I have been doing a lot of research on steel/blade length and style for my next (and hopefully only) stalking knife. I have been using cheap and cheerful Hultafors Stainless for a while (which blunt easily) and have decided that as my birthday is coming up i will treat myself.
All of the different types of steel (440c/440HC/D2/A2/ATS-34) have all different qualities and associated price tags. I therefore wanted to go for a hard blade (RC 58+) and wanted to ensure that it was not too brittle. So i landed on CPM S30V steel, which offers a great edge as well as being stainless, which is the obvious downside to D2 steel which is not and can lead to corrosion problems if you have prolonged use in the field. (especially when dealing with deer gralloching).
With this steel in mind i then went onto have a look at factory knives around the £100 mark, and was really surprised that Benchmade have just produced (new for 2014) the Saddle Mountain Skinner. A really good length at 10.1 cm which offers ample dexterity and reach without being cumbersome. It also retails at £117 from Heinnie Haynes which is bang in the price bracket. I was alarmed when i was informed that the majority of the production had moved to japan which offered less quality steel - however that is for their lesser 440C and 440HC blades and that the S30V blades are manufactured in the USA.
I get delivery next week and will hopefully be able to report back with more conviction- but from what i am reading, it could be a solid contender against any custom knife and even the Fallkniven F1!
More to follow......