The ESEE-6 is one of the best survival knives you can own. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as all products put forth by ESEE Knives/Randall’s Adventure & Training have been met with nothing but high praise. The ESEE lineup is exactly what we want our gear to be, not just made in the USA, but the absolute best and second to none.
The ESEE-6 blade is made of 1095 carbon steel. You’ll see 1095 steel used for most survival knives on the market. The reason being is that it is fairly inexpensive to produce, but it is also a tough steel that is going to be able to take the incessant abuse one would put it through in a survival situation. The blade is easy to sharpen and will retain its edge fairly well. The only downside of 1095 steel is that it is going to be more likely to corrode. The coating on the ESEE knives do help but will eventually come off so be prepared with non-toxic oil or grease.
The ESEE-6 is slightly thinner than the ESEE-5 which was designed with downed pilots in mind (who would need to use the knife to pry metal) but it is the longest blade of the ESEE line, offering a lot of real estate to work with. This makes tasks like batoning wood effortless. Some enthusiasts fervently oppose using a knife to baton wood but rest assured, Rowen Manufacturing has an excellent heat treatment process that produces much tougher steel than its competitors.
My one and only gripe with the ESEE-6 is the standard molded sheath that comes with the knife. While the same plastic sheath secures the smaller ESEE models quite well, the ESEE-6 doesn’t seat securely and rattles. I don’t have experience with any specific aftermarket sheaths, but I recommend you forgo ordering the molded plastic sheath from ESEE and instead find a Kydex sheath elsewhere.
Are there much better survival knives out there than the ESEE-6? Yes. Depending on your needs and operating environment, you might need a knife with different specifications or features. However, the ESEE 6 is the perfect archetype for most survival situations, especially for its price. I’ve stood by ESEE Knives for good reason and have observed nothing short of high-quality craftsmanship in every model I’ve owned or sampled. The ESEE-6 deserves a spot in everyone’s adventure or bug-out bag.
*All photos courtesy of the author, Matt Jin