Welcome to The Range Bag, a monthly series on knives, lights, apparel, and other gear that isn’t a gun and doesn’t attach to a gun, but is nonetheless awesome and relevant for people who are into guns. This series is in partnership with our sister site, AllOutdoor.com.
Being a gun nerd is about more than just guns. It’s also about expensive footwear, man-purses, go-fast pants, belts with special buckles and little snaps, eyewear, cool-guy vests, personal grooming (especially beards), and a bunch of other embarrassing and superficial stuff that you know you have open in another tab right now, even as you’re mentally composing a nasty comment to leave on this post because of the headline.
It’s ok, though, tough guy. You’re safe, at least for this first post. I’m only going to talk about knives, right now. We see a lot of great knives at AllOutdoor.com. In fact, maybe this entire The Range Bag series will just be about knives every month. Or maybe knives and man-purses. I have no idea. Whatever moves me. Or, whatever Pete will let me write about since he’s the editor for this… but I think James waxes his chest and has his nails done professionally, so he’d probably let me go pretty far out there on the Barbie Doll spectrum.
Anyway, back to knives. Specifically, two great American knifemakers, two retired Navy SEALs, and two great knives. Case Knives and Winkler Knives are the two makers in question, and at this past SHOT, they launched the American Heroes collaboration series of knives. The knives are designed by Daniel Winkler in conjunction with Special Operations vets and are produced by Winkler Knives using the same processes they use in-house for their Winkler II line. And a knife is something you should always have in your Range Bag.
The first knife in this series is the Skinner, so named not because it’s made for skinning game (though it works for that), but because it was designed with the input of Navy SEAL Kevin “Skinner” Holland. This is a do-it-all hunting and outdoors fixed blade, with a distal tapered 5.125-inch blade and an overall length of 9.625 inches.
The steel is 80CrV2, which is a super tough, high-carbon steel that’s hot right now with a lot of custom makers. It’s not as expensive as some of the more exotic alternatives, but stands up to extreme abuse and is not difficult to sharpen. The handle slabs are sculpted G10, and the sheath is an amazingly well-done leather/Kydex hybrid.
I did an unboxing and initial impressions post on this knife, then a followup with more recent shots. I also cleaned a whole bunch of bass with it, and I can testify that it’s a great game processing knife. I’ve not yet gotten to the wood processing part of the review, but I expect it will do well there, too.
Basically, this is a killer bushcraft knife that could double as a defensive weapon. But the one downside is the price. The knife retails for $300, which pretty much puts you in the semi-custom territory… which makes sense because this is a semi-custom piece (if this were a folder we’d probably call it a midtech). For $50 more you can just pick up the famous Winkler Belt Knife right from Winkler’s site. Or, another way to look at is that for $50 less you can get a similar knife that’s made by the same shop out of the same materials, without the 4- to 10-week wait time.
The Recurve Utility
The next knife in the series, which I don’t even think is out at retail yet, is the Recurve Utility. This knife is a total beast, and I wrote about it, here.
This 4 3/4-inch fixed blade (9 1/2 inches overall) is made from a thick piece of 1/4-inch 80CrV2, with canvas micarta handle slabs. There are two lanyard holes, and the edge is ground with a recurve (hence the name).
The goal of this collaboration between Winkler and retired US Navy SEAL Harry Bologna was obviously to make an indestructible tank of a camp knife, and I think they succeeded. The knife feels like complete overkill but in the best way.
Fit and finish is top-notch, really on the level of a full-custom. The sheath is an amazing Kydex-reinforced leather number, with a Kydex attachment on the outside that holds a Zippo slim lighter.
As with the Skinner, the price is the big gotcha. At $395 retail, this will set you back as much as one of the ugly Tupperware pistols that the other people on this site are always going on about (*yawn*).
Saddleback Leather Laptop Bag
Finally, to wrap up, above is a gratuitous man-purse shot. This is a $319 Saddleback Leather laptop bag, and that shot is from a trip I took to Qatar and Dubai with it last summer. The bag is amazing, and I’m a year overdue on writing a review of it. I’m probably going back over there, soon, and if I do this bag will definitely go back with me. I can slip a Macbook into the inner pocket and have the main chamber of the bag available for whatever. I’m not sure if would make for a good Range Bag though.
Bonus Range Bag Item
Here is a picture of a $40,000 Korth revolver. Honey, if you’re reading this, that’s what I want for Father’s Day.