Review – Martin Knives T3 SERE

 Good Morning World,

This morning I am going to start my first personal review of some of the knives that I have in my knife collection. Each of these knives I have spent my hard earned money upon so there is no one out there that has any form of persuasiveness; these comments and observations are strictly my own. Plus, I am not marketing any goods except these written words…so here goes.

I figured it fitting that I start my review with, if I had to pick any knife I own as my favourite, this would be the one for numerous reasons. Sorta looks like you now are aware of what the finally word will be in my conclusions! As the title of this article states, the knife that I will be reviewing today is the T3 SERE model that is made by Ed Martin of Martin Knives, Caddo Mills, Texas. I did contact Ed by email before I started working on this review and was stunned that not only he remembered me but that he actually remembered my particular knife. This sounds kind of impressive but not so much when he told me that in all his time of custom making knives, neither he nor his son Newt have made any others with Blaze Orange G-10 scales. By the way, Ed is an exceptional guy to work with and talk too, this I remember as in planning my knife I had more than one contact with him both by email and telephone as we discussed the best steels and options for my intended use. Ed also generously offered put my blog post up on his website, which for a beginning writer I took to be an honour.  So this is what she looks like:

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My Martin SERE in black leather horizontal carry sheath with optional ferro rod and flat diamond stone pouch.

 

 
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How I came to own a Martin knife

 

So here is then history of how I came to find this knife and the custom maker Ed Martin. It all started a couple of years ago when the March 2012 issue of the magazine Tactical Knives came out. If my sarcastic memory serves me correctly in the way magazines are published and dated, this means I read the article sometime in late 1978, but I may be off by a month or too! Okay, back to the honest part of the review. As I mentioned, in the Mar 12 edition of TK, the editor Steven Dick wrote and excellent, and what I later found to be quite accurate, review of the Martin T3 SERE which all told comprised of about three columns of text and seven photos (only five of the knife) over four pages. I don’t say this to be critical, more as a compliment to Mr. Dick’s writing skill as, having been a TK reader for years, this went from just a knife that I thought I wanted to a knife that I WANTED. I am not sure if I have stated this before in my writings but I am blessed with a wonderful wife that does her best to put up with my addiction for sharp objects but being poor folks we had to come to a compromise on the fact that something of this nature has to cover at least one of the presents (birthday, Christmas, anniversary etc.) and in this case it had to cover them ALL! Again as testament to Mr. Dick’s writing and Mr. Martin’s product, I readily agreed to this compromise and started the order process. As I stated previously Mr. Ed Martin was great to deal with and when I informed him that I was starting to teach wilderness survival again and that I spent a goodly number of years in the Armoured Corp, he offered a number of excellent suggestions and also on a personal level we connected as his father had served as a tanker in the US Army. The “Zipperhead” family has to stick together!

In the end, the knife that I had manufactured for me was made with 5160 steel for it’s great tough characteristics and because I have a preference in general for carbon steel. The scales, as I stated are Blaze Orange G-10. Other options that I included were jimping on the top of the blade, thin black liners between the scales and the full tang and a hilt of steel which Ed offered to blue for me using regular gun bluing. At first I had opted for the brown leather sheath but Ed suggested that the black would look better and I am VERY glad that I took his suggestion. Not only does the black look better but in the instances where the leather gets scuffed (like on a regular basis in the bush) that I can just use a bit of time and KIWI Parade Gloss polish to bring to back to fine condition.

Here are a few of the other blades in my collection that I use on a fairly regular basis. By using these blades which are similar in some ways but different in others allows me the opportunity to formulate my opinions. I am hoping over time to write and article on each of these knives as they are all excellent in various functions.

