I have to admit. Before I came to this forum, I was a knife addict and that was my true love. I still love cutlery plenty, but lately I have been focusing more on skills and gear. However, I do like to contribute on the knife reviews once in awhile and this week I thought I'd feature one of the guys I have called upon frequently.
Bryan Breeden, owner of Breeden Knives. Its great to see that Bryan is a member of this site and he is a very active member in the wilderness and survival skills forum elsewhere. Bryan is a no BS, utility kind of guy. Honest to the core and open minded. By open minded, I mean not only open to what the market is saying, but open to learning new things about cutlery and cutlery design and incorporating this into his knife designs. He keeps growing in his craft, but also remains grounded as a user of his tools. His designs have to pass his scrutiny first, and that typically means real world, back country use. Bryan is notable for being one of the more 'economical' custom makers around the block. His knives are by no means 'cheap', but hold high value/price ratio. Every Breeden you buy is going to be a solid performer although the caveat is that you always feel somewhere that you cheated him just a little bit on the price
I bought my first Breeden knife back in 2008. Since then, I have purchased a number of his blades and feel almost as though I've witnessed his own professional growth through the blades I've acquired from him. I bought his original pathfinder model based on a couple of reviews, one from Bearthedog and another from JeffH. It was an initial investment that led to several additional knife purchases from him.
Breeden Pathfinder. 5" blade of 1/8" thick O1 steel, 5" orange G10 handle.
Back in 2008, it seems that the custom cutlery world was very much into thick. Thick is okay and it has its uses. But I think in 2007/08 thick was being applied in places where it shouldn't have. Bryan was a renegade then, promoting 3/32" and 1/8" thick slicing blades. As I remember our e-mail conversation, he finally convinced me to go in 1/8" thickness rather than 5/64" as I wanted. "Can I still baton wood with it?" I asked in my then naivity. "Hell, yes you can baton with it, I do that with all my knives", he replied. Within 5 min. of opening my knife up from the postman, I was on my back porch batoning that blade through some naughty pine.
Here is the knot I punched the blade through. Not a roll or hint of any problem with the edge. From that very moment I was sold!
With Bryan's pathfinder, I also bought a small 3.25" kat model with thin orange G10 handles for my wife who took to this as her purse EDC. That was later followed by a 3.5" kat and 6" pathfinder knife in osage orange. I think these were among Bryan's first wooden handle knives. For a first time, he sure got these right! For the osage kat, I asked him to put the pathfinder's handle (down sized) to the kat knife. It made for a very comfy combo.
The pathfinder is the little 6" blade. At 1" wide and sporting the osage handles it is much more light and compact than what you typically see in 6" knives like the much wider RC-6. Bryans Pathfinder is a great do it all blade, but where it really shines is in the kitchen. This knife tends to sit in my butcher block and probably gets more use than any other I have.
Even my wife over came here fears of using a 6" knife when it came to the Breeden Pathfinder!
Osage orange with some osage orange cutlery!
The next knife I bought from Bryan was a model I called the Big Paw. It was of my own design with the idea of having an extra long handled knife for using with gloves in the winter. This one sports a 4.5" blade, a bit wider at 1.35" width. Its thicker too at 5/65" (I finally got my way for thick) and sports a 5.5" handle of canvas micarta. I admit, its aesthetics look a little bit off with its long handle, but when you are wearing mitts this knife is a great blade to have!
Those little kat knives are always coming in handy too!
At some point after receiving the Big Paw blade, I really had a hankering for bocote and requested this bushcrafter-type blade that sported a 3.75" and 1/8" blade in O1. This one had great ergos and came fantastically sharp. Between the time of buying my pathfinder/peacemaker and the BigPaw, Bryan became very proficient at convex grinds. His convex edges are killer now!
He also started to innovate his sheaths. The one that came with my bocote bushcrafter had a wonderfully robust wax treatment and sported a X-style belt loop that allows vertical and horizontal carry.
A group shot of Breeden knives:
I also picked up a couple of these little guys for use as firesteel scrapers. A set of tiny, o1 warncliff blades chisel ground on one side to optimize their use for firesteel scraping. These things are great at what they are designed for. They are nice and flat with thin G10 scales making them more comfortable to hold than skeleton kit knives. The orange G10 also makes them easy to see. The first thing you do when you get a flame from your spark is set your firesteel and striker aside and nurse your fire. Easiest thing in the world is then to loose one of your tools right there!
My last acquisition from Bryan was his Cub knife. The Cub knife was designed by Bearthedog but used a bunch of design elements from that osage orange kat knife I had made and mix of the RC-3, another of my favorites. The cub sported a wider blade than the kat and a thick handle. This particular knife went around the block a bit with a bunch of owners, Spooky and Mtn Folk Mike being a couple of them. Actually, Mtn Folk Mike ended up with my Osage Orange Kat in trade for this one!
You can see the similarities in blade profile between the Bocote bushcrafter and Cub knife. The cub handle is wider than the bocote one. As a bushcrafter blade, I think these two are just dynamite. Super sharp convex blades and 3.75" length.
A parting group shot.
I haven't kept all of my Breeden knives. A few, like the osage kat went up for trade. I have gifted others like the bocote to some of my best friends (a best friend deserves a best knife). However, a few like that original pathfinder, peacemaker and the cub have a permanent place in my heart and collection.
Its been well over a year since I purchased my last Breeden and I started this thread without the 'I just got a new knife' enthusiasm that often entails many a knife review. These thoughts are based on a few years of working with many of his blades and distilling down the ones I liked best. I've never been disappointed by any of Bryan's work and there is no doubt his blades are meant for using. His prices are kept low, but he prides himself on making quality tools. He has fast turn around from order to receiving your work and he keeps you well informed of the progress of your knife as he is working on it. Bryan is a great guy to deal with and his blades are all business. Oh yeah, he also does scandi grinds now for you purists Check him out some time and say hello to him on his posts!