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As someone who has spent countless hours in the Great Outdoors and served in the military conducting combat reconnaissance missions, I have come across my fair share of knives. Eventually, you start to learn that no two knives are created equal and begin to develop a taste for what features in a blade really matter at an individual level. Experience has taught me that tools the size of a knife can be easily stolen or disappear during a move. And any tool, despite being looked after with the utmost care, can malfunction or break over time. Along comes the Terävä Jääkäripuukko, an all-purpose hunting knife from Varusteleka that does not break the bank and does not disappoint!
If you are unfamiliar with the Finnish company Varusteleka, you are missing out on extraordinary gear from a company that takes exceptional pride in their products. Puukko’s are and have been a part of Finnish culture throughout much of history, and that historical context is the inspiration for the Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko’s creation. Jääkäri is Finnish for the German word Jaeger, which usually means “elite light infantry,” and Puukko simply means “knife.” Finland has a long tradition of collaborating with German's regarding military disciplines, and early in their independence, a group of soldiers went to train with the Germans as Jaegers. To honor this tradition and the heritage of past warriors, Varusteleka named their puukko as Jääkäri, because it is tradition, that every Finnish soldier carry a puukko, which can be used as a tool or weapon. Just thinking about the illustrious history and cultural significance of the blade are enough to give one goosebumps and having a knife with such versatility is a feature that cannot be overlooked.
Utility is important to me because I am very much a minimalist. The gear I carry in the field, regardless of the situation, all have multiple functions. This is primarily to avoid being overloaded and to make it easier to find what I need as soon as I need it. The Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko has utility in droves and brushes off a serious beating with nary a scratch. When handling this knife in person for the first time, my initial thought was, “this blade means business!” The weight feels comfortable, not too heavy as to be cumbersome, and not too light to feel fragile, but an appropriate balance. Even the edge was impressively sharp right out of the box. There is a shorter version of the knife from Varusteleka depending on what your personal needs are, but going forward, I will only be discussing the longer design.
One first notices the straight back design, making it perfect as a tool used for chopping, slicing and carving. The traditional puukko birch or bone handle has been replaced by Varusteleka with a durable rubber grip with an unobtrusive finger guard. This not only allows for non-slip handling in wet or gloved conditions, but it also reduces the need for additional conditioning maintenance that more sensitive materials require. A lanyard loop protrudes from the butt end of the handle, part of its full tang, and allowing for a multitude of applications. In face, the width of the blade is such that the lanyard loop could be reliably used to break glass, ice or even bone.
High carbon tool steel gives the blade edge strength to endure a wide variety of cutting tasks without being too brittle. This steel is surrounded and protected by a slightly softer steel, further enhancing the Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko’s rugged durability. One remarkable feature of the knife is the beveled spine, exposing an edge of the higher carbon steel in the core, allowing for striking ferro rods and building emergency fires in survival situations. Even the tough leather sheath is built with substantial sturdiness. A double fold at the top of the sheath can be fastened with a stud, and a hard-plastic inner liner prevents the blade from damaging the inside.
|Weight (w/o sheath)
|80CrV2, 59 HRC
There have been moments during my time in the military, or recreationally, when wearing gear was not the most comfortable. Such has not been the case with the Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko, and the blades wearability can be attributed to its hanging sheath. Loop it through your belt and the dangling sheath is low enough to be accessible even if you are wearing a jacket or other forms of gear such as a plate carrier or rucksack. Its flexibility allows the knife to be worn in a vehicle without getting in the way of a seat-belt or jabbing you while you’re sitting in a chair.
Having a rubber handle over the tang has another set of benefits. This modern twist by Varusteleka over a traditional wood or bone handle improves grip, even in the most slippery of conditions. In cold or wet conditions, you’ll feel like you have the grasp of a grizzly bear holding on to a salmon in an Alaskan river!
Probably the most stunning feature of the Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko was how well it performed as a tool. After admiring is physical attributes, I immediately tested it in the field. One of the functions a lot of survival knife users want to be able to execute reliably is batoning, which essentially means using a knife as an axe, striking an arm-length stick as a hammer to strike the spine of the blade, forcing it through wood. Often times this can lead to breaking the blade of inferior quality knife, leading to potential injuries. What better place to test it out than the frozen hardwood forests of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?
My jaw almost hit the forest floor when I batoned a forearm thick branch from a fallen tree. The Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko cut through the wood like a shark cuts through an 80’s surfboard, and with only a handful of strikes, I had a cut and split piece of frozen timber. Next, I decided to see what its true capabilities were by carving this piece of wood into something useful. The blade was so sharp, it was able to carve a spoon, the most essential of camping necessities, in less than thirty minutes. After crafting an eating utensil and a bunch of wood shavings as a result, it was a prime opportunity to try test the beveled spines ability to strike a ferro rod for fire, and it sparked true each time.
Typically, when the edge of an inferior blade is hammered through frozen wood and used as a carving tool, there is going to be blunting or warping of the metal. Such was not the case with the Varusteleka Jääkäripuukko. The blade showed no signs of damage and remained unwrapped by the blunt force of being hammered into a piece of frozen tree limb. High carbon steel requires a bit more attention when it comes to maintenance, but not much. Just a little oil to ward the metal from rusting and quick run over something to keep it sharp. But you would be hard pressed to find such a versatile knife, with this amount of strength and finesse, at such a low cost.