Schrade SCH406 and SCH406N Neck Knife Reviewed
Marketing from Schrade
The SCH406 and SCH406N are bursting with innovative features designed to support tactical, survival and personal protection applications in an ultralight, covert black EDC neck knife format. A well positioned choil serves as a finger guard.
The SCH406 has a 2.38 inch precisely honed black ceramic drop point blade that retains its razor sharp edge almost indefinitely, resisting contaminants and offering complete protection against rust.
A full tang boosts the knife’s overall strength and affords the perfect design for supporting the 550 paracord handle wrap… an essential resource in survival and tactical situations. The paracord passes through the lanyard hole so you can tether the SCH406 and SCH406N to your wrist for added security.
The tough nylon fiber neck sheath uses a friction grip to hold the neck knives securely in place… while providing for rapid blade deployment. Multiple carry options are available thanks to four reinforced grommet holes. Or use the 550 paracord that comes strung through the bottom holes for traditional neck knife carry.
The SCH406 is a 5.22 inch neck knife for discreet every day carry weighing less than an ounce and a half… The SCH406N is a 5.14 inch neck knife weighing less than an two ounces, each crafted from premium materials… and built for a lifetime.
Manufacturer: Schrade, www.schrade.com
Model: SCH406, SCH406N
Overall Length: 5.21 inches (13.25 cm), 5.14 inches (13.05 cm)
Blade Material: Ceramic, 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 2.38 inches (6.05 cm), 2.36 inches (6.0 cm)
Blade Thickness: .098″ (2.5 mm), .096″ (2.45 mm)
Handle Material: 550 Paracord Handle Wrap
Handle Length: 2.83 inches (7.2 cm), 2.78 inches (7.05 cm)
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g), 2.0 oz. (56.6 g)
Accessories: Nylon Fiber Neck Sheath
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty against any manufacturing defects
Origin: Made in China
UPC: 044356222549, 044356224000
MSRP: $40.20, $22.66
In recent years there has been an explosion in the survival blade industry, including EDC blades that are small, lightweight and are designed to be worn around the neck on a chain or section of paracord. Schrade has two new models for 2015; The SCH406 Ceramic Neck Knife and the SCH406N Stainless Steel Neck Knife. In this article, we’ll be comparing the features and functionality of the two.
Having a small knife hanging from your neck is certainly not for everyone, but it is hard not to see the value of it for a multitude of reasons. It is also very important to consult your local laws before purchasing and carrying any neck knife in public. Concealed carry laws vary greatly from state to state and even city to city due to the insane logic and lack of common sense by so many government officials these days.
You really need to do your homework as to whether your city and state is plagued by this cancer. For example, here in Commiefornia where we are ranked at the very bottom of the Freedom Scale. Sadly, fixed blades cannot be concealed no matter their size, or the reason. Additionally, you cannot carry a non-magnetic knife that is undetectable by a metal detector either. Hopefully, your city and state have more sensible laws.
OK… Now that I’ve got my political rant out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff.
The first thing that I noticed about these two neck knives was the 3′ paracord lanyard attached to each of the durable nylon fiber sheaths via two of the four grommet holes. Each of the paracord lanyards are tied with a simple ordinary knot rather than two slip knots providing the lanyard with some adjustability, but that is easily remedied. These are often changed out for beaded lanyards or break-aways are added for security purposes anyway. The four reinforced grommet holes along the edge of the sheaths provide a multitude of carry options in addition to the provided neck lanyard.
The rugged fiberglass-reinforced nylon sheaths are very similar in nature to that of Kydex sheaths. The material looks a lot alike and they are patterned and moulded much in the same way. Each sheath firmly holds the neck knives securely in place while allowing for rapid blade deployment. There was absolutely no rattle or slippage whatsoever which is ideal for a neck knife.
The paracord-wrapped three-finger handles are tightly-wrapped with a single-layer of paracord making them comfortable to wield and slip-resistant. The paracord is fastened to the handle by passing through the lanyard hole at the end of the handle creating an 8″ diameter loop. However, I do wear a large-sized glove so the lanyards were far too small for my hand. They need to be at least 2″ longer, and even more for a larger hand than mine.
Each of the neck knives are a little over 5″ long with almost the exact same full-tang drop-point profile and a well positioned finger choil that also serves as a finger guard. However, that is where the similarities end. There are many definitive, although slight differences between the two knives from the blade and handle dimensions to their weight and the material that they are made from.
Now it’s time to focus on the details…
The Schrade SCH406 Ceramic Neck Knife
The SCH406 is made from a single stick of incredibly hard black ceramic zirconium dioxide (ZrO2; also known as zirconia) that is popular for its non-conductive and non-magnetic properties, superior edge retention and complete resistance to rust, corrosion and other contaminants. Since ceramic knives are non-conductive and non-magnetic, they are typically not detectable by metal detectors so they may not be carried legally in public in many cities and states, concealed or not. Especially in places that utilize metal detectors like airports, court houses and government buildings. Therefore, I cannot stress enough the importance of checking your local and state laws if there is any question as to the legality, concealed or not.
