Stone Cold Hunters
Rust-Proof and hard to the core, Stone River Gear’s line of ceramic-bladed and lock-back folders are ready for game!
Some twenty or more years ago, I acquired a ceramic-bladed folder from a major European cutlery manufacturer. At first, I was a little skeptical about blade durability. However, after using the knife on a couple of deer and a wild hog, those concerns no longer plagued me. The one thing that I did learn about ceramic blades is that they are incredibly sharp and hold an edge almost forever.
A valid criticism of ceramic blades is that they aren’t nearly as tough as a steel blade. Drop one on a hard surface, or apply lateral stress, and you quickly have an understanding of the limitations of ceramic blade material. Any ceramic blade can break if subjected to abuse. And given the cost of most ceramic knives, hunters have not embraced the technology with great enthusiasm.
Despite the lack of lateral ductility, a ceramic blade does have several features that any hunter will appreciate. A ceramic blade will stay sharp much longer than a carbon or stainless blade. In addition, a ceramic blade cannot rust and is not affected by blood or digestive fluids. A ceramic blade is also extremely lightweight when compared to a similar steel blade.
New to the cutlery arena are the ceramic knives offered by the folks at Stone River Gear. Using the highest quality ceramic zirconium oxide blades. Stone River has both fixed blade and folding sport hunting knives as well as kitchen knives in their lineup of edge-cutting implements. Since I am a hunter, several of Stone River’s ceramic-bladed knives got my attention. Interestingly, one of the Stone River lock-blade folders, Model SRG1STLB, received the 2010 Best Buy Award at the Atlanta Blade Show this past year. That recognition is a sure indicator that the once expensive ceramic-bladed knives are now far more affordable that ever before.
Stone River Specs
Hunters will be interested to learn that this award winning Stone River folder features a 3.25 inch drop-point pattern, black zirconium oxide blade. No doubt one of the most highly versatile blade patterns for game care, the blade is housed in a contoured titanium handle with an attached pocket clip. In addition, there’s a frame-locking mechanism to ensure that the blade is firmly positioned when opened. Furthermore, an integral blade lifter is designed to provide smooth one-handed blade opening. Lightweight, completely rust-free, with a ceramic blade that will stay sharp far longer than any conventional steel blade, this particular folder is just the ticket for field dressing and skinning game.
Ray Rugg, a Colorado big game outfitter has used both fixed blade and folding Stone River ceramic knives extensively in his business. He recently reported on his experience with these edged tools, and said, I’m not easy on knives, as I always cut right up to the brisket with the knife to open big game completely. My experience with the knives on both deer and elk demonstrated that Stone River knives stay sharp and continue to provide outstanding performance longer than any other type of knife I’ve ever used. I would highly recommend the Stone River Ceramic blade for anyone looking for a knife that needs to stay sharp” Such a recommendation from someone that uses his knife on a daily basis speaks volumes about ceramic blade durability and performance.
To be sure, Stone River has several other models, both fixed-blade and folding in their product line-up. Given the fact that a ceramic blade can offer both enhanced edge retention and freedom from bothersome maintenance (ceramic cannot rust—ever), such a knife would seemingly be “the end all, be all” Unfortunately, the initial cost, long term blade durability and difficulties involved in sharpening continue to haunt the ceramic blade.
Sold on Ceramics?
While somewhat more costly than some other knives, Stone River ceramic knives are still well within the price range of hunters. When it comes to durability, my own experience with ceramic blades has demonstrated that if used properly (straight cuts and no bending or prying), such blades are tough enough for extended field use. Finally, I haven’t found sharpening a ceramic knife to be all that difficult , provided you use the right edge restoration tool. I’ve touched-up (that was all that was needed) the edges on my own ceramic blades with a diamond rod, as well as an electric sharpener that featured diamond abrasive disks.
Certainly our traditional hunting gear, including edged cutting tools has evolved to include a host of newly developed space-age materials. Whether or not the ceramic blade makes inroads with hunters remains to be seen. However, there’s no doubt that Stone River Gear is at the forefront of that particular facet of the cutlery industry.