Knife review time!
I use knives quite a lot and will follow this review, of other knives that I know and use.
I use my knives for many tasks and I do spend much time in the great outdoors here in B.C. I am reliant on them, so much thought goes into every knife I select and opt to carry on the day, I also take great care of them because of the great importance they are to my life here, I am VERY precious about my edges.
Being someone who partakes in many different activities in the climate here which can hit -30 in the midwinter and +40 in the summer, my bladey needs have changed from my previous life in West Yorkshire to what it is now here in the “semi desert” of Kamloops B.C.!
My new purchase:
With this in mind and my liking of smaller “back up” knives for neck carry I bought a ESEE Izula II in December of 2013. I had previously own an Izula which I did not get along with, admittedly I did not give it much chance and jettisoned it, putting the money into something else……..but, I did regret being so hasty, due to others’ high opinion of them. That and I am not overly keen on knives or anything for that matter that has a “tactical” flavour, in my opinion some of the modern outdoors knives with coated blades, bolted & removable scales and plastic sheaths do give shades of this but this is very minor in the grand scheme of things.
So it was the Izula II, the reason being that as the Izula felt a wee bit small in the handle for my ample paws, extra 1/2″ of handle length the Izula II gave would me. Also the Izula II come with nice matt Micarta scales but I did buy some lovely custom orange G10 tigerstriped scales at the same time along with a similar Izula package (tigerstriped black & yellow) for Katie as her back up knife.
I almost always have a more classic “bushcraft” knife with me which is normally my trusty Desert ironwood scaled BCNW-01, but sometimes my Kellam Wolverine or my Helle Tamagami. In the winter or on water borne trips when I might need a more hefty blade for the use of processing firewood, I may switch this up to my BRKT Bravo 1.5 or Fallkniven A1. So what I am looking for is a knife which compliments my primary blade but will stand up on its own, I am looking for a full flat grind so I can do things like food prep which I cannot do so well with my scandi or convex grinds. The fact that it is an “off the peg” knife – which is very affordable therefore easily used – is another huge bonus. Along with decent steel it really is an obvious choice!
I will go through the reasons why I like neck carried knives more, at length at a later date.
Review after 10 months ownership, but first;
Blurb from www.theknifeconnection.net (where I bought it and the custom scales – excellent service too by the way!)
NOTE: The IZULA-II is the same as the standard IZULA except it has an additional 1/2″ of handle length, and includes full Green Canvas Micarta handle scales.
A small “do anything” work-horse!
This knife is extremely versatile and will “fit in” almost anywhere. This small-to-medium size knife can do a lot! It’s name “IZULA” comes from a Peruvian ant called the “Isula”. This ant is the meanest, nastiest ant of the jungle. It’s sting is said to be akin to being shot. We know this ant as the “Bullet Ant”. The Bullet Ant is known to be independent, tough, light on its feet, and a real aggressive survivor – the IZULA knife is built the same way, and definitely lives up to its namesake. It sails through all manor of cutting tasks with ease due to the genius of it’s design. The Izula has one purpose, function.
The ESEE Izula II is a no-nonsense tool that offers fixed blade strength and durability, yet is compact and lightweight (3.2 oz). The textured power coat is extremely durable, and will not wear off easily. This knife is perfect to include in a lightweight survival kit, or to use in a concealed carry situation. The lightweight slim-profile molded plastic sheath makes it perfect for neck or pocket carry. The 3 7/8″ handle provides most all hand sizes a secure 4 finger grip.
Improving your grip beyond the factory scales is easily achieved by installing our very popular custom G10 handle scales, which are available in a wide variety of colors. Our custom scales bolt on easily, and will transform the function, feel, and appearance of your knife.
Every bit as tough as it’s larger siblings, the IZULA II knife will be delivered to your door ready for business.
Following are some possible use scenarios for the IZULA II fixed-blade knife.
- Every Day Carry (Misc. Utility Use)
- Concealed Carry
- Personal Protection
- Boot Knife
- Pocket Carry
- Purse Carry
- Neck Carry
- Survival (In a kit, as backup knife, or other)
- Hunting (It’s small, yet it can be used to dress Whitetail Deer)
- Hiking / Backpacking / Trekking
- Cycling / Mountain Biking
- Jogging / Running
- Shelter Building (capable, but larger blade would be faster)
- Snare Making
- Police & Rescue
In terms of quality and value, purchasing an ESEE Knife is a decision where you can’t go wrong. The growing ESEE Knives Company have built a solid reputation for themselves. Their knives are carried by countless military personnel and law enforcement agencies around the world. They have survived years of extreme use, brutal testing, and design refinement. Originally designed to withstand the toughest of harsh situations, ESEE Knives now have a reputation that is second to none. To top it off, let’s not forget ESEE Knives boasts an UNCONDITONAL (No Questions Asked) LIFETIME warranty, just in case you should manage to destroy your knife. “Unconditional” means the knife will be replaced under warranty, no matter how it was broken, and no matter who the present owner is. Buy with confidence, knowing your ESEE Knife purchase carries lasting value.
Each IZULA II Knife comes with a unique serial number, molded plastic sheath, instruction sheet and survival card. The IZULA II Knife is also available with a survival/accessory kit.
This ESEE Knife is made from high carbon 1095 steel. And while 1095 is a top choice for professional cutlery designed for hard use, it will rust and stain if not properly cared for – especially on the cutting edge and around the laser engraving. It is the user’s responsibility to keep the blades properly lubricated and cleaned. We suggest using a dry film rust inhibitor such as Sentry Solutions MARINE TUF-CLOTH.
