It should come as no surprise to anyone that Ka-Bar make great knives. Not just great knives, but legendary and highly functional knives that have stood the test of time. Yet despite knowing that, if you had told me that Ka-Bar could make a serious quality folding knife for $20, that I would actually want to carry, I would have just laughed at you.
Apparently the joke is on me though, because that’s exactly what Ka-Bar have done with their award-winning Dozier Hunter lock back all-purpose knife. The most affordable and practical every day carry folder that I have ever had the pleasure of using.
The Ka-Bar Dozier Hunter is a joy to use and hold. I fits perfectly in my hand and feels extremely comfortable. A lot of knives, regardless of price range, feel awkward or uncomfortable to hold. That blows my mind for a product thats primary purpose is to be held. No such issues with the Dozier. It’s surprisingly well balanced. By that I don’t mean that the blade and handle are the same weight, I mean that in my hand the knife feels just right. If I had to guess and without taking the knife apart, I’d say the distribution of weight is about 40% blade and 60% handle. Whatever the exact numbers are I can assure you that Ka-Bar got it right. And it’s reasonably lightweight overall weighing in at just 2.3oz.
Like many mass-produced folding knives on the market the handle scales of the Dozier are made of highly durable Zytel (fiberglass reinforced nylon – FRN). Here too Ka-Bar has done a fantastic job of balancing form and function. The checkering is crisp and tactile with no rough edges or burrs. Tip: Light colored Zytel/FRN scales can actually by dyed using Rit dye (powder not liquid) if you ever want to change their color.
There are only two screws on the entire knife plus a small pivot for the locking mechanism. The front screw allows you to adjust the tension on the blade, which in my experience did slightly loosen up over time. The rear screw holds the pocket clip securely in place. Both screws are almost completely flush to the handle scales – I really like that. In contrast, my Spyderco Delica4 has eight screws, none of which sit flush. Three of those are used just to hold the pocket clip in place.
The Dozier came from the factory came razor sharp right out of the box and has held up incredibly well for the past 3 months. It’s made of AUS 8A stainless steel with a black coating for extra rust resistance and while I’m no expert I’d say that this steel has performed beyond my expectations and is more than acceptable for the price point. I love the hollow ground drop point style and fine tip that can be used for detailed tasks like digging out splinters.
The thumb stud is nicely knurled and is revisable for left or right-handed use. I’ll add here that it took me some time to get used to the thumb stud. After so many years of carrying Spyderco Delicas with a large (ambidextrous) thumb hole, I found the Dozier’s stud hard to hit every time. I got used to it quickly, but I won’t lie, it took practice. I’m thinking of removing some of the Zytel handle material opposite the thumb stud in order to make it easier to gain purchase. Haven’t done it yet, but I know it’s coming.
- Weighs just 2.3oz for a 3-inch (blade) knife. Light weight due to less goofy screws and lack of liners
- Superb drop-point blade has fine tip for doing detailed work
- Hollow ground, razor sharp out of the box
- Fast deployment speed (with practice), solid lockup
- Durable Zytel handle with great checkering and flush fittings
- Fits in the hand almost perfectly
- Thicker blade than Spyderco Delica4
- Reversible pocket clip
- Reversible thumb stud
- Costs just $20 – that’s $45 less than a Spyderco Delica4
- Slightly rounded jimping
- Tip up only carry may not suit everyone, but at least it has it on both sides (I always carry tip up anyway)
- Thumb screw/stud barely protrudes above the handle scales
I don’t know of any other knives for $20 that can beat the Ka-Bar Dozier Hunter. It’s a ridiculously good value and worth considerably more. I have the blaze orange handle version, but the olive drab and desert tan colors look even better. The Dozier is one tough son of a gun and up to just about any task that a hiker/backpacker would need. I’m going to snap up several more of these puppies while I still can and save them as random gifts for friends or Christmas stocking stuffers!