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Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Look At the Havalon Knife

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 30, 2010.)

Is it sharp? You betcha!

When I was a kid watching my Dad draw his knife over a whetstone, I didn’t understand what that elusive quality called “sharpness” was. I wondered if sharpness was something that rubbed off one thing and onto another.

I knew that when something dry rubbed up against something wet, the dry thing would get wet. Was sharpness like wetness? Call me a confused kid.

Now I know what sharpness is, and I know that the work my dad was doing on the whetstone is a dying art. People don’t sharpen knives very often anymore, and when we do few of us can get the razor edge we need for the work we ask a knife to do.

Now I know that the angle of the edge is critical to lasting sharpness. I know that the edge of a truly sharp blade is perfectly smooth. And I know that a leather strop polishes that edge.

The knife that has all the qualities you need, and will always have them, is the Havalon Piranta. Is it sharp? You betcha! You’ll never use a sharper knife, and you’ll never have to sharpen it because the blade is replaceable surgical stainless steel.

You’ve seen lots of advertisements for cutting tools which use that word “surgical.” Usually it means almost nothing, but here it means everything. Why? Because these blades are actual surgical scalpel blades made by Havel’s, a long-time medical supply company. They’re the very same blades surgeons use in operating rooms across the nation. They wouldn’t use them if they weren’t the best.

I recently field dressed a deer with the Havalon Piranta. I barely had to touch the blade to the animal’s skin to start a small incision. I inserted the blade, sharp edge up, and opened the abdominal cavity like it had a zipper.

One of the difficult spots in field dressing is proper removal of what we politely call the “vent.” The elasticity of the tissues in that area make it a challenge to cut through with precision. The Havalon knife is so sharp that it slides right through.

If you use your knife to split the deer’s sternum and open the rib cage (something that’s really unnecessary), that’s a job for a bigger knife with a heavyweight fixed blade. The lightweight Havalon Piranta is a folding knife for cutting jobs, not splitting jobs.

Field dressing deer isn’t the only task that the Havalon Piranta makes easy. It’s perfect for small game. It’s ideal for trappers who completely skin animals from nose tip to tail tip. And it’s a huge asset to taxidermists whose work is close and precise, and who can’t take the time to sharpen a collection of knives. When a blade gets dull and begins to slow the work, they just change it and keep going. In fact, this is the knife my taxidermist, Jason Morrison of Buckhaven Wildlife Art in Sugar Grove, PA, takes hunting.

Who else uses Havalon knives? A buddy told me his Alaskan brown bear guides used them to skin his record book Kodiak bear, and wouldn’t let him touch the bear with the knife he brought.

The blade fastens onto the knife by locking into a keyed slot. Before using the knife, practice removing and replacing the blade a few times to get the hang of it. If you have to change it in the field be especially careful – a little blood will make it slippery.

Of all the models Havalon makes, I like the blaze orange one. It would be hard to lose. The handle comes in various styles of metal or ABS plastic, and it’s ergonomically designed. That means it fits your hand, and there’s just enough of a checkered rubber insert to make your grip sure, even when wet.

With the thousands of knives on the market today, why another? Because the Havalon Piranta is so good, it’s a worthy replacement for most any knife a hunter carries – except the one I watched my Dad draw across that whetstone those many years ago. Sometimes, I carry that one for sentimental reasons.

Order your Havalon knife, including 12 replacement blades, by calling 800-638-4770, or online at www.havalon.com.


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