By: Greg Chabot
Photos By: Sasha Steadman
Grayman knives have earned a reputation for making rugged, dependable knives since 2004. They stand up to extreme use that would destroy lesser knives.
Recently, I was in the market for a fixed blade, multi-purpose knife to keep in my truck. I settled on the Sub-Saharan 5, as the size met my requirements for ease of concealment. All Grayman fixed blades are of the full tang design. Built from ¼” 1095 steel, the Sub-Saharan is a single bevel (Chisel) grind that makes for an exceptionally strong blade that is easy to sharpen in the field. The Blade itself measures 5.5” x 1.75” with an OAL of 11” weighing in at 15 ounces. Handle is G10 with the choice of black or green for color. The sheath is a simple design made from black Kydex. This is a double-edged blade that comes with a 5 ½” cutting edge on the bottom and 3 1/8” cutting edge on top. The black Dura-Coat finish is very tough and has held up on other Grayman products I own. The Sub-Saharan series is a very intimidating looking blade, designed for serious use by serious people.
I found the knife slightly front heavy, which aids in chopping and slashing. Though hefty, the blade handles and balances well in hand. I would have full confidence using this blade in a self-defense situation. The ¼” thickness gives little worry of breakage if one needs to use it as a breaching tool or pry bar in tactical or emergency situations.
My first test was retention with and without gloves. The G10 grip is very sticky, and I had no problems holding my knife with thick gloves while performing task. I also put mineral oil on my hands to simulate blood, then proceeded to do some chopping and defense drills and did not lose my grip. The handle is comfortable in both forward and reverse grip. With little effort I chopped through a piece of 1” manila line weighed down with a cinder block.
The knife was also used to make fire sticks and perform other camp tasks. To test the strength of the tip, I used the knife multiple times as a can opener with no damage to the tip or cutting edge. For defensive use, the Sub-Saharan 5 will get the job done. Using an old heavy bag, I did multiple slashes and stabs through layers of old clothes. The knife cut and penetrated with little effort, producing deep wound channels. I would not want to be on the receiving end of this knife!
The Sub-Saharan series comes with a working Choil, which is an excellent feature that allows one to “choke up” on the blade for smaller task. This feature came in handy for making fire sticks and triggers for traps. All Grayman knives ship with a “toothy” working edge. To the less knowledgeable, it will look rough and unfinished compared to other makes. I find this style edge cuts material better compared to a more finished edge. If end users prefer a more finished edge, the 1095 steel is easy to sharpen to one’s preference. For rust prevention, I wipe on a light coat of SEAL-1 CLP.
The Grayman Sub-Saharan 5 is a true workhorse made for hard use. It is solidly built and a good cross between a fighter and utility knife. I trust my life to Grayman knives. In the past 18 months, I have used a Grayman knife twice in an emergency (I helped someone escape out of a wrecked vehicle.). All Grayman knives are handmade in the USA. They come with an excellent lifetime warranty and top-notch customer service if needed.
Greg Chabot is an Iraq Combat Veteran freelancer, writing from New Hampshire.