Why no love for the Navy Knife?

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by thegeneftw, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. AreBeeBee


    Sep 3, 2013
    I have three "navy knives" or "rope knives," but not so much for use — basically, they offer a single cutting edge and that's it. My reasons for having them at all are for their historical interest. (I once bought a new sailor knife with marlinspike, just out of interest — and ended up giving to a longtime friend who actually owns a sailboat. Figured he'd have more use than I.)

    Of the three navy knives I have, one's a Camillus WW2 lifeboat knife, and that's the one I like best. Roughly 75 years old, sharp as all get out, and really simple and easy to open. It's great for slicing and cutting down cardboard boxes. Not my image, but from a BF thread:


    Another is a little one, 3-1/4" long when folded, with plastic scales with a wood-grain pattern cast into them and a small bail. The maker's name is ground off, but "Made in U.S.A." is just visible. [Edit: Some checking around online turned up a Klein knife with plastic scales in the same wood-grain pattern and the EZ-open notch, which mine also has. So I'm calling it a Klein for now.]


    The third is a Schrade Walden #163, which has smooth wood scales, no bail or even a lanyard hole, a great arc of a shape, and "Powell River" stamped into the scale on one side. Powell River is a pulp-and-paper city in SW British Columbia in Canada. There's a BF thread here on the knife, and here's an image (not mine) from another BF thread:


    What I'd love to get for the history is one of the early 19th century rope knives with a stag handle that turn up on eBay from time to time, each going for $200+. From a thread over on Allaboutpocketnkives:


    Oh, well, the WW2 Camillus is good enough!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  2. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Those old ones and Mike's Custom are another matter, and I think it's to do with the overall proportions. They look like larger knives, the 15 frame is too small to carry it off. The long pull ultimately looked odd, and a Rope Knife with that enlarged Sheepfoot/Cotton Sampler type blade needs a bigger handle to be a credible Hawser Knife. I found the knife too scaled down and out of proportion, despite the high level of finish.
  3. Pointshoot777


    Feb 16, 2001
    I like this style of knife. I wasn't aware of this GEC version till reading this thread. The features it has are for practical reasons, of course. If on a pitching small boat, a fellow would appreciate those features. -- I sport fish. Sometimes from a small boat or flyfishing from an inner tube on a lake. In the latter case, a blunt tip blade is particularly desirable to me. That said, I usually go with a Spyderco Salt H1 - either fixed or folder. Excellent steel in a salt water environment. Easier/faster opening & one handed opening. Better value for less money. I wish the H1 folders had a detachable bail. (Ever lose a knife in deep water ?) I have been able to jerry rig a means of attaching the folders to myself, though. - - There are other patterns that I find more useful & versatile for general use, a favorite being large stockmans. So I'm not likely to spend $100 on the GEC Navy knife. - - I do have similar knives (some with a marlin spike) that cost me less. Those are working knives, not collector pieces.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
  4. thegeneftw

    thegeneftw Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2016
    Man, this is good stuff. This was exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping to get from everyone. I appreciate the discussions on the traditional threads more than the general, seems to have less trolling and more honest opinions without people getting hurt feelings. Thanks all!
  5. pertinux

    pertinux Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Do you mean, proportionally? Because the #15 frame is .25" longer than the WWI standard issue knife which serves as its inspiration.

    I was content to admire Navy Knife from afar, via pictures, but fell for it once I encountered one in person. The combination of Charlie's SFO bone, the rope design on bolster and bail, and the blade's slim efficiency won me over. [To me, the high rise on the blade is a matter of function informing form, as in combination with the Easy-open notch it renders the blade pinch-able from a variety of angles, even with cold hands on a windy, wave-washed deck.... As one example. ;)]

    Here's mine in the lookout Thomas Kemp (shipbuilder, The Pride of Baltimore) incorporated into his house overlooking the Chesapeake Bay:


    As for the blade itself, I appreciate that one would have to work hard to pierce or puncture anything with its almost over-bitten tip, notably different from the sheepsfoot blade I carry most days.

    Plus, it looks kinda like this:


    Works for me. :D

    ~ P.
  6. supratentorial


    Dec 19, 2006
    Very cool photo, P :thumbup:
  7. Dadpool

    Dadpool Gold Member Gold Member

    May 18, 2015
    It's photos like that one that sell me on knives I hadn't previously considered. Suddenly I'm thinking, "What if I took up sailing? I sailed as a kid, I bet that would be fun to do again. And if I did, I'd need a knife with a bail so it wouldn't get lost at sea."

    Pretty soon I'm imagining myself amidships, looking out over a tempest-toss'd sea, with my faithful Navy Knife at my side . . . :cool:

    And shortly after that, I've bought one. :D
  8. mike Berkovitch

    mike Berkovitch Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Thanks Jack, just couldn't leave it on the Exchange :cool:

  9. Pomsbz


    Jul 31, 2015
    I bought mine cause I liked the Old Barn Chestnut and it was a very sheeple friendly stainless blade. I also appreciate the F&F and half stop. But then I had to restore the horrifically soft wood which looked terrible after just 3 months of carry, followed by stabilising it so it wouldn't happen again and to be frank I rather lost interest. The shape is not aesthetically pleasing anyway and knowing it had been made in a slipshod manner rather got to me.

  10. Camillus

    Camillus Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    A much more impressive blade shape on that one Mike B. There are a few blade shapes that GEC have improved and which really make the knife. The latest clip on the 77 being one such example, or the latest clip on the 15 TC barlow. Perhaps the uninspiring blade shape is another reason the knife isn't more popular.

    I agree about the old barn chestnut. Really disappointing the wood was so soft. I don't think it fits well with the GEC aesthetic of making stuff like it used to be made. EDIT but gee it loooks good in your photo!

    I own two Navy knives, an ebony and a burnt orange - both are very nice to look at but probably won't see use.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  11. kamagong

    kamagong Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 13, 2001
    I agree with what's been said. I'm not a big fan of straight edged knives. I can make do with the wharncliff, as it has a point, but see very little advantage to a sheepsfoot other than perhaps its pinchability and sheer amount of blade. Neither is very important to me as I have both strong nails and plenty of knives.

    If I did feel the need for a knife of this type I already have one. I don't need another.


    Perhaps the biggest negative IMO is the cutout. I can't stand them, regardless of design. They're an eyesore and I don't understand why GEC makes so many knives with them. Furthermore it is completely unnecessary on the Navy knife.

    One can dream. The #74 frame looks like it would be a good pattern to build on.
  12. AreBeeBee


    Sep 3, 2013
    The knife's a whole lot less expensive than the boat, so you've come out ahead so far.

    Keep in mind the old yachtsman's saying: The two happiest days of a boatowner's life are the the day he buys a boat, and the day he sells it.
  13. Pointshoot777


    Feb 16, 2001
    The cutout is one feature I like on the GEC Navy. Try opening a knife with wet, cold, numb fingers while on the water. Try it with gloves on. Try it while the wind is blowing and your teeth are chattering from the cold. On the other hand, with lanyard of proper length attached to you , you can pinch the blade and open it one handed. The more blade to grab, the better. Beauty is in function.

    Now, I'm more of a knife user than collector. The main reason I wouldn't buy this GEC is that I have alternatives that function better and cost less.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
  14. neal70


    Jun 3, 2015
    Ramrodmb's modification might be the incentive for me to get one. I just thought his looked fantastic, and he might have added a swedge to it as well. I don't usually buy knives with the intention of having them modified, but this one looks soo good with a wharnie...I don't know.
    Thanks, Neal
  15. kamagong

    kamagong Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 13, 2001
    Take a look at the knife I posted above. So much blade, there is no problem pinching it open, even in the conditions you named. I think the cutout is a solution in search of a problem frankly.
  16. Pointshoot777


    Feb 16, 2001
    I wear XXL sized gloves and like as much blade to grab as I can get. Looks are last on my priority list. So, I disagree with you. As they say - YMMV

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  17. Groundhogsniper


    Jan 15, 2017
    I own quite a few knives and several of them are Great Eastern but I would never consider buying that pattern. Impractical and just plain ugly to me but to each his own.
    Wish Great Eastern would run some more popular patterns such as a mini trapper, whittler, stockman etc. Also like their 73 and 72 patterns and wish they would rerun the 55 pattern. Those were very popular.
  18. Ramrodmb

    Ramrodmb Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 9, 2010
    Neal, you might not have to look for one!! Sent you a PM.
  19. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Sarah It seems to me that since the WW.1 type knives were actually smaller, then they were likely a dress or ornamental knife, it beggars belief that a knife measuring 3.25" would actually be expected to cut, still less chop thick rope. The other standard Hawser knives all seemed bigger and look better for it. So I still find the 15 frame diminutive for this kind of a knife, pretty but awkward ;)
  20. PNWJimbo


    Sep 29, 2015
    I've always loved the looks of them but I like the utility of the beer scout configuration on that 15 pattern more

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