Grayman Knives – The Grayman Darfur Defender Review

Grayman Darfur Defender

Months ago, I decided to start looking around for a new fixed blade knife. I’ve owned dozens of blades over the years, but almost all of them have been folding knives. They’re a great style of knife, but there’s something uniquely satisfying about owning a good, solid fixed blade. A blade that would be tough enough to endure the test of time, and that I could one day hand down to my children – if I were ever insane enough to have some. After a whole lot of searching, I stumbled onto a company called Grayman Knives.

Grayman Knives is a mom-and-pop style knife making operation run by Mike Grayman out of Lake Arrowhead, California. After retiring from the military, Mike spent years distilling the knowledge he acquired on the African continent to create a wide range of high quality, ultra durable tool and survival knives.

blade resting on log
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With so many choices, it was tough to decide. I browsed around, and eventually I settled on the Grayman Darfur Defender. It’s a single bevel, single-edged fighter with a subtle re-curve. After having given it a beating, here’s what I think…

What I like about the Grayman Darfur Defender

  • It holds an edge extremely well, even after tons of abuse. The tough 1095 High Carbon 1/4″ thick steel blade means that you’ll get plenty of chops and slices out of it before having to re-sharpen. Even after using the blade to pry rocks out of icy ground, it held its edge.
  • The Defender has a real heft to it, making it the perfect tool to chop through logs and branches. It’s all heavy enough for use as a prying tool.
  • The knife is balanced enough for throwing, should you have the strength and the desire to do so. It’s no true sticker, but I certainly wouldn’t want to get hit with it either.
  • The textured G10 handle is exceptionally grippy. I used it while trudging through the snow, and even after soaking my hands I was able to maintain a firm grip on the blade.
  • I can’t stress enough how well made the Defender is. When I first picked it up, it was like holding a slab of pig iron. It’s a heavy blade, but once you get used to the weight, you’ll realize that it’s a fair trade-off for such a durable knife.
Mike say that his blades aren’t always pretty, and I disagree. The Darfur Defender is one of the sexiest, most practical fixed blades I’ve had the pleasure of owning. My one gripe is simply that the knife is so damn heavy, but after you experience the ease of chopping through a log, you quickly forget about the weight.

Darfur Defender in the Woods

This is the Cordura sheath that comes with the knife. It’s simple, but does the job. The snap makes sure the blade stays stowed securely in the sheath, as opposed to falling on your foot. I assure you that would be unpleasant.

I love the slight curvature of the blade. Perhaps there’s a functional reason for it, but the aesthetics alone sold me.

chopping a branch
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slicing through a branch
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The Defender made it laughably easy to slice through logs and branches. The weight alone makes it almost impossible not to, and that’s a good thing. The fact that the blade is versatile enough to serve as a delicate cutting tool, while emulating the functionality of a machete is rather impressive.

throwing knife in tree
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Yes, it really is balanced enough to throw. It may take you a few tosses to get used to the weight, but otherwise it flies quite well.

Grayman custom engraving
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And last but certainly not least, the custom engraving. Thanks Mike!

If you’re in the market for a bench made fixed blade knife, I highly recommend considering either the Darfur Defender, or another one of the many fine knives that Mike creates. They’re tough, good looking, and hold an edge no matter what abuse you throw at them.

You can pick up the Darfur Defender for $235 USD.

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