Sunday, December 22, 2013

Extrema Ratio Doberman IV Tactical Multi-Purpose Knife Review

Extrema Ratio Doberman IV Tactical Multi-Purpose Knife Review
To date I have reviewed many of the Extrema Ratio knives including the Selvans, Ontos, Nemesis, and Shrapnel and have been extremely impressed by all with their ability to deliver around their task focused design of survival and defense. Recently I picked up an Extrema Ratio Doberman IV Tactical knife which they have designed around a general multi-purpose intent to cover all needs from defense and survival work to game cleaning and everyday property upkeep chores. It is a knife design which delivers a belly for skinning in a more classic drop point blade with a balance of strength and precision with a fine low aspect edge grind.

Doberman with Salient Glock
ASA Side Charge Upper
Mega Lower with Ace Stock
Apex Gatorgrip Stock
If you are knife nut like myself you may lust after the sexy Italian Extrema Ratio knives like motorcycle enthusiasts lust after a Ducati 999.  Extrema Ratio knives are without a doubt the most exotic of the production knives designed for the actual hard use of the Italian Military and Special forces. Yes, they are different than a typical drop point survival knife, a different blade tip, different look, a more substantial heft, and different feel, and certainly more money than almost any other production knife, however this out of the box thinking performs spectacularly and worth every cent when your life is on the line. If you have the money, the Extrema Ratio knives I have tested have proven to me to be the ultimate performance, fit & finish when it comes to heavy duty production knives.

Like all Extrema Ratio knives the fit and finish of every aspect of the knife, sheath and gorgeous packing box is impeccable. You know this is something special the moment you lay eyes on the knife. The Doberman balances perfectly at the mid-point of the knife. Slipping the hand rearward on the handle provides plenty of grip and delivers very powerful snap cuts and a full forward grip delivers a knife with just a bit of a blade heavy feel.

The Extrema Ratio Doberman Tactical knives has been tuned over many years since its 1997 introduction through the current Doberman IV generation. The Doberman is based on prior versions of this very popular classic knife with an extended tang creating a window breaker, two lanyard holes. The sheath itself has been updated with a leg strap to anchor for improved stability. Like all Extrema Ratio knives, the Doberman IV Tactical has a Forprene handle that is ergonomically shaped and textured so you have a good grip even with wet or gloved hands and is extreme temperature and moisture resistant.

When you look at the slight recurve blade shape, you immediately notice the classic Doberman Pinscher heavy chested look. Although its a great name for a tactical knife, the design actually dates back to the old world weight forward recurve Kuki designs which pushed weight to the tip of the blade to improve the efficiency of chopping/cutting strokes. Today we see many manufacturers offer the Kuki due to its amazing cutting ability in a short package… Extrema even has two stunning designs.  This blade shape featured on the Doberman has also proven itself as a highly efficient game skinning and multi-purpose blade design over thousands of years. Extrema has added its own design style to the blade, however for all practical purposes it combines the best attributes of a recurve blade with a traditional clip point into a knife that excels at both slashing cuts and delicate bush craft and game cleaning. Extrema say its “your hunting knife, your camp knife, your survival knife, your bug out bag knife, your field knife, plus other demanding activities that you might engage in.”  I could not agree more.

A few little subtle tweaks might slip you attention includes the integrated glass breaker, a 1.3 inch top section of the Forprene handle is cut down a little over a 1/10 of an inch to expose the spine to improve finger comfort and blade control and allow more force to be exerted with an extended finger. There are two lanyard holes, one at the pummel/glass breaker and the other at the finger choil which allows the knife to be lashed as a spear or simply to lock the knife into the hand more securely with a lanyard.

The Extrema Ratio Doberman IV Tactical shares a few similarities such as look, full tang construction, .25” thick Austrian N690 (58HRC) cobalt vanadium stainless steel blade, Forprene handle, blade grind profile, and base knife sheath platform. This is where the similarity stops and the design purpose of each knife comes into its own. The Doberman for instance has a very high blade grind which delivers a sharper/finer cutting edge somewhere in between the Selvans and Ontos survival knife each with very high (finer/sharper) and low (more durable) grinds.  Extrema has delivered a great compromise of strength in retaining the .25” width nearly the entire blade length which still delivering a shaving sharp edge. 

The base sheath platform style is shared by most of the fixed blade knives in Extrema’s lineup but are tuned to each knife design. They are the best feature rich ambidextrous sheath systems I have seen to date. The front and backside are fully MOLLE compatible with loops and clips, MOLLE loops on the front side can be used to attach a small survival kit, remove-able/adjustable leg loop with elastic for stretch and give, primary single snap tang knife lock, secondary double snap handle knife lock mounted to a removable belt loop. Nearly every fitment aspect of the sheath is adjustable.  All that and the sheath can even be mounted to the belt without belt removal and can be adjusted to any of four belt widths. Truly an outstanding versatile sheath with near limitless mounting and carrying options.

I lay waste to various nuisance cottonwood trees of various sizes and was able to cleanly cleave through ¾” green trees. The blade geometry was fine enough to whittle up a couple traps and accomplish basic bushcraft needs.  In the kitchen I moved on to cutting up a whole chicken and cutting vegetables. This is one of my favorite test because it immediately shows the flaws or focus of the knife blade design. Even though the blade is very thick, I was impressed by how well the knife performed these tasks… almost as well as most chefs knives. I love the design especially if you like to eat and plan on using the knife as a camp knife.

I have worked with who is the largeest US dealer/import of Extreme Ratio knifes and again they provided great customer service and very fast shipping all at a price far less than full retail. Did I need another knife or another Extrema Ratio after owning the Selvans and Ontos, well no but as a knife nut I seem to always find a great excuse/justification to add another to my collection. I own Dobermans and that in itself seemed justification enough.

Not to knock the other Extrema knives I have reviewed, but if you were just a one knife kind of guy/gal, I would recommend the Doberman over the Selvans and Ontos. It is a more flexible design that delivers a bit more multi-purpose flexibility beyond urban and backwoods survival. The Doberman IV Tactical delivers everything I was hoping it would, a gorgeous looking multi-purpose knife that can take any beating I can throw at it.

Length of Knife: mm 314.96 (12.40 inches)
Blade Length: mm 184.91 (7.28 inches)
Total Length of Knife and Sheath: mm 368.30 (14.50 inches)
Weight of Knife: g 354.37 (12.50 ounces)
Weight of Knife and Sheath: g 470.60 (16.6 ounces)
Blade Thickness (Widest Part): mm 6.3 (0.25 inches)
Blade Width (Widest Section): mm 41.91 (1.65 inches)
Blade Steel: Bohler N690 cobalt stainless steel - a high performance steel with excellent cutting and mechanical characteristics.
Blade Hardness: Rockwell 58 HRC
Grinding: Flat grind
Serrations on Blade: No
Handle: Forprene - (NATO Mil-Spec elastomer) has extreme temperature and moisture resistance
Handle Length (Excludes Window Breaker): mm 125.98 (4.96 inches)
Sheath Material: Cordura and rigid polymer
MOLLE Compatible Sheath: Yes
Window Breaker: Yes
MSRP: $413.00 Price: $301.00


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