In the last couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at the new S&M #3 EXP Mountain Man. While I’ve had no practical experience actually using one, I have taken the time to give it a good lookin’ at.
The #3 EXP’s I received included a number of one of a kind and very low run pieces. Here’s a group of 4 that I believe were the only ones made that now reside in a pretty impressive and complete collection of #3EXP and #71’s.
There were also more Shockwood handles like the Silver Shockwood pictured below. As I’ve said before, the Shockwood is really a great looking handle material particularly on a larger knife like the Mountain Man and the John Henry Auto’s.
For the first time, there is also a jigged bone handle which I hope we’ll see more of in the future.
When you compare the original John Henry 71 Express with the #3 EXP Mountain Man, the size difference is pretty obvious. I always felt the Mountain Man was a pretty big knife, but handling it alongside the John Henry…. it feels pretty slim and trim. In fact, it feels very comfortable in hand.
The locking mechanism on both knives is identical in design and function. The release button is situated as such to make both of these knives a right handed knife. For the southpaw, either will be awkward to use at best.
The only comfortable way to deploy the blade is by holding the knife in your right hand …
using the tip of your right index finger to depress the release.
The force required to depress the release is noticeably less the that required on the 71 John Henry. Smaller blade, smaller (shorter) spring, less effort.
Once released, the blade swings open with authority. If you’ve handled the 71 John Henry you know there’s a fair amount of torque created when that big blade swings open. The #3 EXP is much more civilized upon opening. There’s plenty of spring tension to open the blade and lock it up securely all the while letting you feel secure you’ve got control of things. The blade design is in keeping with the original Mountain Man. A reasonable length clip blade made of 1095 steel.
The fit and finish of the #3 Mountain Man is in my estimation better then the #71 John Henry. I get the feeling that the Mountain Man was an opportunity to refine some of the same/similar processes used to build the John Henry. Even the later runs of the John Henry were more refined then the first run and it seems like the #3 takes it a step further. Over all, nicely done.
From the feel of the knife in hand and fundamental similarity to the Mountain Man can only lead me to believe it would make an excellent full size work knife. I’m not accustomed to using a larger knife in my day to day routine and while I don’t envision carrying a #3 EXP, if I had a need, I see no reason why I wouldn’t!