Schrade SCHF52 and SCHF52M Knives Reviewed
Marketing from Schrade
Schrade Frontier Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife, Powder Coated 1095 High Carbon Steel Drop Point Blade with Finger Choil, one with a Ring Textured TPE Handle and the other with a Picked Micarta Handle, both with Spine and Grip Jimping, Lanyard Hole, Black Polyester Belt Sheath with Ferro Rod and Sharpening Stone.
Manufacturer: Schrade, www.schrade.com
Model: SCHF52, SCHF52M
Overall Length: 12.99 inch (32.99 cm)
Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Steel
Blade Length: 7.04 inch (17.88 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.22″ (5.6 mm)
Handle Material: Ring Textured TPE, Picked Micarta
Handle Length: 5.95 inch (15.11 cm)
Weight: 16.7 oz, 17.4 oz
Accessories: Black Polyester Belt Sheath with Ferro Rod and Sharpening Stone
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty against any manufacturing defects
Origin: Made in Taiwan
UPC: 044356225199, 044356225755
MSRP: $60.00, $76.26
New for 2016, Schrade’s much anticipated SCHF52 and SCHF52M Frontier fixed-blade knives have been released just in time for Christmas. They are an updated take on last years SCHF37 and SCHF37M with a few improvements that I think we can all appreciate. Today, I’ll be putting both of these new blades through a series of functional challenges to test blade control and strength, so let’s get on with it and see how well they fare…
I was a big fan of Schrade’s SCHF36 and SCHF37 so I was very interested to see where they were going to take the design of these new blades. Like many, I too had an issue with the thick asphalt-like protective coating on the blade and the aggressive jimping on the top and bottom of the handle. I already covered the SCHF51 just a few short weeks ago so this article will focus solely on the SCHF52 and SCHF52M. However, the blades are so similar, there are a few parts of this review that will likely appear nearly identical.
When I first received the SCHF52 and SCHF52M, I was pretty excited to see that they had listened to much of the feedback that they had received. This is one of my favorite things about Schrade… They always seem to listen to customer feedback and they provide great customer service.
The major difference between the SCHF37 and SCHF37M is not only the scale material, but also the steel that they are made from. The two scale options are picked linen micarta and ring-textured TPE. The SCHF37 is made from a 1095 high carbon steel whereas the SCHF37M is made from an 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel. Due to customer feedback, this time around Schrade opted to use a Taiwanese 1095 high carbon steel for both the SCHF52 and SCHF52M.
The SCHF52 and SCHF52M both share the exact same 7.04-inch drop-point blade profile, finger choil and hollow grind as the SCHF37 so not much has really changed on the blade end itself. But they did drop the thick powder coating with the rough finish that would cause drag and gum up the blade with material for a thinly applied PTFE powder coating with a smooth finish. This also allows the Schrade logo and model number to pop better on these new knives.
The handle length, profile and jimping are where the biggest changes have occurred between the two models. The handle of the SCHF52 and SCHF52M are 5.95-inches in length as opposed to 5.36-inches of the SCHF37 and SCHF37M. Additionally, the rear-quillion is much more pronounced providing a better grip and improved retention while chopping, hacking and slashing. As a result, the point of balance shifted further back behind the fingerguard making the knife a little handle-heavy. However, the balance is perfect if you choke all the way up to the finger choil.
The lower handle finger groove and jimping have also been removed resulting a more comfortable grip, and the upper handle jimping on the thumb ramp is much less aggressive. These tweaks to the handle area have certainly addressed most of the hotspot complaints from the SCHF36 and SCHF37 in a very positive way.
While all of these changes may seem minor, combined they make a huge difference to the fit and finish of the SCHF52 and SCHF52M. Like the SCHF51, many early reviewers are calling the SCHF52 nearly perfect.
The SCHF52 and SCHF52M also come with a black polyester belt sheath with a ferro rod, striker, and sharpening stone neatly tucked in the attached pocket.
Now lets focus on the features of the SCHF52 and SCHF52M in more detail…
Schrade’s SCHF52 is a medium-sized survival blade with an overall length of 12.99″, a blade length of 7.04″ and a weight of 16.7 ounces. The SCHF52M is 0.7 ounces heavier. They are both made from a rugged slab of 1095 high carbon steel nearly 1/4″ thick from tip to pommel and 1.6″ at their widest. This broad full-tang design provides all of the strength and rigidity that you would expect from a good survival knife.
1095 high carbon steel is a very popular steel alloy that is much harder than most other lower-carbon steel alloys so it tends to hold an edge much longer making it an excellent choice for bushcraft and survival type blades. Not to mention, it is typically easier to sharpen steel blades than stainless blades.
While the 1095 steel blades can really take a licking and still hold an edge, the high carbon content make it very susceptible to rust and corrosion without proper care and maintenance. Even protective coatings can’t prevent the corrosion from occurring. But by keeping the blade dry and lightly oiled when not in use, it just might last you a lifetime.
