Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sharps: By any other name

I've been hunting moose lately.

I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for -- an American-made slipjoint pocketknife of substantial size, two opposing full-length blades, one a clip and one a spear or a spey. Since I didn't want to break the bank, a used example in good shape would be fine.

Thing is, I found a wide range of opinions about what, precisely, defines a moose. What some call a moose, others consider a Texas jack, a big muskrat, a bullhead or a double-ended trapper. There's no clear consensus about blade shapes or frame pattern, either, and manufacturers' trade names only muddy the waters.

I decided to cast nomenclature aside and focus on what appeals to me. This is what I ended up with.

It's a Remington-branded "commemorative," a double-ended jackknife reportedly made by Camillus in 2004. The stock number on the box is #18311 and, according to the enclosed "Certificate of Authenticity," the blades are 0170-6C carbon steel.

The main blade, which bears the then-new "MADISON NC USA" tang stamp, is a slender California clip. The other blade is, to my eyes, a slightly asymmetrical spear point -- or maybe it's a mild drop point, but it's definitely not a spey. Each blade has its own backspring.

The liners are brass and the pins (there are four) appear to be stainless steel. Camillus used nickel silver for the bolsters and shield. When closed, the knife measures 4.25" long.

Ok, so that's what it is. Now I'll move on to what it's not.

It's not a reproduction of a classic like the #R4353 Woodsman, #R4353B Maverick, #R4356 Bush Pilot or other Remington variant of the moose. It has no stampings to indicate year or pattern. And despite sporting a shield in the shape of a rifle cartridge, it's not (especially in the minds of collectors) a true Remington Bullet Knife.

What I have -- bought for pocket change, by the way -- is exactly what I wanted. The springs are strong but not brutal, the pivots solid. The blades are sharp and of useful size and shape. Although six years old it's never been used, honed or carried.

Of comparable importance, at least to me, it was crafted by a venerable American knifemaker just three years before bankruptcy took the company down for good.

Whether or not it's a moose, then, is beside the point.

It'll serve me well as part of a "
ready set." More about that soon.

Sharps: Full circle
Sometimes it takes me a while to fulfill a wish and even longer to turn it into words and pictures. Here's what I said back in March of 2009:

"I still have a Schrade Uncle Henry 285UH trapper, also made in Ellenville albeit some years ago. ...I think it'd be fitting if I gave the old Schrade some company from Ulster County, New York -- say, a Canal Street Moon Pie Trapper. ...the purchase would complete a full circle..."
Early this year, from the same upstate-New York workspace that produced my Schrade, the knife I'd wished for was in my hands.

Sentiment aside, I must say that the
Canal Street Cutlery Moon Pie Trapper is the finest-quality pocketknife I've ever owned.

I'm fortunate to have acquired another of Canal Street's slipjoints, a
Three-Blade Cannitler, and it shows the same craftsmanship present in the trapper. Seriously, these are custom-grade knives at relatively affordable prices. In my opinion, it gets no better than Canal Street.

You may consider that a recommendation. Here endeth the (long-overdue) update.