As a lifelong pupil of the knife fighting arts and someone who trains with and uses knives on a daily basis, I know the importance of a quality tactical/bush knife. A few weeks ago, I did a review of Dawson Knives’ Ranger Tactical Knife. I put that knife through some pretty grueling tests and the knife performed superbly. I decided to up the ante a little with the Dawson Raider 5, so I will understand if you get a little squeamish when you watch the video.
I would like to clear the air just a bit before we proceed. The torture testing you will see in this review is not how I typically perform knife reviews. Dawson has expressly requested that I put their knives through the paces to showcase just how durable and dependable they are. Many of the things you will see done to this knife are things I would generally never even think about doing to a knife, so please keep this in mind as you read on and watch the video.
The Raider 5 is the five-inch variant of Dawson’s Raider series, which is one of their best-selling tactical lines. This 10 3/8” full-tang workhorse knife boasts a thick 1/4” thick slightly hollow-ground blade made out of high-quality 5160 alloy spring steel with Micarta handles and a thick Cerakote finish to protect this high-carbon blade.
The Raider 5 comes with Dawson’s unique Kydex sheath system, which has two attachment options—a multidirectional belt-loop attachment and a Kydex MOLLE attachment. Dawson’s Raider 5 sheath system also has a unique locking mechanism that is integrated with the knife handle and requires the user to disengage the lock system by pressing the outer lip of the Kydex outward.
I began my testing with a standard chopping test to see how well the knife performs at some essential bush survival tasks. A five-inch blade is not ideal for chopping wood, so it took about six minutes to chop through a hard three-inch piece of mesquite. I then spilt the wood into quarters using a batoning technique. After that, I did several throws with the knife into a large dead tree. Throwing is very stressful on a knife, especially if the knife is not designed for that purpose. That is why I like to include some throwing into my testing. As was expected from my previous experience with Dawson’s knives, the Raider held up just fine through all of that.
I moved on to some even more unfriendly testing with some red brick pavers. I started with the pommel end. The Raider 5 pommel is shaped to a flat end, which works great as a screwdriver or pry bar. As you can see by the photos, it also makes a good skull crusher as it had no problem chipping away at the brick paver until it eventually split the brick in half. I then used the blade tip to chisel away at one of the halves of the brick paver, and finally moved on to hacking away at the brick using the blade bevel. Once again, the Raider chipped away until the brick split in two. None of this abuse resulted in any noticeable metal ware.
Finally, I got downright mean. I dug up a piece of a cement block and went to town. I chipped away at it with the pommel, I hacked it with the spine, and finally (Parents, cover your kid’s eyes and ears!), I chopped at it with the bevel. (Let me reiterate, I do not recommend doing this with any knife. The objective here was to see just how tough Dawson knives are.) You will see sparks flying in the video. Once again, the Raider held up phenomenally well save a few small chips on the bevel, which is to be expected—It was concrete for crying out loud!
What good is a tactical knife with offset guards that double as bottle openers if you don’t actually open a bottle? Since I don’t drink beer and generally don’t drink soda, especially the ones with all the caramel coloring and high fructose corn syrup, I opted for a Mexican Jarritos made with real cane sugar. It was quite refreshing after a long day of trying to beat up this knife.
Once of the questions knife owners typically like to ask is, “How easy is it to sharpen this knife?” You might expect that a knife as hard and durable as the Dawson Raider 5 would be extremely difficult to sharpen, but you would be wrong. After all of the day’s abuse, I threw the Raider on my Wicked Edge™ sharpener and made quick work of reconditioning the bevel. Within about twenty minutes, the small chips and burs from hacking away at the concrete block were gone and the Raider 5 was razor sharp once again!
Dawson Knives is a three-generation family-owned company based out of Prescott Valley, Arizona. All of their knives are hand made right here in the good old USA. Best of all, every one of Dawson’s knives come with a life-time guarantee. They will periodically refurbish your Dawson knife for nothing more than the cost of shipping. If they can’t repair a damaged knife, they will replace it for a nominal fee. Not many manufacturers, let alone custom knife makers, stand behind their products the way Dawson stands behind theirs. The Raider 5 can be purchased directly from Dawson Knives at www.dawsonknives.com for $395.00. If you are a returning Dawson Knives customer then you can expect a much lower price. Dawson takes care of their loyal customers. Click here to go directly to the Raider 5 at the Dawson Online Store. Be sure to follow Dawson on Instagram and Like them on Facebook.
Photo Credits: Chad McBroom