Most hunting knives, both fixed-blade and folding, follow the same traditional design pattern. While there may be some variation, seldom do we see a significant departure from the norm. That said, the hunting staff at L. L. Bean has come up with a radical new knife design that works equally as well for general field dressing as it does for hide removal activities. Aptly named the Hybrid Hunter; this new knife is definitely a departure from the norm.
The knife is crafted from a single piece of 8Cr13MoV (Carbon 0.8%, Chromium 13.0%, Molybdenum 0.15%, Vanadium 0.1%) stainless steel, which offers superior corrosion resistance and solid edge durability. It’s heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of Rc 58-60, the performance of this Chinese manufactured steel is quite similar to Japanese AUS-8 stainless, to which it is often compared.
The really unique part of this design is the fact that the clipped portion of the forward part of the spine, just behind the point, has been sharpened forming a secondary edge. This is done in addition to the already sweeping, 4-inch long main blade edge. The duality of these carefully honed edges allows the knife to serve both as a field dressing and a hide removal tool and optimizes functional performance.
Moreover, the knife design incorporates four generously sized finger loops that, when combined with dual scalloped portions of jimping on the blade spine, provide for multiple grip options. The minimal knife handle scales are made from molded G10 thermoplastic and serves to add balance and tactile contact to the grip. Having the option of changing the way the knife is gripped in relation to the job at hand, serves to maximize cutting performance and minimize user fatigue. Lastly, there’s a hole for lanyard attachment at the handle terminus.
The knife is housed in a tough ballistic cloth sheath that has a containment strap on the front for security as well as a sizeable belt loop on the back. Since the knife has a very thin profile, the sheath itself is equally as slender and doesn’t bulge out from the hip when carried.
The knife was my constant companion during the course of a weeklong antelope hunt in central Wyoming. And when the time came to pull the trigger, it performed all of the necessary field care chores including gutting, skinning and quartering the animal. At first it took some adjustment on my part to get used to the dual blade edges, but after a few moments of trial and error I found that the sharpened back edge of the tip worked as effectively as a zipper when it came to slicing open
antelope hide. Furthermore, the sweeping blade belly was perfectly designed for hide removal and joint separation. And the knife was able to cut through tough rib cartilage and the pelvic suture without hesitation. Overall, this is one rugged edged tool that can be used without any worry about chipping, bending or critical failure at an inopportune moment.—Durwood Hollis