Leatherman Innovation In a Fixed-Blade Knife
By Michael Zimmers, 2008
All rights reserved.
Early in 2006, I was chatting with a friend who works for the Leatherman Tool Group. I mentioned to her how much I wished that Leatherman would make a fixed-blade knife that I could use for hunting, since I personally just don’t feel 100% safe using a folding knife for gutting and skinning. I could hear a smile in her voice as she told me to keep an eye on their web site for the next month or so. Well, it took Leatherman closer to a year to make good on her teaser, but they finally offer some knives that combine the safety of a fixed blade with the clever innovation that has made Leatherman famous.
The name “Leatherman” is of course well-known to most fans of outdoor life. For the past 25 years, Tim Leatherman’s company in Portland, OR has produced some of the finest combination knives available (I personally own two). Leatherman terms these “Pocket Survival Tools” or PSTs. They’re kind of like a Swiss army knife, except they actually work well and have stuff that you can really use.
In recent years, they’ve begun to expand their product line, offering many variations on the PST, and adding other tools to their repertoire (including a truly remarkable folding pair of garden shears). But…until very recently, all of their knives were folders. And while I’m the first to admit that folding knives have lots of uses, in my mind, when I’m gutting or skinning a bit slimy animal carcass that’s still warm from the hunt, I don’t want to be using a knife whose blade might fold over and relieve me of a few fingers.
Enter the Ukiah (as well as a few other models). The Ukiah is another brilliant piece of engineering from Leatherman, offering three tools (the knife, a bone saw and a gut hook) in what, despite its appearance might suggest, absolutely is a fixed-blade knife. I could try to describe how this works in words, but…I think the pictures will do a better job.
As the pictures show, the knife blade and guthook are simply opposite ends of a single piece of steel. When one tool is out for use, the other tool folds into, and becomes part of, the handle. Short of the steel actually breaking, there is no possibility of the knife coming loose and folding back over onto the handle (and my hand). A button-release lock, common to Leatherman PSTs, heightens the security of the knife.
The bone saw is hollow, allowing the blade of the knife to fit into it. The saw swings out only when the knife is fully deployed, and also locks into place. The danger of it coming loose also appears to be quite low.
Included in the package is a very nice belt sheath that also houses a small sharpening steel. Overall, the tool is an absolute pleasure to use, and will accompany me on many a hunt.