Tips & Basics

KA-BAR Dozier Folding Hunter KA4062-BRK, by Thomas Christianson

Every once in a while I run across a product that looks like an exceptionally good value. The KA4062-BRK fell into this category. It is manufactured by an iconic American company of good materials at an excellent price. I decided to purchase a sample to review.

Overview

Like many American firms, KA-BAR offers some foreign-made items in their product line. The Taiwanese-made Dozier Folding Hunter model KA4062-BRK is one of them.

The knife has a razor-sharp, 3-inch blade made of AUS 8A stainless steel, that folds into an easily-gripped Zytex handle. With a manufacturer-suggested retail price of $34.16 and widely available online for under $25 , the KA4062-BRK would seem to offer excellent value for the money.

Unfortunately, my testing revealed difficulties in deployment due to the use of a single rather than a dual thumb stud in the design. The thumb stud could be configured for either right handed or left handed deployment, but was not suitable for simultaneous ambidextrous deployment. I found that drawback to be so significant that I cannot recommend the knife in spite of its many other good features.

In the future, I hope to test the similar KA4065-BRK, which has a thumb notch rather than a thumb stud. I am hoping that this design will allow easier ambidextrous deployment, thus overcoming the drawback of the single thumb stud of the KA4061-BRK.

First Impressions

The knife arrived in an attractively printed 6″x1.5″x1″ box. The box was imprinted with a host of interesting information is an extremely small typeface. The box indicates that the KA4062-BRK is designed by Bob Dozier, “an icon in the knifemaking community since the 1960s”. It also indicates that his designs “are known for clean, straight forward lines. Their superb fit and finish provide excellent all-purpose utilitarianism at a reasonable price.”

The knife itself was contained in a bubble-wrap sleeve inside the box. The box also contained a folded paper with a limited lifetime warranty. I was not surprised to find that the limited warranty does not cover damage caused by neglect or improper use. The warranty mentions that improper use includes “throwing the product, batoning with the product, using the blades as a can opener, chisel, pry bar, screwdriver, digging tool, or for heavy work for which the product was not designed.” I wondered if KA-BAR had been spying on me. I have done all of those things with knives.

What did surprise me was that the warranty explicitly does not even cover “normal wear and tear.” A “limited lifetime warranty” can’t get much more limited than that.

The 3-inch drop point hollow grind blade of the KA4062-BRK came out of the box shaving sharp, but just barely. A session with my sharpener brought some improvement.

I found the Zytex handle easy to grip, but thin enough to fit in a pocket well. The pocket clip was sturdy and effective, and the lock back worked extremely well.

Soon after I took the knife out of the bubble wrap, the single thumb stud began to reveal its shortcomings. I am right-handed, but I typically carry my knife in my left front pants pocket. It is not unusual for me to open my knife with either hand. Sometimes I am holding something I need to cut in my right hand, so I open the knife with my left hand. Other times, I am holding something in my left hand, so I open the knife with my right hand. This makes the option of opening the knife with either hand essential. Having a knife that I can open with just the right hand or just the left hand was simply not practical.

This was emphasized to me shortly after I completed my testing of the KA4062-BRK. I experienced an interesting situation while carrying another knife. My left hand was engaged, so I reached across my body with my right hand, removed the knife from my left front pants pocket, and deployed the blade with my right hand. Fortunately, the blade on that other knife can be deployed with either hand. I plan to write more about that interesting situation when I review that knife.

Testing

I carried the knife daily for a month. During the course of that month, I used the knife, among other things, to open boxes, to cut paracord to make a loop to hang an extension cord on the wall of the pole barn, to cut the paracord again when the first loop was too big, and to cut cotton gun cleaning patches to size. I also used it to cut the liner for a Playtex diaper genie diaper disposal system. The system needed to be emptied after a visit by the grandkids, and new liner pulled down for the next visit. The knife worked well for all of these tasks. One thing that it did not work well for was cutting wire. I was hanging a picture, and needed to cut some wire for the back of the frame. The KA4062-BRK just could not handle the task. I missed the Leatherman Skeletool that I carry whenever I am not testing something else.

