Presnell Utility Hunter Review: The Ultimate Field Companion?

Presnell Utility Hunter Review: The Ultimate Field Companion?
A forged finish, colorful spacers, brass guard and a white stag butt all combine for a handsome presentation on Michael Presnell’s classic utility hunter. (BLADE® image)

The author gets to test one of his favorite classic knife styles.

I have always been a fan of clip-point utility hunters such as those by Michael Presnell, especially the feel of the handle. The leather washers provide a non-slip grip, and in colder climates such a handle has a warm feel to it. Combine that with a very sharp blade and you are ready for most chores in the outdoors. How sharp is it? We shall see.

Utility Hunter Light-Duty Tasks

As always, I start with a paper slice using 20-pound bond stationery. The paper cut produces a fast assessment of sharpness. The knife sliced very fast and smooth—it even managed to get a piece of my skin in the process. It was a very sharp starting point.

Next: heavier double-walled cardboard. The clip point blade made short work of the medium. I used smooth, aggressive push cuts with the flat-ground blade. It sliced as fast as I could get my fingers out of the way.

It was on to some old, dried-out 8-ounce leather. The blade made very loud crunching noises as it cut the material. The positive grip of the handle made control very easy. The knife was extremely aggressive cutting leather. I selected a narrower piece of leather to do some skiving. The blade sliced and diced the material as fast as I could move it. It’s gratifying to hear the crunching noises, a sign of outstanding sharpness.

Utility Hunter Medium-Duty Cutting

I whittled some firesticks out of pine. The utility/hunter gave some nice fine curlicues. Control was positive and I was able to vary the depth of the cut quickly. It really excelled at the fine curlicues. I also noticed that the edge along the guard face was sharp. A quick touch up with 400-grit sandpaper knocked the edge right off.

Half-inch sisal rope was next. With a loud crunching sound the utility/hunter started cutting. After 200 noisy crunch cuts my wrist was slowing down, so it was time to stop. The edge was still sharp but I was done. The handle was very comfortable on the pressure cuts, with no hot spots on my hand.

To add an extra test medium, I grabbed an old serpentine belt for a dozen cuts. It didn’t phase the edge at all. I could hear it cutting through the belt’s cores. Still, there was no damage to the edge. Very well done, Michael.

Heavy Cutting

The last test was to assess the heat treat by whacking the edge into a white tail deer antler. After 30 whacks the edge was still in perfect shape. To prove it, I returned to the 20-pound bond paper. The knife sliced just like it did at the beginning of the test. Great heat treatment, Michael.

The knife was up for a batonning into a hackberry log. I used a dead-blow hammer to pound the blade’s spine. I split a few pieces and checked for damage. The edge was still in perfect shape and the handle and guard remained tight. The leather handle absorbed all the shock of batonning through the hackberry.

Final Cut

This is a high-performance knife that is very comfortable to use. It is a great companion for the field.I softened the edge on the front of the guard. It was a tad sharp for my sidewinder grip.

Presnell Utility Hunter Specs
Maker: Michael Presnell
Blade length: 4.25”
Blade material: Forged 52100 carbon steel
Blade grind: Flat
Blade pattern: Clip point
Blade @ thickest: 5/32”
Handle: G-10 spacers, stacked leather washers, stag buttcap
Guard: Brass
Weight: 6 ozs.
Overall length: 85/8”
Sheath: 6-oz. leather pouch belt model
Weight w/sheath: 8.5 ozs.
Maker’s price for a similar knife: $330

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