Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comparing The Original Old Timer 70T Knife With The Current Model

The Old Timer brand, which is (was) made by Schrade, used to be the perfect everyman's knife. All of the Old Timer knifes were well made, well designed, and inexpensive. They were rugged enough to use every day and cheap enough that if you lost one it would not break the bank to replace.

Unfortunately, Schrade went out of business in 2004, its 100 year anniversary. This was a sad day in the knife industry. Most outdoorsmen grew up with Schrade knifes and have fond memories of them. The Schrade name was bought by Taylor Brands LLC. They still manufacture most of the Old Timer knifes. However, they are now made in China.

The first real hunting knife I bought with my own money was an Old Timer 70T. It is a beefy folding lock back with a 5" carbon steel blade. The 70T came with a well made, real leather sheath. It managed to survive years of abuse from a kid who spent every free moment outside with it. I still have it. It is still razor sharp and in perfect working order.

Last week I found one of the new, China made versions of the 70T on sale for $18. I decided to buy it and do a comparison with the original USA made version. I have no plans on using this new knife, so I will also be giving this knife away in a contest.

Lets start with the blades. The Original has a carbon steel blade, the blade made in China is stainless steel. They are the exact same size and thickness. Both can be razor sharp with proper sharpening. I prefer carbon steel to stainless, but both blades are good.

Original on top, China made on bottom

Both handles are made of brass. The Original scales are made out of one piece of machined brass. The China made knife is made of a couple brass plates. The Original is also about 1/8th of an inch thicker and much heavier. The China made model is a little more comfortable in my hand, its edges are a little more beveled. The Original knife's handle is made much better than the China one.

Original on right, China made on left

Notice in the picture below how the handle on the China made knife is thinner and made out of two pieces. The fit is poor with a very visible separating.

Original on top, China made on bottom

The locks on both knifes are strong. I remember as a kid having a hard time closing the knife. Notice in the picture below that the scales on the China made knife are separating at the base also.

Original on top, China made on bottom

The most glaring difference is with the sheath. The original sheath is full leather, meant to last as long as the knife does. The China made sheath is pleather. I doubt it would last one hard day in the brush. It even looks cheap, I would be embarrassed to wear it on my belt.

Original on left, China made on right

All in all the China made knife is a good buy. For $18 it is perfect in a glove box or tool box. The blade is good and could easily gut and skin a deer. It is not, however, a knife that will last for decades. The construction is not great. I hope to pass my original Old Timer 70T down to a grandchild someday, the China made version would never last that long.

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