ESEE Knives® / Randall’s Adventure & Training® makes some tough knives. And the ESSE-5 is one of the toughest. It was designed by military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) instructors as a hard-use downed pilot’s survival knife. If you are looking for knife that won’t let you down when the chips are down, the ESEE-5 certainly fits the bill.

The ESEE-5 is a heavy-duty knife that will handle the toughest of jobs. It’s built like a tank and is just as rugged. Special features include a glass-breaker pommel and a bow drill divot.

The ESEE-5 has an overall length of 11 inches with a versatile 5.25-inch drop point blade with a saber grind. This type of grind provides maximum edge strength and a strong point, although it sacrifices some cutting ability.

The blade is made of 0.25-inch thick 1095 carbon steel, hardened to HRC 55-57 and finished with your choice of a a textured black, OD or Venom Green powder-coat finish.

The blade is made of 1095 high carbon steel. 1095 carbon steel is a basic steel that contains approximately 0.95% carbon (hence the 95 in 1095) and 0.4% manganese as the main alloying elements. It’s reasonably tough, holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen. The US Marine Corps has specified 1095 carbon steel for its issue knives since WWII.

The major drawback to this type of steel is that it rusts fairly easily. However, with a little care you won’t ever have a problem. ESEE Knives suggests using a dry film rust inhibitor such as TUF-GLIDE® or TUF-CLOTH®.

The ESEE-5 is available with either a plain edge or partially serrated blade. I went with the partially serrated blade, as it offers the advantages the plain edge for precise push cuts and the advantages of the serrated edge for slicing cuts, especially through tougher materials, including rope and webbing.

US Air Force SERE specialists practice evasion movements. The ESSE-5 was designed by military SERE instructors as a hard-use survival knife to get downed pilots out alive. US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry A Simmons. The appearance of US Department of Defense (DoD) visual information doesn’t imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

The serrations on ESEE knives are among the best in the industry. They’re significantly more efficient and easily cut through rope, seat belts or other flexible materials They also slice very well and don’t get caught up in material like other most other designs. Plus, sharpening the ESEE serrations is a breeze. You just sharpen the edge the same as you would on a plain blade.

All ESEE knives feature full tang construction for strength. The handle slabs (scales) on the ESEE-5 are made of canvas Micarta®, a high-pressure laminate made from a cotton fabric and a phenolic resin. Not only is it extremely durable, it looks great and provides a superior gripping surface. The scales are attached with blackened stainless steel hex-socket screws in three locations.

The ESEE-5 is an outstanding wilderness survival knife. It’s suitable for both heavy duty and detailed tasks. Photo: ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training.

The ESSE-5 has several cool and potentially lifesaving features. The handle on the ESEE-5 is equipped with a bow drill divot for use with a bow drill for fire starting in a wilderness survival situation. The ESEE-5 also features a glass-breaker pommel with a large lanyard hole. The glass breaker point is of a pyramidal design with four flats. It’s very effective.

If you are looking for a lightweight knife, the ESEE-5 isn’t for you. Weighing in at 16 ounces, it’s a heavy knife designed for extreme use. Some have even likened it to a sharpened pry bar, but that doesn‘t do it justice.

Although it’s a beast, the ESEE-5 is suitable for both heavy duty and detailed tasks. It has outstanding ergonomics and balance. Thumb jimping on the spine allows for precise blade control when needed.

ESEE-5 sheath with optional Cordura nylon MOLLE back and sheath pouch. Photo: ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training.

The ESEE-5 has a custom high-quality Kydex® sheath with mounting grommets. The sheath secures the knife with no rattle. The sheath features an adjustable slide lock tension system that’s licensed from Blind Horse Knives. The sheath has a drainage hole at the bottom. A 550 paracord lanyard with cord lock is also included with the ESEE-5 sheath.

The ESEE-5 sheath comes with an ambidextrous clip plate. Mounting screws and washers are included. The spring steel clip allows for easy belt carry. The clip makes the knife quick to don and doff. It’s quite secure.

Optional Cordura nylon sheath pouch for ESEE-5 is great place to keep small survival kit, such as the ESEE Mini Survival Kit shown here. Photo: ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training.

The sheath hole spacing on the ESEE-5 sheath also fits Blade-Tech® attachments, including the TEK-LOK™ and MOLLE LOK™. Optional accessories available from ESEE Knives for the ESEE-5 include a Cordura® nylon MOLLE back and a Cardura®  nylon sheath pouch. The sheath pouch can be used to hold a small survival kit, such as the ESEE  Mini Survival Kit.

The workmanship on the ESEE-5 received for evaluation was outstanding. The knife was absolutely flawless. The blade was exceptionally sharp right out of the box, another demonstration of ESEE Knives great attention to detail.
If you are looking for a heavy-duty, hard-use fixed-blade tactical or survival knife, you won’t find a better knife than the ESEE-5.

All ESEE knives are made for ESEE Knives by Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The ESEE-5 has a MSRP from $188.00. Each knife is individually serial numbered. For a personal touch, ESEE Knives can laser engrave your department or team logo or badge. ESEE Knives has a license on file to engrave knives for employees and agents of the ATF and the USMS.

ESEE knives are covered by what’s undoubtably the best warranty in the industry. If you break an ESEE knife, they will replace it, no questions asked. The warranty is lifetime and transferable. No receipt or proof of purchase is required.


Size: 5/5
Construction/Durability: 5/5
Function: 5/5
Utility 5/5
Weight: 5/5  Built for extreme hard-use and weight goes along with that.
Overall Rating: 25/25


MANUFACTURER: ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training
OVERALL LENGTH: 11.0 inches
BLADE LENGTH: 5.25 inches
THICKNESS: 0.25 inch
STEEL: 1095 carbon, HRC 55-57
FINISH: Textured powder coat ( black, OD or Venom Green)
BLADE WIDTH: 1.56 inches
GRIND: Saber
SPINE: Thumb jimping
WEIGHT: (Knife Only) 16 ounces
HANDLES: Canvas Micarta
SHEATH: Kydex sheath w/ clip plate
FEATURES: Glass breaker, bow drill divot
WARRANTY: Lifetime

I was provided with this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site

By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen provides intelligence and security consulting services. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California. His byline has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines.

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