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From top to bottom, these are the knives I used:

  1. The Bark River Bravo-1 – this one is in A2 steel with  Bird’s Eye Maple scales and brown leather sheath that comes standard with this knife. The ferro rod in the sheath is handled with the leg bone of a coyote killed White-tailed deer.
  2. The Martin T3 SERE
  3. The Blind Horse Knives Pathfinder-1 – the standard Pathfinder knife designed by Dave Canterbury, and finally
  4. The Fallkniven S1 – A Swedish survival knife that the call the worlds best Forest knife

 

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Here they are just the knives. Sorry about the photo but with just an iPod for pictures right now…maybe someday! As you can see by the above photo (I hope) that each of this knives share some similar characteristics but have enough differences t keep it interesting. The Bravo-1 and the S-1 are both convex edges where as the Pathfinder is a Scandi. All of the handles are different shaped, but each is comfortable in the hand depending of the purpose. All have different backgrounds and history – the Pathfinder was designed by Dave Canterbury to be, as he says, a “one tool option” based upon a historic French trade knife. The Bravo-1 was designed with input from the USMC Force Recon. The Fallkniven S1 Forest knife is the blade in the series that falls between the F1 (Air force Survival Knife) and the A1 (Army Survival Knife). Finally there is the Martin SERE. SERE is a military acronym  which stands for Survival Evasion Resistance Escape and is a design with the purpose of allowing those personnel which find themselves behind enemy lines and require a blade that is capable of performing all the functions required to assist in the safe return to their own forces.

Of all the knives I have shown thus far I thought that the one that was closest in characteristics to the T3 was the Bravo-1 so here is a couple of photos to compare the size and thickness.

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It’s nice to look at but does it do what it is suppose too?

 

In using the Martin T3 I have found it to be very practical for most applications. As a great survival knife needs to be, it preforms many things very well. It is a strong enough blade that it does an exceptional job at batoning wood for a fire yet it is more that capable of detailed work such as is a necessity for notching either green or seasoned wood for bushcrafting and survival tasks, such as a figure-4 deadfall. Here is a photo of the notches it was capable of on some dried out willow.

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Another function that a survival knife might be called upon (if you get really lucky!) is in cleaning any small game or birds that you are able to capture. One of the benefits of attempting to start a self-sufficient homestead is that on occasion that some of the animals that are loving raised and cared for do become part of our diet. Although the ducks and turkeys are not yet ready we have a regular supply of rabbit here for our protein. Butchering is not something that I enjoy having to preform but is a natural part of the cycle and it is easier knowing that my animal live a life where they are well cared for and respected. They are not cage raised – even the rabbits have a colony that is made with abut 320 feet of five foot tall corncrib wire to keep them in and also protected from any roaming coyotes or feral dogs. The Martin T3 SERE is definitely not the knife I would choose for the regular butchering chores but I decided that for a fair evaluation I used this knife solely for the processing of three rabbits. After the first one it was a bit easier as I had to get use to the thicker,  longer blade compared to my regular tools. Bottom line is that it works and it does the job well. It had the finesse to allow for the hide removal cuts without being too deep nor puncturing the abdominal cavity and it was easily capable of sectioning the dressed rabbits into pieces for the kitchen.

 

The Martin T3 SERE does all the jobs of a knife that size can be expected to and it does so easily and maintaining an extremely sharp edge throughout.

 

A REAL Survival Knife

It is great to own what you consider to be the ultimate survival knife. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites dedicated to survival knives and on the web forums dedicated to bushcraft and wilderness survival this is one of the most debated topics. Just for fun log onto any of the bushcraft forums out these (Blake will thank me again as I am going to recommend my favourite BushcraftOz where I am one of the rare Canadians on the site dedicated to Australian bushcraft and have met many great people like my good friend Karl, but I digress) and check out the number of people surfing the topics – you might see a couple checking out packs or clothing and at the same time there will be ten times that checking out the knife section. AND I am just as guilty, if not more so, than most as I love my sharp object more than most (I also think I mention that on a fairly regular basis).Now, one subject that seems to pop up on a regular basis is that old, tire question “If you could only take ONE knife…”  and again, I am guilty in adding my two cents on occasion. One day I sat and really though about it and finally decided – what a stupid question! If I knew that I was going into a survival situation, why would I take only one knife? I would have enough of the proper tools to ensure my survival – axe, fixed blades of various styles and a few folders. Why limit yourself needlessly. These thoughts all lead to the most obvious of answers – the best survival knife is the one that you have with you when you find yourself in the situation. Having the worlds best survival knife that can skin a buck by just waving it in the air and throw a spark from a ferro rod that has your coals ready to cook a steak instantly will serve absolutely no good if it is locked up in a glass display case to keep the dust off it and you find yourself lost with only you five dollar el-cheapo blade because you didn’t want to risk damaging your expensive purchase.

