CREATE IN THE WOODS THAT WHICH YOU LEAVE BEHIND

In 2014, ESEE Knives developed a new series of knives geared toward more traditional outdoorsmen who want the look and feel of a knife intended for general outdoors use and bushcraft.

 “The idea of the Camp-Lore series was to utilize input from different outdoorsmen, thus capturing all facets of needs.”

The idea of the Camp-Lore series was to utilize input from different outdoorsmen, thus capturing all facets of needs such as hunting, fishing, bushcraft, and camping. This is another face of ESEE Knives and a true testament of the company’s willingness to listen to the needs of its customers—and grow.

All ESEE Camp-Lore knives feature uncoated 1095 high carbon steel blades with a Rockwell hardness of 55-57 and feature a variety of Micarta scales.

The Camp-Lore fixed blades—(top to bottom) CR2.5, RB3, PR4, and JG3—are all bushcraft worthy and made in the USA.

The new evolution of ESEE Knives have gone from tactical to practical. The Camp-Lore fixed blades—(top to bottom) CR2.5, RB3, PR4, and JG3—are all bushcraft worthy and made in the USA.

JG3

First out of the gate in the Camp-Lore series was the JG3, designed by James Gibson. The JG3 gets back to basics with this field-tested bushcraft design.

This full tang slicer is equipped with a nearly full flat grind (high sabre grind) and tumbled black oxide finish for a rugged, stylish look and great cutting performance. This smaller knife makes a great bird and trout knife as well as being capable of more common craft tasks.

ESEE Camp-Lore CR2.5 is the smallest of the Camp-Lore series of knives.

ESEE Camp-Lore CR2.5 is the smallest of the Camp-Lore series of knives. This is a small, able, razor-sharp cutter for EDC and bushcraft.

The blade is 1095 high carbon steel and provides 3.25 inches of cutting edge for tackling serious cutting tasks. The full tang construction has a drop-point profile, functional for many tasks indoors and out.

The canvas Micarta handle scales are comfortable yet thin and fill the hand for comfort when in use. The contoured, canted handle locks securely in the hand with the Micarta providing added traction when wet.

A hole is provided for lanyard attachment, and construction is completed with black stainless steel hex screws. The JG3 comes with the traditional USA-made brown leather belt sheath for carrying.

RB3

The ESEE Camp-Lore RB3 Bushcraft knife was the second of the series to be released. It was designed by yours truly, Reuben Bolieu. Just a straightforward survival/bushcraft-style knife with a traditional Scandinavian grind that could meet demanding tasks head-on while being supremely useful for anything asked of it.

The handle on the CR2.5 was a little small for long bushcraft tasks, but it powered through.

The handle on the CR2.5 was a little small for long bushcraft tasks, but it powered through. The edge sharpness and retention were never a question as the Rowen heat treat is legendary.

The drop-point utility blade is made from 1095 high carbon steel and has a Scandi edge ground to offer a razor-sharp zero edge. The flats of the blade are finished in a tumbled black oxide finish that provides an attractive contrast to the grind. The spine of the blade is ground flat at 90 degrees to facilitate scraping tinder and striking a Ferro rod.

This small EDC/bushcrafter was an excellent fire preparation knife.

This small EDC/bushcrafter was an excellent fire preparation knife. It’s a confident, very able fire, and food-craft knife.

Green Micarta handle scales are attached to the tang with Allen screws and can be completely removed for cleaning and maintenance. The oval-shaped handles are meant for comfort in a variety of grips. Thanks to the texture of the canvas Micarta scales, the knife offers a secure grip even in wet conditions. A lanyard hole is included at the pommel of the handle. Included is a USA-made traditional tan leather belt sheath.

CR 2.5

The smallest addition to the ESEE Knives Camp-Lore series is the CR2.5 designed by Cody Rowen. This is a simple, no-nonsense, go-anywhere, bird and trout skinning, EDC knife.

Cody Rowen is one of the manufacturers who designed the CR2.5 while he was in the process of skinning an elk. He needed something smaller to get inside close quarters and quickly ground this out to complete his task. Afterward, it became a production ESEE Knife.

 “The smallest addition to the ESEE Knives Camp-Lore series is the CR2.5…This is a simple, no-nonsense, go-anywhere, bird and trout skinning, EDC knife.”

The 2.5 inches 1095 high carbon steel blade on this one has just about 2.25 inches of sharp cutting edge. The full tang construction is black oxide finished and tumbled, with the blade being a full flat grind. The CR2.5 also features a sharp, 90-degree spine for added utility.

Thick, canvas Micarta handle scales are slim, yet comfortable, however, not as filling in the hand as the other Camp-Lore knives. These are removable to allow for easy cleaning and maintenance. The CR2.5 comes with the traditional USA-made brown leather belt sheath.

The small game knife skinned and butchered a squirrel as well as made the fire to cook it.

The small game knife skinned and butchered a squirrel as well as made the fire to cook it. Two important tasks for a bushcraft/survival knife.

During a bushcraft class in Alabama, the CR 2.5 was used for basic fire preparation and food tasks. One food task involved skinning a squirrel for students to cook. Besides removing the fur, the CR2.5 also had to butcher the small animal into useable pieces for the stew pot.

Next, was making a fire to stew and broil selected pieces of the squirrel. The thin edge shaved up poplar and the sharp, 90-degree spine scraped even thinner material from poplar and fatwood. Needless to say, the spine struck a ferrocerium rod with absolute ease.

ESEE Knives PR4 is a modern rendition of the timeless Kephart design.

ESEE Knives PR4 is a modern rendition of the timeless Kephart design. Never has an ESEE Knife looked so classic.

As a final test with the CR2.5, I made a figure-four trap from green branches left over from another project. The blade cut and sliced well; only the handle seemed to slow it down as comfort in doing this type of bushcraft task with such a narrow handle was compromised. After all, this was meant for skinning and utility more so than long, prolonged bushcraft projects.

It’s lightweight, super portable, and offers plenty of handle to grab onto for a smaller blade. The CR2.5 is excellent for finer, more detailed cutting tasks—handy in the field.


SPECS

CR 2.5
Overall Length: 6.25 inches
Maximum Blade Thickness: 0.125 inch
Weight (Knife Only): 2.5 ounces
Blade Material: 1095 high carbon steel, 55-57 Rc
Finish: Black oxide stonewashed
Handles: Micarta or G10 handle
Sheath: Leather pouch sheath
Made in the U.S.A.
MSRP: $143.50


PR4  

The PR4 knife was inspired by a great, “American Classic” woodcraft knife, giving Horace Kephart his due. Patrick Rollins designed his version of this time-tested classic with the PR4.  He has been the lead instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training since 2013 and is a long-time aficionado of the outdoors, and Horace Kephart.

 “The PR4 has turned into the flagship knife of ESEE Camp-Lore Series, in my opinion.”

The eighth-inch-thick, 1095 high carbon steel blade features a durable full tang construction and a shaving sharp cutting edge. The straight, spear-point design will lend itself to a wide array of any camper or hiker’s tasks.

You’re looking at about 4 inches of workable, plain cutting edge on the PR4. The steel has a dark tumbled black oxide finish for a rustic look. Like the RB3 and CR2.5, it also sports a 90-degree spine. It’s left flat and bare for striking a ferro rod to light up the night.

You will be guaranteed to get a palm-filling hold on this handle with the dark brown Micarta scales, which are bolted to the tang after being lightly textured. The sculpted divots mean there’s always a spot for a finger in any grip. There is a welcoming, small forward guard to keep those fingers away from the cutting edge while working. The ESEE PR4 comes with a right-hand carry brown leather sheath with a belt loop.

SUMMER BUSH CAMP 

I have to say Patrick is one of the best, natural outdoorsmen and adventurers I have had the pleasure of being alongside during classes stateside and in the Peruvian Amazon. Naturally, his knife design would be functional, with many years of experience backing it up. I recall using his PR4 design during the summer of 2017 when it was first released for a myriad of bushcraft tasks.

Log-cabin-style fires were made by the author with the PR4 and folding saw doing all the preparation in wet weather.

Log-cabin-style fires were made by the author with the PR4 and folding saw doing all the preparation in wet weather. This a wet weather, go-to fire for the author.

Among some of the tasks were making a set of tarp stakes and a pot hook for my cook pot utilizing green witch hazel. After sawing hardwood pieces to length, I used the PR4 to split wood, thinner than wrist-thickness, using a simple baton to drive the PR4 through red oak.

A pot hanger for boiling water was one of the first tasks for the PR4.

A pot hanger for boiling water was one of the first tasks for the PR4.

The Georgia cook spear made by the PR4 for roasting a caveman-style kabob. Traditionally it is used as a frog gigging spear.

The Georgia cook spear made by the PR4 for roasting a caveman-style kabob. Traditionally it is used as a frog gigging spear.

Wet weather requires hotter fuel to keep the fire going, so the oak was split down to pencil-thickness using the broad tip of the blade. With the coals being established, I went on to the camp kitchen and sliced onions, peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and sausages for a stew.

As expected, the thin grind sliced as if it were made for the kitchen, with the curve of the blade aiding in the slicing ability. The high sabre grind (practically flat) proved to be perfect for all camp and bushcraft chores.

Scraping fatwood with the spine was easy with the PR4. It had a super sharp spine and quickly made a pile of fatwood.

