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Swamp Rat Knife Works Paul's Ratchet
Small Hatchet Review

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SRKW Paul's Hatchet

As the name suggests Paul's Ratchet(PR) is Swamp Rat's version of the Paul's Hatchet(PH) introduced in 2001 by Busse Combat. Paul's hatchet is based on Jerry's father's, Paul's design back then in 1984. I got it mainly because of the Respirene C; handle, and of course because I've already had very positive experience with Paul's Hatchet. Therefore, most of what I wrote about PH applies to Paul's Ratchet as well. I'll try not to repeat myself, and will talk mainly about the differences and actual use.

General

 - Simply put PR is a small hatchet. Almost exact copy of Busse PH. There are small, subtle differences, but nothing too important. Made of SRKW signature SR-101 steel(modified 52100) it is one tough piece. Initial examination revealed no defects. Grinds were even, no scuffmarks, blems, etc. NIB sharpness was very good. Convex edge, practically mirror polished, would shave in both directions effortlessly. Excellent craftsmanship and quality, nothing to say. Sheath is Cordura with polypipe liner.

Blade

 - PR curved blade length is almost 3 inches(2 15/16 according to specs if you like precision). As you can see it's not all that big, although for a hatchet it is not too small either. Like I said above the factory edge was shaving sharp. PR has the same choil as PH does, hence it too can be used as the Eskimo's Ulu knife. Balance is very good for a hatchet intended used to be that way.

Steel

 - SR-101 is SRKW proprietary steel, which is modification of the well known 52100, which in turn is considered one of the best steels in knife making. Overall, officially INFI is tougher than SR-101, and the edge holding is similar, though I think for everyday use the difference won't be too dramatic, unless you do some heavy duty works with it. Edge retention with 52100 is just excellent. Well, that was pretty much all I wanted from this hatchet. And I was not disappointed ;) Basically, because it is a hatchet, I was not planning on having very thin edge. And with the thicker edge toughness isn't that much of a concern anymore. Wear resistance is good, and thicker edge helps there too, though as usual thick edge degrades cutting ability. This was a concern, because like I said, I was using both, PH and PR in dual roles: as choppers, (after all those are hatchets ;) and as knives, for skinning, cleaning, etc. So, I wouldn't want to go with very thick edge either. SR-101 allows for that compromise between edge thickness and cutting performance.

Handle

 - PR's handle was the #1 reason for buying it. I've already had experience with SRKW knives, such as Camp Tramp and Howling Rat, both have Respirene C handles. In my opinion while it[Respirene] may not be as durable as Micarta, it is definitely a lot more comfortable and easier on your hands. One would note that this may compromise grip security, especially when your hands are wet or oily, and that's the case in the kitchen most of the times, however... Unless you go to real extreme use, Respirene grip security hardly can be an issue. It is plenty secure by any standards. On top of that, the handle design is real good. And even after prolonged use you don't feel tired, or sore spots on our palms and fingers. Since I was not planning on any extreme/heavy duty cutting and chopping in the kitchen, Respirene was obviously more favorable.

Prolonged Use

 - I've been using PR exclusively in the kitchen for over a year by now(summer 2004). Now, even though I own small collection of quality kitchen knives including Global knives GF-33 8" Forged Chef's Knife, G-9 8.75" Bread Knife, GS-1 4.5" Kitchen Utility Knife, Falkniven K2 - White Whale 7" Santoku and on top of that I have around 200 other blades to be used in the kitchen, should the need arise, still there's always a work to do with PR.
Very handy and versatile tool. Major work for it is a meat cleaver. Which is a real tough work even for a hatchet. Quite often people overlook how tough bones are, that is before they have to cut through it :) Bone is significantly harder than the steel to begin with. And I am not talking about chicken wings, I mean the real bones. Now, I don't have to chop or cut through the tick bones on every day bases, I am no butcher, but occasionally that sort of task comes up and then PR handles the job with flying colors. Also, as I mentioned above I use it as Ulu knife as well. Very handy if you are cleaning meat from bones, or vice versa. You can chop and then cut without changing working tool. Saves time and washing ;)
    In terms of pure prolonged or heavy duty use I prefer PR over PH because of the handle. Yes INFI steel is better, but for kitchen use it doesn't matter as much as the handle comfort.

Specifications:

  • Model - Paul's Ratchet;
  • Blade - 74.42mm(2.93")
  • Thickness - 4.76mm
  • OAL - 234.95mm(9.25")
  • Steel - SR101 steel at 58-60HRC
  • Handle - Respirene C
  • Acquired - 07/2003 Price - 200.00$
  • Warranty - Lifetime;

Last updated - 09/01/11