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Phil Wilson CPM-10V Utility Hunter
Custom Knife Review

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Phil Wilson Utility Hunter

My First knife from famous knifemaker Phil Wilson. Phil is one of the very few knifemakers who has the experience and the will, to work on exotic steels such as CPM-10V. During 4-5 year period before getting this knife I've attempted to work with several knifemakers who have used CPM-10V some time in their career, but constantly got negative answers. Nobody really wants to work on that steel, even if you are willing to pay the price. I guess efforts just don't justify the price.

Anyway, later on I've met with Phil on BAKCA show and we talked for a while, discussing this project. Overall, it took 2 years to get it completed because of communication problems, but once we agreed on all details knife was ready in couple months which is very fast for any knifemaker. I've had knives in making for 3-4 years. Overall, I'm very glad that I got my CPM-10V blade and what's more important I got it form a very good maker who can get the max out of the steel. It wouldn't be much of an excitement to get a knife made from such an exotic steel and have 59HRC hardness on it. This utility/hunter knife is hardened to full 64HRC. Which is pretty close to CPM-10V limits. And it was the hardest knife I've had in my collection.

Also, have to mention this is absolutely the BEST cutting blade I have ever had or handled. I mean sheer cutting performance, no chopping, no prying no other stress tests. This knife is made for cutting, and is very close to perfection in that area. Cutting performance for me is how well, or how much effort does it take to make a cut, and the edge holding properties. Sure, all mediums are different, but as usual knife has dedicated use, more or less that is. So, for light and medium cutting this knife is perfect. Cardboard, boneless meat, vegetables, etc. all are fine and CPM-10V seems to hold the edge forever. Simply put, I never had a knife that could hold the edge so well, and thanks to its very thin blade it cuts like crazy.

Blade

 - Knife is based on Phil's hunter design. I just wanted more of a drop point and with some belly. So, Phil reworked his base design and the result is what you see on the pictures in this gallery. Basically, it's a pretty simple blade geometry, but very functional. What is more interesting, and what makes this knife such a good cutter is the blade thickness. Thickest part, closer to the hilt is only 0.125" thick. Blade is flat ground, and I put nice convex edge on it. So, it's a cutting machine.

Originally, it had more saw tooth like edge which was very good at slicing, but since I was mostly using if for push cutting I've switched to convex, mirror polished edge. Final grit I use is Aluminum abrasive film with 0.3µm mesh, followed by stropping on leather. That edge has no problem shaving in both directions, and held up pretty well on cardboard. Although I've gone though a lot of experiments, described in detail in this review, and finally settled on coarse edge and saw cutting, far more efficient for CPM 10V steel.

Steel

 - As I've already mentioned few times above, utility/hunter knife is made of CPM-10V high alloy steel. This steel is produced by Crucible, as far as I can tell they(Crucible guys) are one of the very few out there trying to make steel more or less suited for knife blades. All other steels used in knives today, and bunch of crucible steels as well were developed for completely different purposes, just happen to work well in one knife or another. That said, CPM 10V isn't exactly knife steel either. As far as I understand it was developed for industrial cutting tools. However, works very well for specialized knives, such as the one being reviewed here. I'd recommend reading Phil's article on CPM 10V for more info.

For the exact chemical composition and reference data of CPM-10V steel follow the link. Due to its very high wear resistance, it's an excellent choice for the blades were edge holding is very important. Obviously edge holding is very important for any knife, who wants to spend all the time in sharpening, but for different knives requirements vary. Thicker, survival type blades or swords need high impact resistance, since they need to handle more wide array of tasks, and some of it won't even be cutting, but chopping.

On the other hand, skinning and hunting knives, can clearly benefit from high wear resistance, especially in the field conditions when sharpening isn't always an option. Imagine sharpening a knife somewhere in the woods, at night with subzero temps ;) However, very high wear resistance translates into increased machining and finishing time for the maker, plus increased wear and tear on the maker's tools. All that, translates into higher costs for such blades and explains reluctance of the knifemakers to work with that steel, which indeed sucks :(

Handle

 - It's pretty simple handle geometry-wise on this knife, but I have no complaints with ergonomics or usability. On the other hand it's complicated in construction, since there's a brass hilt, several colored inserts, I thought it was plastic, but it's a stabilized wood. Anyway, point is it looks good and it's useful. I've done a lot of cutting with this knife during last 4 years, and I can honestly say that handle was never an issue, even during prolonged and very prolonged use. I mean literally hours of cutting when I had to apply force in various grip positions, and the blade was getting hot, because of the constant friction.

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