Scraping fatwood with the spine was easy with the PR4. It had a super sharp spine and quickly made a pile of fatwood.

Made with the PR4 by Patrick Rollins, this try stick is the basis of a good learning tool for bushcraft knife use. All these notches are used for traps, pot hangers, toggles, and tent pegs.

Made with the PR4 by Patrick Rollins, this try stick is the basis of a good learning tool for bushcraft knife use. All these notches are used for traps, pot hangers, toggles, and tent pegs.

The PR4 has turned into the flagship knife of ESEE Camp-Lore Series, in my opinion.

GIBSON CARVING AXE

The ESEE Camp-Lore series features another great design from James Gibson in the Carving Axe. It sports a similar style as the PR4 with black oxide finished, 1095 high carbon steel, and sculpted brown canvas Micarta handle scales. In fact, at first glance, the PR4 and Gibson Carving Axe make for a great bushcraft pairing.

The ESEE Knives Gibson Carving Axe is one of four offerings James has collaborated on with ESEE Knives.

The ESEE Knives Gibson Carving Axe is one of four offerings James has collaborated on with ESEE Knives. Brown textured Micarta scales on a quarter-inch-thick piece of 1095 high carbon steel, with a black oxide finish. Overall length is 10 5/8 inches.

The axe features a durable full tang construction and a shaving sharp cutting edge. A generous cutout near the head allows for a close grip needed for fine, controlled work done when carving. The robust, full tang construction of the axe makes it very durable, and it will surely excel at wood processing and other camp chores in addition to carving. The workhorse steel sharpens easily in the field after heavy use.

The author is establishing a notch around the piece of maple for a mallet using the axe rather than a saw blade. This is precise work requiring control.

The author is establishing a notch around the piece of maple for a mallet using the axe rather than a saw blade. This is precise work requiring control.

There is a comfortable, palm-filling handle on this one. ESEE bolted dark brown Micarta handle scales to the tang like with the PR4.

The sculpted divots offer added security, a design flair found in James Gibson’s custom knives. A generous hole at the end of the handle allows for lanyard attachment or for hanging on a wall, or in camp. The ESEE Gibson Carving Axe comes with a brown leather sheath for transport and carry, also made in the USA.

Winter Camp

After his first design with ESEE Knives (JG3) the next evolution was the long-awaited Gibson Carving Axe, based on his custom-made personal one. Directly after getting this axe, I went back to my winter camp and put the little carving axe through its paces. I was set on using only the carving axe for all projects during the field testing.

I wanted to make some very simple spatulas for cooking fish, bacon, beans, and rice in camp. Various sizes were made from poplar and maple. Essentially, they had the same design intent, but all had their own handle length and width, depending on the pan I was using, and the food being cooked.

Even when making small craft pieces, many grips of the carving axe are needed to get everything right, or at least close enough.

The completed tools the author made with the Gibson Carving Axe overnight on his winter camp trip. Many are still in use today.

The completed tools the author made with the Gibson Carving Axe overnight on his winter camp trip. Many are still in use today.

I selected the timber I would need and wasted no time rough shaping a piece of maple for a necessary camp tool, a mallet. Pounding long stakes in frozen ground is no joke. A large, robust mallet is needed.

Usually, this is made with a saw cutting around a piece of dry, hardwood, and then an axe or fixed blade is used to chip out the wood to form the handle. I’ve made several over the years, however, this time I wanted to use only the Gibson Carving Axe.

I made a small “V” notch around the wood, slowly beaver chewing it until a defined groove was established. Then, I started chopping the sides out until I had the rough shape and thickness I wanted.

It was just a repetitive process until it was done and ready to use. I think I used about every bit of the handle and multiple grips to get the right amount of control for short, precise chops, and also long hard blows to remove large amounts of wood.

Gibson Work—A mallet and spatula in the works by the hands of the author and the Gibson Carving Axe.

Gibson Work—A mallet and spatula in the works by the hands of the author and the Gibson Carving Axe.

The smoothing of the handle was done by sticking the heel (bottom of the bit) of the axe in a stump and holding it with one hand while the other hand controls the wood by drawing it back against the axe blade.

This technique was controlled, safe, and accurate. This is how the handle was carved to a smooth finish. The shavings left over were used as kindling for the fire, utilizing as much natural material as possible—that’s bushcraft.

EVALUATION

After using the ESEE Camp-Lore series knives in a variety of situations, I can safely say Rowen did their usual stellar heat treat, along with its fit and finish. ESEE Knives, Patrick Rollins, along with James Gibson have proved their collaboration is a good fit. When it comes to designs and training, I can’t think of a better group of people.


PATRICK ROLLINS

Born in Georgia, Patrick has been a long-time wilderness enthusiast towards canoeing, fishing, hunting, and wilderness survival skills. What started as a hobby eventually turned into a lifestyle and career.

