I believe I first started writing about knives for Knives Illustrated magazine back around 1994. Since that time, I've probably had the opportunity to test literally thousands of knives, both fixed blade. folders, and out-the-front knives. Most knives I've tested are really pretty good blades. If something is junk, I just won't waste my time writing about it because folks don't want to read about junk! Once in a while, something new catches my eye, and I sit up and take notice, when it comes to knives.
Blackhawk Products caught my eye with their Gideon drop point fixed blade knife. I've designed several knives over the years, and they have all been fixed blade knives, of the survival or combat style, so I know a little something about designing a good knife. I have one sitting here on my desk that I co-designed with custom knife maker, Brian Wagner, at Okuden Knives - that we are attempting to do a collaboration with a big knife company, in order to get it into the hands of consumers at a reasonable price. We call it the OC-3 for lack of a better term, because it is our third collaboration together.
The Blackhawk Products Gideon is one of those smaller fixed blade knives that has perfectly flowing lines from the tip of the blade to the butt of the knife. It just seems to "sing" if you ask me - it feels great in the hand, and many people have handled my sample. I think the first thing that catches your eye on the Gideon is the handle design, it's made out of G-10 and this is some seriously tough material - almost indestructible. However, it's not just the material itself, it's the curve of the handle and the sculpted design that catches the eye, that feels "oh-so-nice" when you hold it in your hand. There is also a somewhat pointed skull-crushing pommel on the end of the knife, with a lanyard hole in it.
The blade material is AUS8A, one of my all-time favorite stainless steels for knives - it holds an edge a good long time, and its easy to re-sharpen as well, and pretty darn corrosion resistant . On top of it, this steel is one of the more affordable stainless steels on the market. Value! The 5-inch black Ti-Nitride coated blade design flows, and there are also two holes at the base of the blade for tethering the blade to a pole for use as a weapon or for spearing fish - I've done it before - not with this knife, with with others, and it's a lot of fun spearing fish instead of just using a fishing pole. Something to think about in a wilderness survival situation. There is also an additional finger groove in front of the quillion that provides an additional grip area for choking-up on the blade for close up work, like in caping big game, and for more control when cutting. the overall length of the knife is 10.250-inches - and the knife is a total brute!
When dealing with a wilderness survival situation, where you aren't able to get resupplied with gear, you want the toughest gear you can find, you can't afford to have equipment failure in the field. The Gideon won't let you down, this little knife is brutally strong and the blade is very thick - real thick! This is the proverbial sharpened crow bar, that we've all heard so much about. However, unlike some other "sharpened crow bars" the Gideon is very graceful in design and the way the knife feels and handles. If a knife doesn't feel good or "right" in my hand, I won't use it or carry it. There is also a slight upward rise on the top of the knife for placing your thumb for use in the fencing grip, too. An injection molded sheath, with Nylon and mounting plates set-up for PALS/MOLLE or in a drop leg platform helps you carry the Gideon.
My Gideon sample came hair-popping sharp right out of the box, something you don't get with some knives - I've had a good number of custom knives pass through my hands over the years, and there are some companies and custom makers that don't put a really keen edge on their knives for some reason. I don't understand this, a knife is a tool, that is supposed to be sharp in order to get the most benefit out of it. Blackhawk did a great job on the Gideon - it came super-sharp, and held an edge a good long time.
I put the Gideon through a lot of testing, more than my usual routines. I did a lot of chopping - while the Gideon worked as a chopper, the blade and overall length of the knife is a bit too short for this task, but it worked if I put some extra effort into it. I used the Gideon to split wood - using a big piece of wood, to pound the Gideon through another piece of wood - and the knife held-up just fine. There were some rub marks on the Ti-Ni coating, but that was it. I used the Gideon as a throwing knife, but the balance wasn't there for this chore, and I never did get it to stick in a target, tip first. I did however, note some serious indentations in the target from the skull crushing pommel. The pommel's design can easily crush a skull, with a downward movement - so this is something to think about - you don't have to just cut or stab an attacker, you can put them out of commission by cracking their skull open - a last resort method of self-defense.
I used the Gideon for all manner of kitchen chores, and the edge never dulled - even cutting cardboard boxes - which really dulls and edge, didn't affect the sharpness of the Gideon. I whittled on some wood, and finally the blade's edge started to dull, but it was still very useable. I also stacked cardboard and "stabbed" the Gideon into it - and it easily penetrated the full length of the blade - the knife's point and the sharpness of the blade helped in this regard, as well as the shape and contour of the handle! I'm not sure who designed the Gideon, there's no info on the Blackhawk web site, but whoever it was, did a great job on this knife.
I also pounded the point of the Gideon into a tree and snapped the knife out sideways...no damage to the tip of the knife at all. I said the knife blade was thick - it is, but it is strong, too! I've tried this same test with some other well-known fighting knives over the years, and the tipped either bent or completely snapped off - either the blades were too thin or poorly heat-treated causing the tip to fail. Not something you want in a combat or survival situation. The Gideon won't fail you.
As a bit of a Bible scholar, I know a little bit about Gideon in the Bible. And, the name means "Destroyer" or "Feller of Trees." Gideon was one of the Judges in the Old Testament. So, the name Blackhawk Products gave this new fixed blade seems to fit...now, I wouldn't want to try and fell a tree with the Blackhawk Gideon, but it might just do to fell an attacker or destroy him, or save your bacon out in the wilderness, too.
I like to save the best for last, whenever possible. The Gideon has a full-retail of $129.99 and for what you get, this is one of those best buys in my humble opinion. (They also make a Gideon tanto point variant.) You are getting a very well designed fixed blade knife, that is made from top materials, from a company that backs-up all their products. Blackhawk doesn't make any junk - they can't afford to, many of their customers are military and law enforcement and they demand and need the best of the best. The Gideon won't let you down - they are a bit hard to find right now, but you can find one, and if you do, lay claim to it. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio