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The Top Five Boker Fixed Blade Knives
As you may already know, I am a fan of Boker knives. I am not so much a fan of “Top 5” or “Top 10” lists, but so many people are doing it, there must be something to it! I have limited this list to post-WW2 knives, because the pre-war knives are so difficult to find nowadays. All the knives in this list are still being produced by the Heinrich Boker Baumwerk in Solingen, Germany. So if you see something you like, you can purchase one of your own. Without further ado:
#1) the classic Jagdnicker.
This is a traditional German hunting knife pattern dating back centuries. Legend has it these small knives were used to finish the hunt for game animals such as boar and stag. Nowadays they are quite handy as a fish and fowl knife, or even a good old steak knife. Boker makes a lower cost version of this knife in Argentina under the ARBOLITO trademark, but I love the Solingen made “Gobec Nicker”. These are currently available with grips of either stag (item 121532) or maple (121432). The steel on Boker’s older nickers would be similar to a 1075-1090 carbon steel but today it is Krupp 4034 stainless steel with a hardness of 54-55 HRC. A little soft to suit some, but this also makes it easy to sharpen. The Gobec nicker was designed by Stefan Gobec, a custom knife maker from Austria.
#2) the Applegate-Fairbairn Knife.
This combat knife was originally designed by Rex Applegate and William Fairbairn. Applegate was a student of Fairbairn, and in the 1990s Col. Applegate made a series of improvements to the original Fairbairn dagger. Custom designer and knife maker Bill Harsey, Jr. of Croswell, Oregon is responsible for the prototypes and design of the most recent and popular A-F fighting knife. Boker makes no less than 14 different variations of this knife with N690 or 440C blade steel, and handles of delrin, canvas micarta, G-10, and three different types of wood. A couple of little known secrets about this knife: There are movable weights underneath the handle, in order to get the perfect balance for the individual user. Also, the blade has a different grind on each side. On one side is a typical double conical dagger grind, and on the other side is a hollow grind. My favorite version is the A-F 5.5 (120545), featuring a 5.5” 440C stainless steel blade, and a green canvas micarta handle.
#3) the Savannah, a hunter’s classic.
The Boker Savannah was developed in collaboration with professional big game hunters on the plains of Africa. Designed by Austria’s renowned blacksmith and knife maker Armin Stutz, with N690 steel. I love the classic lines of this blade, along with the single finger groove in the handle. You really learn the usefulness of the finger groove when it comes to “skinning time”. Boker sells this knife with handles of stag, ram horn, amboina wood, and – my favorite – green canvas micarta (120620).
#4) the Smatchet.
Who doesn’t love a SMATCHET? Designed by Col. Rex Applegate, this beast, with a 10” blade, can handle almost any outdoor, farm, or camping job. Chopping firewood? Check. Clearing a trail? Check. Pounding in a tent peg? Check. Fighting a bear? Well, there is some debate about this being the proper bear fighter. Steel is N690, and yes, Boker currently offers this knife with green canvas micarta handles (122578). Listen, this canvas micarta is no joke. When you are bloody, sweaty, or just all wet, you can still grip these CNC machined handles with ease.
#5) the Swiss Dagger.
This is the only knife on this list that I would not recommend as a useful tool. Don’t get me wrong, it can be used as a dagger. However, for me, the ergonomics of the handle and the balance are obsolete. I still like this knife though for its beauty, quality of artisanship, and sheer historical value of the pattern. This style of knife was used by Swiss pikemen in the 15th century. The design of the pommel and crossguard can be traced back to the 13th century! The dark side of this pattern cannot be ignored, being infamous as the SA dagger in the 1930s until the middle of WW2. Many knife makers in Solingen made this pattern, including Boker. The blade etch on the current model matches the blade etch used by Boker in the years leading up to WW2. I love the C75 (SAE 1075) steel and cherry wood grips on the original model (121550). The Swiss dagger makes a great presentation piece or historical reproduction. Going up quite a few steps in elegance, this model is also manufactured with twisted Damascus steel and an ebony handle (121551DAM).
So there’s my top five list. I can’t say as I feel any different now, having made a list. I hope you have enjoyed it. How about you? Do you have a favorite Boker fixed blade pattern I’ve missed? Post it up!
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