View Full Version : Using SRJ Knives

11-08-2004, 01:21 PM

I posted this thread over at Blade Forums (Custom Knives Section) just to get some thoughts on this subject. I'm curious, have you ever gotten a sense of how many of your knives are used in the field?

Clearly, there are SRJ knives, with all their embellishments, that are not meant to leave the safe, but the core of your offerings seem to be very high end "field grade" knives.

Anyway, you have made me miserable. Everytime I pick up my SRJ stag hunter, I am teased by how good it feels in my hand, but I just can't pull the trigger on using it. :(


Using Expensive Custom Knives


Here's my dilemma: I own a S.R. Johnson hunter that has a 4" semi-skinner blade, soldered guard, stag handle, and thong hole. To add to a sure grip, it even has hand-filed checkering on top and bottom for positive thumb and finger placement. Overall and not surprisingly, the knife is extremely comfortable in the hand.

Obviously, Steve built and designed this knife with features and the intention of it being used. There's nothing fancy about it. No engraving, no inlay, no fragile handle material, etc. It's a solid, no nonsense hunting knife that's just asking to be put to work. BUT, no matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to using it. It's just too beautiful.

So, my question is, does anyone actually use a very expensive custom knife for hunting or other outdoor activities? Am I being absolutely stupid for wanting to use this masterpiece as an all-round, field grade knife?

Thanks for your thoughts,


Dave Larsen
11-09-2004, 04:55 AM
I feel your pain. :) This is why you need two.

11-09-2004, 09:18 AM
Intreresting question, Dave. Very few get actually used, but some do, with no ill effects, that I've ever seen. I take that back, Bob Loveless got a knife back once that had a wrinkled edge where the owner had pouneded it through a deer, or antelope's pelvis with a rock. That knife needed some work.

I'd recommend that you go ahead and use it. Teh knife will mean even more to you afterwards. A little blood will wash off. (I'm not worried about you, but this ought to be done before next hunting season! I've seen that happen, and though it takes a min., on the buffer, perhpas, it'll still cleans up. The knife deserves to be taken care of, actually, when you think of it, it kind of deserves to be used, also)! After you finish and dry it out, put some wax or something on the stag. If you can't get it back to "like new" send it to me and I'll clean it up and touch up the edge, if necessary.

If you think it enjoyable to make a great stalk and a great shot on a fine animal, just wait until you begin to care for it with a custom made knife! It is a great experience. I still remember the first deer I dressed out with the first knife I made in Gil Hibben's shop. Can't really put the feeling into words, but it was memorable. Or the three deer, cleaned and skinned, with that same knife, of forged 440-C, and still being able to shave hair on my arm afterwards. I don't know, there is something to be said for good equipment, that is up to the task it was designed and made for. I can promise you it will be a positive experince. What can be the harm? You probably won't be chopping bones with a tool designed for cutting. It'll take a minute to clean it up, but the feeling will long remain with you. Let me know how it goes, should you choose to go that route. (This whole comment sounds kind of corny, maybe, but that's how I feel about this).

Some good comments on bladeforums. If you intend to sell it, it might be wise to not use it. If you plan to keep it, go ahead. But like I say, I can tune it up pretty quickly. No need to get big scratches on it, just be careful when you're using it. If you can't sharpen it without scratching it up. let me do it. As to one of the most FAQ: I've never dropped a knife on a rock in my life. Even if I did, most hunter handles wouldn't be hurt. However, the Semi Skinner is definitely safer in your house than on the side of a mountain, where ther is the chance you might decend in some other way that feet first! It's ultimately your decision.

11-09-2004, 09:26 AM
Thanks Steve. Mind if I post your reply over at Blade Forums? This topic has created quite a debate of differences.

11-09-2004, 01:00 PM

Thanks for the follow up and clarification. I can assure you that if I did decide to use your knife or any knife for that matter, it would be with the utmost awareness of the intended purpose of the knife.

Not saying that I am looking for your blessing, but I just think if I were a knifemaker, I would be more pleased and flattered if I knew my knife was being used on deer instead of sitting in a safe. I'm sure you agree with this theory as well, but understand your advice on using a knife that is of high collector value.

