The Great Eastern Cutlery #25 Small Jack exemplifies the traditional jackknife. It takes up a tiny space in the pocket while packing good steel and a fine fit and finish.
Traditional knives lack almost all of the features that modern knives have — high-end steels, locks, one-handed deployment. But what they lack in modern touches, they make up for in character and excellent cutting performance.
One company doing solid work in the traditional knife market is Great Eastern Cutlery. Founded in 2006, GEC is an American success story. Located in the once industrial hub of Titusville, Pennsylvania, GEC is staffed with people who used to work at old knife companies that have since been bought out and moved overseas.
In fact, GEC still uses some of the old machinery from those companies (take an in-depth tour of the company in the videos below). However, it’s wrong to think that GEC is just homage to the past.
The company has some of the most innovative interpretations on old knife styles (known as patterns) and truly top-shelf fit and finish. You can get everything from a massive folding hunting knife down to a tiny knife like the GEC #25 Small Jack, reviewed here.
The Small Jack is an ideal EDC. Small and rounded like a river rock, the Small Jack disappears in your pocket but still has enough heft, size, and substance to handle most of your cutting tasks.
One of the more interesting aspects of traditional knives is the focus on handle materials. Instead of opting for technically superior but horribly boring stuff like black G10 and more black G10, knives like the Small Jack have covers (the traditional knife term for scales; they all have brass scales and the covers are mounted on the brass) made from natural materials like stag or, in the case of my Small Jack, some truly spectacular Macassar Ebony.
The natural materials not only make each knife unique, they also feel great in the hand and pocket and bring a warmth to the knife that synthetic materials lack.
But looks only get you so far. The big trick with traditional knives is the thin blade. Eschewing the overly thick bladestock of “modern” tactical knives, the thinly ground 1095 carbon steel of the GEC Small Jack slices with impressive grace. This is, in the end, the reason I like traditional knives so much — they do what knives are supposed to do: cut very well.
If you want a very pocketable and capable alternative to the modern knife, GEC offers many, with the #25 Small Jack among my favorites.
- Price: $70 – $100 depending on material
- Steel: 1095
- Blade Length: 2 1/8 inches
- Weight: 1.76 ounces
- Made in: USA
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