Ceramic knives are naturally white. By increasing the temperature and heating time manufacturers are able to generate a black ceramic blade that is much stronger and harder than typical white ceramic blades so they tend to hold an edge much longer. However, that extreme level of hardness does come at a price. Ceramic material is inherently brittle by nature and thus prone to chipping, or worse breaking as a result. The harder a material is, the more brittle it becomes so you can’t use a ceramic knife as a screwdriver or a pry bar, and always handle them with care.
The SCH406 is 5.21″ long overall with a 2.38″ blade length, 2.83″ handle length, and weighs only 1.5 ounces. Its drop-point blade has an aggressive hollow-grind precisely honed to a razor-sharp edge so it cuts fast, smooth and clean, without any risk of corrosion or picking up contaminants. Perfect for skinning and dressing animals both in and out of the field.
It is important to sharpen ceramic knives properly or risk destroying them entirely. But it is really not difficult to do. This is typically done using powered diamond dust sharpening systems with varying grits to reshape or repair damaged blades and then polish the edge.
The Schrade SCH406N Stainless Steel Neck Knife
The SCH406N is made from a single slab of 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel, end to end. Its full-tang design provides all of the strength and rigidity that you would expect from any good fixed-blade knife. Even one so small. It is 5.14″ long overall with a 2.36″ blade length, 2.78″ handle length, and weighs in just under 2 ounces.
8Cr13MoV is a Chinese stainless steel that is similar in quality to AICHI, AUS8 and 440B stainless steels with regard to strength, hardness, corrosion resistance and edge retention. Stainless steel is a popular class of material for knife blades because it has properties that are commonly resistant to rust and corrosion, while remaining easy to maintain. This makes it an excellent choice for a survival blade. While this alloy is typically easier to sharpen than other stainless alloys like 440C, it generally does not hold an edge quite as well.
It is important to note that 8Cr13MoV is only rust and corrosion resistant. As a result, it is susceptible to rust and corrosion without proper care and maintenance. But that is a very simple process. If the blade becomes wet, simply dry it thoroughly and lightly coat it with a metal protectant like Break-Free CLP before storage. If you do, it will likely last you a lifetime.
The SCH406N has an aggressive drop-point with a deep, hollow-grind and a slight compound bevel without any serrations. This is a very common grind on factory knives today. A drop-point profile is best explained as a blade with a convex curve from the spine to the tip of the blade which provides a strong, robust tip that is easy to direct when cutting, but is often less suitable for piercing.
The blade has a flat-ground spine that works perfectly when striking a ferro rod, with or without the protective coating.
Now lets see what these two neck knives can do… In order to provide a some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between blades, I will be performing a series of durability tests; Feather Stick, Tip Strength and Edge Retention.
Per Wikipedia: A feather stick (sometimes referred to as a fuzz stick) is a length of wood which is shaved to produce a head of thin curls protruding from the wood. It is used for damp wood to start a fire (or campfire) when dry tinder is hard to find.
The purpose of the test is to use the knife in a real-world situation, or at least close to a real-world situation to insure that it will perform as expected. Feathering a stick to create a dry tinder bundle is certainly something that any survival knife should be able to do. However, feathering a stick with any three-finger knife must be done with patience and attention to detail in order to limit the risk of injury. It is not that they are inherently dangerous, but it is important to understand how to wield them safely.
For the first test, I chose to use the SCH406 and a stick around 12″ long and 1.5″ in diameter. I think it was from an old California Pepper tree so it was much harder than a common pine or fir would be. Before I could start shaving curls off the stick, I needed to remove the bark about 8″ up from the bottom, exposing the wood inside. I found that I could grip the knife comfortably with my three fingers wrapped around the handle and the lanyard between my third and fourth fingers. Then I placed my thumb on the spine for more control.
Once the stick was ready, I was able to get started with the test. As I began to work my way around the stick, I quickly realized just how sharp this ceramic blade really was. With each stroke I was shaving off long thin curls with ease. Though I’m sure I could have gotten them much thinner if I had been working with some softer material. Before I knew it I had a pile of really thin tinder ready to go.
For the second part of this test, I simply replicated what I did with the SCH406, but with the stainless steel SCH406N. I chose to use the same size stick, around 12″ long and 1.5″ in diameter from the same California Pepper tree just to keep things even. I quickly removed the bark, gripping the knife in the exact same way and began feathering the stick.
