Woodsmen and survivalists are a special breed. Whole communities online are dedicated to survival knives and the people who use em… and it’s rightfully so, many argue that a knife is the single most important tool you can take into the woods with you.
That said, survival guy or not, if the ESEE Junglas doesn’t stir something inside of you, then maybe you need to see a doctor. This knife should be like a shot of adrenaline to any blade junkie. At least it was for me, and while the Junglas has been out for a while, I wanted to provide my thoughts on this big and bad survival blade from the good folks at ESEE knives.
At over 16″ long and forged of high carbon steel, this is what “survival experts” and I would call a “large survival knife” – big surprise, I know.
Its main use is chopping wood to build shelters and fire. It is also perfect for hacking your way out of nasty situations. In fact, ESEE named this knife after The Junglas; a Colombian drug task force of elite commandos. I can only imagine some of the stuff these guys go through – my visions of endless emerald green rainforest and weeks hunkered down in the dark heart of the jungle are probably just the tip of the iceberg. My own personal experience extends to tooling around in the backyard and occasional jaunts into the woods. While I’d love to change that, for now it is what it is.
Yeah, with that kind of resume I’m guessing I don’t really “need” a Junglas, but all the same I found myself reaching to this knife like a moth to the flame. While I don’t see myself getting lost in the swarthy interior of South Florida any time soon, you can never be too sure. I’ll admit that it is a good tool to have around in the event of a natural disaster or similar scenario (insert obligatory zombie apocalypse reference here). More realistically, we see life threatening hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes transitioning from fleeting thoughts to stark realities.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
As you already know, this is a big honkin’ knife. The overall length is 16.5″ and the blade is a very generous 10.5″. The weight of the Junglas without the sheath is 22.5 ounces (33 ounces with the sheath), which is pretty good considering the size and strength of the knife. That said, this is a heavy tool; this knife will not fit into everyone’s survival philosophy.
More on the blade: This knife resembles a machete, but it is built a lot heavier to withstand the rigors of survival tasks such as batoning. First of all, the knife is made of a 3/16″ thick piece of 1095 high carbon steel.
I am a big fan of 1095, it takes a wicked edge and holds it like nothing else. Of course, being a high carbon steel (rather than a stainless) it is susceptible to rust. ESEE mitigated this somewhat by applying a black powder coat. This coating wears extremely well (unlike some knives I have tried out, like say the cheaper teflon coating common on many less expensive blades from Cold Steel…) and will help protect most of the knife from rusting. That said, you are going to want to keep this knife dry and oiled, especially the un-coated parts like the edge and branding.
ESEE chose a flat grind, which begins near the top of the blade and works with the weight to provide exceptional chopping ability. Toss in that 1095 and you have a hell of a blade. The edge on this knife is also very good. It’s a bevel edge, and a razor sharp one at that… not something you would immediately expect from such a large knife.
Handle and Ergonomics
The handle of the Junglas is simple, but it’s done right. The scales are 2 large slabs of canvas micarta, which provide good grip and durability. This knife is very well finished, meaning the handles are radiused (smoothed), and they line up flush with the tang. The micarta is held in place with 3 large allen bolts, so you can take this knife apart if need be.
This handle fills the hand well, and it is incredibly comfortable. You won’t notice any hot spots (where the handle rubs excessively on your hand) when you use this knife. Also, the shape of the handle helps to hold your hand in place. It kind of cradles in your palm to avoid slipping. Of course, there is a large lanyard hole on the pommel, and you are going to want to use that for any serious swings. Despite the Junglas’ large size, it is definitely a fun knife to wield (responsibly) and the steel feels light and lively, thanks in part to the superb balance and well designed handle.
The sheath is often the weakest part of any “out of the box” survival knife. The knife itself can be great, but the sheath could totally suck… which is always a shame because you really need both to get the most out of this type of tool. Plus, a quality replacement sheath can be more expensive than the knife itself – especially when you figure that you already paid for a sheath! Thankfully this is a non-issue because ESEE hit this one out of the park and made a sheath as good as the knife.
The sheath is made of a combination of kydex and cordura. The kydex portion runs the length of the blade up past the hilt. The cordura portion is what attaches to your belt and is removable with 4 screws.
The knife slides into the kydex sheath with a soft “snap” sound that lets you know the knife is snug. Indeed, this sheath has excellent blade retention. The level of tension can be adjusted with a screw so you can fine tune the sheath to your exact requirements – that is a cool feature I have never seen before. The kydex has been molded to the shape of the blade and there is a water drain at the bottom to keep the Junglas as dry as possible.
The knife is further secured by an adjustable snap on the cordura part of the sheath that holds the handle in place. Further, the cordura part of the sheath is capable of folding over the pommel of the handle, and can be cinched down with paracord. This way there is absolutely zero chance of the knife falling out of the sheath – even if you are rappelling, rafting or engaging in some other high energy task. Losing your $100+ knife always sucks, but losing it in a real survival situation can be the difference between life and death. It is great to see that ESEE paid attention and took the time to build a sheath that does the job right.
As for attachment options, there are your standard belt look and webbing ring. Further, the sheath is MOLLE capable so you can mount this sheath on your load bearing equipment (LBE) for a totally custom fit. Finally, there are 17 tie down points on the kydex – you could strap this sucker down to whatever you want and it will not budge.
In conclusion, this sheath rocks. ESEE thought of it all and you have a sheath that will wear just as well as the knife.
The Junglas is priced around $125 for the knife alone, and $180 with the sheath. I think that this is a great price for either configuration. I happen to think some of the ESEE knives are a little on the expensive side (like the Izula II), but I really feel like you are getting your money’s worth here with the Junglas.
Keep in mind that the knife is made in America and comes with a lifetime unconditional warranty (even if you abuse the knife and break it, ESEE will replace it at no cost). At a glance the sheath may seen a little spendy, but it’s one of the best production knife sheathes I have seen, and well worth it in my opinion. That said, do I like how they give you the option not to buy the sheath, so if you want to make a sheath (or have someone custom make a sheath for you), you can.
ESEE Junglas: Final Thoughts
The Junglas is an incredible large survival blade. The knife and sheath have been very well thought out. The choice of materials and the level of fit and finish are phenomenal – you will not be able to find a new knife this big with this level of fit and finish for the money. I love how it’s made in the USA and the warranty is the best in the business. I really see no cons to the knife; the only real question is – does this kind of large survival blade fit into your style of outdoor use / wilderness survival?
I recommend purchasing the Junglas at BladeHQ or Amazon. Purchasing anything through any of the links on this site helps support BladeReviews, and keeps this review train running. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated! Thank you very much.
Photo Credits: Many thanks to Ian aka Cougar337 for letting me use his pictures. As always, the photos are stunning and I am extremely proud to feature his work on my site!