My knife journey has led to a general preference for 4” blades for woods wandering belt knives. Combined with a small multi tool and either an axe/machete/hatchet or saw you find yourself with a tool system that rarely leaves you lacking on most outdoor adventures. Knives with an approximate 4” blade length ride very comfortably on a belt, rarely restricting movement, and are lighter and more nimble in hand for the majority of outdoor cutting tasks. Yet, the intrigue of bigger knives is ever present. My favorite fixed blade just before diving into handmade knives was an ESEE 6. I found this to be a near perfect all around woods knife that performed like a smaller blade yet had the length and enough heft to do heavier tasks. For me the ESEE 6 sized knife is just at the end of what I consider a manageable size for a knife to be worn on a belt. When Chris introduced the Recon back in February of this year, I put on my poor attempt at an Australian accent and said to myself “now that's a knife.” The first Recon debuted in the Osprey Knife and Tool shop talk thread and quickly sold the following day on the 2/12/2016 Fiddleback Friday. It was an exceptional example of this new model. The specs and the sales photo for the inaugural Recon are below: Recon 3/16" O1 Tool Steel, Flat Grind, Tapered Tang Black Canvas Micarta over Natural with Stainless Pins OAL 11 ¾” Blade 6 ¾” 9.92 ounces You may see from that initial photo that for some the Recon is a knife that immediately demands attention. After reading the specs and gawking photos, I quickly saw elements from the beloved ESEE 6. The further refinements in the Recon that I could judge from the photos led me to believe that this was a knife I would love to try. Fortunately, Chris is a craftsman who is passionate about what he does. He is not only passionate in shaping steel, but also in establishing relationships with his customers and the people enthusiastic about his knives and his career as a knife maker. When he noticed my interest in the Recon, he reached out to me and offered to send one my way to give it a try. I was hesitant at first due to my unpolished review skills and my seemingly misplaced concept of ‘free time’ ever since we started having kids; but I conceded and have been grateful for the opportunity. The Recon sent to me was another no nonsense example of the very few Recons that have been produced. OD canvas is a personal favorite knife handle and the sandblasting provides an excellent, grippy texture. If I could change one thing on the materials used on the knife, I would have opted for thick natural liners in place of the orange. The orange liners, however, are not an eyesore. That’s just being picky. The specs for this Recon: Recon .220" CPM154 Tapered Tang OD Green Canvas Micarta over Orange G10 (Sandblasted Handle) OAL 11 ¾” Blade 6 ¾” $425.00 Weight 11.15 ounces (cheapo spring kitchen scale accuracy) Thickest part of handle - 1.062” Balance Point - approximately right at the tip of the scale material on the ricasso The handle of a knife is the point of contact where the user interacts and manipulates the cutting edge to achieve a purpose. As such, handle design is an important and intimate component of knife design and one of the more intriguing elements I see in the Recon. The Kukri like drop and generous contouring terminate in purposefully exaggerated flaring at the end of the handle. The Recon handle design allows for a very secure grip in a variety of holds. The wide flaring at the butt and the pronounced guard offer a real sense of security during heavy use. There is ample room with the Recon’s handle for choking up on the blade for increased blade control; maintaining a standard hammer or reverse grip and retaining plenty of leverage from the contouring and wide flattened apex on the forward part of the handle; or choking further back in a 3 or 2-finger grip for better chopping. For my L to XL hands, this thicker handled Recon is almost borderline being too thick of a handle and could have potentially cause unnecessary fatigue in prolonged use if it were any thicker (or my hands were smaller). I do believe Chris stated that this particular Recon had a thicker than normal handle. The extended guard and sharply flared butt are attributes of the Recon that you may only appreciate after some hours of heavy chopping and stabbing your Recon into an old stump while taking a break to survey your progress. They are safety measures that I have come to like on the Recon; essentially offering front and rear assurance that my hand is locked in place where it should be and not slipping where it shouldn't be. The flared butt is also a good aid in unsheathing the knife, even with just two fingers. I am not one to attach a lanyard around my wrist on a larger chopper while actively chopping. It is a safety issue from my perspective as I rather give the knife a chance to fly off into the dirt should I compromise my grip rather than having a sharp edge violently swing on a rope attached to my wrist. Having the exaggerated flaring on the butt of the Recon offers tangible reassurance that my grip is fairly secure even when choking back on 2-fingers. The sharp corners of the flared butt while both attractive and functional, it does pose some comfort issues when choking back on the knife handle. Back in a 2 or 3-finger grip the sharp edge tends to dig into the base of your thumb when snap cutting. A few briars are a non issue, but prolonged use in this manner would be very uncomfortable. Gloves do help mitigating this problem. Chamfering those edges may reduce the discomfort from this sharp point but it would be done so at the expense of the handle aesthetics. In addition to the built in security measures of the Recon handle, the ergonomics are something worth attention. The kukri’ish curvatures give a downward drop of the second half of the handle in relation to the relatively straight spine of the knife. When choking back on this portion of the handle, the wrist remains in a more neutral, straighter position offering an anatomical benefit of reduced wrist strain during heavy and prolonged chopping. When you hold the Recon the chop bias is fairly intuitive. The balance is pushed forward on the Recon to increase the blade mass for more effective chopping. You feel this in your hand as the knife wants to roll forward out of your grip. For the “do all” category of knife that I consider the Recon to belong to, excessive forward balance can feel off or fatiguing when using the knife for non chopping tasks. Chris did a great job setting a balance on the Recon that offers benefits for chopping while not detracting much from the aspects of a more neutral balance that feel great in hand for other typical knife uses. The slight recurve on the Recon is an added benefit to this profile. The recurve is not so exaggerated that it would be a pain to sharpen, but enough to give a nice, wide sweet spot to hit on while retaining its slicing properties. This feature also plays a minor role in the forward mass felt when handling the Recon. Weight matters on a chopper, and the Recon has a combination of design features that put the weight where it is needed. I used the knife quite a bit around the property and the park woods in the back. Delimbing and clearing brush the Recon did great. Springy sprouts from shrubbery overgrowth did OK, but nothing comparable to a machete here. Thin saplings cut down in a chop or two. Trying to buck larger stuff is doable but not desirable. A large fallen maple branch was considerable effort to cut through an 8” section. You could eventually do it if you had too, but I would definitely want an axe or a much larger chopper and stick to smaller stuff with the Recon.