Saturday, September 3, 2011

ESEE-4 Fixed Blade Knife Review.

Click on any of the photos for a full sized version
I purchased an ESEE-4 almost a year ago and I have used it for everything from food prep to cleaning fish to field dressing a feral hog. The following is a short review of my thoughts on this knife.

When I was in the market for a medium fixed blade knife, I (like always) read review after review before I make a purchase. One knife brand that kept coming up was ESEE (Formerly RAT Cutlery). There were several positive reviews of their knives and their warranty service so I thought I'd give them a try.  Next, I had to decide which size because ESEE offers everything from it's miniature but very capable Izula (named after a South American Ant) to it's Zombie slaughtering Junglas. For my purposes I was looking for something in a size I could carry comfortably without scaring little old ladies while out hiking. I wanted something I could use for food prep, game prep. and general purpose cutting tasks. Lastly, the main argument for fixed blades, I wanted something tough enough to take a beating. Based upon the reviews I had read and the size I was looking for, I purchased the ESSE-4.

The ESEE-4 has an overall length of 9 inches. The blade length is 4.5 inches but due to the choil, the cutting area is around 4 inches. ESEE sends out their knives with a survival card, a kydex sheath and some molle attachments. When I first opened the package containing the knife, my first thoughts where, "man, this is a nice knife for the money."


The ESEE-4 blade is made out of 1095 steel. This steel is a common steel in many tools. It is classified as a high carbon steel and thus can rust if not taken care of. 1095 and other high carbon steel materials are generally the best for extremely hard use knives. 1095 is a bit more brittle than some of the other high carbon steels such as 1050, 1058 or even cold steel's very own 1055. That being said, in shorter lengths such as the ESEE 3, 4 or 5, the brittleness shouldn't be an issue.

Many knife companies including ESEE combat the high carbon rust issue by coating the majority of the blade with various types of powder coats or epoxy resins. ESEE knives have done a very good job in this regard because after a year of use, the coating on my blade has yet to come off. I admittedly do not care for my hard use fixed blades as good as I should and my ESEE-4 has shown a few spots of rust. Fortunately, it's easy to remove and probably easier to prevent with Tuf-Cloth.
When I received my ESEE-4, it came sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm. In use, it retains it's sharpness fairly well but with hardness of 57RC it (like many high carbon blades) dulls with use rather quickly in comparison to steels such as D2. Fortunately this also makes them easier to sharpen. 

The blade thickness on the ESEE-4 is substantial at 3/16" of an inch. It is evident that it is built for hard use. When you pick this knife up, you will know; it will take pretty much anything you can throw at it.

They offer their blades in three colors, OD Green (like mine), Desert Tan or Flat Black. You can also get plain edge or serrated.


The handle on my ESEE-4 is made from Orange G-10 but ESEE also offers them in Linen Micarta or Canvas Micarta. The handle size comparatively is well balanced against the blade. It handles very well, fills the hand well and makes a good chopper and does not overly wear on the hand like some handles if used for long periods of time. The screws holding the G-10 material in place are hex head counter sunk flush into the handle. The steel portion of the knife also protrudes  past the handle leaving an area for a lanyard hole. While I don't use lanyard holes on my folding knives, On a fixed blade, I consider it a huge plus.


The Kydex sheath that comes with the knife is a well thought out and locks the knife into place just like it should. Nothing special but it does the job like it is supposed to. The Molle attachments are a plus because you can attach it to all of the tactical ninja gear you can find. I used it to attach it to my Camelbak. It works great. 


I have carried my ESEE-4 on duty, while hiking and kayaking. It carries well and is not too heavy. Surprisingly, it has served me very well in food prep.

As mentioned before, make sure when you use it for this purpose, you clean it and dry it off so the exposed (non-coated) edge doesn't rust. A wipe down with Tuf-Cloth would help in the regard as well.

Once while working out in the brush, I needed to climb into a tree for a better view but the tree had no low branches. I simply drove the ESSE-4 into the tree and used it for a step. It worked great and I'm 6'1" 230.


One of the great things about ESEE knives is their NO QUESTIONS ASKED warranty. If you break it, they'll replace it. How could anyone expect anything more from a company? While I've never had the need to use this service, I've read many accounts of people that have dealt with the company and I've not heard any complaints. A Good American made product and a company that stands behind what they sell; a rarity these days. Well done ESEE! Warranty Link


If you are looking for a hard use fixed blade knife that will not drain your bank account. The ESEE line of knives are well worth looking into. They work just as advertised. Many of my co-workers that have seen this knife ended up buying one and in many cases, several; that says allot. When I'm toting a fixed blade, this is it.

Ergonomics: 8/10
Looks: 9/10
Materials: 8/10 (still waiting on the stainless version)
Camp Use: 10/10
EDC Use: 8/10 (a little big and it stands out; might scare sheeple)
Food Prep: 7/10 (a little thick but it works)
Skinning/Game Prep: 8/10 (excellent for this purpose but not quite curved enough for a great skinner)
Warranty: 10/10 (as good as it gets)
Zombie Usefulness: 8/10 (While you distract them with it's orange color, take the head shot and go home safe)

As you can see below, I never take a chance when it comes to cow zombies. You can never trust them. They could be playing dead and the next thing you know the hamburger scenario is turned around.  Pffft...Cow zombies.......

Web Link to ESEE  Knives

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