by Mark E. Smith - Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Like most men who love the outdoors, I have always had an affinity for knives. My first was a Case, a yellow delrin trapper with a spey blade with which I cut green beans in my mother’s kitchen as a child. Next came a Buck Hunter—all heavy brass and profound sharpness that somehow got the best of me and my right index finger on my 19th birthday. My father, a battle-tested Marine, later passed down his KaBar—faithful, ever-true in its simplicity, and tough as nails, just like him until his passing nearly 12 years ago. It is as sentimental to me as it is practical. These days, a Swiss Army Huntsman is ever-present in my pocket, given to me by a dear friend and Swiss colleague during a trip up Mount Pilatus.
Now that I’m older, remarkably, my taste in knives and what I believe they should represent hasn’t changed. But through the years, I have grown fond of antler grips. Most of my handguns sport antler or bone grips, as do most of my pocket knives. There is just something about antlers that brings this hobby collection of mine back to the outdoors.
For years, my wife has endured this ever-growing collection, and has become complicit in adding to it. Thus I was pleasantly surprised by her recent gift of a Silver Stag Deep Valley knife.
When I opened the box, I was speechless. I didn’t need to remove it from its leather sheath to recognize the quality of the North American Elk antler crown/burr handle. Brad Smith, the company’s owner and founder (no relation), proclaims every unit sold by Silver Stag is hand made by skilled craftsmen and no two knives are exactly the same. The handle on this particular knife was truth in advertising of the highest order. This shed was stunning and proud—deep grain, balanced, its girth affording a natural handshake, with a broad butt that was polished glass smooth. The handle also sports polished areas on either side, perfect for scrimshaw or other engraving that I may choose to request back at Silver Stag’s factory in the future.
After absorbing this bit of nature’s glory, my attention quickly focused on the 6-inch blade. It is important to note that Silver Stag Knives are not mass-produced. They are handmade in the Pacific Northwest by skilled craftsmen who take pride in their work, using three types of High Carbon Tool Steel: D2, 1095, and 15N20. This particular model sports a D2 steel blade—an air hardening, high-carbon and high-chromium tool steel possessing extremely high wear-resistant properties. Silver Stag heats its D2 blades to a 60 Rockwell hardness and the blades will retain their sharp factory edges for extended periods of heavy use. D2 steel is primarily used by the best custom knife makers, and anyone who has ever used a good D2 steel blade in the field will rave about its cutting ability, durability and edge-holding properties.
The Silver Stag collection has grown to more than 50 functional blade designs, each one classified into one of eight Series, categorized by the steel, antler, and construction method used in the manufacturing process. The Series consists of Crown, Damascus, Tool Steel, Slab, Elk Stick, Point, Scrimshaw and Sword. All Silver Stag knives have a limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. In addition, Brad and company offer a free sharpening and refurbishing service, and can even make a knife using antlers provided directly by customers.
Visit Silver Stag for more details and photos of their blade designs. I’m there now, building a wish list for Santa.
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