The Entrek Bison Knife: Thoughts & Analysis

With the intention of providing his customers with a custom quality production knife at a reasonable price, Ray W. Ennis (who is an internationally known knife maker) founded Entrek USA. He has been professionally designing and making knives for over forty years and he has made over 7000 of them over the course of his career!

With that being said, we can safely say that Ray’s present line of production knives incorporates all of his knowledge and experience.  In all his creations, Ray uses only high quality stainless steel to produce his knives. After shaping, each blade undergoes a rigorous regimen of heat treating, sub-zero stabilizing and double drawing in order to create a superior quality knife blade.

Furthermore, Ray goes above and beyond by obtaining his handle material from only one source in order to maintain color uniformity even though it costs more to do so. Thus, the entire line of knives offered by Entrek USA is of very high quality and each knife is designed to meet a specific need.

The Entrek Bison is an excellent proof of Ray’s genius in knife making. This model features an overall length of 14 1/2” with a 9” clip point blade made from 1/4″ 440C stainless steel with that has a saber grind. The blade has a 57-58 Rockwell and, like all of Entrek’s other knife models, it features a bead blasted, non-reflective finish for situations where stealth is required.

In addition, the point of the spine on the Entrek Bison incorporates a false edge to provide the knife with a very sharp point for piercing. Plus, the knife features full tang construction allows superior strength. Its stainless steel quillions complement the stainless steel blade while its black Micarta handle slabs for a tough yet positive grip. Last, this knife is supplied with a Kydex sheath that includes either a belt loop or a belt clip and hollow rivets so that you can carry the knife under your belt or lash it to your gear.

So although I happen to really like the design of this knife, and especially the use of the specially treated 440C stainless steel, due to its Persian-style blade, the design of the Entrek Bison serves the dual purpose of a wilderness survival knife and a tactical bowie knife with a slight emphasis on tactical use. The reason for this is that the Persian-style blade, with its light tip design, is not particularly well-suited even to light chopping tasks although it will serve in a pinch.

On the other hand, it does provide the user with a very high degree of control over the entire length of the edge as well as the tip of the blade. Thus, the very qualities that make this knife an excellent tactical bowie knife also lend themselves quite nicely to camp chores or any other tasks that require fine control of the knife.

However, as with so many large knife designs, the designer has see fit to incorporate a large choil combined with a ricasso which I do not like because it places the back of the edge too far away from the user’s hand for proper leverage when performing carving tasks such as cutting the notches in stakes and making triggers for spring snares or making an atlatl and darts for hunting.  Consequently, this feature tends to make fine control of the edge imperative. Although, the gap between the back of the edge and the quillion on the Entrek Bison is not as great as it is on some knife blade designs and thus, it will perform precision carving tasks better than some other designs I have seen; especially with its light weight tip.

Also, although I am not particularly enamored of the saber grind, it does perform the function of creating a very strong edge that can be made very sharp as long as the secondary bevel is ground very high on the edge – creating a compound bevel.

On the other hand, I absolutely love the use of 440C stainless steel for the blade material since, if this blade steel is tempered and hardened correctly (as Ray Ennis does,) it can be a very tough steel with excellent edge holding capabilities and a very high degree of corrosion resistance. In fact, 440C contains 0.95% – 1.20% carbon, 16% – 18% chromium (used in quantities greater than 10.5%, it produces stainless steels,) 1.0% manganese (increases toughness and hardenability in steel,) and 0.75% molybdenum (combines with chromium during forging to form hard double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel and it also increases hardness in tool steels.) Thus, 440C is one of my favorite stainless blade steels for making dedicated wilderness survival knives like the ones featured here.

In addition, while the double stainless steel quillions are pretty, the dual quillions tend to lend themselves more to tactical use than dedicated outdoor survival because the upper quillion prevents the user from comfortably placing his or her thumb or index finger on the spine of the blade for extra leverage when cutting, carving or for extra control when working with the tip of the blade.

However, I do like the black Micarta handle slabs because Micarta is one of the toughest knife handle materials I am aware of and I also appreciate Ray’s efforts to keep the quality and color of the Micarta uniform by purchasing it from only one manufacturer. Also, I do like the shape of the handle on the Entrek Bison but, like the Cold Steel Trail Master, I personally feel like it is a bit too small in diameter and thus, I would prefer to see larger, more hand-filling grips on such a large knife because larger grips provide better control when using the knife to chop, carve and cut.

We do like the appearance and overall design of the Entrek Bison.  We would certainly  carry it as a dedicated wilderness survival knife. It also fits the bill quite nicely if you happen to be looking for a tactical bowie knife.   It would be difficult make a better choice than the Entrek Bison for either purpose.

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