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Russia has a long history of knife making, with many traditional knife makers still pursuing the craft that and passing the knowledge from one generation to another. Many areas, such as Dagestan and Zlatoust, are famous for their storied knife making traditions that reach back to hundreds of years.
However, due to laws stemming from the Soviet Union, it has only been recently that quality Russian hunting knives can be sold in the United States. Thankfully, the laws are slowly changing and you can take advantage of the exemplary quality that can only be found in knives that are handmade in short runs.
Many Russian knife makers still use traditional forging techniques and proprietary steel alloys that result in a sturdy blade with great edge retention. But this is by no means an exhaustive list of the knife makers in Russia, as many artisans work independently or only offer their work through limited means. The knife manufacturers we'll discuss here are more well known, and their high-quality knives can be easily purchased within the United States.
Each of these companies also makes numerous custom and specialty knives, so the few all-purpose hunting knives we've selected--while being excellent knives in themselves--are by no means a fair indicator of what these companies are capable of producing.
ROSarms is one of the largest distributors of Russian hunting knives as well as tactical, custom, and fishing knives. All of their knives are handmade, remaining true to the traditional sword and knife making history of the city of Zlatoust, where this company is based.
Thanks to a history of creating exemplary knives and swords that extends back to 1751, the name of this city has become synonymous with the type of steel produced there and used extensively with these knives. In addition to Zlatoust steel, Damascus steel is another common metal used thanks to its durability and beauty.
Although operating out of California, Olamic Cutlery knives are produced in their shop located in Russia. This shop employs four master craftsman who have over 75 years of combined experience in knife making. Each of these masters specializes in a particular aspect of the knife making process, which is why Olamic knives are produced in short runs or are one of a kind works of art. Many of their knives incorporate a proprietary blend to produce their Damascus steel, however, they do offer knives in other steel types. Olamic Cutlery knives are handmade and come with a transferable lifetime warranty.
A&R Co knives are made in Zlatoust where they maintain the Russian knife making tradition of using traditional materials -such as stacked birch bark or boxwood for the handles- and of making all knives by hand. While this does account for slight variances from knife to knife, it also ensures an attention to detail that is strictly missing from mass produced knives. The A&R shop is open to tourists who can tour the facility and witness traditional forges and knife making techniques first hand.
Kizlyar is based in the city that bears its namesake in Dagestan where it is part of a knife making tradition and history that stretches back to the 1400's. Kizlyar specializes in specialty knives made by master craftsmen who belong to families with a long line of knife making skill. They also employ many artisans and master craftsmen skilled in jewel work, gold and silver smithing, and blacksmithing. While museum quality pieces are their prime foci, they also produce a number of practical hunting knives, of which we'll take a look at two below.
Russian Hunting Knife Conclusion
If you're looking for a new knife but want something more unique, a Russian hunting knife may be just the thing you're looking for. As part of adhering to traditional knife making techniques, many of the above knives incorporate traditional handle materials, such as birch bark. They also use traditional metal types that, while not common throughout the world, have proven themselves in strength, hardness, and ability to perform. These knives offer a distinctive appearance with high performance that you can count on when out in the field.
Sources and Official Brand Websites
- ROSarms, Official Brand Website.
- Olamic Cutlery, Official Brand Website.
- Kizlyar, Official Brand Website.
- The Best Hunting Knife -- How to Recognize Good Quality, How Stuff Works.
- The Benefits of Hunting Knives, Ezinearticles.