Category Archives: Tests and Opinions

Blackjack Model Comparison

I was at a gunshow a couple of weeks ago and had a couple of guys interested in the Blackjack fixed blade knives.  It struck me how helpful it is when a customer can see the different models side by side and make comparisons.  There’s just no way you can really appreciate the difference in the knives without handling them.

Now, this isn’t complete but the following Blackjack model comparison might help you understand the differences in the more popular patterns I’m selling.

L-R: 1-7 Leather , 127 Leather, 125 Micarta, 125 Commando Leather, 124 Stag

These five patterns make up most of my sales.  Starting on the left, the model 1-7 Leather is unique not only due to the larger blade and guard, but it is one of the few Blackjack’s that have a CPM3V blade.  At 12″ with the 7″ blade, it’s one of the larger Blackjacks.  It also has a lanyard hole.  Handle length is a generous 5″ butt to guard which should be plenty to hang onto for even the biggest hand.

The knife to it’s right is the 127 with a leather handle.  Measuring 10.5″ OAL with a 6″ blade made from A2 Tool Steel.   Handle length is 4.375″  The blade has a notable upsweep compared to the other patterns.

The 125 Micarta, in the middle of the group, measures 9.375″ OAL and has a 5″ drop point blade in A2 Steel.

125 Classic (R) and 125 Commando (L)

In the above photo, you can quickly see the subtle difference between the Classic 125 and the 125 Commando Leather.  It’s all in the grip the grip.  There’s a noticeable ‘palm swell’ in the Commando handle (R) with a slightly different butt design which also has the lanyard hole.  The grip length on the Commando 4.125″ compared to 4.25″ on the Classic 125.  Just a bit more compact then the Classic 125.  The 125 Commando is my personal choice that I plan to put into service this spring.

Classic L and Commando R

They also changed the somewhat standard slotted/recessed handle attachment nut with a traditional nut on the Commando.  You can also see a slight flair on the Commando butt.  The butt flair and palm swell tend to push my hand into the guard which actually feels quite comfortable.  It feels like your hand is locked in place.

The fifth knife on the extreme right is the model 124 with a Stag handle.  Measuring 8.25″ OAL it has a 4.125″ A2 Blade.  Handle length on the 124 is 3.75″ guard to butt.  The 124 is a great choice for a small to medium sized field knife.

I know this is a poor substitute for actually handling the knives, but hopefully this Blackjack Model comparison helps a bit.


Trestle Pine Knives Update & Commentary

Earlier in the week I posted a brief comment that I really liked my Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage.  And a month or two ago Dave had posted a comment that we should list all the uses of the Screwdriver/Cap Lifter blade on the Grand Portage.  With all the ‘projects’ that I’ve had to work on this week, it was interesting how many times I pulled the GP out of my pocket to use that screwdriver blade.

For years, I got by with a standard folder with one or two blades and everything seemed to work fine.  For a couple of years I had either a SAK or one of the Leathermen at my side.  I kind of abandoned carrying a belt knife as I found that carrying too many things on your belt made me lean to one side.  Over time, I found I really missed not having at least a screwdriver in addition to a sharp edge readily available.

Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage
Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage

Yesterday, our washing machine died and while I didn’t get any photo’s, the screwdriver was at hand when I disconnected the power cord from the dryer to use on the new one.  (IF you didn’t know, you can’t replace a washing machine without a matching dryer.  Or so I’m told)

Popping the lid on a can of Poly
Popping the lid on a can of Poly
Adjusting my scope
Adjusting my scope
Tighenting pistol grip
Tightening pistol grip
Adjusting sights
Adjusting sights
Using the FireSteel
Using the FireSteel
A little help lifting the tab
A little help lifting the tab
Prying the lid off the pickled Jalapeno's
Prying the lid off the pickled Jalapeno’s for lunch
And finishing up the day!
And finishing up the day!

And in between the blade was used for all the standard cutting chores you’d expect.  Stripping wire, cutting dock lines, etc.  I honestly can’t imagine how anyone can function without a knife!!

Everytime I look at the choil on the blade, all I can see is a potential wire stripper.

Possible Wire Stripper???
Possible Wire Stripper???

