife for work on the farm. The first thing that appealed to me was that burl wood handle. It sure looked good in the picture and was pretty sure it would feel good working as well.

Upon opening the box I had some initial impressions. The knife was solid, heavy and very good looking. The  burl wood is warm and attractive and the stainless brushed bolsters make it look pretty classy. Sure it’s equipped with LAWKES, a CRKT design to prevent the blade from opening. In my opinion, it’s not really needed as I doubt this knife is going to open clipped in my pocket. It might save them $5 or so on a knife and perhaps they could have a lower price point or possibly put the money into something else.

It does have dual thumb studs and that’s handy. It does require a special angle on the opening to actually employ the assisted open with the thumbstuds, but when you get it right, it’s a fast opener. The pocket clip is not moveable but does allow for a deep pocket carry.

It’s been said that this series of M4’s was a favorite of knife designer Kit Carson. Not too big or gaudy but always a good seller.

To get the Outburst mechanism to engage, the blade must be opened at least 30 degrees according to CRKT. This generally works as described. A break-in period does help.

The 3.25″ blade is a high-hollow-grind drop point of premium 8Cr13MoV stainless steel in a bead-blast finish that comes out of the box ready to bite you!

Here are some specs:

Blade: 3.25″
Overall: 7″
Closed: 3.75″
Weight: 3.3 

One of the reasons I bought this knife is because of Kit Carson. He was a 30 year military man. He had been making and designing knives for many years. Sadly the world lost a great designer way too soon. 

All in all I recommend the knife. It has been very successful around the farm cutting, some light chopping, box and bag opening. The steel holds an edge and is easily resharpened. It’s an easy carry and attractive EDC. Good performance for the price!

Do the Shuffle!

Whatever your style of shuffle is(old school vs new) Kershaw has come out with their own. No it’s not a dance, it’s a knife!   

Not big at all, but with just a 2.375 inch blade, it’s big enough for some chores. I know, I know, you might be asking why review this knife? But you only have to pick it up. The handle can fit most hands surprisingly well because the finger contours just work. And that’s the other thing, that glass filled nylon handle really lets you hang on and well…get a grip!  It’s K texture and it works.  

 The blade is rounded , hollow ground  and the weight is evenly distributed from front to back. The knife has a lanyard hole which is a great idea and it doubles as a screwdriver(flathead). 

  Get thirsty some days, need a bottle cap lifter to crack open that beverage? Yep it has that as well at the back of the knife.

Yes, it’s small, but a lot is packed into a great design. The pocket clip so far, just hangs on. It almost unnecessary as the Shuffle fits right down in the pocket or wherever you might choose to keep it. The blade when deployed, locks up tight and when folded back it centers nicely.  
Here some additional detail on the knife: 

Liner Lock


Reversible pocketclip(it carries tip up)

Steel: 8Cr13MoV, bead-blasted finish

Handle: Glass-filled nylon, K-Texture™ grip

Blade length: 2.375″ (6 cm)

Closed length: 3.25″ (8.3 cm)

Overall length: 5.625″ (14.3 cm)

The thumbstud does open the knife but it’s smaller size makes it a bit harder to open one handed. Mine required a bit of a break-in period. This knife has been available since mid to late 2013. It’s a great bargain and most other reviews are quite favorable toward it. The knife comes in several different colors and most recently Kershaw has introduced a version II and I might just have to look at that one next.

I did my own review on this because this is a well designed knife that works.