There are hundreds, probably thousands of knife companies producing wonderful products to fulfill a variety of roles, from pocket toolboxes with enough gizmos to fix the space shuttle, to fillet versions for fishermen and even fighting knives. Most don't catch our attention—after all, everyone knows you should never bring a knife to a gunfight—but when one of the most innovative companies in the firearms industry produces combat and utility knives, it's hard not to take notice.
SureFire Edged Weapons Division's mission statement says it all: To provide uncompromising purpose-built edged weapons for professionals. The underlying message is far from subliminal: the company decided to use the word "weapons" instead of "knives," "skinning blades" or "letter openers."
It wasn't until I visited SureFire's facilities in California that I came to grips with the company's undying dedication to merging old-world craftsmanship and skills with modern technology—a corporate approach that carries through to its fine line of knives. That's where I discovered the Echo fixed-blade, combat and utility knife.
This product from the fertile imagination of Steve Ryan—a renowned custom-knife designer who has been a SureFire employee for many years—is pure function. It's not the kind of fashion statement designed to accessorize a wannabe's ensemble. The Echo doesn't contort into half its size at the wonderment of spectators or belie its location with glowing neon trim. It's all business. The 4 1/2-inch blade is matte black. Overall length is 8.68 inches and it weighs 5.1 ounces.
The handle is made of a sure-gripping and textured Micarta. Even when wet it stays put in your hand and it dries much faster than other polymer- or stag-handled knives.
How much you use a knife is often determined by its ability to keep an edge. To minimize sharpening chores, SureFire uses S30V steel—produced in the United States and the most corrosion-resistant currently available—then adds rust proofing for good measure. If you do happen to need a touch-up when you're far from home, the injection-molded sheath has an integral DMT diamond sharpener smartly hidden in back.
SureFire manufacturing and design facilities are state-of-the-art and harnessing that precision to produce a knife is a decided advantage. But knives that leave the factory are assembled and inspected by Ryan, granting each blade near-custom status.As for ruggedness, the Echo has accompanied me on my monthly 1,000-mile-trips to visit with my family for several months. Despite some rather nasty collisions with the door and seat belt, the knife and sheath show no scarring or wear.
It just feels great, balances very well and seems to jump into your hand. This isn't a spindly, dimestore knockoff of an old-time favorite. The sleek design, symmetrical grind and serrations are old school—but with the kind of materials and innovation that have set SureFire apart for so many years, and that's enough to provide the kind of confidence needed if I ever have to press it into service.
The price is quite a bit more than mass-produced knockoffs though—MSRP is $300. SureFire's website summarizes it best when it says the company's knives are "...tough, efficient, effective, and reliable under the harshest conditions. Knives you can count on when your life is on the line." Like many other things in life, you get what you pay for.