The GiantMouse GMF4 would make a fine camp knife. GMF4 stands for GiantMouse Fixed Blade Number Four. Not only is this the fourth fixed-blade knife the company has produced, but it is by far the largest. The designers, Jens Ansø and Jesper Voxnaes, took their combined outdoor experience and designed their iteration of a camp knife.
Make no mistake, this is a beast of a knife. Yet, for all its size and resultant capabilities, in many ways it handles like something smaller. That’s not a bad thing, either.
WHY GIANTMOUSE GMF4 FITS THE CAMP KNIFE DEFINITION
There’s this thing in the knife community called the One Tool Option. The idea is to create a knife that can handle anything you could possibly need in the field, from processing firewood to processing game, food prep to shelter building, and so much more. At first, it sounds almost laughable, akin to trying to find a type of ammunition that’s as suitable on squirrel as it is elk. But then that survivalist mentality kicks in. “What if you lose all of your other gear? What if all you have is this one knife?”
The so-called camp knife is sort of the answer to the One Tool Option question. It is intended to be an all-purpose knife, something heavy-duty enough to handle big chores, but not so large so as to be awkward elsewhere. It’s smaller than a machete, but larger than a typical hunting knife.
This isn’t any sort of brand new, innovative concept. Once upon a time, mountain men roamed the wild with what we today would consider a pretty humdrum butcher knife.
Among the jobs the camp knife should be able to handle:
• Clear vegetation around the
• Clean and process game large
• Meal prep in camp
• Carve tools
• Baton firewood
A typical camp knife has a blade that’s somewhere between 5 and 10 inches, with an overall length around 9 to 14 inches. The handle material should be tough enough to handle rough use.
How does the GMF4 stack up?
FROM THE BOX
The GMF4 is a large knife, no question about it. It stretches 10.45 inches from end to end, with a blade running 5.65 inches. From edge to spine, the blade is 1.375 inches at its highest point. The N690 steel blade is 0.192 inch thick. While we’re not talking about a sharpened crowbar, this isn’t exactly a fillet knife, either. It has a PVD stonewashed finish that’s maybe a shade or two darker than most stonewashed finishes I’ve seen.
The handle is red canvas Micarta that’s been contoured and textured. There’s a mild palm swell, scalloping where the scales meet the blade, and three shallow slots in the middle of the scales. All of these combine to provide an eminently secure grip, even in challenging conditions, such as wet or cold. The knife is also available with double black canvas Micarta scales. I quite like the red, though, and it really pops against the dark blade.
The spine is rounded, including the swedge. The blade’s edge and point are the only sharp things on the entire knife.
The handle has a bit of a curve to it, which assists with adding power to chopping motions. The tang sits slightly proud throughout the handle, but it has been rounded smooth and is quite comfortable. The handle has a unique shape, where it tapers slightly toward the butt end. More on this in a bit.
“It is intended to be an all-purpose knife, something heavy-duty enough to handle big chores, but not so large so as to be awkward elsewhere.”
GiantMouse is one of the only companies I’ve seen put lanyard attachments points ahead of the handle, using it in this case to form an ersatz guard. This design is intended to provide a degree of protection to the user. If a branch were to catch on the lanyard, the knife would be pulled forward, away from the hand. With a traditional lanyard, the blade would be pulled downward through the hand. For those who prefer the standard lanyard attachment, a hole at the base of the handle serves that purpose.
Just ahead of that front lanyard attachment point is a finger choil. When you’re dealing with a large blade like this, it makes sense to be able to safely choke up on it so you can more easily use it for carving tasks. This is assisted by two spots of jimping on the spine. There is a third section of jimping near the end of the handle.
Somewhat remarkably, the balance point of the knife is right where the handle meets the blade. I say this is remarkable given the size of the blade compared to the handle. Based strictly on appearance, it looks as though the knife would be heavier in the blade than elsewhere.
The GMF4 comes with a handmade leather sheath made in Italy. The one packaged with this knife is brown. If you opt for the black Micarta knife, the sheath is a matching black. The knife sits deep in the pouch and is secured by a snap. As one would expect with a heavy-duty knife like this, the sheath is sturdy and well-made. The belt loop looks to accommodate up to a 2.5-inch belt. I’ll be honest, though. For me personally, a knife this size is more suited for my pack than my waist. That’s strictly a matter of personal preference, though.
THE GMF4 AT WORK
Taking the GMF4 outside to play around a bit, the first thing I noticed was the feel of the handle. It is plenty comfortable, but I wasn’t overly fond of how the handle tapers toward the butt. It almost feels as though the knife wants to slip from the grip. However, once you start chopping at a branch, you can feel that this tapering allows the knife to sort of snap at the target.
Over the course of a few weeks, I put the GMF4 through the paces, using it for everything from feather sticking to meal prep in the kitchen. It performed quite well with every task and chore, though I’ll admit it took a while to get used to the feeling of the tapered handle.
More so than other knives with this feature, I found that using the finger choil to choke up on the blade made for a very comfortable grip. Combined with the jimping on the spine, the knife felt very much under control without any sense of awkwardness. The scallops on the handle are a nice visual, but I don’t know that they’re truly necessary. They’re best suited for a pinch grip, and I think the GMF4 is a bit too large for that sort of use. That said, they certainly don’t detract from the knife at all.
I’m not the best at feather sticking, but that’s on me. The knife almost felt disappointed in me for my poor technique, but did an admirable job anyway. Chopping through branches wasn’t difficult, either. In the kitchen, I used it to slice up some veggies as well as chop up chicken that I’ll be using for a new garlic chicken parmesan recipe. Using the GMF4 for these smaller chores felt like overkill, but not in a bad way. It was more like using a deer rifle to hunt rabbits, where it almost seems like you’re wasting the tool’s potential on something that’s less worthy.
The knife held an amazing edge, continuing to be razor sharp even after weeks of use. Granted, I wasn’t batoning the knife through cinderblocks or some such nonsense, just using it for fairly standard knife chores. But, if you’re relying on your knife to destroy cinderblocks, you’ve probably made a grave tactical error or two somewhere along the way.
If you’re in the market for a camp knife, you could do far worse than the GMF4. It ticks all of the requisite boxes, and then some. The knife is very well made, with high-quality materials throughout. The design is on point and obviously well thought out. Not a detail was missed, and not an inch of the knife was overlooked.
I love the looks of the GMF4. While this is a secondary consideration when compared to whether the knife handles well, it is still a factor. I prefer the red to the black, all other things considered.
The GMF4 is a heavy-duty knife that deserves to be used and even abused. Trust me, it’ll take all you can dish out and come back asking for more. For more information, go to www.GiantMouse.com.
And be sure to check back with KnivesIllustrated.com for more of the latest news from the knife industry.
THE GREAT DANES BEHIND GIANTMOUSE
GiantMouse was founded in 2015 by Jens Ansø and Jesper Voxnaes, two Danish knifemakers who partnered with Jim Wirth, an American entrepreneur. They wanted to create a knife brand that could produce high-quality knives at a fair price. They also wanted to be in regular communication with their customers, interacting with them as much as possible so as to be able to respond to needs and wants with future designs.
Jens and Jesper are the sole designers for the company, and they’re involved with every single step of production, from sourcing materials to testing prototypes. They’re committed to only producing knives they themselves would be proud to carry and use.
Model: GiantMouse GMF4
Type: Fixed blade
Overall length: 10.45 inches
Blade length: 5.65 inches
Blade thickness: 0.192 inch
Steel: Bohler N690
Handle: Red canvas Micarta
Weight: 8.1 ounces