Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Victorinox's new Hunter Pro Knife- Victorinox's first "bushcraft" blade?


Victorinox appears to be taking aim at the growing wilderness survival market with their new and robust Hunter Pro folding knife. Sporting a one-hand opening, 4" long, 440C Stainless blade, the Hunter Pro looks to be the biggest and baddest Victorinox knife yet. 

In fact, Victorinox is making no bones about who the target audience is for this knife, as evidenced by their promo video, which shows the Hunter Pro being batoned through a log (yes, folks, the Swiss Army Knife people are actually batoning a log with this knife-- who da thunk it?!) 

Considering that Victorinox is more known for polite pocket knives than for serious survival blades, I find this quite interesting, and it's one more sign that bushcraft and wilderness survival are growing in popularity.

The SPECS:

Blade Length: 4" (100mm)
Closed Length: 5" (130mm)
Overall Length: 9" (223mm)
Locking Mechanism: Lockback
Blade Steel Type: 440C Stainless
Rockwell Hardness: 56
Handle Thickness: 0.8"
Weight without sheath: 5.7 oz (as measured on a digital postal scale)
Weight with sheath: 6.9 oz (as measured on a digital postal scale)
Made in Switzerland
Street Price: $60-$80 USD

Overview

I first got a chance to see the Hunter Pro while covering the 2013 Summer Outdoor Retailer Show back in August. Being a longtime Victorinox fan, I was intrigued. Aside from it being the largest Victorinox folder I've seen, it's also the first to incorporate a lock-back design:


Stainless steel liners are added for strength:


The blade shape on the Hunter Pro is a curious mix of a spear-point with a scandi-grind, and a pronounced secondary bevel. The blade has a matte bead-blasted finish, very similar to many of Gerber Gear's blades.

(click to enlarge)

The handle scales are made from a slip-resistant dual-density, hard rubber:


The Hunter Pro also comes with a nice little olive drab nylon belt case:


FIELD TEST

I ran the Hunter Pro through a battery of our standard field tests, including Fine Carving, Food Prep, Batoning and a Tip Strength test. I wasn't expecting much from a folding knife, but since Victorinox was touting the Hunter Pro as a "rugged" folding blade, I decided to go hard on it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Hunter Pro actually lived up to Victorinox's hype. The handle turned out to be very comfortable and secure in the hand, and the blade's edge geometry made it an excellent fine carving knife:



The matte finish on the blade also made food prep a breeze, especially when cutting blocks of cheese, which tend to stick like glue to knife blades.


The Hunter Pro also took our rather brutal Tip Strength and Batoning tests in stride. I batoned the blade through a very knotted log, half expecting the lock mechanism to break, or the blade to chip but the Hunter Pro held up with no signs of edge damage, or degradation to the lock mechanism.

The Tip strength test yielded similar results.  I stabbed the Hunter Pro's tip repeatedly into a dry pine log and twisted it, to see if it would break, but it held up perfectly.

Unfortunately, a technical glitch with our camera's SD card prevented us from posting the photos of the batoning and tip-strength tests, but I plan to update this review with new photos as soon as time permits.

Steel Quality

In creating the Hunter Pro, Victorinox decided to go with American 440C Stainless Steel, with a Rockwell hardness of 56. I think this was a good decision, as it gives the knife a good combination of toughness and edge retention. I found the Hunter Pro a little easier to sharpen than my standard Victorinox Swiss Army Knives, yet it seemed to hold its edge better.

One-handed Opening

The Hunter Pro's blade has a large thumb hole to facilitate one-handed opening, similar to Spyderco's folding knives. Unfortunately, I found the Hunter Pro's one-hand opening a bit stiff right out of the box. I wasn't terribly surprised by this, as my experience with earlier incarnations of Victorinox's one-handed openers (i.e. the One Handed Trekker, etc) was similar. However, the Hunter Pro did loosen up enough with use that I found it to be an improvement over the One Handed Trekker.

Another minor issue was that right out of the box, there was a small amount of up and down play between the blade and the lock mechanism. Looking around on knife forums, I found this to be a common issue. It didn't seem to affect the knife in any way while batoning, but I wanted to mention it.

Conclusion

The Hunter Pro turned out to be a ruggedly built folding blade that proved its durability during our harsh batoning and tip strength tests. It was comfortable in the hand, and surprisingly good at wood carving. I think Victorinox fans who are looking for a larger, more capable outdoor knife will be well-pleased with the Hunter Pro. 

4 out of 5 Stars (Recommended)

For more information, visit Victorinox's website at: 

No comments:

Post a Comment