Honing his skills as he grew up, Patrick caught the eye of Randall’s Adventure & Training as a student when he took a class with them in Alabama in 2009.

This led to assisting in classes both foreign and domestic, with many different government agencies until eventually taking over as their lead instructor. Eventually, he was asked to design a knife for ESEE Knives.

Patrick Rollins is lead instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training and designer of the ESEE Knives PR4.

Patrick Rollins is lead instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training and designer of the ESEE Knives PR4. The Kephart-inspired knife is the flagship of the Camp-Lore series.

Before becoming the lead instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training, Patrick Rollins was a sheriff’s deputy with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.

He has been a law enforcement instructor since 2001 and served on the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (Entry and Sniper). Patrick is certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and NASAR SARTECH 1.

I personally have spent time traveling to various states in the USA and down to Peru in South America with Patrick Rollins and can say you won’t find a better person, as qualified as Patrick, nor as humble. Like all great instructors, he remains a student of the wilderness.


JAMES GIBSON

Born and raised in and around the Great Smoky Mountain area, James had a passion and love for anything outdoors. He made his first knife when he saw the need for a good “user,” which was back in 1980, and has continued to progress through the years. A flintknapper of 24 years, he was the co-host of the Clinch River Knap-in for 10 years and still attends many flint knapping functions.

James Gibson is a Journeyman knifemaker specializing in custom knives in many different styles from traditional Bowie, Scandi-styles, to bushcraft, along with Asian-inspired choppers.

James Gibson is a Journeyman knifemaker specializing in custom knives in many different styles from traditional Bowie, Scandi-styles, to bushcraft, along with Asian-inspired choppers. He makes axes and wood carvings, stone-work—the list goes on.

James found Larry Dean Olsen’s book Outdoor Survival Skills in 1976, which began a journey of a lifelong pursuit that’s still going on to this day. He attended the standard course at Tom Brown’s Survival School in 1993 and has studied primitive skills, survival skills, and bushcraft for many years since with people like Steve Watts. James teaches Primitive Skills/Bushcraft for Randall’s Adventure & Training, which is how I first met him.


SPECS

PR4

Overall Length: 8.90 inches
Blade Overall Length: 4.19 inches
Cutting Edge Length: 4.0 inches
Thickness: 0.125 inch
Weight (without sheath): 6.3 ounces
Blade Material: 1095 carbon, 55-57 Rc
Blade Finish: Tumbled black oxide
Handles: Sculptured Micarta
Sheath: Leather pouch
MSRP: $190.64


GIBSON CARVING AXE

Overall Length: 10.5 inches
Head Width: 4.5 inches
Thickness: 0.25 inch
Weight: 20.5 ounces
Blade Material: 1095 high carbon steel, 55-57 Rc
Finish: Black oxide stonewashed
Handles: Sculptured Micarta
Sheath: Leather
Made in the U.S.A.
MSRP: $268.84


 JG3

Overall Length: 7.63 inches
Maximum Blade Thickness: 0.125 inch
Weight (Knife Only): 4.5 ounces
Blade Material: 1095 high carbon steel, 55-57 Rc.
Finish: Black oxide stonewashed
Handles: Micarta
Sheath: Leather pouch
Made in the U.S.A.
MSRP: $190.64


 RB3

Overall Length: 8.13 inches
Maximum Blade Thickness: 0.125 inch
Weight (Knife Only): 6 ounces
Blade Material: 1095 high carbon steel, 55-57 Rc.
Finish: Black oxide stonewashed
Handles: Micarta
Grind: Scandi
Handles: Leather pouch
Made in the U.S.A.
MSRP: $190.64


HM SERIES

These knives are not intended to replace the ESEE-3 and ESEE-4, but were designed with different tastes in mind. The changes were inspired by customer feedback from bushcrafters, hunters, and people who prefer a more traditional blade that was less tactical. Hunters found that the choil would get hung up in long cuts, while some found the original handles felt flat. The new handle is considerably wider and rounder.

The ESEE-3HM and ESEE-4HM bring noticeable changes to these ESEE classics by way of comfort. The new knives are set apart from the original versions by the designation “HM,” an acronym for Handle Modification. ESEE modified the handle, making it rounder and fatter, and got rid of the forward choil.

The HM knives have the same specifications as the original ESEE-3 and ESEE-4 with the same powdercoated 1095 carbon steel blade, the same stock thickness, the same blade length, and the same shape. Sheath options are black leather pouch style or Kydex. Yet two more offerings from ESEE Knives that appeal to bushcrafters.


SOURCE

ESEE Knives

P.O. Box 99
Gallant, AL 35972

Phone: 256-613-0372
E-mail: info@eseeknives.com

ESEEKnives.com

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.

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