May I have your permission to post your reply on Blade Forums? Your comments carry much weight and would greatly add to the discussion.


11-09-2004, 04:49 PM
If you'd like to use it, go ahead, it's not my decision. Far be it from me to determine what you do with something that you paid good money for, i'm a bit uneasy telling you what to do with your knife. You'll be gald you put it to use, I'm sure, for all the reasons I stated and probably more which you'll experience.

Feel free to post it, if you think it would add to the discussion.

11-11-2004, 09:53 AM

No need to feel uneasy about giving me your opinion. I asked for it and I realize that utimately, it's my decision. More than anything, I am just curious how many of your "field grade" knives ever get used and from your answer, it doesn't sound like many of them...for obvious reasons.

Holding one of your hunters is like giving a kid a piece of candy and saying, "Don't eat it!" :)

All the best,

11-11-2004, 10:03 AM
Awwww, go ahead, take a bite! That's what dentists, and the knifemaker, are for. Anxioius to know how the "experience" goes. When would the hunt take place?

Really, what coiuld one do that would hurt a knife while using it on a deer, etc. in a normal field dressing situation? May need to touch up the edge, if you cut long enough. That's all I can see happening, and on one-two deer, you probably won't need that. Good hunting, thanks for the discussion, Steve

11-12-2004, 07:04 AM
Indiana deer season opens this weekend. You don't think there will be any problem with the annual knife throwing contest that follows the hunt, do you? ;)

Kind regards,


Lloyd Hale
11-12-2004, 11:30 PM
Hey Steve... Can't help but smile at tom's question... I want to pass on something that I had the rare privilage to witness first hand... I was attending a Gun Show in Culver City California around 1969 or 70... not sure.... Anyway my table was between Bob Loveless and the man that invented the 44 Auto Mag... Can't recall his name... This man had mis used his Loveless hunting knife while on a deer hunt... I think He tried to chop a limb off a tree or something with it and broke a good chunk out of the blade and wanted Bob to replace it... Bob told him to take a flying F#@* at the moon and the war was on... I was right between these two Dynamic people and the words were heated .... To this day I think of that .... I was just an empressionable young knifemaker at the time and the words (use but don't abuse) stuck with me.....

11-13-2004, 12:04 AM
Harry Sanford is his name. They must have worked it out, as Bob ended up with an Auto Mag with "RWL" as part of the serial number. We took it with us when we drove his yellow Blazer to the Houston show in 1973, I'd guess, maybe '72, and did some shooting out in the desert near San Antonio, perhaps. I'm not sure I remember that knife, it sounds vaguely familiar, but, "Use, don't abuse," strikes a chord. Thanks Lloyd.

11-23-2004, 10:30 AM
Following are some of my feelongs in response to a comment on regarding using and maintaining custom knives, especially tool steel blades:

Just remember that not long ago, everything we used in the field needed a little babying. Now we have SS rifles, pistols and even shotguns, certainly most knives commonly used are stainless, taking in to account the factory knives available to all hunters and used by most. That wasn't that big of deal,in fact it was just part of the program: Spend a day hunting, spend a while in the evening checkin got see if teh blde got cleaned after use and some time spent with the cleaning rag and oil - heck, I'll bet as you read this you are remembering that unique, not unpleasant, aroma of burnt powder and 3-in-1? or Hoppe's? gun oil. An enjoyable recollection, to me, at least. It's really not a problem to clean up/maintain our equipment, is it? Perhaps even an enjoyable part of owning and using nice tools that are deserving of good care! Yes, I'd say it's well worth it.

Lloyd Hale
11-23-2004, 10:56 AM
You are right Steve, those old memories flooded back... Camp fire, good company, Good stories and a great cup of Coffee with the smell of Hoppe's mixed in... Good stuff..!!
I haven't been hunting in 25 years but the memories are as clear as yesterdays.....

Dave Kelly
11-23-2004, 11:07 AM
Well said Steve, Call me wierd but I thoroughly enjoy the ritual. I love the smell of gun oil in the evening. It's very satisfying to sit down with your favorite gun or knife, relax and maintain what's served you well that day, it's all part of owning a quality tool. Dave