The Gil Hibben Alaskan Survival Knife is a beautiful knife to look at, with its 6 7/8 inch polished blade and black micarta handle. Endorsed by the Alaskan Professional Hunters Association, it certainly has the pedigree of a fine knife. Like any knife, it does some things very well and falls short at other tasks but I must say that it certainly garners compliments, no matter what you choose to use it for.
Gil Hibben is well known as the designer of the first line of Browning hunting knives in the late 1960’s. He has designed hundreds of knives from everyday carries to highly stylized knives used in science fiction and action movies. Gil is the current President of the Knifemakers’ Guild and his past experience as a guide and knife maker in Alaska certainly helped influence the design of the Alaskan Survival Knife.
The blade of the knife is made from 420 stainless steel, which is an interesting choice for survival knives because it is not as durable nor does it hold an edge as well as other metal choices. While the 420 stainless steel will make a knife that is nice to look at, you will be disappointed in the durability if you use the knife every day. That being said, for people who don’t mind stopping to sharpen the knife while working, the 420 stainless steel, because it is softer than other metal choices, will take a new edge in a short period of time.
The black micarta handle has finger cuts that help improve the slip resistance of the knife and the unique, and stylish, front finger guard makes the knife controllable in most cutting situations. The thickness and width of the face of the blade make it an unlikely candidate for skinning or detailed precision work but those same attributes make it ideal for chopping actions. The same goes for the weight of the knife. At nearly two pounds, the Gil Hibben Alaskan Survival Knife is ideal for chopping up food or firewood.
The included leather sheath is adequate, nothing fancy, but does its job at protecting the knife blade. The sheath has two smaller holes at the tip to accept cording to secure it to your leg and a belt loop at the top edge for easy looping on your belt. A simple leather loop with snap that goes across the finger guard of the knife works to hold the knife in the sheath although it is not a sure-fire way to secure the knife during robust activity.
As expected from a Gil Hibben design, this is a beautiful knife design, great to look at. If you are someone who has a number of knives, or are a collector of knives, this would be a great piece to add to your collection. The Alaskan Survival Knife will not be your everyday knife but will certainly be called upon from time to time…only if you can bear to abuse such a great looking knife that performs best when on display. If you can afford it, contact Gil Hibben direct and have his company build you this knife out of metal more suitable to survival use, or buy this one and accept the fact that you get what you pay for.