There are many individual knife makers, each with their own following, that seldom receive broad exposure. Many are part-time, producing a limited number of knives as a financial adjunct to their main employment. Others are fully invested in the craft, but also are involved in other activities. Even though most of these makers are not well known beyond their own local customer base, however, many of their products manifest unique design, peerless functionality and incredible production excellence.
Mike Jones, a former resident of the Pacific Northwest, who now resides in Lander, Wyoming, recently launched Fremont Knives to make available edged products that are not only made in the U.S., but also exhibit the tradition, skill and independence of an exclusive group of makers. Mike felt his new home in Wyoming provided: “ A simpler place where people still wave when they pass each other, enjoy hard work, keep their promises and do what needs to be done.” And this attitude of simplicity, dedication to purpose and looking inward, rather than obtaining offshore products, has become a guiding principle in Mike’s business model.
With nearly two decades of previous cutlery experience, Mike Jones not only knows knives he also understands the cutlery business. Shortly after his move to Wyoming, he became acquainted with knife makers, Mike and Audra Draper. The Drapers live in nearby Riverton, Wyoming and have not only become business associates; they are also some of Mike Jones’ closest friends. Since Mike Draper has an abiding interest in making folders and Audra is a fixed-blade enthusiast, this couple is well suited to their business venture. When Mike Jones saw the skill level that was manifest in the work of this knife making team, he knew right off that one of their knife designs would be a leading example of what Fremont Knives was all about.
Since four-out-of-five knife users select some type of folding knife, Mike Jones asked the Drapers to design a lock-blade folder for Fremont Knives’ initial public offering. This new knife features a 3-inch long, slightly hollow-ground, drop-point pattern blade made from 154CM stainless steel, with a glass-bead-blasted finish. Since 154CM stainless is produced domestically (the American equivalent of ATS-34, a Japanese stainless), this allowed Mike to keep his commitment to an entirely U.S. produced product. A premium blade steel, 154CM is well known for is excellent corrosion-resistance, solid edge retention and overall toughness.
A readily accessible, blade-mounted thumb stud allows the knife to be easily opened and closed with one-hand. And a liner locking mechanism, nestled within the knife frame, secures the blade in the open position. Interestingly, the liner lock has a short section of very fine serrations, which provides secure thumb contact when disengaging the lock (a definite custom touch, not seen on most production liner locks). Additionally, both the blade tang and the leading end of the back of the knife frame have sections of rounded serrations (jimping), that mate together and serve as a thumb rest for enhanced cutting control. The knife frame, bolsters, attachment clip, main pin and fasteners are all stainless for ease of maintenance. Handle scales are crafted from G10, a rugged thermoplastic and features light texturing for added hand-to-knife contact. A unique lanyard attachment port, for added security, is situated at the handle terminus.
Makers who understand the functional need for a folder that meets the needs of those of use who spend much of our time in the outdoors designed this knife. This is definitely not a so-called Tactical knife that sets low in the pocket, so it hidden from the ever searching eyes of big city law enforcement. Since the knife is essentially an edged everyday tool, the attachment clip actually positions the knife a little higher in the pocket so it’s easily accessible. When put to use, the blade rotates out of the frame without any noticeable friction, truly a mark of quality craftsmanship.
Whether field-dressing a buck, skinning an elk or one of the myriads of everyday cutting assignments that seem to regularly pop up, this new lock-blade folder is fully capable of every task and affordably priced at under $200.– Durwood Hollis