Reliance-ready
American Outdoor Guide|February 2022
"Explore the pathfinder knife shop's latest-the scorpion and the camp & trail"
Story and photos by Reuben Bolieu

Dave Canterbury and crew have been hard at it over the years, training students, designing gear for adventurers and creating knives that will most likely be heirlooms.

The Self Reliance Outfitters website has a list of five essential features that should be found in a survival knife: a full tang, a blade at least 5 inches long, be made of carbon steel with a 90-degree spine, and razor-sharp.

PATHFINDER KNIFE SHOP

Knives from the Pathfinder Knife Shop are made in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company provides a lifetime warranty on the blade. Two of its stellar, fixed-blade knives-the Scorpion and the Camp & Trail-were sent to me for review.

Both knives came wrapped in plastic to keep the oil on the blades. The sheath was separate in order to avoid getting gunky. Both feature curly maple handle scales, handsomely rugged, brown leather sheaths and legendary, 1095 high-carbon steel; and both have a rustic, forged finish that isn't a coating.

The Camp & Trail knife is a favorite of the Pathfinder School's lead instructor, Corporal Shawn Kelly, who also hosts the Corporals Corner YouTube channel. This old-time-looking knife comes in at a hair more than 10 inches long overall and sports a 5/2-inch blade that's 3/32 inch thick (which happens to be my favorite for fixed-blade knives).

The Scorpion has the essence of a Scandinavian puukko knife-elegant and sleek. Its overall length is 9 inches, with a 414-inch blade. This one has a 1/8-inch-thick spine and a high Scandi grind.

These two rustic beauties were made for action, not talk, so off we went.

SCORPION

For me, the best way to get to know a tool or, for that matter, any piece of outdoor gear is to go out and use it as it was intended in the woods. In fact, I was looking forward to using the Scorpion during various woods outings to craft implements for camp, including tools and fire.

In 2013, I saw a Dave Canterbury video showing a bucksaw he made with a saw blade, wood, cordage and key rings. This is the bucksaw style taught at the Pathfinder School, and I wanted to make this version with a Pathfinder knife. Enter the Scorpion (however, I had to enlist the help of another saw to get the main three pieces cut, which were stout).

From there on, it was all Scorpion and a baton. I made the V-notches in the vertical pieces by batoning into the greenwood at a slight angle and cleaned the notches up with the front of the blade where it narrows. The 1/8-inch spine offers a solid energy transfer; and, because I only went about a third of the way into the wood, it wasn't considered abuse.

Next, I used the Scorpion to carve the horizontal piece to fit into the V-notches. I used the knife in a chest-lever grip, utilizing power from my shoulders and back.

The Scandinavian grind excelled at this task, just like an actual puukko knife. I carved two wedges, giving extra attention to keeping them on the same in-line plane to match up. I placed the horizontal into the V-notches and did a mock setup to get the layout and mark where I needed to baton my splits.

A tip I got from watching Shawn Kelly's video about the bucksaw was to use a pencil to mark where the blade would go (I used a Space Pen I had handy). I made the necessary splits with a baton, fitted the saw blade with wooden pegs I carved with the knife and set it inside. I added some whipping with #36 bank line where the splits stopped.

The chest-lever grip isn't only used for power cuts; I find it excellent for detailed finesse work as well. So, using this grip, I chamfered the tops of the vertical pieces for aesthetics. They serve no real purpose here, but that's what all the cool bushcrafter kids do. I also carved small notches on the tops for the cord to catch when using the windlass. I carved a small, finger-thick stick-used as my tensioning piece for the windlass-once again using the Scorpion and the chest-lever grip. I cut a length of bank line, tied a reef knot (square knot), inserted the tensioning stick, wound it up and called it good.

I called upon the Scorpion for trap-making. I cranked out a figure-four trap and a Paiute deadfall-simple in essence, and making these provides excellent indicators of how comfortable the knife handle is. The 4/4-inch blade gave enough control for light notching that's needed for making the Paiute deadfall. A 45-degree cut to the vertical piece, a small V-notch on the diagonal (load-bearing) stick and some scoring for the cord attachment comprised all the carving needed for this trap.

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