It wouldn’t take much to take a small round file and open the choil up a bit and sharpen it enough to cut through the insulation on electrical wiring.  I have a bad habit of laying the wire on top of the blade edge and rolling it with my thumb to cut through the insulation.  It works fine but I usually end up slicing my thumb as well.  Just so many possibilities.  I’m thinking if the choil was sharpened, I could keep my thumb a little further from the blade edge.

There’s another run of the original Superior coming through around the first of the year and I thought about adding a screwdriver blade to it as well.  As successful as the first run was, I’m not convinced I want to mess with it, but I’m going to keep it in mind.

The Trestle Pine Knives were built with utility in mind and for me, it’s working.



Notes from the 2016 Field Trip

I apologize I haven’t shared a bit about the recent field trip I took this summer.  Still recovering and catching up I guess!!

The annual field trip is the chance I get to take some products into the outdoors and actually spend a little time using them as they’re intended.  Pretty hard to evaluate a nice field blade puttering around the house.  This year I had several knives I really wanted to try out and see how they performed.

As you might expect, the first one was the Grand Portage.  I’ve really gotten attached to it.  All the years I carried a pocket knife until I started carrying the Fallkniven’s, I’d never had anything other then a 440C or 1095 blade.  They worked great but under heavy use cleaning fish, etc, the blades always required some maintenance during the trip.  The CPM154 is a different animal.  I used it for everything from cutting cord, doing some whittling and trimming my stogie.  If you’re a cigar smoker you know that anything less then a razor sharp blade can destroy a good cigar.


The other feature I really appreciated was the screwdriver.  I use a firesteel for my fire starting and the bottom edge of the screwdriver is the perfect striker.  The bottom edge of the screwdriver has a fairly sharp edge that works better then the striker that comes with the firesteels.  AND, the knife handle gives you plenty to hang onto when you’re striking a spark.


We had company during the trip and I was really happy to see his choice of a belt knife was one of the original Trestle Pine Buddy’s.


The other two knives I was anxious to try were the pair of Spyderco Mule Team knives I acquired.  My friend Dave have given me a blade with the CPM 4V blade and I recently picked up the latest Maxamet blade.  These are unique blades which can only be purchased directly from Spyderco at what I feel are really reasonable prices.  They come without handles or a sheath, but both are readily available.  You can end up with a high quality, nicely finished knife in the $100-150 range depending on your choice of blade steel.


These are two of the finest blades I’ve had the pleasure to use.  The CPM 4V I put just a notch above the Fallkniven 3G steel but the Maxamet is in a class all it’s own.  The Maxamet comes in with a reported Rockwell hardness somewhere in the 70+ range.  Of course when you approach that kind of hardness the big concern is chipping.  Not to worry.

I hacked away at a piece of split birch until I had chopped a notch just over a inch deep and roughly and inch and a half wide.  The CPM 4V had the edge ever so slightly rolled over and quickly straightened out with a few swipes on the strop.  The Maxamet came away still hair shaving sharp.  I’m dead serious.  You wouldn’t have known you’d cut anything other then air with it.

While I’m not saying this was any sort of scientific evaluation, it impressed the hell out of me.  The same type of chopping with 1095 would have had you reaching for a stone to touch things back up.  I used the Maxamet for the rest of the weekend for all sorts of chores and it came home still scary sharp.


I’m so impressed with these newer high tech steels and wish I would have discovered them years ago.  There was always that lingering question, why should I spend more then necessary for a decent knife.  It’d would be hard to go back now.

All in all, we had a great weekend, albeit a short one.  The highlight was a short cruise on Lake Superior on a sailboat.  It was a 50′ two masted boat that was an absolute ball to ride on.  Highly recommend it to any that hasn’t sailed before.  I put a short video up on the Facebook page. 

And have you ever had one of those things you’ve driven by a hundred times but never really paid any attention to what you were driving by?  Well, about 9 miles East of Grand Marais on hwy 61 is a house with a front yard full of drift wood and neatly piled rocks.


On closer examination, the rock and drift wood are artistically arranged and you start noticing all sorts of critters and stuff tucked in as well.


And when you get closer, the detail is even greater.


