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Chris Reeve Mountaineer 1 knife review.

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Chris
Reeve Mountaineer 1

General - After evaluating Reeves Project II, Project I & Shadow IV I have decided that it was very vital to have at least a pair of Reeves small fixed blades, such as Mountaineer 1 & Shadow III. Both are 4 inch blades. While my Shadow III was on backorder I was evaluating Mountaineer 1 :) Mountaineer 1 is a relatively small knife, the blade is 4" & OAL is 8 inches. Depending on the task it can be very convenient, or the opposite, quite inappropriate :) Well, that's common, nothing specific to the particular knife. So, in other words it's a small, maneuverable, tough tool, intended rather for finer cutting applications. However, not the best choice for chopping or digging. It will still do fairly good for those applications too (for it's size, it'll outperform many other comparable fixed blades although those will be alot cheaper).
    Overall - Versatile, tough, dependable & simple. It performs much better & does more work then one would expect from a knife of that size ;) I think that's a good knife and tool. Same complaint as with other blades from CRK one piece, A2 tool steel hardened to 55-57 HRC can not show its full potential.

Blade

 - Mountaineers 4", saber ground, clip point blade, was razor sharp out of the box. Visually the angle on the edge seems to be lower compared to Projects. It was quite sharper than both Projects. None of my Projects was able to push cut through the magazine paper, but Mountaineer did that, so did the Shadow IV. The blade is thin compared to its bigger brothers, but still quite thick & plenty strong thanks to the blade material, which is A2. One of the toughest tool steels used in knifemaking.

Steel, Heat Treatment and Sharpening

 - I've discussed in details what I think of this issue in my Project 2 review. Check out corresponding section there. For the reference - A2 Tool steel composition.

Handle

 - As a One Piece family member Mountaineer 1 too, has Full depth precision machined knurling on the handle. Hollow, watertight handle with an aluminum butt cap with a neoprene "O" ring. Doesn't really feel comfortable first time, but once you use it is not as bad as is may look in the begining. I am referring to the round, metalic, knurled handle. The real problem or more of a problem is not metal, but the size of the handle. I have rather large palms and I'd definitely would like longer handle on the Mountaineer 1. The handles on 5" or 7" models feel far more comfortable to me than the one on Mountaineer 1 or Shadow III.

Performance And Edge Holding

 - First time when I've handled Mountaineer 1, what I liked the least in this knife was its handle. I wrote about that in my first review here. I've complained that the handle was too small & uncomfortable for someone with larger palms. Have to admit I was wrong on most accounts. I've done some serious cutting work with Mountaineer 1, this included lots of cardboard (again! :), light wood whittling & some plastic. Overall I was using the knife for more than 2 hours continuously & was very glad to note, that it was very comfortable to use. Still, at extra least half or even inch length on the handle would've been beneficial IMHO.

The notched thumb rest on the blade spine is really helpfull and very well executed. Those who like (and I Do) notched thumbrests on their knives, will be definitely satisfied with one on the Mountaineer 1. Even after prolonged use it won't irritate your thumb :) BTW, have to admit, that Mountaineer 1 thumbrest serrations are more comfortable & user friendly then on Nimravi family, or any other factory knife I've used over the years.

However, if you do more, especially something that'll require applying medium or greater forces during cutting for a longer time, the knurled steel will let you know it's there. Less likely that it will ever hapen to you with Mountaineer 1, for that it's a small blade, and normally one wouldn't be using blade so small for heavy duty chores. Yet things happen and you may have to, simply because of the lack of choice. In short, Mountaineer 1 handle is just fine for 1-2 hour or light and medium work, after that, or depending on the task, things get more difficult. I wrote more regarding prolonged use and CRK one piece handle comfortability in the Project II review. Bear in mind that Project II handle is larger, thus gives the user more comfort for heavy use, plus the weight of the Project II is significantly greater. That all gives Project II big advantage in terms of comfort for heavy duty use too. Also, the timing, it's quite personal, those numbers are from my experience, obviously your result will differ, but in the end it's gonna be the same, for long term, heavy duty use it's not the best. Same stands true for stabbing. When conducting experiment with the old phone book, the CRK handle was very secure, yet quite painfull with every stab.

Edge holding ability of this small knife was good for me when I first got it. Later after using betterknives with harder blades that doesn't seem so good anymore. Well, softer steel and A2 isn't primarily wear resistant steel. And I'm not even comparing to steels like CPM10V or CPM S90V. After cutting approximately 270 inches of cardboard & some serious wood whittling, and later several plastic box processing, it was still able to shave. And that was the factory edge. Well, CRK products were always known for their high quality ;) Eventually I've thinned down the edge, quite a bit. Original factory edge measured on the edge-pro was 22 degree per side, I've dropped it down to 16° per side. I already had the results with the 16 degree edge from Project II experiments. It prooved to be too thin for the heavy duty tasks with 7 inch blade, but for the light use 4 inch knife it is just fine, well, hopefully I will not have to chop with it, and otherwise, the lower angle is much more efficient cutter, and as usual I always have more than one suitable blade around to proceed with serious chopping. As of sharpening, A2 Tool Steel is a good one to work on, partly because it's so soft on those knives. For statistics, after the factory edge lost it's shaving ability I've used 800 grit ceramics stick to see how fas it could bring back the shaving edge. 10 light strokes on each side & the edge was shaving sharp again. All that makes me wonder how good the knife would've been if heat treated to 61 HRC. Obviously wear resistance would be much higher, i.e. edge holding on abrasive materials such as cardboard would greatly improve.

The only area where the knife didn't perform very well was chopping. However, I assume no one would hold great expectations in this area with this small, 4 inch blade. Ostensibly, chopping is not its intended use, yet for it's size Mountaineer 1 fares very well even with that unusual task :). If we compare Mountaineer 1 to Busse Mean Street, then it has a smaller handle than the Busse, thus less comfortable for that sort of task. In other words, the only area where the handle felt uncomfortable was chopping. One more thing, even though at the end I was chopping real hard on the seazoned, dry wood, no chipping was detected on the edge. Again, low hardness atributes to it.

Finally I would like to mention once again the Kalgard® coating, that Chris Reeve Knives is using for their fixed blades. That's one of the most durable finishes I have ever seen on the knife. All those variations of Black Ti & epoxy coatings used by other knife manufacturers are no comparison with this one. While Kalgard® may not look as good as Ti coatings right out of the box, after a knife sees a minimal use you'll see the difference. Kalgard® doesn't chip & it's real hard to scratch with normal knife use, including chopping. After piercing a few coke canes, to test the coatig, there were no scratches on the Mountaineer 1 coating.

    Specs:
  • Model - Chris Reeve Mountainer I;
  • Blade Length - 101mm (4"), non-reflective Kalgard® coating;
  • Blade Thickness - 4.5mm(0.177");
  • Blade Width - 21.97mm(0.865");
  • Overall Length - 203mm(8");
  • Weight - 155g (5.5oz.);
  • Steel - A2 Tool Steel hardened at 55-57 RC;
  • Warranty - Lifetime;

Last updated - 09/01/11