Herbertz Of Solingen - The Perfect Archers Knife ?
Reviewed by Steve
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Cande Castle, Tours, France. European archery festival
It was terrifically hot and even my team T shirt seemed a garment too far. The morning had been reasonable for me and as I came in for lunch I decided to hang back and wait for Geoff ( our historical editor/advisor ) as I knew he was just a group or two behind me.
Sure enough within a few minutes I saw him stomping along with a face like thunder, something about his attire looked wrong, it took only a second for me to see that the left sleeve of his team T shirt was missing. Like me Geoff prefers to shoot without tape or something to secure loose clothing, if your form is good and the bow set up right you can generally get away with it. Today however, all had not gone to plan for Geoff, several times he had caught the flappy sleeve of the T shirt in the string causing a couple of catastrophic misses and subsequent destruction of custom tournament woodies. The fourth time this happened was once too often and much to the astonishment of his French, Belgian and Spanish shooting companions he had thrown down his bow and grabbed the sleeve in an attempt to rip it off. Stop just for a second and put yourself right there with our Geoff.... you have come to France to uphold the British end, you have been shooting very well, the course and conditions favour you and you have been looking forward to it for almost 8 months. Some idiot suggests a team T shirt and the flappy bloody sleeve is making you look stupid in front of some of the best archers in Europe.... The sleeve must GO !
But it doesn't.... tug and tear as you might the damnable sleeve refuses to be torn, the neck stretches and the T shirt is all out of shape but the sleeve is still there. You pull out your knife and the company steps back " ze Englishman, E is crazy, no ?".
You saw and stab and as the rage subsides it is replaced with consternation at the stubbornness of the T shirt sleeve, this turns rapidly to embarrassment as you realise the knife is blunt, the sleeve continues. The worst is yet to come, as you now notice a knife proffered from none other than your smiling French companion. You take the knife, which slips silently through the sleeve with no more effort than Tom Daley from the 3m board into 9 foot of water. As you hand it back to François, the whole company smiles indulgently at you.... not only did you smash arrows, not only could you not rip your T shirt bare handed, not only could you not hold your temper but you had a blunt knife. Oh the ignominy ..!! If for no other reason than to avoid a situation like this an archer needs a decent knife.
There are probably a half dozen morals to that particular story but for me being handed a sharp knife by none other than a Frenchman ( no offence chaps... but you know how it is with the Frogs and the Roast Beefs) is perhaps the saddest and funniest thing I have ever heard.
A couple of years ago we did a review on a super little knife from Germany, we dubbed it "the perfect archers knife". A little while ago they stopped making it.
I find manufacturers doing this all the time; they develop a wonderful product and as soon as folks start buying it they discontinue it. I have had no end of E mails asking if we have come across anything worthy of being it's replacement.
I had no opportunity to try to find a replacement as happily I owned the aforementioned perfect knife. At least I did until some filthy wretch stole it after it was left in a locked clubhouse. As the knife is no longer available and despite my belief that I never miss a target and never ever get my arrows stuck in trees..... the truth is I actually do.
In the past I carried a small Scandinavian knife of excellent quality, however because the blade was more suited to light tasks I snapped the end off attempting to pry an arrow from a log, as we all know, arrows will go deep into wood even from a moderate weight bow and what you need in such circumstances is a wide thick solid blade with a full length tang.
In fact an archer needs a knife that will do all the things that folks tell you not to do with one.. prying, digging, chopping, hammering and splitting. What you don't want is one of those ridiculous monster Rambo style knives, we are after all going to do archery, not black ops, far being macho these types of blades are laughable and you gain no Kudos for being laughed at. It's also important that not only can the knife cut the mustard but that it will enhance your credibility and it also need to be handsome enough and macho enough so that when your mates say " let's have a look " it will draw admiring glances ( come on be honest !!).
With so much junk coming in from China, the web is chock full of cheap and low quality knives, I won't be thanked for saying so but unless you want to commission a knife from an expert custom knife maker there are only two places to get a decent quality blade. That's Finland of course or Germany. After an exhaustive and extensive search we finally found not one but 2 contenders for the title of "Perfect Archers Knife" and as luck would have it they cover 2 price ranges which will put one or the other within the reach of even the most budget conscious archer.
They are both From C. Jul. Herbertz and the first is this beauty and includes the scabbard.
Lets start with the scabbard. There is no strap or extra security measure to retain the knife. However it fits so well in the sheath it doesn't need one. There is a very nice touch inside on the rounded blade edge. There is an extra layer of leather which protrudes into the sheath and allows the blade to slide down one side, protecting the sharp edge, it has a belt loop and is made from tan leather.
Upon picking up the knife you can immediately tell it is a solid bit of kit at 298gWeight 298gHandle 11cm 4 1/2"Blade 12cm 4 3/4"Overall Length 23cm 9 1/4 "
It's a very manageable size, certainly big enough for any archery task but not cumbersome in the least.
The weight is down to the solid bar that the knife is produced from, the tang is a whole lot more than just a tail to the knife, it's width is almost half the thickness of the handle at 6mm ( 1/4") and there are 2 pins which go right through handle assembly which, if I am not mistaken is 2 slabs of ebony. To be fair in the photo it looks a little thicker than it actually is, but it IS 6mm. The blade is more than interesting as it is 59 layers of Damast Steel with the wavy lines indicative of this method of forging. For centuries this has been the epitome of the very best in craftsmanship. Samurai swords, which were first made possible by Damascene forging, are the stuff of legend. Several layers of hard and soft steel are combined to form a steel composite with a unique design.
The core of the knife is Stainless Steel AISI 420. This is the grade of steel used and indicates the various levels of elements contained in the steel, it's a standard specification and is of the rating one would expect to find in a quality knife blade. With this steel you would expect a hardness of Rockwell 55. Just so you know, the formula is approx Chromium 13%, Silicon 1%, Manganese 1%, Carbon 0.42-0.50%, the rest would be Iron. AISI 420 is used for components which require high tensile strength.
There is (to my eye) a nice touch on the blade, the back has been left in an unforged state The top 1/2" of the blade is where it tapers in both width and depth to a very sharp and useful point. There is however, enough meat so that rough digging should not trouble this blade at all and enough strength to allow some serious prying open of any deep arrow to tree shots. The Handle is strong enough so that you could give it a good bashing with a chunk or wood to really get stuck in and would happily double as a hammer should one ever be required.It was supplied reasonably sharp and a short spell with a stone brought the edge to a razor sharpness. I like a super sharp knife and was always told to keep the edge keen as you are more likely to injure yourself with a dull blade than a sharp one. All the struggling and sawing along with the thrusting and poking associated with a blunt blade will usually end in a slip and a stab .. or worse.The cost of this particular knife is a bargain at just Euro 65
Our second knife is priced at just Euro 33.
Weight 285gHandle 12cm tad under 5"Blade 13cm tad over 5"Overall Length 25cm 10"
Although it weighs almost the same as the first knife the balance is different which makes it feel lighter. The first knife has an even distribution of weight as the bar it is made from continues all the way down the handle. This knife most definitely has the weight forward in the blade. The tang has been inserted into a hollowed out handle and is riveted through the whole affair with 2 studs. The steel is again AISI 420 - rockwell 55. If you are into proper sharp knives this one will take a razor edge with a couple of good stones and the right method
There is a nice little finger guard which certainly adds to it's utility when trying to extricate an arrow from a tree. It's probably worth noting that it never pays to "stab" a knife into a solid object like a tree or log as even with moderate force your hand will slide down the handle and blade.
Again we have a sturdy thick blade at 5mm ( 3/8") which is strong enough to tackle that digging motion we archers have to perfect whilst trying to flick out the wood around our stuck arrows. Again the blade has a Damast finish and an unforged back edge, although this time I suspect the Damast wavy lines are probably welded rather than layered and the unforged patina appears more stamped on than truly unforged. The sheath is leather and the belt loop is this time at the very top and there is a button down retaining strap to secure the knife when not in use. For some reason once again my photographic skills have let me down and the blade looks fatter than it does in reality, you can however, be assured it is 5mm in thickness.
All that said we were looking for a knife that would be strong enough to do the job we require and both of these beauties will fit the bill. Both come from the Herbertz of Solingen stable a quality German manufacturer. In Medieval times, the sword-smiths of Solingen coined the town's image, which is preserved to this date. In the latter part of the 17th century, 1691, a group of sword-smiths from Solingen broke their guild oaths by taking their sword-making secrets with them to Shotley Bridge, County Durham in England. The last Sword-maker recorded there from one of the original families was Joseph Oley in around 1880. Another family, The Moles, moved to Birmingham and were part of the company that became Wilkinson Sword, in fact the emblem is the crossed swords which comes from the "guild of the running fox" that was the sword makers guild in Shotley. So the pedigree of these knives is impeccable. Too late for Geoff sadly as the damage is done and if I have one abiding memory from that trip which still makes me grin, it is Geoff standing on the ferry looking wistfully back at France and uttering " well...... I may return".
Features & Design
I don't suppose Herbertz had archers in mind when these knives were conceived but, they fulfil all the requirements of one
Excellent, the most common function of an archers knife will be trying to open a split to allow an arrow to be pulled free. The robust, thick and strong blades are perfect for this task.I would be happy with either but if I had a few extra bob knocking about then 65 Euro is not exactly a kings ransom.
Value for Money
Quality never comes cheap but the second knife is surprisingly affordable.
As an archers knife it's perfect however these knives will happily perform all the tasks required of a knife even if you never miss !