ESEE® is an American company based in Alabama, owned by Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin. Randall’s Adventure Training ® has been in business since 1997, training military, law enforcement, and civilians in the art of jungle survival. During our survival training ventures, we recognized the need for a better knife for our jungle school. Machete’s were too thin and flexible and sheath knives were too small and lacked cutting efficiency. Our problem was solved when we designed the RTAK, a large sheath knife that offered the cutting efficiency of a machete with the hard work features of a sheath knife.
There is something about when you pick up a knife and you can just feel the quality that went into it; weight, balance, design, and this is what I experienced the first time I picked up an ESEE® knife. I have been using the ESEE-4 for a couple of years now, I choose the Carbon-Steel, Drop-Point with non-serrated blade. The ESEE-4 is also available in Stainless Steel, however it is not as flexible as the Carbon-Steel. The back (unsharpened) edge of the knife runs straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, creating a lowered point. This lowered point provides more control and adds strength to the tip. While the tip on a drop point is not as sharp as the tip on a clip point, it is much stronger, thus the drop point tip strength is greater and has an increased ability to hold up to heavy use. Because the drop point is also easier to control it makes a perfect knife for skinning, avoiding accidental nicking of internal organs.
Even though ESEE® knives are made from high carbon 1095 steel, which is the top choice for professional cutlery designed for hard use, it will rust and stain if not properly cared for – especially on the cutting edge and around the laser engraving.
KOA Wood Handles
I also choose to customize mine by making my own handles from Curly Koa wood, purchased from BurlSource (great company to deal with). Koa’s high price results from several factors. First, it is endemic to Hawaii; it doesn’t grow anywhere else in the world. Secondly, the only koa that can be harvested are the dead or decaying trees on public lands. Plantation koa is in its early stages of development and isn’t much of a factor at this time. And cutting live koa trees on private lands is looked upon as a sin. Illegal cutting occurs sporadically, but anyone found buying or dealing with the “koa black market” faces serious legal issues if they are caught. Koa (Acacia koa) grows on the larger islands of Hawaii. Trees can reach heights up to 100′ with diameters of 3′ to 4′. Trees at higher elevations contain the most figure, while trees at lower elevations are more straight-grained. The prime growing area is between 3,000 and 6,000 ft. Koa is generally reddish to dark brown, often with a golden luster and darker streaks, and is void of sapwood. The grain is interlocked, which often causes the curly figure. Be sure if you do this that you use “stabilized” knife scales. Scales is the term used to identify the block of wood specifically sized for knife handles.
ESEE® Field Testing
I couldn’t have said this any better than the owners, “Unlike a lot of manufacturers, ESEE® doesn’t just release a new knife because it looks cool on paper – we personally field test each new design prototype before is makes it to the production stage. Once we make the final design tweaks and the knife is put into production, we test the design again during field outings Stateside and jungle survival classes in the Peruvian Amazon.”
My Thoughts On ESEE®
While the shorter blade doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is a perfect fit if you want a knife that stows easily in your bag, the ESEE-6 is the bigger brother of the ESEE-4 if you want a larger blade with the same quality.
The ESEE-4 comes with a good quality sheath, surprisingly this is not some cheap knock-off sheath that comes free with a lot of knives. It was very well designed, and has a belt clip that is easily moved from one side of the sheath to the other depending if you carry it on your right or left side.
ESEE® knives arrive razor-sharp, and after almost two years of solid use it still feels almost as sharp as day one. The blade is thick and trust me you could drop this knife off the side of a cliff (and I have accidentally) and it would not bend or warp! I put my knives to a lot of abuse and it takes a lot to impress me after years of going through knives like someone changing socks, but ESEE® has really impressed me.