I always like to carry a knife.. The days that I forget, I end up cursing. From unpacking boxes, peeling and slicing fruit, cutting pieces of string, the humble knife is the tool required. Now sometimes we enter an environment where a little class is required. You want the functionality a knife offers in a socially pleasing package.. Pulling out an 8″ fixed blade is not going to work for you… Even that tactical locking folder is just to much knife for the occasion. This is when you need a gentlemans knife and Taylor Brands have a couple of models which fit the bill very nicely…
If you have not heard of Taylor Brands before I am pretty sure you will be aware of their product lines.. Schrade being probably the most well known. Taylor also make knives and tools for Smith and Wesson.. Basically they know a thing or two about making a decent knife! These two knives are from the “Uncle Henry” and “Old Timer” lines produced by Taylor brands. Maybe the names are not as familiar but the styles certainly are.
Old Timer – Pioneer.
The pioneer is an iconic looking non locking folder. The first thing you notice when unboxing is it’s charming appearance. You will want to pick it up and handle it straight away. It has curb appeal! It brings memories of whittling in front of a log fire and the smell of strong coffee with a dash of single malt.. Or maybe that’s just me..
The blade pulls out under firm spring tension. It feels very smooth and makes a pleasing SNICK as it stops out into the fully open position. The blade itself is a 3.1″ clip point made from 7Cr17 high carbon steel. 7Cr17 is actually a pretty decent grade of steel given the overall price of the Pioneer being so reasonable. I have always found it sharpens easily, holds a good edge and is reasonably resistant to rusting. I would stress that virtually no blade material is completely rust resistant so take care of your knife. If it gets wet on an outing dry it and treat it to some oil (food grade if you use the knife for prepping fruit ect). The blade was sharp enough to shave with out of the box so no issues there.
I am not entirely sure what the handle material is. I can tell you that it is both cosmetically pleasing and very comfortable. I was able to keep a good grip while whittling and cutting some notches in small branches. The liners look to be brass as do the pins. The backspring is heat treated and feels pretty solid. Overall the quality looks and feels great. No blade play, everything firm and solid.
I took the Pioneer out to the woods and put it through it’s paces. The woods I selected are reasonably well used by walkers and such. Not the sort of place you want to be wielding anything that looks to intimidating. The pioneer is ideal. It handled carving and feather sticks well. Now we must be sensible. Both of these knives are light pocket knives. They will not delimb branches or baton. However as a pocket knife the Pioneer performed elegantly. Once I arrived home I began using it for general purpose tasks.. I peeled apples for the children to eat and opened up a package that came in the mail (something wrapped in the type of tamper proof packaging that makes you swear) among other things. The knife performed happily and I felt comfortable with it at all times.
Now this is the good bit.. The pioneer comes in at $29 (around £19) which is a great price considering overall quality of materials. At that price this would make a superb gift. It also means you do not have to be overly precious with it. You can use it day to day without worrying to much and that is just what this knife was made for.. An everyday pocket companion.
Uncle Henry – Tradesman.
In case you hadn’t guessed these two knives are virtually identical in terms of functional construction. The Tradesman shares the same excellent clip point blade. The spring, liners and working parts also appear to be identical. There are two major differences. The handles of the Tradesman are “Staglon” which is Taylor Brands name for imitation stag. I much prefer this. It offers a better grip for me and just felt nicer in the hand. Ultimately that is personal preference as are the cosmetics. Wood effect vs Stag effect is what it boils down to.
The second difference was the Tradesman came with a very well crafted LEATHER pouch. I was really suprised with the finish of this, very nicely done. The pouch has a press stud close and a leather belt loop. It appears very sturdy and looks superb.
I did not expect any difference when using these two knives. As stated the functional parts are identical. It does allow a better judgement on Taylors quality control though. I am glad to report the Tradesman also functioned flawlessly for the tasks it was made for – light knife work. If you are looking for a primary survival blade of course these are not going to suit! In fact I doubt any non locking or locking folder could fill that role. They were never made with that in mind. However if you are at a party and someone asks you to cut the plastic from the top of the wine bottle you do not want to pull out a 6″ fixed blade, you want one of these. Horses for courses is the term that springs to mind..
One note on quality, I am sure some may wish to know which country these are made in. Personally I do not care. I have used knives from all around the world and there are good and bad everywhere – just like people. To deem a knife rubbish because it was manufactured in X country seems to me to be at the least unscientific. I prefer to judge on the individual merits.
Surely that nice leather pouch adds some money to the knife? Suprisingly not! Both knives come in at the same price (around $29 but I have seen lower prices quoted online.) If I had to choose one or the other this would be the deal breaker for me. Buy the one with the pouch. Saying that you could always just get both and they can share the pouch.
I really liked both of these. Great value, simple, efficient, visually pleasant. I cannot really fault them. I think they are great to have in the pocket at home for a variety of day to day jobs. One word of warning to those in the U.K. Although these are non locking folders they are not suitable for everyday carry – the blade length is a mere .1″ over the 3″ maximum. It doesnt seem much but it would do if it costs you your liberty. If like me you have a job that requires you use a knife or a good reason to have it on your person (camping for example) then these may be just the ticket and could be used perfectly legitimately. We do have a UK legal review coming up featuring one of Taylor Brands folders so keep your eyes peeled for that!!
Just remember to use these for what they were meant for and I think they will do so for years to come.
If you want to find out more