Fox Knives and BlackFox compass

Con Kapralos

Quality bladeware is something which thankfully, in this age of industrial mechanisation, is still produced by skilled artisans using time-honoured methods and hand-finishing processes. Such knives are not only appreciated for their aesthetics and ergonomics, but also their function for intended applications. Even though professionals who work in the meat industry will always opt for what are termed ‘trade-blades’ (knives with stainless blades and synthetic handles to comply with stringent food safety requirements), many hunters and outdoors enthusiasts still prefer a knife made in the traditional way.

Some of the best blades originate from Europe and one well-respected maker is Fox Coltellerie of Maniago, Italy. In 1977 Oreste Frati used his extensive experience and skills in the cutlery industry to establish Fox Coltellerie (‘Cutlery’ in Italian). Since the company’s beginnings, Fox Coltellerie has become renowned in Europe and within the US market for technologically advanced knives and cutlery for all purposes - with outdoors-orientated knives being highly regarded.

In 2008 Frati, together with his son Gabriele and Andrea De Lorenzi, a blacksmith also of Maniago, founded Euro Knives Italia which encompassed the production of not only the Fox brand but Fox Knives Military Division (FKMD) and other world-class brands under the Euro Knives umbrella. There were also knives on an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) order basis for other bladeware companies.

In Australia, knife collectors would be well aware of the Euro Knives Italia and Fox brands but for hunters the name would have been quite unfamiliar until recently, with Beretta Australia taking up the importation and distribution of this range.

Blades sent for review

Beretta Australia forwarded four of the most relevant items for the hunting sportsman - the Pro Hunter FX-131 DW fixed blade, FX-130 MGT folder, European Hunter 620/13 fixed blade and Win Collection 583 folder. Added to the knives a neat little Lensatic Compass made by BlackFox Knives was also sent for evaluation.

The knives are all quality and of a high finish and the review only details a visual report on them and a blade sharpness test (paper cut) - they were not available for field testing in this instance. Specifications and RRP of each knife are listed in the table.

Pro Hunter FX-130 MGT and FX-131 DW

The Pro Hunter range are tailor made for the active hunter and hard use. They’re well suited to all field dressing tasks and general camp duties, their 5mm thick blades being much appreciated when carrying out heavy undertakings such as quartering carcasses, cutting through cartilage and tough sinews.

Their drop point blade profile would also be handy for delicate briefs such as skinning and the N690Co blades hold their edge. The two knives include both a fixed blade design and a folder, with the FX-131 fixed blade model sporting lovely Desert wood scales with the blade tang terminating at the butt of the knife with lanyard provision. Stainless steel rivets attach the scales to the blade and look well finished.

The FX-130 MGT is a lovely folder in the Pro Hunter range and on this model the black Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) finish on the N690Co blade complements the green Micarta scales beautifully. The blade opens easily with one hand thanks to the thumb stud at the thumb ramp on the blade. Using the LAWKS locking system, the blade securely locks into position and is easy to disengage and fold into the body. Both Pro Hunter knives easily sliced through a sheet of A4 paper, indicating out-of-the-box razor sharpness.

European Hunter 620/13

The European Hunter 620/13 was my favourite of the four, displaying all the finesse of a beautifully crafted knife not only suited to the hunter but to the collector. Its polished Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade contrasts beautifully with the leather-washer handle which looks great in its own right and affords a positive grip. A polished dome bolster on the butt of the handle further attributes to the positive feel.

The blade profile makes the European Hunter a superb knife for field dressing and butchering, including boning duties. The 3.5mm blade is just right for all the tasks described and the weight of 225 grams is not too onerous. The blade was razor sharp out of the box and would be easy to maintain with a quality sharpening steel. With a retail price under $100 this is a cracking buy.

Win Collection 583

The Win Collection 583 folder is a lovely utility piece suited to all manner of chores where a small, compact folding knife is required. Its 9.5cm clip point blade with integral thumb groove makes opening easy and once open it stays locked without any movement. The blade is closed by depressing the blade release at the butt of the handle.

Lovely Palisander wood adorns the handle with brass rivets attaching both scales to the handle proper, and stainless steel bolsters either side of the handle finish the unit off nicely and match the polished look of the blade. A lanyard hole through the butt bolster is also a pleasing feature.

The N690Co blade is cut-throat sharp straight from the box and can be easily touched up with a small diamond hone. For the hunting daypack, car glovebox, lunch bag or even the picnic basket, the Win Collection 583 is a useful blade indeed, the only minus being that no leather holster is supplied.

BlackFox Lensatic Compass (TS 819)

This neat little Lensatic Compass is made under the BlackFox brand and is identical to ones used in the military. It comprises cover, base and reading lens. The cover is made of aluminium and is essentially the lid which contains the sighting wire. The base is the bottom half of the compass and is also made of aluminium. It contains the floating compass dial (with markers for west, south and east plus an arrow pointing north), the bezel that surrounds it and the thumb loop. The dial is floating in a type of liquid, probably oil in this instance. Protecting the dial is a plastic cover with a fixed index line etched into it as a smaller line that rotates with the bezel.

The reading lens is plastic, mounted in a moveable arm attached to the base of the compass and folds to lie flat on the dial for protection when is closed. The compass cover and base are finished in an Army olive drab (OD) green and the whole unit in the closed configuration measures 80mm x 56mm x 25mm.

In a world of hi-tech electronics and Global Positioning System (GPS) location devices, the humble Lensatic Compass and a map will always guide you home long after your batteries have run flat. The BlackFox Lensatic Compass retails for around $25 and is just the ticket for the outdoors enthusiast.

For more on the great range of knives and accessories under the Fox banner and stockist in Australia, visit berettaaustralia.com.au

Fox Knives specifications

Model

Win Collection

583

European Hunter

620/13

Pro Hunter

FX-131 DW

Pro Hunter folder FX-130 MGT

Knife design

Clip point folder

Drop point fixed blade

Drop point fixed blade

Drop point folder

Blade length

9.5cm

13cm

11cm

9.5cm

Blade steel

N690Co

Stainless steel Sandvik 12C27

N692Co

N690Co ‑ PTFE coated.

 

Blade hardness

HRC 58-60

HRC 55-57

HRC 58-60

HRC 58-60

Blade thickness

3mm

3.5mm

5mm

5mm

Overall length

22cm

24cm

23cm

21.5cm

Folded length

12cm

N/A

N/A

13cm ‑ with LAWKS system

Handle material

Wood – Palisander with stainless steel 430 bolsters

Leather

Wood - Desert wood (Palisander Santos)

Micarta

Weight

150 grams

225 grams

190 grams

215 grams

Accessories

Nil

 

Leather holster supplied

Leather holster supplied

Leather holster supplied.

 

 

 

 

 

RRP

$105

$99

$299

$329

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