This isn’t just a randomly tossed together pile of sticks and stones.  It’s just hard to explain if you haven’t seen it.


I have no idea who this person is but they’re incredibly artistic and obviously have a whole lot more free time then the average person.  Next year I’ll have to make a point to stop and see if I can get some more details.  Very cool.

And it’s never a complete trip without stopping in to visit an old friend at a Grand Marais landmark.

The Beaver House, Grand Marais, MN
The Beaver House, Grand Marais, MN

The Beaver house is owned and operated by Tyson Cronberg and was originally opened by his dad back in 1964.  When we started going to Grand Marais in the early 1970’s Tyson was too small to see over the counter.  As I said, it’s truly a landmark and Ty is a great guy to stop and visit with.   They hadn’t finished painting the building when we were there but it’s quite a sight.  (and yes, the walleye on the roof talks!)

By the way, if you’re in the area, you can check out the Trestle Pine knives he now has in stock.  His season is coming to an end for the summer but next spring we’ll be putting more knives in.

All in all, a great trip and I’m already anxious to go again.


Weekly Update 4.9.16 ~ Camp Knives Review

The weekly update is a little late once again but a few more GEC Camp Knives arrived and I thought I’d bring you up to date with a quick review.  I really like this knife and while I don’t see myself carrying or using one, it’s definitely built to be a workhorse.

98 Camp Knife
98 Camp Knife Kingwood Handle

The Kingwood handle material is really stunning.  Some of the nicest grained Kingwood you could ask for.  I’ve gotten really fond of wood handles and this is a gem.

It fills the average sized hand and should feel comfortable for anyone with the largest hands.  I wouldn’t be afraid to take on cleaning most big game as the blade is stout and the handle provides a more then adequate area to grip.


I’m unable to explain the coloration on the concave surface of the Awl.  It almost appears to have been cold blued and the coloration is more uniform on some then others.  I sent an email to GEC this afternoon and hope to get an answer next week.  I’m assuming it’s intentional albeit a bit distracting.  The steel isn’t ‘burned’ as the opposite side has been nicely polished.

98 Camp Knife Awl Coloration
98 Camp Knife Awl Coloration

I really like this knife and I sincerely wish the run would have been bigger so I hope no one gets a knot in their shorts when I point out a couple other observations.  NONE of these are issues that bother me in the least, but based on experience, I’m sure a few cutlery connoisseurs may take issue.  If minor details bother you…caveat emptor.  These aren’t design flaws, signs of poor workmanship or anything other then just being the nature of the beast.

IF you have a problem with the back of the blade not being flush with the springs be advised.  The blade tends to sit about .050″ below the spring and that’s pretty consistent with the secondary blades as well.  This isn’t anything I find to be of a concern but recently had a GEC returned for a step small enough it couldn’t even be accurately measured.

Blade sets below the spring
Blade sets below the spring

Second thing is the point of the blade can definitely be felt rubbing a finger tip over the end of the knife.  This isn’t a design flaw either in my estimation but rather unavoidable with so much steel between the liners.


The blade sets low between the liners but it doesn’t take much downward pressure to make contact.DSC_2152

Another minor issue is the bails are attached tight enough to rub the bolsters and mark them.  They’re coming out of the tube like this so don’t be surprised.  If it bothers anyone, it’s incredibly easy to buff out the marks with a little green polishing compound on a cotton rag but they’re gonna come back.

Bail rubs bolster
Bail rubs bolster

I’ve found a few of the knives don’t have real sharp edges but it’s pretty unusual for me to find a factory traditional folder with what I consider a field ready edge.  And the edge on the awl could be cleaned up a bit for a nice smooth cut.  It definitely cuts leather but leaves things a bit shaggy.  I don’t think it really matters as I don’t see too many folks using it as it was intended anyway.

The Camp Knives rank up there close to the Lumberjack and a few other ‘oddities’ we used to see on a semi regular basis.  And I like it.  I only point out the above ‘issues’ as I don’t want anyone tripping over themselves to buy one without knowing this isn’t your average ‘pocket knife’.  This is a large working tool made for anyone that wants a heavy duty knife meant for heavy duty use.


