Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review - Iisakki Järvenpää Oy Hunting Knife

Quality hand made knifes are not only hard to find, they are expensive. After a lot of looking I found and purchased a hand made knife from Iisakki Järvenpää Oy, a knife maker in Finland. Before I get into the knife review let me tell you what little I could find about this knife maker. Little information on this knife and knife maker is in English.

Iisakki Järvenpää Oy has been making knifes since 1879. They are known for making some of the best knifes in Finland. Most Americans don't realize that a lot of quality knives come out of Finland. Most are purchased in the UK, but one style in particular is very popular in the US; the Rapala Fillet Knife. You probably have one of these in your tackle box. It was designed and originally made in Finland. All of the knifes made by Iisakki Järvenpää Oy are "hand made", although I would wager they are made on an assembly line and not one at a time by a craftsman.

The knife I chose is a Puukko. To quote Wikipedia, "In the Nordic countries, the puukko is an "everyday" knife that is used for everything from hunting, fishing, and garden work to opening boxes in the warehouse." Sadly, it is illegal to carry them in socialist Finland, so they are loosing popularity. The design is simple, strong, and effective.

I chose this knife for a number of reasons. Its 3 7/8" blade is small enough for detail work, but large enough to give it some reach. It is light, weighing only a few ounces. The sheath is ornate, full grain leather, has a drop belt loop, and does not have a snap strap. Most importantly, the blade is carbon steel. It is amazing how hard it is to find a good carbon steel blade. I purchased it from World Knives for $37.95. It is easily worth twice that.

A word of caution, don't purchase a knife from World Knives until you read my review of their services. I plan on having that ready on Saturday.


The blade on this knife is its biggest draw. It is fairly thin at only about 1/8". This helps it cut through meat effortlessly. The point is needle sharp. I like the blood groove, although I'm not sure how practical it is. The etching is beautifully done. The etching states the manufacturer and the town it was made in. Most importantly, it is sharp. Sharper than a razor, no exaggeration. The edge has a secondary bevel that helps maintain a sharp edge and makes it easier to sharpen. Secondary bevels are controversial among knife experts, but I like them.

The sheath is its next big plus. It is made of tough leather with a simple design stamped onto the front. It has not been dyed or oiled and the manufacturer recommends not oiling it.  I absolutely love that is has a drop belt loop. This means that the knife will move out of the way when you sit or lie down. It is very comfortable to carry. The fact that the only restraining device is the pressure of the sheath around the knife handle makes the knife very easy to remove and replace. 

The Iisakki Järvenpää Oy Hunting Knife feels good in my hand. It is well balanced. The handle is fat enough to get a good grip, but small enough to feel good in my small hand. Being an American, I would prefer more of a guard, but not having one is part of the design of the knife. 

It is not without some drawbacks, however. Being that it is less than $40, you would expect some corners to be cut. Thankfully, they did not cut corners in the quality of the steel or in the solid construction. They did cut corners in the finishing. You can see some milling marks on the back of the blade and around the guard. The handle looks to have been dipped in polyurethane and has a very noticeable drip at the base of the handle. I had to sand this off. There are several places that could use some buffing and sanding to be perfect. 

To sum up, I love this knife. I will be using it in the field this year as my main knife. It is hand made quality at a machine made price. I like that it is both unique and functional.

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