Initial impressions of the ESEE PR-4 as a field knife

A customer sent me this knife to build a sheath for and I thought I’d put some thoughts down. This isn’t exactly a review, just some of my thoughts on the design and construction of the knife.

The particular knife I received looked like it was nearly brand new and came with a nice looking leather sheath. I’m not sure if this sheath was the original, it looks similar to the one on ESEE’s website but it has a few differences. It’s a nicely made and high quality sheath, but at the end of the day it’s still a pouch style leather sheath, and as much as I love the aesthetic of leather, kydex is my choice for a serious carry belt knife.

The knife itself is 1/8” full tang 1095 high carbon with a 2/3 saber grind. That’s the same grind I put on my own knives and it’s a great balance between slicing performance and splitting performance. As the knife came it was sharp but not razor sharp. I could see striations from being sharpened at some point on a rougher grit, but whether this was done at the factory or by the owner I can’t say. Either way, a few minutes later I had it shaving sharp. The blade has a good 90 degree spine and should have no issue as a scraper.

The handle scales are nice brown Micarta that’s been heavily sculpted. It’s an attractive handle although the scales could be thicker so it fills the hand better. For a heavy use tool, whether it’s a framing hammer, hatchet, or knife I like the handle to fill my grip. I like the handle to fit so that when gripping the handle the tip of my ring finger has about an 1/8” gap from my palm. I wear a medium size glove and I suspect people with larger hands will not find this knife very comfortable for very long. On the plus side this does create an oblong handle so that the blade always stays pointed in the direction you want it to. The more evenly round a handle is the easier it is for it to twist in your grip, requiring more grip pressure.

The scales are a near perfect fit, with very minimal gapping in only a few spots. The handle scales are mechanically attached but I don’t believe they are epoxied. This is always an area of concern for me with mass produced knives since there is the possibility for moisture to get under the scales and cause rust. I do see enough small gaps that this is a definite possibility for this particular knife and if it was mine I would epoxy under the scales. If a person is careful this is possible to do by using vinegar to soften the epoxy that squeezes out and removing it. This will help leave the handle scales in their original condition without sanding them to remove the squeeze out. I’d also make sure to degrease and epoxy the threads on the hardware too.

At the back of the handle is a lanyard loop big enough for 550 cord and nicely smoothed so it doesn’t gouge the cordage. At the front it does have a small integral guard to keep your hand off the blade. It has a minimal ricasso, making good use of the steel and giving the most edge for the length. The finish is very nice, and the logos look excellent. I’m not sure if the acid washing does much for corrosion protection, it’s always a safe bet to oil a high carbon steel blade, but it’s a nice look.

Overall I like the knife, I always have liked ESEE’s and the Kephart design. While the handle isn’t a perfect fit for my hand, it’s still comfortable and the sculpting provides a great grip. It’s a lightweight and compact knife, which means it’s more likely to be carried and therefore be available when most needed.

While it’s a simple design with a minimal set of features, with the addition of a Kydex sheath I wouldn’t feel bad carrying it into the back country.


  1. Thank you for your comments. Had not given any thought to what happens underneath to loose scales on a blade, but they make a lot of sense.

    My woods knife is a Terava 85. It too is old school carbon blade stock. Our big game animals are smaller than up north and whitetail deer more than 160 lbs are very rare. Along with feral hog and exceedingly rare nilgai, that is about the extent of our large game animals. Extremely hard wood desert species not made for batoning, so no need for that ability. It is easier to insert the dried fallen branches in between tree limbs and break into half.

    The smaller Terava 85 is very compact and does not get in the way.

    Thanks again for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terava makes good knives for sure, I’ve got a couple that I like. Good on you for knowing what you actually need in your environment! So many people don’t take the time to learn that and usually end up with a tool that is less than ideal. I like to use that same lever technique to break wood down as well, Thanks for the info, take care!


  2. You are welcome. Knowing what works and what I like are two different things, lol. I am a dedicated ‘knifeaholic’ and have way too many different knives that make practical sense. The little Terava fits my situation well.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s