Pros: Blade Material, Materials, Handle Material, Weight, Overall Quality, Finish
Joe Knows Nessmuk
I think Neonessmuk is the best current modern interpretation of the Nessmuk semi-skinner fixed blade, of George Washington Sears’s famous Nessmuk Trio. If you want to get to the heart of his fixed blade knife, you have to explore exactly what it was. If you were to take the picture of Nessmuk’s sketch of his Nessmuk Trio, blew it up to life size, printed the image on card stock, and cut-out the fixed blade knife, you could get an excellent idea of what his knife was, holding the facsimile in your hand. I believe it was a chopped-down (a true tanto), re-handled buffalo/beef skinner, with an approximately 5” blade, with a curved hand-fitting handle that canted the blade downward slightly. Unlike a true skinner, the point is centered; not trailing. This is a key factor in the genius of his knife. It retained much of its belly, and its skinning ability; but, with the point centered, not trailing, it could perform with greater point control, like a spear point knife, as well. It made it a great knife for field dressing, skinning, butchering, camp kitchen, and utility/light woodcraft. Condor K&T got that part right, with the centered point/cant of blade, and curve of handle. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Another key factor that he stressed strongly while describing his fixed blade knife was, “thinness of blade.” He didn’t use his fixed blade for batoning wood, as he had been using a small hatchet since he was a young lad, and he knew how to use it. His fixed blade was for slicing; not chopping. It did not need to be 1/8” thick, with heavy spine. If you want to see what Nessmuk had in mind, check out a 6” Victorinox Beef Skinner (not currently in the Knife Center stable, but if you call customer service, perhaps they could order it for you [inexpensive]). It is my favorite, “go-to,” skinner. The thin blade flexes a bit, and of course, provides a fine edge/low resistance for slicing. That’s what Nessmuk was talkin’ ‘bout. Almost no one gets that part right, including Condor K&T. The Neonessmuk is a different knife. More, a bushcrafter/survival semi-skinner. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> To know why, and how Neonessmuk differs from the original Nessmuk fixed blade, you must understand that Mr. Sears’s fixed blade was part of a trio of bladed tools that formed a, “systems approach,” to wilderness thrive-vival (he didn’t merely promote survival, but living comfortably in the wild); not a stand-alone wilderness survival knife. Each of his tools had their own functions/uses: 1). Double Bit Hatchet: wood processing, quartering large game. 2. Fixed Blade Semi-skinner: meat processing, camp kitchen, steak knife, utility. 3). Pocket Knife A). Clip point blade: detail work (caping, boning, incisions), bird ‘n’ trout. B). Wharncliffe blade: wood crafting, carving, rope work, utility. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The modern survival, “One Knife” was a concept developed by the U.S. Air Force after WWII. Meant to be a stand-alone tool for escape/evasion/survival (e.g. Boker Plus Air Force Survival Knife, Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife, and the Ontario ASEK Survival System Knife, all available at KnifeCenter.com). It became standard that these blades had to be thicker to withstand the rigors of hard duty. It seems most American made knives (hunters, tactical, survival, camp, and utility knives) followed suite, becoming increasingly manufactured with thicker blades to meet the requirement of, “non-failure,” in a survival situation, as well. Nessmuk’s original fixed blade was too, thin of blade to stand alone as a “one knife” for wilderness survival, and needed the two other tools of the trio to make it fail safe. Neonessmuk is of sufficient blade thickness to be that standalone “one knife.” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Neonessmuk arrived fairly sharp, but could use a dressing. Back edge is swedged. Nice long tapering saber grind will promote good slicing. Edge is well executed. Fit ‘N’ finish are fine. I know Nessmuk was a little feller, but this seems to be a ¾ scale model of the knife, as my pinky finger hangs completely off the end of the handle. I’ll have to attach a Knife Ball (floating pommel) choked-up on a lanyard to remedy the problem. Deduct one star. Handle/scales are otherwise, comfortable and grippy. I’m curious how Anthony, from California remedied the problem (see his review below). Great boys knife. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The sheath is alright, but should have had rivets along the entire trailing edge of sheath to prevent slice through (or, poly liner). I’m not crazy about sheaths where the knife is so, deep seated that you need a lanyard attached to retrieve it from the sheath. But, having made skinner sheaths, I recognize the problem of retention of a knife that is wider at the point, than at the handle. I’ll go with a leather/copper rivet sheath, with strap/snap retention around the handle. Simple. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> It has seemed to me that Condor K&T knives were too, expensive for knives made in El Salvador, where the cost of living, and hence, manufacturing cost are less than, U.S. made knives. But, I had not taken in to account that the raw materials (steel, micarta, etc.) have to be imported into the country, probably evening-out the playing field. If I were only paying for the brilliance, imagination, and innovation of Joe Flowers, I am willing to pay the piper his dues. No one else has the imagination to make a knife like Atrox (available at KnifeCenter.com). No one else understands the Nessmuk Fixed Blade Knife, so well. Perhaps, Mr. Flowers can now tackle the Neo-Nessmuk Pocket Knife: Moose patterned, saber ground clip point blade for detail work/bird ‘n’ trout; scandi ground wharncliffe blade for wood craft/carving/rope work/utility, in 1095 steel, locking, one hand opening, Micarta, or G10 scales. The Bushcraft world is ready.