Merkel – The German firearms manufacturer from Suhl is unquestionably steeped in tradition thanks to a history spanning a good twelve decades. Here at all4hunters.com, for example, we recently subjected the K5 Black/Extreme break-barrel rifle to extensive testing. The knives tested here are from the in-house MerkelGEAR series. Because with a holistic approach, they created their own line of equipment and accessories a few years ago with hunting and outdoor purposes in mind. After all, according to the company's own description, "Many employees at Merkel are themselves active huntresses and hunters and have a clear idea about what the perfect hunting gear and apparel should be like." In addition to clothing suitable for stalking and hunting, this range also includes rifle slings and cases, cartridge pouches, deer drags, safety vests, mountain gaiters and knives. The Merkel range includes a bone saw with transverse G-10 handles, finished in blaze orange, the signal color that has long established itself as a typical hunting color alongside the familiar loden green. The handle scales of the Keiler Tool folding knife, featuring three tools including a drop-point blade, a breakaway blade and a bone saw, also appear in this gaudy orange shade and in the same material. If you are looking for a large hunting knife, you will find it in the Merkel BigGame Knife, whose AUS-8 steel blade is 4.52”/115 mm long. Five millimeters shorter, and thus exactly 4.33”/110 mm long, are the blades of the two Merkel Gear knives sent to all4hunters by Frankonia for testing purposes, which are discussed below.
MerkelGEAR G10 knives - The steel
These are fixed blade knives, made of N690 – a steel grade from the Austrian Böhler-Uddeholm AG. This type of material is described as suitable for the following uses: “Hardened cutting tools with excellent edge-holding property, such as knive blades, cutting surgical instruments, rotary knives for the meat processing industry, plate and knive-edge fulcrums, corrosion resistant roller bearings, valve needles and pistons for refrigerating machines.” This is a so-called martensitic, stainless steel, cobalt alloyed, which is why the designation N690Co is sometimes found for it. The DIN designation for it is 1.4528.
The construction and blade shape of MerkelGEAR G10 knives
Both knives showed up with drop-point blades, a good four millimeters thick, 1.45”/37 mm wide at the widest point, and with a slightly convex grind, that is, one in which the flanks of the cutting edge curve slightly outward. The emphasis here is on "slightly", as this shape can still just be noticed. This is a blade designed for rough cutting work – but it wins for finer cuts too because the edge extends over two-thirds of the blade width towards the back and is thus set at a fairly shallow angle. The whole thing is very neatly ground. However, one of the two knives in particular had a minimal tilt to one side. Of course, this was nothing that would have affected the workability of the knife. The blades with the continuous tangs had carefully rounded flat sides all around, and each had a 1.69/43 mm long thumb rest with 15 deep and thus very non-slip serrations in front of the handle attachment on the back. Opposite on the belly was a section made of the blade material and thus extended to protect the hand – there were no brass, nickel silver or similar fittings. At each end of the handle there was a hole for a lanyard through the scales and tangs.
Features of the G10 knives from Merkel
As befits hunting knives, both test specimens came with flat tangs on which the screw-on handle scales sat. These are made of thel G-10 composite materia, which belongs to the group of glass-fiber-reinforced polymers and is composed of glass fibers and epoxy resin. Merkel used two differently colored layers for these grip scales, which were bonded together completely without cracks: in one variant of the Merkel G10 knife, the lower thin layer was olive green, while the upper thick one showed up in blaze orange; in the other, it was the other way around. The fact that both handle scales rested without any gaps on the tang flanks spoke for the care taken in the construction. The outer structure of the handle scales appeared to be roughly carved, reminiscent of the surface of a Stone Age hand axe. To anticipate: what looked as coarse as it was characteristic offered a non-slip grip even to the wet hand.
Each of the handle scales came with two screws, the flat heads of which had three crosswise running and very strikingly executed slots. And in view of these, the question arose whether the scales were possibly not glued to the tang at all and could be removed after loosening the screws. No sooner said than done – and lo and behold, underneath it showed that the tang had a recess in the middle and that the handle scales had also been cut out in a matching manner on the inside. This resulted in a compartment inside the handle, a good centimeter deep, about 44 mm long on the long side, the narrow sides with dimensions of about 0.74”/19 and 1.73”/14 mm. Here, small items can be carried well protected in the wilderness, from the fishing line and hook to the replacement button cell for the optics mounted on the hunting rifle. Admittedly, this is not an entirely new idea – the company Pohl Force introduced similarly equipped knives four years ago, the series bore the name Prepper One. Apart from that, this design offers the advantage that Merkel knives can be completely disassembled and disinfected very easily - an important thing in a hunting knife from a game hygiene point of view.
Merkel Knives – The sheaths
Each of the two test specimens came with a sheath featuring a belt loop, with a safety strap that can be closed with a snap fastener, and with the seam interlayer known as the "welt", against which the blade rests and which thus prevents accidental cutting of the yarn. However, the materials varied: the test knife with the orange handle came with a sheath made of gray-green woven polyamide fabric, the front decorated with embroidery executed with white thread, which showed the MerkelGEAR logo. The knife with the olive-colored handle, on the other hand, was in a scabbard made of chocolate-brown cowhide about three millimeters thick, the surrounding seam edge decorated with a punched-in ornament. Fans of leather crafting will recognize something in it that looks like the pattern of the D438 punch from the Craftool brand.
The Merkel G10 knife in our practical test
The knives proved to be razor sharp, as evidenced by cutting paper with minimal pressure, as well as the indispensable shaving of the forearm and careful scraping of the thumbnail. The other tests around the kitchen and workshop were also absolutely satisfactory, as the Merkel knives proved to be really helpful in cutting up meat and vegetables as well as in carving and chopping wood, cutting leather and shredding various pieces of cardboard in a manner suitable for disposal. In all of this, the handles felt good in the hand, but the two colleagues we interviewed (both passionate hunters) said that they would have liked a handle that was one or two centimeters longer. But that was the only criticism. The aforementioned workmanship details were very pleasing, above all the carefully rounded blade back and handle sections – the test showed that they did not feel as uncomfortable in the hand when a piece of branch was cut with pressure as would have been the case with flat-ground and thus sharp-edged blade backs.
MerkelGEAR G10 knives specs and prices
G10 Orange Blaze/Olive|
|Price:||149 euro |
Steel Grade: ||Böhler N690|
|Features: ||Drop-point blades with screw-on G-10 handle scales, available in two color versions. Cowhide or polyamide sheath.|
Bottom line: Matthias Recktenwald's conclusion on the MerkelGEAR G10
With the MerkelGEAR knives of the G10 series, the buyer receives pieces that are consistently geared towards hunting, cleanly crafted, robust-looking and functionally executed. In view of this, the retail price of 149 euros per knife is also fully justified.
What we liked:
What we found less good:
level of workmanship||The handle could be a little longer for use when prying open|
features such as removable handle scales|