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Over the years, the ESEE knives have developed a strong reputation for their sleek design, strong durability, and functionality for many different uses. However, they may be most noted for their drop point blade style. It’s not a knife that will impress Crocodile Dundee, at least not based on its size, but it does have some impressive features. In this ESEE 4 review, we will look at the knife itself, how it works, its specs, and whether it is right for your needs.
Before evaluating the ESEE 4, we'll shed some light on the ESEE company itself. This provides an excellent starting point for the quality and reputation of their knives.
How Good are ESEE Knives?
Over the years, ESEE knives have developed a strong reputation for overall quality, utility, and convenience. Not so big to be cumbersome to use. And not so small that they become worthless in certain situations. Instead, these knives are considered perfectly sized for most uses.
The company had its origins in 1997 when Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin started to build their own gear for specific uses. The focus was on developing a knife that took a different path compared to the large Rambo-style knives that were popular at the time. Instead, the goal was to invent a new type of survival knife that emphasized practicality over style.
After working in South America, Randall and Perrin began designing knives for other companies when they started ESEE Knives. Although initially a survival knife, the ESEE 4 was wanted by a wide range of professionals in law enforcement, security, and rescue work. However, it was also desired by outdoorsmen, film crews, and those who loved outdoor adventures.
Our ESEE 4 Review
This review begins with an examination of the knife itself, its specifications, pros & cons, features, and whether it is the right knife for your needs.
-Cutting Blade Length: 4.1”
-Total Blade Length: 4.5”
-Blade Width: 1.25”
-Weight: 8 oz
-Carbon or Stainless-Steel Blade
-Drop Point Blade Style
-Rounded Pommel w/Lanyard Hole
-Ambidextrous Molded Sheath
You can choose the MOLLE Back Sheath as an option, but it is not included with the standard knife kit.
The knife is available in either the 1095 carbon steel model or the 440C stainless-steel model. The 1095 steel version (as with all 1095 blades...) can be prone to rust, so it is recommended that it be cleaned and oiled on a regular basis. The rounded pommel and lanyard hole means that you can carry the knife in different ways for maximum security.
Pros & Cons
There are several reasons why the ESEE 4 is a superb survival or hunting knife. It represents a great step forward for the company. Plus, it proves that practicality and not just a big, showy knife is what most people need when outdoors.
The first pro is the overall quality of the knife itself. Crafted from proven materials, the blade and handle are finely crafted. This means that you get what you pay for and more thanks to the effort put into the making of the ESEE 4.
Drop Point Blade: This style of blade is a classic one and for good reason. It allows for different types of slicing and cutting while keeping the point sharp. The great look of the drop point blade is just the beginning of how practical, versatile, and useful it can be for skinning game, self-defense, and even cutting wood or other materials.
Blade Length: One of the issues with many survival knives is that the blades are unnecessarily long. That is not the case with the ESEE 4 as its 4.1” blade can be carried conveniently. Plus, it is long enough to perform most tasks without undue strain. It may not get people’s attention, but it is long enough to do the job. Plus, you can choose between carbon steel or stainless-steel to best fit your needs.
Weight: At a mere 8 ounces, this is a very light knife. You might think it is too light as it lacks the extra weight to help cut through difficult material. But the ergonomic design and sharp cutting edge let you guide the blade easily without having to be concerned about the weight.
If there is a downside, it’s 8 ounces is so light that you may leave it behind accidentally or forget you have it on your person. But that is a minor nit compared to the major advantages that the light weight of the knife offers.
Versatile: Whether you need to cut tinder, skin an animal, or defend yourself from an attacker, the ESEE 4 offers considerable versatility all thanks to its compact size and superb design.
Despite all the advantages, if there is one area that the ESEE 4 is lacking, it is the ability to pierce objects with the point. While it does a good job, the drop point blade combined with the relatively short length makes it less than perfect when it comes to piercing into materials.
It’s not much of a con, but it should be noted that there is no knife design that is perfect in all situations. If piercing is a requirement in your work, then you might want to pass on the ESEE 4. But having said that, it is still a good choice for most situations.
Blade: The 4.1” cutting length of the blade may not be long enough for some survival tasks like batoning, but it's long enough for most jobs. You have the choice between the carbon or stainless-steel blade. The carbon steel is arguably harder, but the stainless-steel is far easier to maintain. You will not have to worry about the stainless-steel blade rusting if you forget to clean and dry it properly.
You cannot say the same for the carbon steel blade as it can rust if not properly maintained. But it is somewhat harder and more durable in other regards.
Tang: This is a full tang blade. This means that the blade is fully part of the handle all the way down to the end. A full tang blade means it is less likely to break or bend thanks to its overall length. Its inherent strength provides it with plenty of force application when needed. And, it inspires confidence when using it against tougher materials.
Handle: The handle is quite durable thanks to the full tang blade. That means even if you break the handle, you still have something to grip when using the knife. The textured handle makes it easy to hold even under wet conditions.
If there is a downside to the handle, it may be a bit short for those who have big hands. The grip may be a bit more taxing if your hands are large, especially when cutting into tough material. But this is a minor inconvenience at best. For most people, the overall size of the handle is just right and ergonomically designed.
Sheath: The standard sheath that comes with the knife is a typical molded one that you see with many similar knives. It’s not the best, but it is ambidextrous, so you can wear it on either side with ease. It can break under certain conditions, but for the most part it works quite well.
You can purchase separately the MOLLE back sheath which is the better option. Whether it is better at the price you pay will depend on your needs. Most people may not require the MOLLE back sheath, but it is superior and will hold up longer compared to the standard version.
Is the ESEE Knife Full Tang?
Yes, it is a full tang knife. The type of survival knife that offers durability and versatility which you need when outdoors, self-protection, or just to have a good knife around the home. Being full tang means that it can take a beating over the years and still hold strong. Of course, you should do what you can to protect your ESEE knife, but when you need something that must work, it is here for you.
In this review, we have looked at all the pertinent aspects of this remarkable knife. Sturdy, versatile, and durable, this is arguably one of the best of the entire line of the ESEE knives. It may not be as showy or large enough for some people’s needs, but overall, it is one of the best at what it does. Check out the ESEE 4 in our Best Hunting Knife Guide for 2020.
This is because as a survival knife, it has the right shape, size, and durability thanks to the full tang blade which makes it a keeper. The only downside, and it is a small one, is that the shape and size of the blade is not well suited for piercing. This can be an issue when you need to jab into material or animal skin, but it's not a deal-breaker.
Overall, the ESEE 4 is one of the best on the market for hunting and survival. It may not be the flashiest, but it gets the job done better than most of what you will find.