AUS 8A Stainless Steel

AUS 8A stainless steel is a budget-friendly knife steel produced by the Aichi Steel Corporation of Japan. It is easy to sharpen and resists corrosion well, but its edge retention is not as good as some other steels.

AUS 8A is composed of 82.63% iron, 14% chromium, 1% silicon, 0.75% carbon, 0.5% manganese, 0.5% nickel, 0.3% molybdenum, 0.25% vanadium, 0.04% phosphorus, and 0.03% sulfur. It differs from ordinary AUS 8 steel in that it is heat-treated.

Bob Dozier

Bob Dozier learned ironworking and knife making at his grandfather’s knee. One of the key features of the hand-made knives that he has produced throughout his career as a knife maker is edge retention. Edge retention was the feature that first attracted Louisiana hunters to his early, somewhat crudely produced, knives made from files and springs back in the 1960s. Edge retention remains the primary selling point of the high-quality hand-made knives that he is currently producing for sale at dozierknives.com. In contrast, edge retention is not a major feature of the AUS 8A blades that adorn many of his KA-BAR designs.

Conclusions

The KA-BAR Dozier Folding Hunter KA4062-BRK is an excellent concept that is generally well executed. It is sharp, attractive, easily gripped, and locks open securely. If it had a dual thumb stud, I would recommend it highly. But it has only a single thumb stud, and that is a fatal flaw. I cannot recommend the knife.

Some KA-BAR History

The origin of “KA-BAR” involves a wounded bear, the United States Marine Corps, and the Union Cutlery Company of Olean, New York.

According to the story, a hunter shot and wounded a Kodiak bear somewhere in Alaska sometime in the 1920s. The bear turned and attacked the hunter who shot it. Some versions of the story say that the bear knocked the rifle from the hunter’s hands. Other versions say that the rifle jammed. In any case, the only weapon left to the hunter was his knife. He drew the knife and managed to kill the bear with it. In appreciation, the hunter sent the skin of the bear to the president of Union Cutlery Company, the manufacturer of the knife. As a result, the Union Cutlery Company began using the KA-BAR trademark on many of their knives. The “KA” stood for either “Kodiak” or for “kilt a” depending on which version of the story you believe. The “BAR” stood for “bear”.

The story seems a bit farfetched to me. With a wounded Kodiak turning on a hunter, I have trouble imagining him living long enough to even draw his knife. If he somehow managed to draw his knife, I have trouble imagining him successfully killing the bear with it. I suspect that someone significantly embellished this story somewhere along the way. But whether this story is entirely true, entirely fabricated, or contains some measure of both truth and falsehood, it is the origin story of the “KA-BAR” name.

The United States Marine Corps enters the story on December 7, 1941. The Marines were not enthralled with the “Great War” era trench knives that they were issued at the beginning of yet another, even greater, war. Some Marine units experimented with a version of the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife instead. They discovered that although a Marine’s duty involved killing from time to time, a greater portion of their day to day lives was dedicated to tasks like opening cans, cutting field telephone wire, digging holes, or opening crates. The stiletto style knife was unsuitable to these more mundane tasks. They needed a knife more appropriate to the full range of Marine service.

In response, two Marine Corps officers collaborated with the Union Cutlery Company to design a combination fighting/utility knife. The Camillus Cutlery Company manufactured more of the resulting design than any other single company. But somehow the “KA-BAR” stamped on the units manufactured by Union Cutlery Company caught on as the popular name for the iconic “Knife, Fighting Utility.”

Eventually, the Union Cutlery Company changed its name to reflect its best-known product. The rest, as they say, is history.

Disclaimer

I did not receive any financial or other inducement to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.

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