Tactical Equipment - Survivalist Equipment

PB&J Hunting Knives Review

PB&J Knives Review


At a large outdoors convention in Georgia, I met the staff of PB&J Knives and noticed some specialty knives with wood handle scales from Independence Hall. They were special model knives developed specifically for that wood. The set was a total of 13 knives, each representing one of the original 13 colonies.

"It is a great honor and privilege to be the only people in the world that have been allowed to work with wood from Independence Hall," said Barry Jones of PB&J. "That wood was there when the Founding Fathers planned and put into place the foundation of this nation. It was also a bit nerve-wracking knowing that the wood was irreplaceable."

I learned quickly that PB&J knives are made of L6 tool steel and actually cut directly from old band saw blades that were used to carve out the foundation of the United States of America. Knowing the heritage of these blades, there is a certain feeling from using their knives that you don't get with major manufactured knives. In the following story, we'll look at four of their blades.

PB&J Knives Main Course

PBJ Main Course Knife Review

The larger sheath knife in the PB&J food group is the Main Course. It has a large 3 7/8-inch blade and hand filling 4 ¼-inch handle, donning green Micarta scales. Rather than the usual drop-point design, this knife has a very obvious clip-point blade tip. About two years ago, PB&J changed the design of the Main Course from a spear-point to the current clip-point.

"PB&J's Main Course is the largest of the sheath knives. Clip-point blade, green Micarta scales, L6 steel, and leather sheaths complete the package."

They felt it was more functional this way. I actually think it sets them apart from the many other knife companies who use the spear-point and drop-point for their knives in the same size and use category. Looking at photos of their old version of the knife, it was obvious that they had more of a pronounced finger notch cut into the handle than the current model. I personally don't care for choils, finger cutouts, or grooves that direct where my hand is supposed to be. With this in mind, I like the current handle design better.

The Main Course is stout enough to satisfy most people's criteria for their outdoors knife; 1/8 inch is about as thick as I like to go for any knife or chopping blade, but that is also just my opinion. The edge is sharp, that's a fact. It has a Scandinavian grind with a secondary bevel. This is also my favorite type of grind, so we're already off to a good start.

Overall Length 8.125 inches
Blade Length 4 inches
Handle Length 4.125 inches
Handle Material Green Micarta scales
Blade Thickness 1/8 inch
Blade Grind Flat Saber
Steel L6
Sheath Leather pouch style

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PB&J Knives Bread & Butter

PBJ Bread Butter Knife Review

When you think about it, bread & butter is something you get before a meal; it's what you do before the actual eating takes place, so naturally I used the Bread & Butter knife for this.

While at camp in the Northeast woods, I was preparing a meal in my newly built stove oven. I was going to bake some hobo pizza and needed to do all the necessary preparation. This included starting the fire using the spine of the B&B on a ferrocerium rod to ignite shredded poplar bark.

Boiling water was tricky. The brick oven had a large opening, but I wanted to hang the cook pot up and out of the way so I could feed wood in from the front to build up a coal base. With the B&B, I made a very small version of the Burtonsville rig, which was a branch that had a series of pot hanging notches carved into it, with a natural offshoot (hook) to hang the bail on.

"Small in stature, but mighty in cutting power, the PB&J Bread & Butter."

When put together, I would be able to raise and lower the level of the pot. I used a hardwood branch for this instead of a green one because it was readily available and temporary. I needed to hammer the B&B into the dry wood to create the stop cuts that I would carve out. I made three notches in one piece of wood and another pot hanging notch on a separate branch that had a fork on one end. This would be used for pouring boiling water, thus limiting my chances of burning myself.

Carving hardwood with the B&B was easy, due to the 2 3/8-inch Scandinavian ground blade, which is known for being a great woodworking grind. The three-finger handle was about 3 3/8 inches long and almost enough for a fourth finger, but not comfortably or with gloves on. The tan Micarta scales were nicely rounded, so when the knife was used in a chest-lever grip (held sideways) the thumb rested on the flats of the blade above the scales and the butt end of the knife would nestle comfortably in the palm of the hand, which was a big deal to me. Cutting hardwood in any grip tells two stories about a knife: how efficient the grind is and how comfortable the handle feels.

