A while back I made a thread asking for suggestions on a new camp knife. This is the knife I ended up choosing:
This is the ESEE 6 HM.
I've owned a RAT6, RAT7 and RAT9 in the past, but they've all been sold off, traded, or gifted to friends. While I liked their blade shape and the materials they were constructed out of, I never warmed up to the handle shape. The only ESEE/RAT knife I've kept in my collection are a pair of Izula 2's.
When I first saw ESEE's HM series, I knew the handle would work much better for me before I even held it. Its a versatile handle shape that is large enough to allow multiple hand positions. I can choke up for carving wood or using a pinch grip for food prep:
Grip it in the middle for general cutting:
Or hook my pinky around the pommel and grip further back for chopping.
You folks are familiar with my issues regarding knives with small handles, so its nice having a knife with room to spare.
The rounded micarta scales are very comfortable, are finished with a rough, grippy texture. There are some sharp edges on the front of the scales that were slightly uncomfortable when carving. I plan to knock the edge off of that area with some sandpaper.
The knife is a little stouter and heavier than I wanted. I would have preferred a more trim 1/8th" blade stock, especially if I take the knife hiking where I'm more weight conscious. However, the added heft gives it greater chopping capabilities, and the thick blade stock lets it split wood with ease. Those extra ounces give it added versatility that will come in handy at times. When weight is of greater concern, I always have my trusty Aqua Salt.
Unlike my Izula 2, there is no jimping on the spine. I prefer knives with no thump ramp or jimping, so this was something that stood out to me when I was browsing different models. I also prefer knives with no sharpening notch and no index choil, and a handle that lets me grip right next to the cutting edge. The 6HM looked like it would handle exactly how I wanted a knife to.
I took the knife out to a camp site today and gave it a quick test. I chopped through some thin branches on a fallen tree to use for firewood, split some logs I had leftover from earlier in the year, carved fatwood shavings and did some minor food prep.
The factory edge was too thick for the knife to shine during chopping or carving, but it did great splitting wood with a baton. The extra blade length lets it process good sized logs compared to the majority of my fixed blades, which are 4" blades or shorter. Prepping food it diced an onion better than I expected. Once I thin out the edge and remove the coating, it will be a very capable camp food prep knife. The low cutting edge and lack of a protruding guard will make it work nicely in that respect.
The sheath is very nicely made.
It is true kydex, very thin, has a drainage hole, a detatchable clip plate, multiple lashing points, and one of my favorite features is the screw at the top corner of the sheath lets you adjust tension. I can adjust it tight enough that I have to use two hands to unsheath it. That level of tension may be desirable if you want to carry it inverted on your packs strap. Or I can loosen it to where it easily slides in and out with one hand. I set it in the middle, so it requires a good amount of force to remove from the sheath, but not so much I need to use two hands or risk pulling the entire setup off my belt when I retrieve the knife.
With the clip installed, the knife rides fairly high. This helps keep it from getting in the way when sitting down, entering and exiting a vehicle, etc. With a long sleeve flannel on, only the last 1" of the sheath is visible. Pretty discreet.
I paid about $120 including shipping for the knife + sheath. They're a bit cheaper if you go with the leather sheath.
I plan to strip the coating, sharpen the spine, and thin out the cutting edge. The coating prevents the spine from being used to strike a ferro rod, and it also increases friction during cuts. It's going to get worn off from splitting wood anyways, and I like how ESEE's knives look with a nice patina.
I'm very happy with this knife. It should see a lot of use over the next few months.