I was sent this pretty, Genuine Crafters, blade so that I could do a review on it. The first thing I did was a little research. The “Tracker” style of knife is quite interestingly designed and has a controversial history. There are two sides to every story and this one is no exception.
The first story starts with a man named Tom Brown. You may have heard his name, as he is a very successful survivalist. Many years ago the story is told that when asked by a reporter what tool he would use for survival if he only had one, Tom Brown stated that the tool had not yet been invented. A short time later he did invent it and had a man named Ed Lombi produce it. When Ed died a man named Ed Beck began producing it and when he retired the knife went out of production until after the movie “The Hunted” was produced in 2001. The tracker knife was highlighted in that movie and suddenly became quite popular again. This caused Tom Brown to seek out Chip McConnel and finally Mike Fuller with TOPS USA to manufacture the knife. They claim to be the only producer of the true Tracker knife today.
Side two of the story starts with Dave Beck. This name should also be familiar to anyone interested in knives. His company produces a knife exactly like the Tom Brown Tracker only they call it the WSK (Wilderness Survival Knife). They claim that David Beck was the designer and maker of the original TRACKER knife. They state, “Our knives were formerly known as the original “TRACKER” knives from the registered trademark, which we were the first to own & stamp on our blades during the ’90’s. After a brief retirement & the release of the 2003 Paramount Pictures film “The HUNTED” in which our Model “C” TRACKER knife was used & displayed, we resumed making our original TRACKER knife patterns due to rekindled customer interest. Unfortunately, having to give up our trademark rights due to the period of time our knives were not being produced, we were forced to change the name to avoid costly trademark right disputes from new competition.” Did I say there are two sides to every story? My mistake. This story has three sides.
The other story comes from a name that wouldn’t be recognized by anyone. He was a knife maker only as a hobby and gave most of his knives away as gifts. His name is Robb Russon. Robb read a lot of Tom Brown’s books and knew of his desire to have a knife that performed all of the needs for wilderness survival. Robb’s son recounted his father’s story like this. “My father got in contact with Brown in 1981 in a letter, and said that he had been reading Brown’s books, and saw the need for a new type of knife. He said that he, as a knifemaker, might be able to design something that would accomplish many, if not all, of the needs Brown mentioned in his books. After a few months, Brown responded to my father in a letter dated April 14, 1981. He talked about knives being our most basic and useful tool, and that it was hard to find “the perfect knife” for the woods, and that most of his tracking school students carried 3 knives with them: a small pocketknife for close work, a medium skinning knife, and a big heavy knife for “throwing, chopping or hacking”. He said that he had not found a good survival knife to fill these purposes, and that one would need to be almost indestructible–easily thrown, heavy for chopping, and have an edge that could be used for fine work.”
“My father went to his drawing board, and began to design. He came up with two designs, one slimmer than the other, but decided in the end that the fuller shape would be the better one. He made a prototype out of 3/16″ D2 stainless tool steel, with handle slabs made of black phenolic (a resin composite material that is very impact and weather resistant–also known by the name brand “Micarta”). The slabs were pinned to the full-tang blade, and had a lanyard hole at the pommel end. He sent the finished knife, (unsolicited) to Mr. Brown as a gift, and to show him what his concept of a tracking/survival knife should be. He actually made a final drawing template, with both of his designs, and dated it May 13, 1981. Naming it after Brown’s book “The Tracker”, he dubbed it the “Tracker Knife” on the drawing.” He further explains that Tom Brown made a deal with his father to start producing the knives but when they were about to start production Tom stopped corresponding with his father and not long afterward someone else was producing his knife. He couldn’t afford a lawyer and let the issue go.
This is a lot of information about one knife style but once I started digging up the story, I had to share it. The Genuine Crafter blade is not a true TRACKER styled knife. It doesn’t have the characteristic saw teeth along the spine. It does have the broad curved blade followed by a separate, straight blade with the long thick handle like a TRACKER. The knife is designed to perform multiple tasks such as chopping, fleshing, carving, peeling and so on but could not perform the notching function available in the original Tracker styled knife. This knife is the perfect example of a, “Jack of all trades and a master of none.” Some might consider this a negative statement but if you look at it as a survival knife it becomes more of a compliment. For instance, if I was going to skin out hides all day I would never reach for a TRACKER designed knife. I would use a scalpel. If I was going to split kindling all day I would use a hatchet. If I was going to peel logs all day I would use a draw knife. If I am simply hiking into the backcountry and don’t plan on working, I would rather pack one large multipurpose blade versus carrying all the specific blades that perfectly perform each need I might encounter should I get lost. The TRACKER is great for what it was designed to do. It is only designed to provide you the ability to perform multiple tasks in a survival situation. It isn’t designed to replace every blade you own. It has a unique purpose same as any knife. Just because you purchase a multiuse tool doesn’t mean you will throw away your drill.
The knife appears to be very well made and claims Zero Tolerance. The blade is thick and solid, sharp and durable. It has very little in the way of a finger guard, which causes me concern as a heavy knife user sporting many scars. The “original” TRACKER has a slightly larger finger guard but still not as large as some knives. This could possibly be because of the guards potential to hinder some of the tasks the knife was designed to perform. One would have to make note of the design and take precautions against cutting oneself. That is something you should do with any blade.
One thing the Genuine Crafters rendition of the Tracker knife has, that other renditions do not, is its aesthetical appearance. The wood is quite pretty and the 5.4 inch, Ladder, Damascus blade is as well. A 1095 high carbon steel was tempered to 56-58 HRc and forged with 15N20 nickel steel to create the beautiful Damascus pattern. The company states, “GCrafter™ Damascus knives are genuinely crafted from real Damascus steel by our skilled blade-smiths. Forging gorgeous looking Damascus knives with random Damascus patterns is our passion. We Are Genuine GCrafters™ !”
Strong yet lightweight Micarta wood and solid brass O-ring pin holes make up the handle. The overall feel of this knife in your hand would best be described as comfortable with a weighted heaviness toward the blade, indicative of a small hatchet. The knife comes in a genuine leather sheath that is high quality and perfectly fitted. It lacked a belt loop which I quickly fixed by sewing one onto it myself but I feel that this should be included by the manufacturer because of the nature and use of this blade. It is a tool that would be most often worn on the side of the adventurer.
After all the research and handling of this beautiful knife, I have come to the conclusion that it is not a knife that I will use on a regular basis. I expect it to see many miles in the sheath and if I find myself in a survival situation, I know I will be glad to have it. Genuine Crafters Tracker style knife will be by my side on many of my future outdoor adventures.
You can find this knife and other great products at the Genuine Crafters Amazon Page.