After making the notches in hardwood, I knew just about everything I needed to know about the B&B - it was comfortable and sharp. For my hobo pizza, I sliced bell peppers, mushrooms and cured sausage with ease, despite prejudice thoughts from people about how well a Scandi grind can cut food. Tell that to the people in Finland who use Scandi knives for everything. The belt loop on the sheath was just the right size to run it through the bottom loop buckle of my Hidden Woodsmen Belt Pouch, and keep it easily accessible and secure all day.

Overall Length 5.75 inches
Blade Length 2.5 inches
Handle Length 3.25 inches
Handle Material Tan Micarta scales
Blade Thickness 1/8 inch
Blade Grind Flat Scandi Style
Steel L6
Sheath Leather pouch style

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PB&J Knives Big Jake

PBJ Knives Big Jake

I have been blessed to be able to use authentic parangs from Malaysia in my past, and I now have yet another opportunity to use one. This time, it's an American-made parang from PB&J Handmade Knives called the Big Jake.

From the time I saw it, I knew I wanted to try It. It was large, thick and heavy, too. Parangs, goloks and bolos all differ from machetes in the same way; while machetes are thin and on the longer side (12 inches to 22 inches), blades of Southeast Asia are shorter and thicker.

This is because of the amount of hardwoods in that region compared to Latin America. Also, there needs to be a certain amount of mass behind the swing of a parang to tackle bamboo, so parangs are usually made on the thick side.

The PB&J Big Jake was beautifully crafted. Like the other offerings, this blade had the raw, forged-looking flats and Micarta scales—green for the Big Jake and Main Course, while the Bread & Butter and Companion (coming up) sport tan Micarta scales. The Big Jake is almost a full 20 inches long and is a beast of a blade.

"The Big Jake parang cut down this thick, green sweetgum (above). It felt like an axe and chopped just like one."

The handle has about 7 inches of scales, allowing for a long reach just by choking way back on the handle. There is actually a 2 ¼-inch part of the blade, just above the handle scales that is considered safe to choke up on for fine work and short, controlled chops. That is how locals use the parang.

However, authentic Malaysian parangs are considerably lighter, so this type of choking-up work is much easier and more natural. The Big Jake is much heavier, due to the full tang construction and Micarta handles. Choking up for fine work and quick, light chopping on the 2 ¾-inch blade feels dangerously awkward with a heavy, full-tang parang. I found myself using it as I would a normal parang, but was quick to abandon that notion and try to stick to just chopping, which is what it's really meant for.

PBJ Knives Parang Field TestThe author held the Big Jake in a chest-level grip to scrape thorns off a small sapling (Devil's Walking Stick) for use as a mosquito net spreader bar.

While building a camp in Georgia, I made a large, tripod-style bush chair and then added a full-size swamp bed to the structure, complete with a mosquito net and overhead tarp. I used a green sweetgum tree that was blown down from heavy winds. Sweetgum is a hard, resilient wood.

Although it's difficult to chop through and split, it makes for good building materials, especially when green. Even thin saplings and branches have a tremendous amount of strength. I went at the green sweetgum and chopped about nine poles each 7 feet long (the thickness of a biceps), two poles each 3 feet long (wrist thickness), one 10-foot-long pole (about wrist thickness), and various sticks, ranging from finger - to broomstick-thickness for hanging the mosquito net and for the tarp spreader bars. I used the spine of the blade to scrape off thorns from a couple of thin Devil's Walking Stick saplings, using a chest-lever grip on the Big Jake. This was comfortable and controlled work. The chopping, lashing, mosquito net and tarp hanging took about four hours—but the Big Jake was not off-duty yet.

"With PB&J throwing their rendition of the Parang into the ring, I think this time tested design will be here to stay."

