One skill set that many (dare I say most?) hunters lack is the ability to sharpen a knife. Despite all of the modern tools that have made blade edge maintenance and restoration easier, it seems that dull knives still predominate in the field. What this has spawned is a segment of the cutlery industry devoted to disposable and replaceable knife blades. Since the medical field has long used disposable scalpel blades, the movement of a similar concept to the edged needs of hunters was an obvious and logical step. In early 2000, several employees of the Havel medical supply company saw the usefulness of such a concept for game care. The end result was the creation of the Havalon Company and their initial offering was the Piranta replaceable blade, folding, lock blade knife.
It should be noted that scalpel blades tend to be somewhat brittle (typical of extremely sharp blades), however, Havalon solved the problem of brittleness by producing replaceable scalpel-type blades for their knives that are 20% thicker and 30% sharper than those used by the competition. Another issue that quickly emerged was the accidental injury that could occur when the user changed blades. Given the cold, damp conditions are often present during hunting season, eye-hand-coordination can be affected and, when that happens, changing a blade can be a challenge. Once again, Havalon has solved that problem by making a molded blade changer that safely covers the sharp edge when replacing a dull blade (still sharp enough to inflict an accidental laceration) for a new one.
The entire Havalon knife series can be broken down into three categories: the folding Piranta and slightly larger Baracuta, both of which feature a single lock-blade, and a line of double bladed locking folders. The Piranta series feature a 4-1/2” long, ergonomically designed, polymer handle (available in a wide range of colors), with inner-handle traction inserts, an open back frame for cleaning ease and an inner frame locking liner. The replaceable stainless blade (carbon steel blades are also available) is 2-3/4” in length and can be brought into play easily by means of an ambidextrous thumb stud on the blade-mounting fixture. In addition, the knife features a stainless attachment clip that can be removed if desired. Lastly, the whole setup is packed in a rugged Cordura nylon carrying case that has an inside pocket for extra blades (the knife comes with six additional foil wrapped blades). I’ve used the knife to cape several different big game animals and have found that performance is absolutely peerless, especially when working around the horns/antlers, eyes, lips and ears. A taxidermist friend of mine once said, “The Piranta is the best edged tool ever designed for serious trophy work.” That’s a strong testimony from a respected professional.
The Baracuta knife, with its 6” long handle, is basically a slightly larger version of the Piranta. This knife features a similar polymer handle with double traction inserts, a open frame back, a inner frame locking liner and the same ambidextrous thumb stud blade-mounting fixture. The folder comes with a 3-1/4” saw blade, as well as a 4-1/4” fillet blade, a 3-1/4” drop-point hunting blade and an extra saw blade. While the knife has a handle-mounted attachment clip that can be removed, it comes with a Cordura nylon belt holster that has an extra pocket for the three additional blades. This is a great edged tool for field dressing, skinning, quartering and boning, and the rigid saw blade is even able to handle horn/antler removal.
The final knife in the Havalon product lineup is a double bladed locking folder. This knife features both a 2-3/4” locking, modified clip-point blade crafted from AUS8 stainless steel for a traditional knife feel, along with a regular replaceable Piranta style blade positioned at the opposite end of the handle. All of the other Havalon knife features (open back frame, blade locking handle liners, ambidextrous blade opening studs, removable attachment clip and molded polymer handle) are incorporated into this knife. In addition, there is a series of molded-in ridges both on the frame back and the side traction inserts, as well as a short section of jimping on the back of the blade for enhanced hand-to-knife contact. The knife comes in a zippered belt case that also holds six additional blades (three regular and three blunt tip) A special version of this knife has been endorsed by famed outfitter/guide and video personality Jim Shockey and carries his name. Since Jim is well experienced in the hunting field and knows the special edged tool needs demanded by serious professionals, his signature series knife speaks highly of the quality, versatility and functionality of this Havalon product.
Any of the three different Havalon knife versions provide exceptional service for hunters of every persuasion. I’ve used them in the field under a variety of conditions, for a wide range of animal species both here and in Africa. Without exception, the performance of these edged tools are wonder to behold.—Durwood Hollis