Luckily, the Martin T3 SERE comes with an extremely well designed leather sheath that allows for you to decide between many different carry options. It was the first of my knives that the sheath enabled a very comfortable horizontal carry on the belt line. Most of the time I have opted to carry this knife on my left front so that I can draw the knife across my body in the style of the cavalrymen of history and it allows me to look down and verify that my knife remains safely in place at all times. Additionally, with the lanyard I installed on my knife, this can be pulled securely over the end of the ferro rod and then snapped into place ensuring near impossibility of the knife falling from the sheath unnoticed. As you can see from the following photograph the leather straps that Ed uses are substantial and well attached.

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That extra thing that you can see in the photo are a couple of ranger bands that I use for greater security and to keep on hand should the need for one arise.

 

For those individuals that prefer the more traditional vertical carry, included with my knife can this piece of leather which can bee added to achieve this effect.

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This then allows you to carry it like this…

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As it appears that Mr. Martin designed it, or with a little bit on ingenuity you can turn the addition into a sort of drop down sheath which has some practicality but is not my preference.

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With all of these options for carry, this truly can be considered a survival knife because it is quite possible that I will be carrying it on me if a survival situation were to occur. 

Most of us involved with modern society are unfortunate in that we do not get out into the bush as much as we would like. I consider myself blessed as I am spending a great deal of time at home in our quest to build a self-sufficient homestead as I am taking this time to deal with some PTSD like symptoms due to my previous government service. Being a home permitted me the opportunity that in preparation for this article I was able to wear my T3 SERE everyday, all day for an extended period of time to test the comfort during a variety of tasks. During this time I dug part of a garden for my wife’s watermelon and tomato patch, build additional fencing for the rabbits and ducks, used a scythe for hours cutting “greens” for the critters and hundreds of other day-to-day tasks around a small farm. All of these tasks were managed and never once, even during the scything, did the blade even get in the way. I even wore once while driving to town to pick up feed and it was unnoticeable. Finally, as a true statement to how much this knife means to me, I wore it during my wedding ceremony – a good knife, like a good wife, is something you can trust to have your back forever.

The only time that I have found the vertical carry to be uncomfortable is with my large rucksack. With my Camelback MULE I do not have an issue, nor with the German or Swiss Army Mountain Packs, but my large multi-day pack, made by Squires Tactical of New Zealand, the waist strap and the knife sheath want to sit in the same position. This being the case, I carry the T3 inside my pack and put it back on my belt when I arrive at my destination. I consider this minor inconvenience to be bearable due to the fact that both are excellent pieces of equipment.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line is I feel that this is an excellent survival knife. The only time that it ever put my life in jeopardy was the day that the VISA bill arrived but that is because it was one of two knives in the package and the customs fees coming into Canada are ridiculous. Again, the middle income people pay the bill for our welfare/nanny state, but that is not the purpose of this article.

Ed Martin and his son Newt put out an excellent product that will do everything required of it effectively and beautifully. Coming right out of the shop there was a small imperfection about halfway down the blade but Ii look at this with pride knowing that it came from two hard working people tying to making a living like the best of us. It was also nice to hear that Ed remembered my particular knife and he is right, the Blaze Orange scales do stand out, not only in his memory but if I was to drop to knife accidently it would be easy to see, plus the fact that I am sure some of my students with Canadian Bushcraft will instantly remember seeing this knife being reviewed. Will all the carry options and the fact that I know I can trust my life to it, I hope that this is one of the tools I have with me if I am ever again in a survival situation.

Thank you again for reading my ramblings and should you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or contact me by email at bubba5603@outlook.com  or visit me at BushcraftOz where I am bubba5603

 

John “Bubba” Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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