Weekly Update 1.29.16 FrogLube Test and GEC 47’s

The FrogLube test is over,  GEC 47’s continue to arrive and we should see the Vipers start to arrive in a matter of days.  One note on the Vipers is there’s going to be a delay in the new Brown Snakeskin acrylic Tidioutes.  There’s been a delay in shipping on the handle material so it sounds like it will be a while before that one’s available.

Knife sales continue strong.  I’ve added a few knives to the storefront picked up from collections and will keep trying to add more.  Yesterday I completed the purchase of an incredibly nice lot of older GEC’s including some Sunfish and early Burnt and Genuine Stag 23’s.  Have patience, I’ll get them in the store when they arrive.

I received confirmation this week that it’s going to be late February before the Trestle Pine Knives Barlow will ship.  Late January was the initial target date, but….. that’s the way it goes sometimes.  On a positive note, I received some of the Trestle Pine Buddy’s that I had made using some of the Double Dyed Box Elder, Black Ash Burl and Koa wood that will be used on the upcoming Barlow.  This at last gives you a bit of a preview of things to come!

Trestle Pine Buddy Double Dyed Box Elder, Black Ash and Koa Wood
Trestle Pine Buddy Double Dyed Box Elder, Black Ash and Koa Wood

We’ve had incredibly nice weather up here with the exception of a few subzero days.  Everything considered, it’s been a fantastic winter.  Which leads me to the conclusion of the FrogLube test.

This morning, I checked on the Queen Country Cousin that’s been laying on my picnic table, exposed to the elements since December 14.

Queen Country Cousin forgotten and neglected.
Queen Country Cousin forgotten and neglected.

If you’ve followed the conversation, I treated the blade with FrogLube back in mid December and left the knife stuck in the snow on my picnic table.  I checked on the knife a couple of times, wiped the blade with my fingers and laid it back outside.


After 6 weeks in the snow and wet, not much for signs of metal deterioration.  If you look at the base of the blade, you can see just a slight bit oxidation starting to occur.


But amazingly, when I wiped it off with a dry cloth, most of the oxidation was superficial and cleaned up quite well.


The only other signs of ‘deterioration’ was a bit of discoloration on the brass surfaces.  I’m not sure that’s even worth mentioning as brass loves to tarnish with just a fingerprint that doesn’t get wiped off.


The knife has been in the house for about an hour and I’ve thoroughly wiped it off with a dry cloth and my fingers.  You can still feel the presence of the FrogLube on the blade which I find unbelievable.  Every time I’ve checked the knife out, I made a point of wiping the blade dry, using my fingers and a cloth yet there’s still a very obvious protective coating of  FrogLube.

I’ve only put a few rounds through one of my 9mm’s that I Frogged but the cleanup was easier then ever and after cleaning, you could feel the FrogLube presence on it as well.  Pretty neat that you can use the same cleaning product that you use as a lube.  Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different CLP’s but I’m convinced, FrogLube is one of the best products I’ve ever used.

FrogLube Test Update 1.14.16

Time for a FrogLube Test update.  It’s been 4 weeks since I treated a Queen Country Cousin with a D2 blade and left it outside on my picnic table.


December 14, 2015
December 14, 2015

Per the FrogLube instructions, I degreased the blade and removed all of the original petroleum based lubes, warmed the knife slightly with a hair dryer and applied a single coat of FrogLube.  Since I left it outside, we’ve had temps above freezing, below zero, fog, snow, sunshine and everything in between.  I checked it out 2 weeks ago to see if there were any signs of rust or corrosion and wiped the blade off with my fingers.

January 7, 2016
December 30, 2015

Everything looked good so I laid it back in the snow and left it there for 2 more weeks.  This morning, I ‘dug’ it out and here’s what it looks like.

It's in there somewhere
It’s in there somewhere
January 14, 2016
January 14, 2016
Frozen in pretty solid
Frozen in pretty solid

And here’s what it looks like after a month in the elements.  Remember, you’re looking at a D2 Carbon steel blade, not a stainless steel.  It’s been laying in about as damp an environment as you can imagine.

After a month in the snow.
After a month in the snow.




