I have been a fan of ESEE knives since I bought my Izula 6 or more years ago. A Junglas followed and then a Laser Strike. As I have become interested in more bushcraft, rather than just camping, of late, I have been using my knives in different ways and generally improving my knife skills. Recently, I purchased a Mora Companion, as described in this thread.
As much as I love the knives I have, I wanted something smaller and thinner than the LS for slicing and finer work. The Izula is smaller and worked well, but it is still a bit too thick, IMHO, to make a good slicer. As a backup, easily carried or last ditch knife, it's great. But, I wanted a longer blade and a better slicer. And I wanted it to be as tough as possible. Not that I intend to drive it through a sapling to split it open and make a frog gig, but I wanted to be able to, if it fancied me. Thus, I decided the ESEE-3 was the ticket. Thinner and longer than the Izula, larger handle to make it easier to work with. I had consider an Izula II, but the ESEE-3 was more appealing. I also had one somewhat retarded reason for getting a 3: my local Scouting Council does not allow "sheath knives" at scouting events. Having progressed up the leadership ranks enough to start opening my mouth, I asked why. Especially since they approve 3" lockback folders, how could a 3" fixed-blade knife be any worse? Logic does, once in awhile, prevail, and I am allowed to carry a 3" fixed-blade, hence the ESEE-3. The Junglas is still out of bounds, but I can't see using that at a Scout event, anyway.
Today, my ESEE-3 MIL, all black, arrived, complete with my name engraved on the blade ( $8 at Knifeworks). Here it is with sheath, clip plate and MOLLE sheath back.
The following are my thoughts and observations on the Junglas, Laser Strike, ESEE-3 and Mora Companion. In my opinion, one cannot really provide a good review without putting the context of what role the knife is expected to fill. These 4, since they constitute the knives I actually use, and the ESEE-3 and Mora fill, more or less, the same niche.
All the knives together:
From left: Izula, Mora, ESEE-3, Laser Strike, Junglas
The Junglas is a big knife that is a very good chopper. I have used it as a machete to cut through thick swamp under-growth, chop branches a couple of inches thick, and batoned it to split 3" dried oak logs. It cuts open watermelon pretty well, too. When I expect to head into the brush, I carry it on my belt, where it carries comfortably. Otherwise, I carry it inside my pack. Clearly, it is capable of processing all wood tasks short of when one would need an axe. For my needs it is the axe.
The Junglas is great, but too big for most things one actually uses a knife for, at least to use it comfortably. Hence, the need for a smaller knife to handle "the rest of the story," apologies to Paul Harvey. I have used the Laser Strike in this role, but it's blade is as thick as the Junglas, and that makes it harder to do fine work. Not that it can't be done, and if I could only have one knife, it would be the Laser Strike. Hefty enough to make a decent light chopper, small enough to easily carry. I have used it instead of the Junglas for some of my bush whacking through the swamp, and it did ok. I really like the choil, it makes the knife very comfortable and controllable.
Lots of love for the Mora Companion, and well deserved. It is a fantastic slicing knife, the standard by which others are judged. Very comfortable in the hand. Alas, it is a rat-tail 3/4 tang knife. Beat on the handle at your own risk. I have no experience with Mora's other knives, but I am sure they are great.
Now for the main protagonist. The MIL version, as far as I can tell, differs at most in 3 areas: it is serial numbered; it comes with sheath, clip plate and MOLLE backing; and the scales are linen micarta, rather than canvas micarta. Depending on the source I read, any or all of these are incorrect. The Knifeworks packages the regular ESEE-3 in exactly the same configuration, so I really don't know the difference. It also comes with the sharpened, glass breaker pommel.
First impressions: The knife is smaller and thinner than I expected. I anticipated a handle basically like the Laser Strike, but with a shorter and thinner blade. Not so. The scales themselves are also thinner, and the handle shorter, as can be seen below.
