Bradford Knives is a small business that makes high-end blades out of Kent, Washington. They offer a variety of quality every day carry and outdoors style designs at reasonable prices. I, being a big fan of small utilitarian type knives, recently acquired their Guardian3. The Guardian3 has a beefy design capable of immense leverage but also able to attack smaller tasks that require a nimble touch. So far I am impressed with the knife and I think it’s a great purchase for the money.
The average price of the 1st generation (like mine) Guardian3 is around $100. The steel is composed of N690, a high-end stainless steel produced in Austria that is capable of great edge retention; it is very hard with a polished surface. The Guardian3 comes from the factory sharp enough to shave with and stays that way for a good while depending on use. The blade is 3.5″ overall with a 0.15″ thickness and has a flat grind cutting edge of 3″. Within the overall blade length is a finger choil which is great for press cutting and getting a high purchase when performing rougher tasks like making feather sticks or other bushcraft-related tasks. The scales are made of compressed, rounded and textured G-10 for added grip and comfort. It features a lanyard hole in the butt end and aggressive jimping with a false edge on the spine. The hardware, two pins, used to re-enforce and secure the scales to the blade’s tang are strange proprietary pins that require a special tool to disassemble. Overall it’s a sleek-looking blade built for hard use.
The sheath is made of real leather and has a plastic insert to ensure it retains its shape and the end-user does not slice open the sheath over time. Set up for scout carry it caters well to the small of the back or offset from the abdomen. The sheath is only single stitched but its untreated edges can feature as an impromptu sharpening strop. I actually used this method to refine another knife’s edge using some Scratch Out (it’s composed of a fine grit compound so it works in a pinch).
The Bradford Knives Guardian3 is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for a stout everyday carry fixed blade knife. It will easily accomplish small field and outdoors tasks plus it can handle those minuscule day-to-day needs. My only complaint is the horizontal carry method the sheath employs, since it does not accommodate light clothing well. Luckily Bradford offers a kydex sheath option that can meet the end-user’s desire for a bit more discretion if that’s the case. I also wish they included the required tool for the take-down caps on the pins so end-user care and maintenance would be possible. Either way, it’s an amazing piece of steel for the cost, so if you’re in the market for a toothpick, give the Guardian3 a once over.
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