- Blade Finish: Textured Powder Coat
- Blade Steel: 1095 Carbon
- Blade Thickness: 5/32″ (3.96 mm)
- Blade Type: Drop Point
- Brand: ESEE Knives
- Cutting Edge Length: 2 5/8″ (6.67 cm)
- Grind: Flat
- Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta
- Knife Style: Fixed Blade
- Origin: USA
- Overall Length: 6 3/4″ (17.14 cm)
- Rockwell Hardness: 57 RC
- Sheathing: Molded Plastic
- Spine: Thumb Jimping
- Tang: Full
- Warranty: Unconditional Lifetime
- Weight (Knife Only): 3.2 oz
My plan was for a go anywhere do (almost) anything neck knife/back up knife which was to be used hard and I was to modify and add to it to create a system which was aesthetically pleasing, practical, very usable and as safe and secure as possible. I was to make as much of it as possible hi-viz and reliable.
After my initial, albeit short time, spent with the Izula, the additional handle length along with the already fitted (but easily removed with the supplied bolt system) Micarta scales made the first impressions of a more capable knife. Handling with a few different hand grips confirmed, straight away I liked this knife and saw the potential in it. All of that said, I quickly removed the factory scales and added the TKC custom G10 orange ones that arrived in the same package.
A very passable edge out of the box too.
I am indifferent about coated blades, I actually would rather they not be if I am honest so I can use a ferro rod and shamefully, crack open a bottle of beer with the spine……which I later did and I chipped the coating. So it was at this point I hatched a plan to remove it, but more on that later……
The supplied sheath is fantastically functional. Secure, albeit a little dull. But it does take a TekLok and has a hole for an upside down neck carry so I was good with it for the next little while…… I had also planned to address this pretty quick too so I ordered us both “Azwelke” custom Kydex taco style sheaths with an add-on to take the ESEE AH-1 arrowhead which I already owned (which is a very cool little tool which I have some ideas for….and just ‘cos I’m an archer too!) This was ordered in hi-viz orange to complete my idea.
Next job, out with the strop to get an edge that I was happy with. In first use, I was pleased about the addition of the custom scales right from the kick off, with a nice fit in my large hands and the new scales have softer edges so my first tasks with the Izula II were very pleasing and comfortable. I made a few of the knife test standard feather sticks with both sets of scales for a comparison.
The custom G10 scale are hands-down, better for my hands. That said, the originals are not bad at all, no real hotspots to speak of and I would be quite happy keeping them had I not had had a choice, but I like the customs more!
Feathersicks were a breeze after I acclimatised to the full flat grind having been using the scandi and convex grinds almost exclusively for a good while now. To date the Izula II is still my favourite knife for this task, which is convenient as it’s always to hand!
I have previously not been much of a knife battoner finding it unnecessary in my previous life but regular fire lighting in the wilderness has changed that perspective and the need to get to good kindling and the blanks for the feathersticks, makes this a decent skill to have, as well as having the tool to do it.
So I gave it a go with a surprising result! This knife is very capable for its size, even allowing me the purchase to get half way through. Then, a twist to the handle to split the rest with relative ease…….this was good to know!
Obviously, not a patch on my +1/4″ thick convexed Bravo 1.5 but still…….pretty impressive!
Various other things whittled, fuzz sticks made, a little typical food prep of cutting veggies, wrappers and a couple of fish guttings leaves me thinking that this is a very capable, all round utility knife, almost perfect for my needs and up to press the only thing which let it down for me and my needs is the blade coating.
I cannot use a firesteel which is kinda a big deal as that is the mainstay of my reliable firelighting methods, it does not work, not even a little bit, so that’s a bit of a let down. Also I chipped it opening a beer from the spine…….not something it was intended for but it gets done so that bugged me a bit and also I found that when slicing food like potatoes that I felt that the coating could be causing some drag. Or should I say that my wife told me this, as being a real man, I am tending to the fire while the wife is making dinner. Ha ha, before I am jumped on for that, she knows I’m only joking!
A quick look online found that I was not the only one who felt this about the coating and there are lots of instructions on its removal – so today I did!
NOTE: This is not a shortcoming of the knife just a shortcoming in my needs of this knife, for many the coating is a huge plus.
Today I visited my friend, knifemaker and Human Swiss Army knife Jeremy, at his shop to strip this knife down to suit me needs better.
I removed the lanyard & the scales and set about giving the whole knife a liberal coating of aviation paint stripper and after only a few short minutes I have the desired “rippling” effect, which told me that it had worked a treat. A quick brush off and rinse-off of the remains (this stripper is water soluble) I have a nice “new” blade, no more coating just 1095 steel…….as easy as that! Followed by a brisk buffing and we’re done, interesting thing too, the etching of the logo etc that was on the coating remains on the blade which makes me think the ESEE half expect some folks to do this!
The final task is to sharpen the edges on the spine as a quick trial on a ferro rod says it still aint working……. a blast on the sander followed by some elbow grease on a flat piece of wet and dry gets that dealt with. It’s not quite that shower of sparks I get with my BCNW-01 or Bravo but at least I have some.
In conclusion I have a pretty wonderful neck or back up knife capable of most “bushcraft” tasks even as a primary or first choice knife. I personally think of this as an outdoors classic, which for under $70 is hard to ignore for anyone who wants or relies on a hard use, no- nonsense knife. From hunters to hikers, anyone in the outdoors will find a use for this marvelous piece of kit.
10 months in and this knife is with me all the time…… granted, I only have the raw blade of the original package and have added custom scales, sheath, stripped the coating and won’t look back, but the straight up Izula II as-is still beats the pants off many other knives out there in hard use. I don’t think for the cost and for a smaller knife it can be beat!
I am well aware that for the committed outdoorsman, knife choice is VERY personal so these are only my views and findings that I hope someone finds useful!