Mind you, I don't think this is bad. The knife has a real finesse to it and feels great in my hand. A larger handle or thicker scales would make it too bulky, in my opinion. As one can see, the knife has a full tang. Beat on it to your hearts content. I was worried that the sharpened pommel might be too sharp, but it isn't sharp to the touch. Sure, if you are driving it with a baton, the baton will get beat up, but that's the worst of it.
I anticipated it would be a good slicer, and I am not disappointed. First, I whittled some basswood, and it was easy. But, then, basswood is easy for almost anything. I dug out my kindling bucket for some fire-making tasks. I have to spay, it made the nicest feather stick I have ever made. It is not just that the knife is sharp, but the design of the belly gives a nice cutting edge on the up turn toward the point, and the wide blade allows the other thumb to press and guide the blade. I am not sure that imagery comes across. In my right hand, I hold the knife as normal, but I can really make use of my left thumb to get precise, deep cuts, just like one wants for feathering a stick. Next, I batoned it across grain to cut off the rest of the feather stick. The stick is cedar, so its not that tough, but it cut beautifully. Next, I split down some kindling into various sizes from near tinder, up through the sizes to pencil diameter. Perfect for starting with a fire steel. It was really a joy to use.
Not everything is perfect, though. The choil is a tad too small. IF I were to put my finger in the choil and really bear down, some of my skin would touch the sharpened edge. On lighter, more finesse tasks, though, I use the tips of my finger, and it was no trouble. Contrast that to the choil on the Laser Strike. That is perfect with a guard to keeps one's finger off the owee zone.
I am not really sure how one would use the clip plate that comes with it. I had thought about using it on my belt, but it rides way too high. The LS, seen below, has a perfect drop to its cli plate that makes it a perfect belt knife.
I wish the ESEE-3 had a similar plate. The instructions show how to fashion a belt rig with paracord, which I will try, but it isn't the same.
My carry method will require some experimenting. I may use the MOLLE back to afix the knife to my pack. Or, I may give the paracord belt rig a try. Though, I am seriously thinking of giving pocket carry a try. The knife is small enough that fits pretty nicely in my front pants pocket. Tomorrow, I hope hike the swamp for about 10 miles and will try these last two methods. There is also the possibility that I may get the MOLLE carrier for the Junglas, and carry the knife piggy back. I carried the More piggy back on the Junglas, but it caught on too much brush, so I am not sure. Side-by-side comparison, though, the ESEE-3 in sheath is much narrower than the overly bulky Companion sheath.
I just received the knife, but so far, I am really happy. Happier, in fact, than I expected. According to the Knifeworks webpage, this is Jeff Randall's favorite knife, and it may be mine, too. My current thinking is the the ESEE-3 will be a permanent fixture in my load, and either the LS or Junglas topping things out, depending on my plans. The Mora is such a good slicer, and so light weight, it might just slip un-noticed into my pack, as well.
Some final comparison pictures:
ESEE-3 vs. Izula
ESEE-3 vs. Mora Companion
This message has been edited. Last edited by: DrDan,
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All ESEE knives have serial numbers and all can come with the clip plate and those extras. The -MIL originally differed in that it had the glassbreaker but I have ESEE-3 knives with the glassbreaker that are not labeled with the -MIL designation so I don't know.
Have you seen the ESEE-3HM? It has a longer and more rounded handle which may fit your hand better. Personally I love the regular sized handle but my hands are smaller so it fits perfectly. I prefer the 4 to the 3 for blade size but the 3 is better for carry. I have a hard time choosing between them and tend to prefer whichever is in my hand at the moment.
Look it up and if it interests you I will send you one to test out. I have two 3HM so I have no problem letting you use one to see if you like it better. My email is in my profile.
Also FYI, and this is nitpicking, but you have a ESEE-3 not a RC-3. It is the exact same knife but they dropped the Rat Cutlery name several years ago and went to the ESEE name for their knives which was already the name of the survival school. Nobody cares except collectors who seem to like the RC branded models but if you tell someone you have a RC-3 for sale and send them a ESEE-3 you may have an unhappy buyer. I've got a couple RC branded and sold a couple others for a premium since I really don't care.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Pale Horse,
Nice ESEE collection and review.
I favor ESEE knives.
