Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer Edged Tools Report: Buck's fire-engine red Compadre Hatchet, Camp Knife and Chopping Froe

Has Buck been called in to put out a 5-alarm fire? No! It just looks like it with their new "Compadre" line of edged tools in racy fire-engine red powder coat.

New for 2015, Buck's Compadre Hatchet, Chopping Froe, and Camp Knife feature break and chip resistant 5160 steel, fire-engine red powder coating, super tough Walnut Dymondwood handles, full tang construction, and black real leather sheaths. The Compadre tools appear to be engineered for rugged backcountry use, and potentially for bushcraft as well.

Here are the individual specs.....

Compadre Camp Knife Model 104
Overall Length: 9 1/2" (24.1cm)
Weight: 7.1 oz (201.3 grams)
Blade length: 4.5" (11.4cm)
Blade Steel: 5160
Blade Style: Drop Point

Compadre Camp Hatchet Model 106
Overall Length: 12.75" (32.4 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (24 oz/671.9 grams)
Blade/Cutting Edge Size: 3" (7.6 cm)
Blade Steel: 5160

Compadre Chopping Froe Model 108
Overall Length: 16.75" (42.5 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (24 oz/669.1 grams)
Blade length: 9.5" (24.1 cm)
Blade Steel: 5160

Initial Impressions

Compadre Camp Knife- Could this be Buck's first "bushcraft" blade? With a 4.5" drop point blade, full tang construction, and a Dymonwood handle, Buck's new Camp Knife emphasizes simplicity with a capital "S." It felt comfortable and balanced in the hand, and the edge on the show sample I examined was shaving sharp. It's definitely a very promising all-purpose woods blade for those who like Buck knives.

Compadre Hatchet- With its all-steel construction and synthetic-wood handle, the Compadre Hatchet is clearly reminiscent of Estwing's classic all-steel hatchets. Where it departs from Estwing's forged design is its milled steel appearance and Kukri-like curved blade.

The curve in Kukri knives gives them more chopping power than traditional straight blades. My guess is that this curve in the Compadre Hatchet should give it a similar increase in chopping efficiency. The Compadre felt surprisingly comfortable in the hand, and with the curved design, it could turn out to be a real chopping machine. On an upnote, this is Buck's first US-made Hatchet after years of selling their Chinese-made 757 Camp Axe.

Compadre Chopping Froe- Buck's Compadre "Chopping Froe" won't win any beauty contests, but its design is actually quite handy for a multitude of wilderness tasks. Its 1/4" thick, 9.5" blade can function as a short machete, heavy survival knife, or parang. Buck says the Chopping Froe is "perfect for clearing brush, heavy chopping, splitting, and batoning." 

This is not the type of blade I would normally rely on while out in the bush, but after handling the Froe, its design actually makes a lot of sense. Its thick blade would be great for batoning wood and chopping up kindling, the same as a large survival knife. It also has just enough reach to be useable as a small machete. I can also see the Chopping Froe being used as an effective draw knife for skinning logs, making camp furniture, etc. Its uses are probably only limited by your imagination.

The Froe might also be a great option over a big survival blade for bushcrafters and preppers in more politically correct areas of the world, where its blunt edge and inoffensive appearance might actually pass muster with the edge-phobic PC-crowd.

All three tools sport nicely done, heavy black leather sheaths. 

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