The SCHF52 has a solid blade, thick and heavy-duty, yet well-balanced making it ideal for chopping, prying and digging without any worry of damaging the tip or the blade. It has a stout 90° spine with an attractive drop-point pattern and a solid tip. The blade is ground with a deep hollow-grind and a slight compound bevel without any serrations. This is a very common grind on factory knives today. The shape of this blade provides a bit more leverage perfect for heavy bushwhacking tasks like chopping and lighter bushcraft techniques like carving and shaving sticks.
The SCHF52’s handle scales are made from a hard, durable TPE rubber with an aggressive ring pattern providing an excellent non-slip grip even in wet conditions. Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubber is made from a mix of plastic and rubber polymers providing both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. The handle design consists of a moderate palm-swell making it easy to grip with or without gloves.
The SCHF52M’s handle scales are made from an extremely durable picked linen micarta with a coarse pattern providing an excellent non-slip grip even in wet conditions, making it a great choice for a knife handle. However, the scale pattern is coarse enough that some may find it more comfortable to wield with gloves. Micarta is a resin impregnated fibre compound produced with a wide variety of resins and fibers cured under high pressure and high temperature.
Whichever the model, the two handle scales are attached through the full-tang blade with two recessed allen bolts threaded directly into the knife steel allowing it to absorb much of the shock when chopping or batoning, thereby reducing fatigue.
On the upper-side of the handle near the thumb ramp, there are seven jimped notches providing a variety of gripping options.
There is a large finger choil in front of the fingerguard providing exceptional control over the blade for fine bushcraft tasks like making trap triggers and feathering sticks. The pommel located at end of the handle has a lanyard through hole at its base sized perfectly for a paracord tether. The pommel is smooth-faced and can be used for light hammering in a pinch.
The SCHF52 and SCHF52M each come with a belt sheath made from a heavy-duty black polyester. The blades fit snuggly in a plastic-lined pocket and is held firmly in place with a retention strap and button closure. The pocket lining is not reversible so the sheath is configured for right-hand carry only.
Sewn onto the front side of the sheath there is a small pouch containing a ferro rod and sharpening stone with an elastic band and velcro flap to hold them firmly in place. There are two riveted eyelets attach the lower-end of the sheath with a short nylon rope to use as a leg strap, but a length of paracord would certainly be a good improvement. The ferro rod is a good quality and works very well with the 90° spine providing ample sparks to get a fire going.
The belt loop is capable of handling a 2.25″ belt and can be rapidly put on or taken off with a simple velcro closure.
Now lets see what the SCHF52 and SCHF52M can do… In order to provide a some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between blades, I will be performing five durability tests; Chopping, Batoning, Fine Blade Control, Tip Strength and Edge Retention. In a survival situation, all resources are fair game. However, since I am not in a life-or-death situation, I’ll stick to some dead wood that I have lying around for these tests.
To kick off the testing of most survival-style knives, I typically prepare a few logs for splitting with a baton that will be used in subsequent tests. To do so, I needed to cut a log down to size, otherwise known as bucking a log. I started with a long branch about 3-4″ in diameter which should be pretty easy for the 7″ blade to take on. Much easier than the 5″ SCHF51 for sure. At just over a pound, the SCHF52 provides quite a lot of force when striking it against something. Especially after choking back on the handle to use a two or three finger grip. This greatly increases the radius of the swing to provide a lot more centrifugal force behind the blade while chopping.
When chopping, or bucking a log you simply strike the log at a 45° angle from two perpendicular directions along the cut-line, effectively making a “V” in the material used, otherwise known as the kerf. The kerf should equal the diameter of the trunk, and when cutting from both sides, the kerf would essentially be half the diameter.
The SCHF52 has the same aggressive hollow-grind as the SCHF51 which bit deeply into the material sending the wood chips flying with each strike against the log. After a dozen or so swings, I was already more than half-way through the first cut with only two more cuts to go. I continued to chop my way through the branch until I had successfully bucked three logs, each about 16″ in length.
I found it most comfortable and effective to chop using a two-finger grip as opposed to a three or four finger grip. Not only did it provide more leverage, it also reduced the amount of shock and vibration that I felt through the TPE scales on the SCHF52. However, this was not the case with the micarta scales on the SCHF52M. As a result, I felt much less fatigue with the SCHF52 than I did with the SCHF52M. I also used the SCHF52 to chop up some smaller branches shortly thereafter, and it made quick work of them as well.
To test the SCHF52 at splitting logs with a baton, I first found a stick 3″ in diameter and 2′ long for the baton. The goal was to split up the logs that I had previously bucked down to size in the previous test into small kindling. Each of the logs were only 3-4″ in diameter so the 7″ blade of the SCHF52 was easily long enough to half them.
