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Swamp Rat Knife Works Howling Rat
Combat Knife Review

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Swamp Rat Howling Rat

Long story short, in 2002 Swamp Rat Knife Works was born. It was a Busse Combat Knife Company's spin-off. The company is run by Jennifer Busse, Jerry's wife. SWRKW is set to produce high quality, hard use knives at more affordable prices. So far looks like they're more than achieving their goal :)
    For their performance SRKW knives are very modestly priced. The only thing is producing quality knives at such low price has certain implications on the production. It is more difficult to support large number of models at the same time, produce special editions, other details such as mandatory coating, etc. Although later SRKW did produce limited edition satin blades, and in 2003 thanks to the production error, some SRKW blades were produced in INFI :) Unfortunately it's not exactly the style I would want, so I've had to pass on it.

General

 - Howling Rat(HR) is a small and stout, general purpose knife. I guess that qualifies HR for the field knife :) NIB edge was shaving sharp. No complaints regarding fit and finish. Sheath is ok, cordura, with kydex insert. The blade rattles in it a bit, bit it is secure. Though the button is quite tight and not that easy to manipulate.
    As of the knife itself, HR is an excellent piece of equipment. Small and light, comfortable handle, relatively thin blade. For the size it will serve its purpose very well. Although, again depends what did you want your HR for. For chopping down trees, not good ;) For light or medium cutting it's just cool. By Busse standards HR is thin, only 3/16 thick. I personally wouldn't mind it even thinner. Hopefully SRKW will produce something in that caliber too.

Blade

 - HR 4.5 inches long, slightly dropped point blade is quite wide for that size, and has lots of belly. As the rest of the SRKW knifes HR features full convex grind. Earlier I would consider it a problem, just because I didn't know how to sharpen it, but now thanks to mousepad and sandpaper technique it's a preferred choice. Cuts much better, lasts longer, what else would you ask from the knife edge anyway? The steel used for HR and in general for all SRKW knives is SR101. Which is a modified version of 52100. 52100 itself is considered to be a very good cutlery steel, and SRKW has taken it a step further. Not sure what else is involved, but special heat treatment is certain. If you check SRKW forums you can find original SR101 test pictures where larger SRKW knives were used to chop concrete without any damage to the edge. For HR I am more interested in increased edge holding and cutting ability than concrete chopping. So far I didn't have time to conduct any serious testing. But whatever I did, which is mainly Sunday evening cardboard chores, left good impression. Other replies and reviews I've seen were all positive, so I don't expect to be disappointed with this one. After all its roots come from Busse ;)

Handle

 - Is one of the things I like the most about HR. Respirine C provides good grip, and isn't as hard on your hand as textured micarta. Although for the small knife the difference isn't all that important. But the handle geometry itself is very nice. Nothing complicated and overly curved, rather simple one. However very comfortable for tasks in different grips. My HR saw minor use in kitchen, and performed well there too. No problems with wet and oily hands. Overall it's a winner.

I'll post other testing results as they come in.

Specifications:

  • Model - Howling Rat
  • Blade - 114.30mm(4.5")
  • Thickness - 4.76mm
  • OAL - 228.60mm(9")
  • Steel - SR101 steel at 58-60HRC
  • Handle - Respirene C
  • Acquired - 05/2003 Price - 250.00$
  • Warranty - Unconditional Lifetime;

Last updated - 09/01/11