KaBar Fin Fixed Blade Tanto
Review by: Eoin Landers
Time Owned: 6 months
I bought the plain edge tanto version of this knife because I thought it would make a good, hard-use camping knife, with enough heft to split wood and enough control for some basic food preparation. However, I am disappointed with the Fin and am generally reluctant, because of its faults, to use it for any task.
The Fin is quite heavy and the D2 blade is very thick. It is a full tang construction, and the steel running through the handle is perhaps thicker still. The wide tanto point offers good resistance to snapping or shearing off. As such, the Fin ought to be practically indestructible - but these design choices have their downside.
The major problem with this knife is that the blade thickens too rapidly behind the cutting edge. Even though this is a hollow ground design, the knife will not slice anything effectively. I sharpened the blade very keenly, but even so it would tear sideways through cartridge paper and become stuck in cardboard. Incidentally, the knife was delivered with a curling burr toward the tip, and generally the grind work was sloppy and differed significantly on either side of the blade. Clearly, quality control was not all it should be.
The particular interpretation of the "americanised tanto" shape in this knife is also highly impractical. It is tricky to sharpen and if you need to use the tip of the knife for fine work, you cannot easily see what you are doing because of the odd geometry. The angular handle is a little uncomfortable at times and a more rounded design would afford more comfort. It would also mean that applying a paracord wrap would be much more straight-forward - and you may well wish to put one on there in lieu of the edgy, heavy handle material.
My final gripe is that the D2 steel Ka-bar have used in the knife seems quite poor, perhaps oweing to heat treatment or other factors. It is incredibly resistant to abrasion and I really dreaded the thought of resharpening it. It is nonetheless brittle and even with a sturdy 25-degree primary (cutting) bevel on each side, the knife nonetheless chipped quite readily with careless use. The knife held an edge for a long time but could never really be called razor-sharp. These are indeed shortcomings common to D2 steel generally, but I found them particularly salient in the Ka-bar Fin.
All in all, if I lost my Fin knife tomorrow there is no chance whatsoever that I would buy another.