There was a bit of light staining on the tang where it appears I didn’t get any lube and a spot at the base of the blade just above the grind and to the right of the tang stamp.


Most of the spot rubbed off with just finger pressure as did most of the staining near the pivot.


When I wipe down the blade with my fingers, I can still feel the presence of the FrogLube.  It’s not a greasy or oily feel, but more like a metal surface that’s been waxed.

Being a long time fan of D2 steel, the combination of the steel with a treatment of FrogLube seems to be a pretty tough combination to beat for protection.  I was already convinced of the FrogLube cleaning and lube properties, and this seems to prove its claim as an effective all around CLP.

I think it was John and/or Syd made comments that it seemed a bit expensive until they realized how little you used.   Dave and I discussed the cost as well and we agreed for the amount used, it’s a bargain.  The knife pictured was treated with a grand total of 2 drops of the liquid.  I’m not sharp enough to  break down the actual cost to treat a single knife, but it’s pretty darned cheap considering the amount used and the results.

The Trestle Pine Buddy I use (1095 blade) got the FrogLube treatment but I haven’t used the knife recently.  That’s my camping knife and I’m anxious to see how the FrogLube holds up after a couple days in the outdoors, cutting, cleaning fish and constant moisture exposure.  The real test of any protectant is how well it’ll continue to protect after the blade is actually used for extensive cutting.  For now, I’m impressed.

You know what…. let’s throw it back out in the snow a little longer with the blade partially opened.  Just for the record, no more FrogLube, I wiped the knife down with both a dry cloth and my fingers.

1.14.16  Back in the Snow!
1.14.16 Back in the Snow!

FrogLube Test Update

Not sure how many of you remember these pictures of the start of the FrogLube Test from December 14, 1015.  …..  This is a much abused Queen Country Cousin that’s been used hard and put away wet more then a few times.  The blade steel is D2 which I’ll admit is more stain/rust resistant than 1095, but none the less, will rust.

DSC_0637 DSC_0636 DSC_0635

I put this well used EDC knife outside in the edge of my picnic table on December 14, 2015 after I’d treated it with FrogLube.  Per the recommendations, I cleaned the blade with a degreaser, warmed the blade and applied a very light coat of the FrogLube allowing it to dry for about 1/2 hour before leaving it outside. That was nearly 2 weeks ago.

In the mean time, we’ve had rain, snow, fog, warm, cold, sun, clouds and  everything in between for weather.  This morning I decided it was time to see how much damage (if any had occurred).


Three or four times while the knife was outside, I wiped the blades with my fingers to see if you could still feel the presents of any lube on the blade.  While the blade wasn’t oily, the blade had a smooth, slick feel to it like it had been waxed.

Here’s what it looks like today.

DSC_0791 DSC_0790

There’s still a smooth, dry waxed feeling on the blade and no sign of any rust or staining on the blade.  The only sign of any metal deterioration is behind the tang at the pivot, which I didn’t lube.  All I did was wipe down the exposed blade.


While I’ll admit this FrogLube Test isn’t scientific nor was a control of any kind used for comparison, I’m pretty impressed.  Two weeks stuck in a table top in the elements with no sign of rusting is pretty damned good in my estimation.

To continue the test, I’m going to lay it down on the table, in the snow and we’ll see how things look in a few more weeks or months.  I’m not going to reapply any more of the FrogLube and all I’ve done is wipe down the blade with a dry cloth.  In fact, I’m tempted to leave it out there until Spring just to see what happens.  At the very least, we’ll get to see just how tough Queen’s D2 is!

So here we go!  Let’s see what a little more time will do to things!!


Estwing Hatchet Review

Few weeks back I promised some feedback on the Estwing Hatchet, aka Sportsman’s Axe and the Fireside Friend Splitting Tool.  Well, here’s a quick look at both.

A really brief history is the Estwing Company has been around for over 90 years making rugged tools for the craftsman and outdoorsman.  Their all steel construction makes them virtually indestructible while the leather handles are not only comfortable but good looking too.

I’ve been familiar with their line of hammers for years and recently had an opportunity pick up one of the 14″ Sportsman Axes on a trade and immediately fell in love with it.  I added them to the storefront a few weeks ago and decided to pick up a couple of the Fireside Friend Splitting Tools as well.  Good decision.