As I began to work my way around the second stick with the stainless steel blade, I noticed right away that the stainless SCH406N was not nearly as sharp as the ceramic SCH406. While it was sharp out of the box, there was certainly a lot of room for improvement. Though I am not sure if it could become quite as sharp as the ceramic model. After a short while of working at feathering the stick, I had a pile of tinder ready to go. But not nearly as fine as the other pile.
Normally, one of the tests that I try perform is to bore a hole into the side of a large tree branch or stump which I will still likely do with the stainless SCH406N, but not with the ceramic SCH406. I really don’t want to risk breaking the tip unnecessarily. However, I will try both at stabbing a sheet of heavy cardboard from a wardrobe storage box.
First, the ceramic SCH406… Gripping the handle as before with my three fingers wrapped around the handle, the lanyard between my third and fourth fingers, and my thumb on the spine of the blade certainly felt the most comfortable and yielded the most control. This ensures the index is fixed behind the finger guard and the butt of the knife sits firmly against the palm of the hand.
I stabbed the SCH406 into the sheet of cardboard five times with little to no resistance at all. The extreme sharpness of the blade’s edge went right through like slicing warm butter and did not bind on its way out either. I even tried giving a little twist as I punctured the cardboard to further test the strength of the blade and it came through with flying colors.
Next I performed the same test using the exact same grip, but this time with the stainless steel SCH406N. Like the SCH406, stabbing the sheet of cardboard five times with the SCH406N tabbing proved to be way too easy. It too sliced through the cardboard without any noticeable resistance or binding on its way out.
The final tip strength test for the SCH406N is to bore the hole. I placed the tip against the side of a 3″ log and began twisting the blade while providing a moderate amount of force toward the log. As I worked the blade into the side of the log, I noticed the palm of my hand was getting worked almost as hard so I grabbed some gloves and kept going. After a few more minutes I had a small hole about 3/4″ deep and 3/4″ in diameter with no noticeable damage to the tip. I think this test would certainly break the tip of the SCH406.
For this part of the challenge, I will be performing two edge retention tests on each blade. The first test will be cutting up a heavy wardrobe storage box. The second will simply be slicing through a single sheet of printer paper to see how well the edge of each knife held.
I gripped the SCH406 and stabbed through the upper-left corner of the cardboard before slicing downward about 18″. I tried this four more times, each as successful as the last. The ceramic blade easily sliced through the cardboard with only a small amount of resistance.
Performing the same test with the stainless steel SCH406N did not end with the same result. The blade easily punctured the cardboard, but I could not get it to slice the cardboard cleanly. The edge was nowhere near sharp enough. As a result, it seemed to tear the cardboard rather than slice through it. Though, with a good sharpening it would likely perform better than it did out of the box.
The ceramic blade on the SCH406 easily sliced through a single sheet of printer paper just as it had before when I pulled it out of the box. No noticeable chips, scratches or wear whatsoever.
The stainless steel SCH406N was not incredibly sharp out of the box and could not slice cleanly through the printer paper before I began the series of tests so I wasn’t expecting it to at the end either. However, there are no noticeable chips, scratches or wear on the blade. But with a little help from a good sharpening system, I know that this blade can only get better.
Update: After some serious sharpening of the SCH406N, I was finally able to slice cleanly through a sheet of paper, but not through the cardboard near as well as the SCH406. Although, its ability to shave fine curls from a stick improved tremendously.
Schrade’s new SCH406 and SCH406N neck knives are practical options for tactical, survival, and self-defense situations. From their lightweight versatile design to their rugged sheath and the quality materials that they are made from, you really get a lot of bang for your buck from both of these knives. While the legality of carrying the SCH406 and SCH406N in public concealed or not may be questionable from place to place, the convenience, peace of mind and value that they provide is not.
The edge of the ceramic blade is exceptionally sharp out of the box and has the ability to maintain its edge much longer than its stainless counterpart. Although, the SCH406 is somewhat brittle and requires more consideration with regard to how it is used. The stainless steel SCH406N on the other hand is rock-solid, but not near as sharp out of the box. Either of these would make an outstanding discreet-carry EDC or backup blade.
You can find this and other Schrade products here: http://amzn.to/2c0kjZF
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the product(s) mentioned above for free in consideration for a complete, honest and impartial product review for publication on LetsTalkSurvival.com with no gurantee of the outcome whatsoever. Any opinion provided herein is based entirely on our personal experience with the product(s).
About Taylor Brands and Schrade Cutlery
Founded by Stewart Taylor in 1975, Taylor Brands has been manufacturing, designing, and distributing high-quality stainless steel cutting tools and accessories since our inception. Taylor Brands owns and produces Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, and Imperial branded products, and are also licensed to produce multiple product lines under the world famous Smith & Wesson brand. In total Taylor Brands manufactures several hundred different products including fixed and folding knives, collapsible batons, tactical pens, handcuffs, tactical and survival accessories, and flashlights.