I have a weird thing for cleavers. My head tells me that their utility is limited, that the blade spine is often ill-equipped for good slicing and that the efficiency of carry is rarely there. Cleavers tend to be big and bulky, heavy and much more for show than use. But I still love them.
The Kizer Mini-Sheepdog has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I own the G10 version – a reluctant gift from my mom when she nor my wife could brainstorm anything else, and I kept suggesting it (in her words: “I mean really…who on earth would spend $60 on a pocket knife”…oh if only she knew). I have handled and absolutely loved the Ti Mini Sheepdog, and I continually vow that it will be in the collection one of these days. It is superior in every way to the G10 version, though that’s a post for a different time.
Because of my Mini love, I figured I should get some experience with the full size. And full size it is. Carrying this Sheepdog is the rough equivalent of clipping a stainless steel cell phone inside your front pocket. Same general profile, probably heavier, and only slightly more useful for EDC tasks. Ok, probably too harsh, but after getting one of these in hand, both the utility of the Mini and the impracticality of the full size began to become more clear.
One of the best things about the Mini is the use of it as a 5th pocket or general utility blade – not necessarily a replacement of an EDC knife. Due exclusively to its size, the full size needs to be its own thing – it needs to be the primary knife, and that is where things fall apart. Ergonomically, the knife is awesome out of the box – it feels custom fit for the hand and the micarta scales look and feel excellent. However, for a cleaver style blade like this, many of the cuts one would make would be using a non-traditional hold, something like a pinch grip. While I found this to work quite well on the Mini, it was clunky and awkward on the large version. Cutting open a box was kind of like Shaq shooting free-throws – it’s just awkward and ineffective. With a blade like that in a larger size, you lose a lot of precision. Combine that with the fact that a cleaver already has a fairly tightly defined field of use, and a lot of the overall practicality of the blade goes out the window.
Still, all these frustrations aside, it’s a fun knife. If you’re a fidgety knife guy, you’ll really enjoy it. The detent on mine was pretty strong – too strong, actually, which was surprising for a Kizer. Overall, it’s a definite cut for me but was fun to checkout.