Handmade Knives by Mark Russon
Made Proudly in the American West
The Bushcraft Patriot
The successor to the popular Survivor Tracker knife, the Patriot streamlines the functionality of the multi-function survival knife into a blade made purely for heavy duty bushcraft and camp use. This knife is in the prototype stage, and is undergoing rigorous testing. The knife is just over 12" in length overall, with a 7" blade of full-tang 1/4" thick 5160 spring steel. The blade is 1-3/8" wide, and 2" wide at the forward section. It features a raised swedge like the Survivor knife, giving the front of the blade extra weight for chopping. The handle design is identical to the Survivor, a classic canoe shape that is comfortable and gives the user a firm grip on the knife for rugged use.
I made the decision to switch from a chromoly stainless steel to a carbon spring steel that is known for its toughness. The thick full-ground blade offers supreme cutting power and takes a keen edge that is easy to sharpen in the field. The entire knife has a glass bead-blast matte finish, with handles made of high density phenolic (generic Micarta) with solid brass bolsters and brass pins and liners for a classic look.
The hefty blade made fast work of chopping through a 2" pine branch. It was then clean through this 3" log in just a few minutes. And of course, it batons nicely with the wedge of a full flat grind. Through all of my wood hacking, the edge has remained paper-cutting sharp, and hasn't been touched up at all yet.
The knife weighs just over 17 oz., only an ounce heavier than the Survivor, and still 4 oz. lighter than the Tom Brown Tracker. Including the handmade leather sheath, the entire package is about 22 oz. A lot of thought has gone into taking the best of my father's original Tracker design and simplifying the knife into its purest essence. No saw teeth, no offset bevels--just a solid knife made for hard work.
My plan is to continue testing the prototype and refining any small elements of its construction before making the knife available to the public. This knife will be entirely handmade, so availability will be more limited than with the Survivor. I hope to have a few ready to sell by sometime in August 2021. The estimated price will be $300 including a handmade leather sheath.
The Tracker Survivor Knife
THE WORLD'S MOST UNIQUE
AND RECOGNIZED SURVIVAL
FROM ITS ORIGINAL DESIGNER!
It has long been believed that the unique survival knife sold by TOPS Knives as the "Tom Brown Tracker" was the sole creation of Tom Brown, a New Jersey tracking/survival instructor--though in truth Mr. Brown had virtually nothing to do with the conception of this iconic design. The "Tom Brown Tracker" reached its pinnacle of public attention as a prop (ironically portrayed as a combat rather than survival knife) in the 2003 movie "The Hunted", where Brown was retained as a technical consultant and parlayed "his knife" into the plot. The truth is that the original Tracker Knife has existed since 1981, a creation of my father Robb Russon, a hobbyist knifemaker from Utah. He had sent Brown the prototype for his knife to get feedback and proposed to do business together, but Brown backed out after hearing what it would cost to produce the knife.
Unbeknownst to my father, Brown instead took credit for the design and shopped it to other knifemakers for years, trying to make it a commercial success. He found that success with The Hunted, after which he took the knife to TOPS Knives of Idaho to be mass-produced under his name. As movie props often do, the "Tracker Knife" took on a life of its own. Although its design may now be one of the most copied knives in history, Brown has profited greatly from my father's work over the past 18 years since The Hunted. For those who are interested, the entire story is told in detail on this site through the link below, with proof in Brown's own handwriting.
Robb Russon (circa 2019), designer of the original Tracker Knife.
As I became a veteran knifemaker myself, I first tried to reproduce my father's design by hand, but just as he had in 1981, found that this was no easy knife to make by hand. Ultimately, I took my father's original pattern for The Tracker, added a couple of my own improvements to give it an "upgrade"--which he wholeheartedly endorsed--and gave the collaboration the moniker of "Tracker Survivor". After more than a year of manufacturing work, I was finally able to proudly offer the public this tribute to the knifemaking genius of my father: the true "Tracker Knife" design that has waited nearly 40 years to become available.