Story and Photos by Dwayne Unger
Just like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs—or whatever your favorite combination is—some things just work really well together. That is exactly what you get when you combine the minds of survival expert Kevin Estela and Russell Reese of Cohutta Knives, a perfect combination.
As a full time survival instructor, Kevin has been around knives pretty much his entire life. With that much time in the field and access to hundreds—if not thousands—of knives over the years, you start to realize what you both like and dislike about them.
With the never-ending pursuit of finding the “perfect” knife, sometimes it is good to have friends in the business who can help turn your vision in to an actual product. Such was the case with the Cohutta Knives KE Classic.
Kevin is no stranger to designing knives, and while he is not a full-time knife designer, the few knives he has collaborated on have always been spot on for everyday use in the field. His designs have everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
The KE Classic by Cohutta Knives is no exception.
The beauty of this knife lies in its simplicity. The blade length is a hair under 4 inches, making it legal to carry in his previous home state of Connecticut (always check your local laws), and has a scary sharp scandi cutting edge of 3.75 inches.
The tip of the drop point is perfectly centered with the handle, allowing for precise control when carving divots while constructing the hearth board for a bow/hand drill.
The contours of the handle are extremely comfortable for all day use, in any grip you would need to use for cutting and crafting in the woods, with zero hotspots. The rounded over pommel allows you to press onto the butt of the knife without any discomfort.
Even the spine of this knife is so well thought out, designed and executed, it needs to be mentioned. The first half of the spine is slightly radiused for comfort, during thumb assisted push cuts, and the front half of the blade is sharpened to 90 degrees, for efficient striking of a ferro rod or scraping tinder.
Russell Reese is a full-time knife maker from Northern Georgia and has a remarkably simple goal when making his hand-crafted knives—make them beautiful but make them functional.
Russell comes from a background in professional carpentry and is an avid outdoorsman. Like Kevin, he has used his life experiences to help create Cohutta Knives.
Professional carpenters have an eye for detail and are known for their exceptional fit and finish. What Russell does with his knives is no exception. The details behind every blade, every handle and every grind are done with meticulous precision.
While his products may look like “safe queens” they are meant to be used and used hard.
When testing this knife, I did not want to make it a one-sided review, I also wanted my other, well respected colleague’s input. So, I rounded up the posse—or rather our Cadre—and headed into the woods to give everyone some quality time with the KE Classic.
Lt. Mike Lychock is our resident “Scandi Guru” and if it has got a scandi edge, he has got to play with it. I have seen LT take new blades and quickly put them down because the handle did not feel good, the balance was off, the edge geometry was bad, etc. I can honestly say my biggest fear this day was making sure that the blade made it home with me. He was blown away by everything this knife had to offer and was living up to his nickname (sorry, Cadre secret)—he was feather sticking anything he could get his hands on.
Next up was Mike Travis of Blue Mountain Bushcraft. Like LT, Mike was blown away by the fit and finish of the blade and handle. Even though it has a thinner, 3/32-inch blade, Mike batoned it through several rounds, and it begged for more. Carving out a few notches in a sapling proved effortless for the scandi grind. Mike also feathered up a collection of wood and did it with a smile on his face the whole time.
Not to be outdone I had my time behind the blade too. Feathering, batoning, carving, you name it we did it.
The knife we were given to test was finished with a few nice features that did not go unnoticed.
The tapered tang on this knife was ground to just under 1/16-inch, and with the Osage wood handles and Micarta pins the KE Classic was extremely nimble in the hand and a joy to use.
The final tester was the designer, Kevin Estela, himself.
I met up with him at a recent class he was teaching and had him use it while he instructed. When a designer is given a knife he was responsible in creating, you hope they get excited about it. This was certainly the case and he used it skillfully all weekend long. I had to practically pry it out of his hands to bring back for pictures.
The KE Classic by Cohutta Knives will be available in a variety of steel and finish options, to best suit your needs and budget.
Currently KE Classics will be available in either 8670, 01 or A2 steels and a variety of handle materials, from the popular, indestructible Micarta, to the stunning beauty of the variety of species of domestic and exotic woods Russell uses.
Knife only prices start at $270 for micarta and no tapered tang, with the pricing of the model tested being $340.
With a lot of choices in hand made knives these days it can be a daunting task trying to figure up where to spend your hard-earned money. I will honestly say that Cohutta Knives are definitely on my list of blades to purchase, and they should be on your short list too. K&G
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As per model tested. Actual Specs will vary depending on final materials.Blade Material: A2 Tool SteelBlade Length: 3.9 inchesCutting Edge: 3.75 inchesOverall Length: 8.25 inchesBlade Thickness: 3/32 inchesBlade Height: 1 inchWeight: 4.7 ouncesHandle Material: Osage with Blue G10 and natural micarta linersBlade Style: Drop PointGrind Type: ScandiSheath: No sheath includedExtras: Tapered tangMSRP: $340 as tested. Prices start at $270
Facebook: Cohutta Knife and Russell ReeseInstagram: @CohuttaKnife
@CohuttaKnifeRansom Wilderness Co.
Dwayne Unger is the owner/operator of Dwayne Unger Outdoors, an associate instructor with Estela Wilderness Education and online instructor for the Old World Alliance. Dwayne is also the 2018 Bladesports World Champion and winner of History Channel’s Forged in Fire: Knife or Death (S1,E4). Dwayne is a part time custom knife maker and has been published by several online and print magazines. Dwayne can be found on Facebook, Dwayne Unger and Dwayne Unger Outdoors and on Instagram @dwayneungeroutdoors.com
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