DSC_0128The Estwing Hatchet is (Sportsmans Axe) is a slim trim hatchet with a relatively narrow head making it excellent for chopping small limbs.


The narrow edge eagerly bites into even a piece of oak with vigor.


The downside of the narrow head is it makes a lousy splitter.  That’s where the Fireside Friend really shines.


I grabbed a well seasoned piece of oak about 8″ in diameter and one good whack did the job.  No way would I have tried splitting this with a typical hatchet, but the 4 pound head of the Fireside Friend made easy work.

DSC_0121The Estwing Hatchet is great for an all around tool for cutting small limbs and even light splitting.   It’s light weight, compact and easily fits under the seat of the Jeep.  Personally, I found the Fireside Friend was absolutely perfect for splitting pieces of hardwood to fit into the smoker or splitting pieces down to cookfire size thickness.  The wide head on the Fireside Friend is also perfect for driving stakes and the 4# weight makes it an easy job.  Gonna be hard for me to get by with just one or the other.

They’re just another example of rediscovering old tools that still work the way they were designed to.  Seems like we can get caught up with the latest gadget and over time forget about those old standbys .  Sure glad I tripped across these two!

Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow Review

A few weeks back I gave away a couple of the Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow special run knives and asked that the recipients take a few minutes to write a review on them after they had a chance to use them.   The first review was posted and Tori just forwarded the following to me for posting.  Really appreciate the time and thoughtful review.

“Sorry for the delay in getting this to you, I wanted to make sure that I really put this little workhorse through its paces in order to give it a thorough review. This is my first official review like this so sorry if it’s a bit rough.

First things first, many thanks to Greg at TSA knives for giving me the opportunity to try this knife out, I was actually eyeing it since I had no previous experience with the barlow pattern. I can happily report that it’s now one of my favorite patterns, and combined with the sheepsfoot blade it is hard to beat!

The Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow features a sheepsfoot blade in 1095 steel with a plumb-brown delrin handle. The delrin is surprisingly comfortable and the jigging makes it decently grippy, even in damp conditions. The sheepsfoot blade is excellent for a wide variety of tasks and is perfect for such a utilitarian design. The blade is thin enough to make it an excellent slicer, and after a few swipes on a stone even I managed to get it hair-popping sharp with my less than stellar sharpening skills. The size of the knife falls in that 3-3.5″ sweet spot where it’s hefty enough to handle slightly heavier tasks in the garden but is still small enough to ride well in the pocket and not be intimidating to most folks.

The nail knick is really more of a formality since the blade can be easily pinched open, and I would rate the pull at around a 7, leaning towards a 6.5. While this Queen is no safe queen (it’s not supposed to be!) the fit and finish are solid with the blade being well centered and no gaps between the delrin and the bolsters. There is the slightest of gaps on one side of the back spring but it’s only visible if you hold it up to a light, and I’ve had worse gaps on knives 3x the price. The walk and talk are decent and it snaps open quite nicely, though there is a bit of up and down wiggle in the half stop position, but who uses their knife like that anyway? For a “user” knife Queen really outdid themselves and I would rate the overall frame at an 8 out of 10, outstanding for a knife that’s less than $40.

My one (small) gripe with the knife is that the delrin around two of the pins in the covers/scales was rough immediately around the perimeter of the pins, which was pretty noticeable when holding the knife. However, after spending some time in the pocket of my jeans the roughness is wearing away, and I can only imagine that it will continue to improve over time. Seriously though, with such a low price and excellent build quality it’s hard to complain about small cosmetic issues.

Overall, the quality of the design and build are impressive for such an inexpensive knife, and I see this little workhorse toughing it out with me for many years to come. If you want to try out a barlow pattern or want a tough knife that’s not afraid to be used, the Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow is a great, affordable option. Thanks again to Greg for giving me a taste of this pattern, and my first Queen to boot!”

-Tori B

Queen City Yankee Muskrat Review

Steve D was the recent winner of one of the Queen City Yankee Muskrat knives and promised to do a review on said knife.  Here’ his impression of the knife:

First off, thanks to Greg Holmes of TSA Knives for offering this knife in the giveaway drawing, which I was thrilled to win! I was actually planning on buying this particular knife, as I have always been fond of the full sized muskrats with square bolsters.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The first thing I noticed was the OUTSTANDING quality of the frame & handles on this knife. Especially when considering the retail price of $59.95. I was expecting a few gaps perhaps, between the springs and/or the handles & bolsters. Not so with this particular knife anyway. The color & jigging of the bone is visually striking & offers a pleasing grip, with no sharp or harsh edges anywhere. Queen did an excellent job on hafting this knife, and it is just about the same quality as the average GEC knife, with a glassy smooth finish along the bottom of the knife, and perfect transitions & seams throughout. I score the frame of this knife a 9 out of 10, but only because it has a glued in shield, which is perfectly fit and flush, and no excess glue to be seen anywhere.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I really like the shape of these muskrat clip blades better than most others, due to the nice deep forward belly along the cutting edge, instead of the overly shallow/skinny blades found on many muskrats. The blades on this knife will simply last longer in addition to being excellent for slicing & skinning. The 1095 carbon steel makes them very easy to take a keen razor edge. Because this is priced to be a user, the main blade grinds are not perfect, but I have seen much worse on other blade grinds. Queen equipped this knife with stainless steel back springs, which is a real plus for a true working knife. You won’t ever have to worry about these springs rusting inside the knife due to using it around a wet environment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The walk & talk of the blades are not “butter smooth”…… but the action, blade lock-up and snap closed is strong. These blades will not fold up very easily on accident. The walk & talk is about what I would expect from such a knife priced as a true “user”, so I have no real complaints there, and I’m glad that is has these strong dependable stainless springs. If there is one thing I cannot stand, is wimpy springs on a slip joint. The pull weight is about a 7 on both blades……..far from being a nail breaker, but very snappy & strong.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Both blades came with a slight blade rapping issue, but sharpening the knife solved the problem, and I also tend to hang onto my blades & assist them closed versus allowing blades to snap shut. The great custom knife maker Tony Bose actually closes his own personal knives this way, and not allowing them to simply snap shut. Many folks may not know this, but by NOT allowing your blades to snap shut at full force will definitely preserve your beautiful bone handles, as they can start developing cracks at the pins due to vibration from years of snapping blades shut. Just a little lesson from us “old school” guys and something to consider for all your classic slip joint knives. As another example, when visiting a knife show, it has always been advised for a person to close blades gently on knives you are simply sampling and not buying from any of the sellers at the tables.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       This muskrat is 3 7/8″ long closed……..not 4″……..but that’s no deal breaker, it is a perfect size for EDC, and if you’ve never tried a true serpentine handled muskrat folks, you don’t know what your missing. These muskrats have the best ergonomics of ANY 2 blade or multi-bladed slip joint ever made. The handle shape is amazing, strong & comfortable, and unlike all other knife patterns, you can NOT feel the opposing blade that is shut in the knife handle when using the other blade. Try any quality made serpentine muskrat, and I challenge you NOT to fall in love with this pattern. And when your out in the field using it, if the first blade dulls, no problem, you have a 2nd identical full sized blade to switch over to. You can get twice the work done before re-sharpening or touching up your edges. Because of this feature, BOTH of your blades will actually enjoy extended life. All the above reasons are why the Yankee Muskrat is one of my all-time favorite slip joints. All these young guys who complain about “feeling the other blades in a multi-bladed slip joint knife” have not tried a muskrat!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           To sum it all up for this offering by Queen City, if you plan on actually USING this knife, I say it is a real winner, especially for near half the price of a comparable GEC knife. If you like GEC knives, like I do, but are afraid to put them to hard use, due to the higher price and “being so nice”……THIS KNIFE IS FOR YOU!!! You are getting a knife that has such a gorgeous frame & handles, like that of a high-end collector, yet it is geared towards the user market. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a flawless GEC for example, I rate this Queen City Yankee Muskrat a solid 7.5………and when considering its low price……….I give it an 8.5 for overall strength, usability and value. And that ain’t bad at all. Thanks Greg!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Steve D-