Review: Great Eastern Cutlery Pocketknives
In a small Pennsylvania town lies an even smaller factory that’s hard at work pumping out small batches of pocket knives daily. But Victorinox these ain’t; instead, Great Eastern Cutlery focuses on recreating the traditional American pocket knife, extinct for nearly a century, using a 200+ step process combining hands-on techniques with machine manipulation. And while they’re offered in a dizzying array of colors, finishes, and blade options, we were fortunate enough to get to play with a Tidioute Ranch Hand in Antique Green Jig Bone, a two-bladed knife measuring in at just a hair under 4-inches closed.
Initial impressions go a long way, and the first thing we noticed is its not-insubstantial heft and its obvious elegant yet vintage feel. Unlike most modern knives fitted with plastic handles, this Ranch Hand employs real cow bone instead that’s both dyed and jigged in-house, resulting in a solid grip that looks as good as it performs in hand. The knife’s two blades – a clip point accompanied by a spey – both pull out using the nail knick and a bit of force, feature a half stop that adds a 90° step before full extension, all in all reassuring us that the blades won’t ever slam back on our fingers despite the absence of a lock. We found their edges to be surprisingly keen even before a good sharpening, easily outshining our battle worn Leatherman.
So are these knives for you? That probably depends. A bit more maintenance – i.e. wiping them down after use and applying oil occasionally – is required to keep the blades shiny and completely rust-free since they’re made of carbon steel and not stainless. On the upside, they’re easier to sharpen, retain their edge longer, and develop a distinct patina with time, all in all properties we embrace. From the perspective of craftsmanship and aesthetics we’ve got nothing but good things to say, these knives handily eclipsing any and all modern equivalents we’ve ever laid our hands on in the looks department. And while most don’t come packed with features like newer multitools, some do include fish descalers/degorgers, hoof picks, or a bottle opener.