I had read about the knives made by Mike Grayman several times in cutlery and weapons magazines. The design ideas intrigued me, but i was sceptical if the hype held any water. I found a barely used “Ground Pounder” model for a very decent price in a web forum and took the chance. This model has a more conservative blade shape. Some knives in the line look pretty mean and “intimidating”, which can be a good thing.
These knives were not always available to the public as the maker has considered them too ugly to be of interest to the general knife buying puplic. “They are meant to be used. Used hard!”, is a universal statement written about them everywhere. A knife that is bought to be used hard, will be used hard, and will develop scratches and nicks and dings and things over time so you do not have to start with a work of art to begin with. It does not make sense, though a highly polished finish can prevent rust.
My GP weighs 443 gr, almost a pound. A leather handle KaBar is only 308 gr, roughly 30 % less. The Grayman has a 1095 carbon steel blade that is 6.25 inches long from the scales to the extremely sturdy tip and 0.25 inches thick. It is completely V-flat-ground with a very (!) thick convex edge. The blade profile actually looks more like a tomahawk or small camping axe than a knife. It is the proverbial “sharp pry bar”.
The workmanship on my GP is rough. Quite rough. Imagine an AK 47 with a Gun Kote finish and you get the picture. Considerung that Grayman knives are made by a single person from start to finish and backed by a lifelong N.Q.A.-guarantee (even if you sell it) and free sharpening service (only really useful if you live in the US), they are not overpriced, but i wouldn´t call them “bargains” either. Mr. Grayman will openly say that he does not offer “knives for collectors”, but survival tools meant to be used, abused, banged and scratched up.
The MOLLE military sheath is a simple and effective coyote brown nylon affair that is hand-sewn. A thick crude kydex insert holds the knife protected in there and can be reversed for southpaws, just like the velcro-fixed snap strap. Malice clips allow attachment to a GI pistol belt. For more size-efficiency on your jeans belt, investment in a custom kydex sheath can be recommended.
The GP knife is neutral in balance and features flat green micarta grips that are held to the massive full tang with three rivet screws. The general shape of the handle and slabs is simply excellent. Even after extensive chopping, i did never feel the need for a lanyard and choking up on the grip is easy. Eventually, all heavy chopping work will raise blisters over time, but the handle design that we have here helps a lot. This knife was designed by someone who used to use knives hard.
The long exposed tang on the GP can be used for crushing things or as a less lethal option in a combat scenario. Speaking off, Mr. Grayman seems to be well versed in gross motor CQB tactics due to his military and mercenary past and i would also favor an ice pick grip with the GP to make penetration easier. The massive tip and general blade profile will not penetrate as easily as a Gerber MkII, but will leave a wide wound channel. If the GP were any heavier, i would consider it to be a little unwieldy for fighting.
This knife excels at pounding it through wood, prying apart logs and hacking it through stuff. All day long if you want to, without any dangers of damage to the tip or edge. If you break this one, you are doing something very stupid that will also damage you, or already has. Far off from civilization, stranded on a remote island, in the urban aftermath of an earthquake, or deep behind enemy lines, such over-engineering by sheer mass makes more sense than on a sunday picknick hike.
My V-ground GP is not too useful for small tasks like whittling a fuzz stick. The cutting edge is simply too thick for that. While the spine of the knife has a thickness of 0.25 inches, the portion next to the polished cutting edge is still 0.125 inches, easily. It is appreciably harder to make notches for traps or fine wood shavings for a fire with this ultra-sturdy edge.
You might have to extensively regrind a large Grayman if you want to use it for delicate tasks. As for now, i consider my GP to be a small hatchet with a somewhat limited cutting capability and will always back it up with a folding or thinner knife.
Grayman knives are also available with a single-sided grind, or “chisel grind“. This should make field sharpening somewhat easier (if you are left/right handed and selective about the side of your grind), but why it would make the knives better cutters in general or physically more stable on the edge against abuse escapes me. Mr. Ernest Emerson has started the hype of the chisel grind in (folding) combat knives, but most commercial manufacturers seem to offer “simple” V-ground knives to the general public. So does a chisel grind make you a hardened spec-op guy or simply a dude without sharpening equipment ? I do not wish to decide the case. I carry a Benchmade chisel ground fixed blade for defense when on big city soil because it is not available in a different grind.
If you like heavy and large knives with an interesting design history, check out the Graymans. There are many different models to choose from. My GP is not perfect for every task, but i like it more than i thought i would and it is still growing on me.