GEC 73 Scout REVIEW
By Matt, 14/7/2017
REVIEW IN PROGRESS...
In 2006 when a bunch of former Queen Cutlery employees started a little upstart company dedicated to producing high quality traditional knives, who could have predicted impact they would have on the knife industry. During the intervening decade Great Eastern Cutlery (GEC) sparked a resurgence in popularity of the traditional pocket knife.
GEC’s first production patterns were single blade recreations of the legendary Remington Bullet and Baby Bullet patterns (aka the R1123 and R1173) which were coincidently designated the #23 Pioneer and #73 Scout.
Gravitating towards the more pocketable of the two, I purchased my first 73 (in an absolutely divine jigged green bone I might add) in early 2008 after hearing good things about GEC’s quality. Since then I have gone on to own nearly a dozen more 73s. The subjects of this review are two examples from GEC’s Northfield line (read more about GEC’s different lines here), a well-used 2013 production in burnt stag and a lightly used 2015 production in cocobolo.
One thing that I will quickly touch on is GEC’s business model, which has proved to be quite successful (and one I wish that Canal St Cutlery had tried to emulate… but that is for another day). Basically, GEC make knives in small production runs, whereby limited quantities of a certain pattern in various configurations are made. Sometimes a certain configuration will get made only once never to be repeated in subsequent production runs. I learnt this lesson the hard way after gifting away a couple of 73’s in lovely warm, creamy smooth white bone (generally my favourite traditional handle) thinking I would just pick up another no problems… I haven’t seen another one since. Long story short, if you happen to see a GEC you like it is probably best to snap it up!
Anyway, I purchased both these knives from Greg at TSA Knives and Collectables (my favourite GEC dealer for what that is worth). I can’t exactly remember the prices but the stag was around $110 and the cocobolo $70ish. Greg is always a gentleman and looks after his international customers exceptionally well.
Overall Length: 17.5cm (6 7/8”)
Blade Length: 8cm (3 1/8”)
Closed Length: 9.5cm (3 ¾”)
Blade Thickness: 2mm
Blade Steel: 1095, 57-59 HRC
Handle: Nickel silver bolsters, brass liners, burnt stag/ cocobolo covers
Weight: Stag -77g (2 5/8oz), cocobolo – 63g (2 1/8oz)
Country of origin: Titusville, PA, USA
There is something cathartic about the experiences of popping open a GEC tube, being greeted with that familiar oily rag smell and unfurling a fresh knife from its wax paper cocoon.
As per all GEC’s I have handled, both the stag and cocobolo 73s made a great first impression, both presenting with typically impeccable fit and finish. The cocobolo wood gleamed like a polished jewel and the stag mark side looks great. However, I must admit to being a little disappointed with the stag on the pile side, which, despite being well matched for thickness, had a deep valley running down the centre and a thin overhanging ridge along the top edge. Now this is probably on me, as I must admit, I do find it hard to get my head around the contours of the stag by just looking at pictures online. Caveat emptor.
On opening it was immediately apparent that both exhibited the tough as nails pull which is typical of certain GEC models. The stag especially was a real nail breaker being nearly impossible to prise open without gripping at the furthest extent of the long pull.
With its classic, purposefully utilitarian blade shape, nigh on perfect grinds, sexy swedge, gleaming mirror polish (at least on my Northfield variants) and neatly cut pulls there is no denying that the 73’s blade is damn easy on the eyes. Fortunately, with its (xmm stock) and thin flat ground profile, it is also designed to cut like a scalpel.
The blade is made from GEC’s tried and true 1095 which is a real pleasure to use, taking a wicked fine edge with next to no effort on the stones. It must be said that outright edge holding isn’t going to compete with the latest and greatest steels out there, but, it’ll perform adequately. I used my stag example as my primary work knife for a good few years, where it got absolutely beat on and used for absolutely everything. You can see how much the belly of the blade has been sharpened back compared to the relatively untouched cocobolo example. In use the narrow thin blade glides through material like it isn’t there exhibiting minimal binding even when cutting sheets of thick cardboard or rubber. It is also plenty tough enough to take on heavier duty cutting (my main limitation being how much I trusted the lock not to fold up on me if the knife was to get stuck). But it must be said I would often need to touch the blade up every day or two.
The lovely mirror polish finish scratches quite easily and being 1095 the blade will patina and/or rust if not wiped down especially after cutting acidic foods. After a certain level of patina is built up it will protect the blade from corrosion to some extent. I typically didn’t use mine for food prep and some of the heavy cutting I did (especially when I was using it in and around dirt) manages to clean off most of any patina.
DEPLOYMENT AND LOCKUP
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