The sharpened spine struck a ferrocerium rod and sent out sparks like it was the Fourth of July. I split seasoned red oak with a wooden maul, which it did nicely due to the thick 3/16-inch stock. I then processed the oak down to kindling for the fire. The next task was to make a tiki torch out of hardwood.

PB&J Big Jake Knife ToolSparks fly like the Fourth of July with the Big Jake's spine. This was characteristic of all the PB&J knives.

It had to be split four ways, and then stuffed with the split oak kindling and poplar wood. The backside hump of the Big Jake was great for lightly hammering kindling into the splits of the torch. After a brief trip to the pond, it was time to make a small swamp grill for grilling fish. All in a few day's work.

The Big Jake took some getting used to, at first. It felt more like swinging a small axe rather than swinging a long blade.

Those who are machete enthusiasts will have to get used to the weight and learn how to swing the wrist to let the tool do most of the work. With the likes of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears using them at one time or another on their respective shows, the parang has definitely grown in popularity over the last few years. With PB&J throwing their rendition of the parang into the ring, I think this time-tested design will be here to stay.

Overall Length 20 inches
Blade Length 11.5 inches
Handle Length 8.5 inches
Handle Material Green Micarta scales
Blade Thickness 3/16 inch
Blade Grind Flat Saber
Steel L6
Sheath Ambidextrous leather scabbard set for horizontal or vertical carry style

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PB&J Knives Companion

PB&J Knives Companion

Everyone likes company in the woods and that comes in different forms. Some favor a friend; some favor a dog, while some people talk to themselves. However, for those who don't have a cohort, PB&J made a small knife called the Companion. It serves well as a complementary tool to a large chopper like the parang, axe, or tomahawk.

The Companion was comfortable right from the start. It has a very generous 4½-Inch handle and nice rounded tan Micarta scales. At 7 ½ inches overall, it seemed just about the right size for daily carry or hiking, yet the 1/8-inch thickness gave it the heft most outdoorsmen require in their knives.

"At 7.5 inches overall with a 3.125-inch blade, this knife definitely fits the description of a Companion. L6 steel with tan Micarta scales and a leather sheath makes for an attractive overall package."

The blade was unusually small compared to the handle size, somewhere around 3 1/8 inches, with a cutting edge of 2 3/8 inches long. The spine was sharp—good for shaping wood while doing carving projects. An added bonus is its ability to scrape a ferrocerium rod for fire craft.

PBJ Strong Bush KnifeShort, sharp, comfy, and stout, carving tools don't get any better than the Companion Knife.

The knife had no issues carving a cutting board and making camp utensils, like tongs and a large meat fork, out of wood. It also sliced food in the morning, such as my hard boiled eggs, Anaheim peppers, and cucumbers.

The Companion lives up to its name—it was on hand for quick tasks, however mundane they may be. One of the days, in our backwoods camp in Georgia, the Companion was called upon to skin a medium-sized raccoon. It performed well.

After the skinning, I had to cut up all the meat into small pieces, season it and start stewing. This was some tough meat; good thing the blade was still sharp. After a few hours of stewing, I sliced up and added three bell peppers to the stew. Company is always appreciated outdoors, and I'm glad the Companion was on hand. Its compactness made it much more suitable for these tasks than using the Big Jake.

That would have been beyond cumbersome, to say the least, no matter how cool it would have looked.

Overall Length 7.5 inches
Blade Length 3.125 inches
Handle Length 4.375 inches
Handle Material Tan Micarta scales
Blade Thickness 1/8 inch
Blade Grind Flat Saber
Steel L6
Sheath Leather pouch style

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Did you know...?

Although the knife names "Bread & Butter" and "Main Course" sound like you're reading a menu, those names belong to knives from PB&J Handmade Knives. According to Jake Kirks of PB&J, his wife named the two knives, just for the fun of it. I like that. Things should just be for the fun of it sometimes.

Knives with Flavor When it comes to a full menu of knives, PB&J has you covered, and they are all meant to work hard. No matter what you need to get done-chop, skin, slice vegetables, prepare a fire, carve, split, or any type of woodcraft—PB&J has the tools to get it done.