ESEE-5 & ESEE-LS Review

(Pictured, ESEE-LS / Photograph by Keith Sipmann)

As a magazine geared more towards guns, hunting and shooting, we don’t conduct a lot of knife reviews. But, guns don’t always “cut it” so to speak (cheesy knife pun intended), therefore a good back-up blade should always be on hand by any hunter, Law Enforcement/military professional and outdoorsman. The question I see the most come up in conversations about knives is “what’s the best knife to use?”. While there is no definitive answer, just as there is no “best gun”, I would like to share with you my thoughts on two very well balanced high quality blades that I’ve been testing for over a month now. The blades are the ESEE-5 and the ESEE-LS (Laser Strike). These are not your average EDC knives, and you can’t find these at just any local sporting goods store, but they are in my opinion some of the best quality made survival & multi-purpose blades on the market with very few cons. One thing any knife user looks for is a good warranty for their investment. ESEE delivers with an excellent 100% lifetime unconditional, transferable, worldwide guarantee. Meaning if your knife ever fails for any reason they will repair or replace it. I doubt you’ll ever have to use that warranty however.

(Pictured, ESEE-5 & ESEE-LS / Photograph by Keith Sipmann)

If I had to use just one word to describe the quality of materials or the assembly of either blade, it’d be: Exceptional. Both knives come with high quality Kydex sheaths with adjustable retention screws. All ESEE blades are made in the USA (which is becoming increasingly rarer as production prices rise) and are made from high carbon 1095 steel, which is used by many top knife makers, especially those who makes knives intended for hard use.

(Pictured, ESEE-LS / Photograph by Keith Sipmann)

The only real drawback with high carbon 1095 steel is that it will rust and stain on you if not properly cared for. Therefore, you’ll want to keep the blade lubricated and cleaned after each use, just like you would any high quality firearm. I’d expect survival blades of this caliber to be more water tolerant…but the tough textured powder coating on the blade does help with this a lot and it keeps the blades looking new even after some seriously tough use.

Type of Use: Practical or Not?

As I stated, I’ve been testing these blades for over a month now in various conditions ranging from defensive carry as a EDCB (every day carry blade), survival blade, tactical blade, camping & fishing knife, fire making, food preparation and batoning. Based on my observations there is very little you couldn’t do with either blade. Both knives have medium-length blades and Micarta handles with bow drill divets (for fire making) that are just perfect in my view. I have average size hands and the handle fits very well, with great finger swells and good “jimping” on the blade for extra thumb-grip while thrusting.

(Pictured, ESEE-5 / Photograph by Keith Sipmann)

The ESEE-5 is an absolute beast of a knife. It’s thick and heavy (weighing in at 16 ounces). Being pretty bulky, it’s probably not the best for EDC use or as a defensive blade. With that being said, it has a saber grind blade and is absolutely sharp right out of the box. It has a great fitting ambidextrous rounded edge canvas Micarta grip and will easily chop like a small machete if gripped correctly.

The Laser Strike is more of an overall multi-purpose knife in my opinion. The spear point blade of the LS can normally be controlled better when wood working or cutting than most saber and drop point blade designs. I’ve carried the LS as an EDC blade on several occasions and although it is a lot bigger than most of my normal carry blades it was concealable and lightweight (9.5 ounces) enough not to be a bother. Plus it has two compressed tinder tabs and a Ferrocerium/Magnesium fire flint hidden within the handle, which I thought added a nice useful touch to the knife.

Value: Are they worth the price?

It’s hard to justify the hefty price of any highly priced knife when the market is just flooded with cheaper copies that aren’t really that far off from the original. But, when it comes down to it, like most other things, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a high quality blade that’ll last you a lifetime; then yes they are worth the price. If you’re looking for a one-time use camp knife; then no they are not worth the price. Consider these knives investments, or trail worthy family heirlooms to future hunters, campers, preppers or survivalists.

(Pictured, ESEE-5 / Photograph by Keith Sipmann)


If you’re looking for a high quality blade to put to good use for many years, then look at ESEE to delver a great overall product. They have many different knives available and are always coming up with new ideas to stay on top the game. Along with an impressive lineup, they have a very stout reputation for making great blades. When looking for a new survival knife, I spent months comparing brands and designs – ultimately choosing ESEE. After my testing, I now understand why a lot of bush-crafters swear by their ESEE blades. Due to their high quality, functionality and serviceability, both knives will serve as permanent tools in my survival toolkit.

Design and Specs:

ESEE-5 SPECS: The ESEE-5 is designed by Military SERE Instructors as “Hard-Use Downed Pilot’s Survival Knife”.

[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★★★★★

  • Overall Length: 11.0″
  • Blade Length: 5.25″
  • Thickness: .25″
  • Steel: 1095 Carbon, 55-57 Rockwell Hardness
  • Finish: Textured Powder Coat
  • Blade Width: 1.56″
  • Grind: Saber
  • Weight (Knife Only): 16 Ounces
  • Handles: Canvas Micarta
  • Sheathing: Kydex Sheath W/ Clip Plate
  • Features: Glass Breaker, Bow Drill Divot
  • Spine: Thumb Jimping

LASER STRIKE™ SPECS: The Laser Strike is a “Survival Craft and Fire Making” knife.

[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★★★★★

  • Overall Length: 10.0″
  • Cutting Edge Length: 4.5″
  • Overall Blade Length: 4.75″
  • Blade Width: 1.38″
  • Grind: Spear point
  • Weight (Knife Only): 9.5 Ounces Maximum
  • Thickness: .188″
  • Steel: 1095 Carbon Steel, 55 – 57 Rockwell Hardness
  • Blade Finish: Black Textured Powder Coat
  • Removable Canvas Micarta Handles (w/Bow Drill Divot)
  • Rounded Pommel w/ Lanyard Hole
  • Ambidextrous Black Kydex Sheath

© 2014 The Ballistic Blog


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