I placed the first log on its end and began to whack the baton evenly against both ends of the long thick spine, and it split the log with ease. Even the stuff that was really knotty and twisted. First in half, then quarters, and so on until I had a decent-sized pile of small kindling. The protective coating did not cause much resistance if any, and the hollow-grind actually aided in splitting the material. As a result, very little effort was necessary to drive the blade through the log from end-to-end, and it became easier and easier as the material got smaller.
I repeated the test two more times, splitting the remaining of logs down to size. I also used the baton and blade to cut a few 2″ branches into smaller pieces as well. The SCHF52 made the job as easy as it could possibly be. The thick spine only caused a minimal amount of damage to the baton, unlike some narrower blades and blades with swedges that I’ve tried. I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed results.
Fine Blade Control
To test the SCHF52 at fine blade control, I performed three very common bushcraft tasks. The first, and most likely the most common test for reviewers, feathering a stick. The second test would be to make a handful of tent stakes with notches and pointed ends. The third and final test would be to make a basic figure-four trap trigger.
For the first part of this test, I found the straightest of the pine sticks from the three logs that I had just split to work with. After knocking off the sharp corners with the knife, I began shaving long thin curls from around the stick. As expected, choking all the way up to the finger choil would give the balance and control necessary to work the blade properly for this task. Before long, I had a pile of wood curls ready to light.
For the second task, I started with a 1/2″ branch that I cut down to 5 sticks 10″ in length. Next, I spent a minute or two cutting a notch into each one of the stakes about 1″ down from the end to prevent them from splitting. I found that the thick spine really helps when you are using your thumbs for extra leverage to push against as you advance the blade through the material.
The last step was to shave a point on the other end of each of the stakes. I tried a few different methods to shave the material from the point, but holding the blade fixed against my chest and drawing the stick across it seemed to work the best and provide the most control for me.
The final task was to make a figure-four trap trigger for a simple deadfall trap. This requires three sticks, the upright stick, the release stick, and the bait stick. The upright stick has a pointed end and a squared-out notch cut out near the other end. The release stick has a pointed end and a v-shaped notch near the other end. The bait stick has a point at one end, a v-shaped notch at the other, and a squared-out notch near the center.
As I worked my way around the trigger parts making the points and notches, the SCHF52 was easy enough to wield and maneuver around the material. The SCHF51 was certainly much easier being 2″ shorter and a couple ounces lighter. Although, the thick broad blade of each did not make it easy. A smaller thin blade would have been much easier to work with on the intricate notching.
To test the SCHF52’s ability to stab and pierce without damaging the tip or breaking the blade, I drove the tip of the blade into the side of a medium-sized stump about 16″ in diameter as deep as I could with a baton. I was confident this test would have no negative effect on the SCHF52 as the same tests on the SCHF51 were so successful. I proceeded to loosen the blade using a side-to-side motion until it was loose enough to pry out. I repeated this test a few more times as I shredded the log just to be certain of its durability.
Next, I drove the blade deep into the side of the log before trying to stand on the broad-side of the blade to just see if it would bend or break under the stress, but it easily supported all of my 250 pounds without any issue whatsoever.
Finally, I used the SCHF52 to bore a hole into the side of a log by twisting the blade back and forth until the hole was about 1″ deep and 1″ in diameter. The SCHF52 successfully performed all of the tip tests without any issues. It is an extremely rugged blade with a stout tip, seemingly indestructible.
The last test that I always like to perform is to slice through a single-sheet of printer paper to see if any of the previous tests had affected the blade’s edge. The SCHF52 was easily rugged enough to survive all of the other tests without any sign of cracks, chips or other imperfections of any kind with the exception of some slight wear on the blade’s protective coating. I was able to slice cleanly through the sheet of paper with the SCHF52 proving that it can hold an edge, even after some use and abuse.
Schrade’s SCHF52 and SCHF52M are solid performers, built to last from quality Taiwanese 1095 high carbon steel, a durable finish, and rugged scales, making them an ideal choice for many emergency preparedness and survival scenarios. They are extremely well-balanced survival blades that are very comfortable to wield, minimizing any fatigue caused by heavy use.
Like the SCHF51 and SCHF51M, my biggest gripe aside from not having a recurve has to do with the location of the jimping. Many knife enthusiasts prefer no jimping at all. I think that the jimping would have been better served on the foreside of the thumb ramp to provide better traction when you choked up on the blade.
When it comes to rock-solid budget survival blades, Schrade certainly has had some real winners as of late, easily capable of performing rigorous bushcraft and survival tasks, even under extreme conditions. I think the improvements that made it into the design of the SCHF52 and SCHF52M have raised the bar yet again when it comes to what you can get for under $50. At this price, it might be a good idea to keep a few of these stashed around the house and packed in bug-out bags. I have to give Schrade another two thumbs up for these two new blades!
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.