Esee PR4 Camp Lore Bushcraft Knife Review 2018/05/22
The Esee PR4 immediately catches your eye with a micarta handle
featuring deep sculpted grooves. A blade finish that is certainly out
of the ordinary and is a stunning piece of equipment overall. I have
had the privilege of using such a sought after knife out and about
over the past few months.
As the seasons change from winter to spring, so do our tasks in the
woodland, and the PR4 has been more than able to keep up with this
Esee PR4 Context
The Esee PR4 is part of Esse’s new Camp Lore range of knives for the
discerning outdoors person. The Esee PR4 is inspired by a chap called
Horace Kephart, whose ‘Kephart’ Sheath Knife was synonymous with
backcountry hikers and hunters. Colclesser Bros in Pennsylvania made the
original ‘Kephart’. It featured, at first glance, a very basic design
which hid its refined features that Kephart himself saw as the most
useful parts of an outdoor knife.
Horace Kephart died April 2nd 1931 and
during his life wrote many famous books such as the classic 'Camping and
Woodcraft' and 'Our Southern Highlanders'.
“A lot of us are working harder than we want, at things we don’t like to
do. Why?. It figures! In order to afford the sort of existence we don’t
care to live” Horace Kephart.
“The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather,
is the most independent fellow on earth” Horace Kephart.
A couple of quotes from Horace that strikes a cord deep within.
It is with this powerful philosophy that Horace designed his sheath
knife. A knife with at first glance a simple design but one that has
everything you need and nothing you don’t. Esee has taken on the
challenge of bringing this classic design to the modern day with a chap
called James Gibson making a prototype and then Esee’s own Patrick
Rollins taking it out into the field to test and trial the knife. The
finished product is a 4″ blade with a 4.75″ handle, 1/8″ thick 1095 High
Carbon steel blade, 90 degree spine for striking a Ferro rod and a
simple leather pouch sheath made of thick leather.
Continuing a tradition is one thing,
but the true test of an outdoor product is how well it performs in the
field. The idea of the original sheath knife is for powerful simplicity
and with its modern interpretation Esee brings this design into the
present day with its PR4. The Esee PR4 is a survival and backcountry
knife for the outdoors person travelling anywhere and needing a solid
tool to rely on.
The sheath grips the knife well and allows the knife to be pulled out
without over exerting yourself. This is hard to get right as some
sheaths are either too loose or too tight in gripping the knife and the
result of this miscalculation is that you have to divert your attention
to get the knife out. If a sheath doesn’t hold your knife well enough
then you will be always worried of it falling out, this is very
distracting. Esee gets it perfect in the PR4 and the sheath grips the
knife in an ideal fashion. The sheath is strong and made of thick
leather and features a simple belt loop that is well stitched. It has a
drainage hole so water is not allowed to pool within the sheath.
Kephart’s philosophy is visible in the sheath as it is simple, strong
and reliable when out in the field.
The handle is made of micarta. This is probably the feature you will
notice first when you see the knife. Those deep grooves and striking
design really standing out. The handle is smooth and after use doesn’t
produce any hot spots with my hands but I do have a preference to large
palm swells and the PR4 features very slim scales. The result of this is
you have to hold the handle a little tighter than if the scales were
thicker. The original ‘Kephart’ Sheath knife also featured very thin
scales and in my understanding this could be to reduce the footprint of
the product. The PR4’s handle is of a good length and works well with
gloves. The advantage of micarta for a handle material is that it is
indelible and resists change in temperature. This well chosen scale
material makes the Esee PR4 very versatile for world wide travel as
whatever the local conditions may be the scales will perform as
Moving to the blade, it’s made from 1095 carbon steel and hardened to RC
55-57. Carbon steels are known to hold an edge well and be very strong
when biting into material. However they do rust if left untreated but
this is easily overcome by regular oiling. If you know you will be
operating in a very corrosive place such as a coastal environment then
you may need to look for a more stable metal. Carbon steel is very good
at working with natural materials and is an excellent choice for work in
woodlands. Above all it's a much harder steel. The blade is finished in
a tumbled black oxide which has held out very well in terms of
protecting the blade and is one of the best finishes I have used. Esee
were already strong in this category with their powder coatings but they
seem to have yet again outdone themselves with another great finish.
Using a knife to make fire is always a great test for an outdoor blade.
Having the Esee PR4 on your belt you feel your back is covered. It feels
like the perfect weight is sitting on your side just waiting to be put
to use. Using the knife to baton down some kindling you really
appreciate the full tang design, the PR4 feels very balanced in the hand
with the knife being a little handle heavy so it stays in the hand well.
The grooves on the scales also allow your finger tips to slot into a
nice space to help you secure the knife in your hand and helps with the
‘feel’ of the knife. The finish on the blade resists abrasion from
battoning. The hardened carbon steel bites into the wood well and can
produce some nice feathers. The spine has a 90° grind. For instance this
can be used to scrape fine tinder or a firesteel to produce a shower of
sparks. With the fire lit the PR4 can now be used for food prep. Its
unusual knife geometry is well suited for game prep and simple vegetable
chopping. Kephart wanted his knife for everything and this included the
basic tasks that happen most often, like peeling potatoes!
Horace summed it up very well: “A camper has use for a common-sense
sheath-knife, sometimes for dressing big game, but oftener for such
homely work as cutting sticks, slicing bacon, and frying “spuds.” For
such purposes a rather thin, broad pointed blade is required, and it
need not be over four or five inches long. Nothing is gained by a longer
blade, and it would be in one’s way every time he sat down. Such a
knife, bearing the marks of hard usage, lies before me.” He was talking
about his beloved ‘Sheath’ knife and I am starting to feel the same
about the PR4. A trusted companion out in the backcountry. All Esee
knives are backed up by an amazing complete lifetime warranty. From
Esee's Warranty Page: "This means if you break it, we will repair or
replace it. We will not question the validity of your warranty claim for
a broken knife. Warranty is lifetime and transferable. In other words,
we warranty the knife no matter how many times it’s been traded, sold or
given away – no sales receipt or proof of purchase required. We must
have the knife returned to validate a warranty claim." For one of the
most comprehensive and multi disciplined outdoor training schools
one can visit Randall's
Adventure & Training School.
Highly Recommended More Information HERE