I’ve been looking at a number of different lines to add to the store and one that caught my attention are the Bradford USA Knives. Not to be confused with Bradford Cutlery commonly associated with Case, The Bradford USA or Bradford Knives line I’m referring to comes out of Kent, Washington. Brad Larkin started the company back in 2012 and has built a great line of fixed blades knives. While the line crosses into kitchen cutlery, what really drew me to them are the hunting and bushcraft knives.
Bradford Knives has offered their outdoor lines in several popular steels. These include the Bohler N690, M390 and 3V series steels to name a few. The other feature that I find appealing are the Nimbus and DLC coated blades that are very scratch and wear resistant. So many of the coated blades I’ve come across seem to be nothing more then a coating of black enamel that holds up until you use the knife. The stonewash finish also lends a somewhat rustic look.
Their Guardian Series covers a great range from around 3-6″ its that mid range around 4″ I found most appealing. Not too big, not too small, just about right.
With my slightly oversized hand that 4″ grip length fits just fine with the ability to get my index finger forward for control. In addition, the textured G10 handle is gonna be easy to hang onto whether your wrist deep cleaning a deer, cleaning fish or preparing a camp meal in the rain. The jimping topside is also a plus as is the lanyard hole. .
The Guardian 4.5 (above) is a bit bigger with a 5″ handle that’s perfect for someone with a big hand. The G-10 handle is ‘grippy’ and would be perfect for heavy duty use.
While I’ve not had a lot of experience (yet) with the Bohler N690, I now it’s an excellent blade steel. It has high stain resistance and great properties for edge retention and wear. Its a fine grained steel that takes an excellent edge and the Bradford USA knives came absolutely shaving sharp. A minor detail that I really appreciated was a note on the care instructions that comes with the knives. You get the usual caveats and care tips but this is one of the few knives I’ve seen with recommendations on the angle to try to maintain when sharpening, 18-20 degrees.
I know we’ve all got our preferences for blade angles but at the 18-20 degree mark, this knife is as sharp as you could possibly ask for. Prior to using the Edge Pro for sharpening I thought I was pretty good at maintaining a consistent angle. But the question was consistent at what angle? Probably consistent between 18 and 30 degrees would be my bet. It’s nice to be able to choose an angle and be able to replicate it.
The handle panels are removable and Bradford carries a number of different options that you can choose from. I tend to stay with the handle I first chose but if you’re so inclined to switch things up, it’s pretty easy.
There’s one more manufacturer I’m planning on adding in the next few weeks. It’s another premium fixed blade line that should fit perfectly with the Trestle Pine, Hess, Bradford USA, Bark Rivers and Blackjacks. I’ve focused so long on folders that it’s really been fun expanding my boundaries a bit. Particularly with the outstanding choice of blade steels available.