Schrade Fixed Blade SCHF12 and SCHF15 Tanto Knives

   09.03.13

After a long and difficult move to my new house, I’m just now in the process of unboxing everything. Due to poor planning, my box of utensils has been misplaced and now probably lies in the back of closet number four. This led to my current situation, where I have one fork, one spoon, and about 17 knives. Despite my varied collection and my preference for practicality, I found that few of my knives had a role at the dinner table. As fun as it may sound, using a bowie knife to cut up steak is about as enjoyable as going dove hunting with a Barrett M82. It’s overkill.

Thankfully, my Schrade SCHF12 and its smaller brother the SCHF15 recently arrived. Normally, I wouldn’t bat an eye at a fixed blade with a cutting edge under four inches, but I quickly revised my opinion after my first meal involving actual food instead of TV dinners. The SCHF15 is sharp, almost ridiculously so, right out of the box. In fact, both of the knives had a startlingly keen edge for knives in their price range. So far I have used the knives both in the kitchen and the dining table, filling a niche that my other knives can’t.

Blade

Both knives sport stone-washed 8Cr13MoV steel. With the SCHF12 you get 4.9 inches of blade and the SCHF15 comes in at 3.4 inches. All around, these are modestly-sized, working knives. The steel might turn a few noses, being of Chinese construction comparable to the Japanese AUS 8. Personally, I’ve found that 8Cr13MoV performs admirably, being slightly cheaper than AUS 8 and comparable materials. As I’ve noted, these knives have a wicked edge. They’re also cheap enough so I can leave them coated in a layer of pork grease, sugar, and salt at the bottom of my sink, which just happened to be one of my endurance tests. I’m pleased to announce that despite their high-carbon construction, I have yet to see any signs of damage. As with all non-stainless steels (otherwise known as real men’s knives), I still recommend keeping them clean and dry.

The tanto blades on the Schrade knives are greatly exaggerated, to the point where the SCHF15’s second edge is about half as long as its primary edge. This comes in handy when using it at the dinner table as it provides clean, almost lightsaber-esque cuts. This “fat” tanto edge also makes sharpening a bit easier, giving you more space to work with. Anyone who’s tried their hand at sharpening tanto tips will tell you that the secondary edge can be a pain to get right, especially if it is small and has a different blade geometry than the rest of the knife.

Things I have issue with: the blade seems to have a problem holding its super-sharp edge, but it may be a product of my endurance tests. Tougher knives than the Schrades have nightmares about credit cards. I also did not expect the SCH12 to be so thick, which makes the knife very resilient but also almost incapable of penetration.

Here we see two Schrade knives resting on a log in the late afternoon.
Here we see two Schrade knives resting on a log in the late afternoon.

Sheath

Both knives came with a Kydex sheath the color and aesthetic appeal of burnt porridge. Unlike burnt porridge however, I store my knives in them. All levity aside, these sheaths are pretty reliable for what it cost to make them. There’s no bells and whistles here; just a plate of Kydex folded over and kept in place by screws. I’ve noticed that the sheath for the SCHF15 is especially tight, making it difficult to draw from the belt. Loosening the screws will fix the problem easily.

These sheathes will also survive getting run over by a tank, so I don’t have any concerns about durability.

Schrade knives camouflage themselves from predators by hiding in a tough Kydex shell. They're not very good at blending in.
Schrade knives camouflage themselves from predators by hiding in a tough Kydex shell. They’re not very good at blending in.

Handle

The SCHF12 has dead-standard G10 handles with palm and finger grooves. As for grip and ergonomics, I’ll also say that it’s pretty average. The SCHF15, however, mixes up the game by bringing a scalloped and notched G10 overlay. The grip that this provides is excellent. However, any kind of jarring impact on the knife, or thrusting cuts of any kind, will bite into your palm. If you don’t have callouses at the base of your fingers, and you want some, stab some tree trunks with this knife.

The handles were also a little bit loose on unboxing, but were quickly fixed and the problem never resurfaced.

Here we see two Schrade knives in a symbiotic relationship with a belt.
Here we see two Schrade knives in a symbiotic relationship with a belt.

Practicality

I’ve already mentioned using these knives in a domestic setting, but what about in places a little bit off the beaten path? It’s hard to pigeon-hole the Schrade knives, they suit all number of tasks equally well. The SCHF12’s recurved shape allows it to be a monstrous chopper, and its solid construction will probably make it a wonderful knife for batonning. These are good utility knives for hunters, hikers, mountaineers, or just about anybody who needs a good cutting tool.

Also of note is the great “sticking” power of an elongated tanto tip. Even though they are not even remotely balanced enough to be thrown, I have found success in pinging a stump with these within eight feet. Then again, my belief is that throwing knives are about as useful as throwing Glocks, so take from this what you will.

A detailed look at the SCHF15 in captivity.
A detailed look at the SCHF15 in captivity.

Conclusion

The Schrade knives are great generalists that can stand side-by-side with their more expensive contemporaries. Of course, some sacrifices had to be made for the lower price tag, but you won’t be kicking yourself after dropping one of these in the river as you would an ESEE or even a well-loved KA-BAR. You can just go out and buy another. Here are the stats:

SCHF12

  • Overall Length: 9.9″ (25.1cm)
  • Handle Length: 5.0″ (12.7cm)
  • Blade Length: 4.9″ (12.4cm)
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.

SCHF15

  • Overall Length: 7.9″ (20.0cm)
  • Handle Length: 4.5″ (11.4cm)
  • Blade Length: 3.4″ (8.6cm)
  • Weight: 6.0 oz.
Read More