As far as I can tell, the -MIL is a distinction without meaning at this point. Perhaps they keep it for marketing reasons.
I have seen that, but it did not mean much to me, at the time. My hands are actually on the small side, and unless I am bearing down hard, the choil is quite comfortable. I just like the way they did the choil on the Laser Strike better.
So, I am curious, the 4 has a 50% thicker blade, same as the LS, so I would have thought the feel between a 3 and 4 would be fairly large. At least to my mind, the 4 is more akin to the LS, than the 3. I have never held a 4, so I am curious about your thoughts.
Very generous of you. Let me have a little more time with the one I have, and I may take you up on your offer.
Interesting. That change totally slipped by me. Thanks for the heads up, not that I plan to sell any knives, but I would never want to mislead someone, either.
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That is a great set of knives that you have.
Also thanks for posting the review. I was looking for an ESEE-3 before my deployment but I didn't like the feel of the handle, and also thought the choil was a tad too small.
Since I was mostly going to be either in the turret or driving, I wanted a smaller utility knife, and I think the 3 was perfect.
I took Pale Horse's advice and did a google search for the ESEE-3HM. If I would have known the ESEE made this model, that knife would have been purchased and riding on my plate carrier for seven months.
^^^ Yes. The 3HM looks like a winner. I like ESEE knives a lot and have a bunch of them, including a standard 3, but I haven't kept up with all the variants. I really like the looks of that one. One or two will be coming my way after my next weak moment.
|so sexy it hurts|
The LS is one of the two or three knives I would pick if I had to pick just one knife. It's almost perfect other than the thickness as you mentioned.
"You have the right not to be killed..."
The Clash, "Know Your Rights"
They have a 4HM as well which is what I really wanted but they didn't have it in stock so I got the 3. Then later I accidentally ordered a second one a few weeks later and just held on to it.
If you are into bushcraft stuff. check out their bushlore knives, they make one thats a similar size as the 3 but with a different type of grind.
To me the handles are too thin for a using knife. Which is the reason I bought it. lol For a using knife I'd rather have the thicker handle models, but I'm not really using it. I have an ESSE-4 which to me is like a light weight snub nose recover, "carried a lot, shot a little". I carry mine IWB and it's flat enough that it conceals well and I usually forget it's there. To the point I'm worried about it, that I might need it and forget it's there.
Sliced bread, the greatest thing since the 1911.
I am posting the following image as a courtesy for forum member john1. Please direct all compliments and questions to him.
"I carry an ESEE 3 or a Rat 3 daily and while I was out on Medical Leave recently I made this sheath for my duty belt to replace the kydex/plastic original version."
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^^^ Wow. Nice setup.
|Lighten up and laugh|
I'm a big fan of ESEE knives and own five of them, but the ESEE 3 isn't one of them. If you want a 3" blade as a primary by all means get the ESEE 3, but I personally enjoy the price and size of Moras for camping and hiking. They are comfortable, affordable, and if I break one they are around $12 to replace them. It's personal choice, but if I'm doing what I should be doing with a 3" blade they will do the job. Honestly, so will a 3" pocket knife like the Rat-1.
|Fighting the good fight|
I'm glad to hear of the HM models. I love my RC-3, but the handle is just a smidge smaller than I'd like.
If you break an ESEE, they are around $0 to replace them.
Lifetime no questions asked guarantee.
|Lighten up and laugh|
Very true! I saw the original .308 range test thread on their site a few years ago. I think he was called an idiot, but they replaced it.
Did you see the guy with the concrete manhole cover thing? He, for no reason other than to "test" his ESEE-5, decided to try and pry it up. IIRC that was after a whole bunch of other tests. Everyone including Mike called him a total moron but even with the guys admission that he set out to purposely destroy the knife they replaced it for free.
They might tell you that you are a total dumbass but they stand behind the warranty.
|Lighten up and laugh|
I kind of enjoy it when they do that I didn't see that manhole cover thread, but you can't beat that warranty. People used to say they would replace it once if you lost it, but I've heard him say that's not true and I don't blame them.
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