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Last Updated: July 21, 2021
Unlike a tattoo, a blog post is easy to edit. Easy to update. And that’s a great thing because I originally penned this review of the ESEE Junglas back in May of 2011. Currently it’s 2021. I’ve owned the knife for over 10 years now. That’s hard to believe. Time to update the review.
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Spoiler alert: Not much has changed. I loved the Junglas in 2011, and in 2018 I still love the knife. Only now I’ve beaten the hell out of mine for half a decade, so I can comment on all the experience I have with the Junglas. I’ve also added some new photography of the knife in it’s present condition. The handle has darkened with sweat and grime, and the coating of the blade shows considerable wear, but in my opinion this just adds character to a bad ass knife.
The Junglas remains my favorite big chopper. It’s the knife I reach for after a hurricane. Heck, it’s the knife I reach for as I get ready for a hurricane, as well as a knife I have used to break down countless branches, baton open logs for camp fires, and relieve a hell of a lot of stress.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The ESEE Junglas has an overall length of 16.5″, a 10.5″ blade, and it weighs 22.5 ounces on its own, 33 ounces with the sheath. It’s a big knife. I can’t say I’ve brought it on any ultra light hiking trips. It mostly lives in my garage. But that size and weight make it a tremendous chopper, and it’s a very satisfying tool to heft and use. Although it shares some lines with a machete, it’s much stouter. Shorter and thicker stock. It’s more like a short sword. I like the dimensions and wouldn’t change a thing. If you need something smaller ESEE knives has an entire range of products for your consideration. This one is their big gun.
The blade is a long drop point made of a 3/16″ thick piece of 1095 high carbon steel. It does two things well: chopping and batoning. I have chopped a ton of tree limbs with this knife. My chopping technique isn’t the best, but if I’m concentrating I can get through a fresh 2″ thick limb in 3 swipes.
The knife comes with almost a full flat grind, so it’s not the most amazing knife to baton with (I prefer the Fallkniven A1), but what it lacks in geometry it makes up for with size. You can span large logs with this knife and beat the Junglas through pretty much anything. Mine has held up famously, although the powder coating is worse for the wear. I am glad it has worn down a bit, as it means less resistance when I am chopping.
The Junglas comes in 1095 high carbon steel. I am a big fan of 1095 for a big chopper like this. 1095 is tough, so it doesn’t chip easily, and it is easy to sharpen. It’s an excellent steel for chopping wood. Of course, being a high carbon steel it is more susceptible to rust than a stainless steel. ESEE mitigated this somewhat by applying a black powder coat. This coating wears well when compared to a cheaper teflon coating, but it will still wear. Regardless, the coating will help protect most of the knife from rusting. That said, you are going to want to keep this knife dry and oiled. I try to hose my knife down with WD-40 after every session. I have not had any major issues with rust following this protocol.
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 nicely finished. The edges of 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. Extra steel protrudes from the pommel, and you can use that to crack nuts or the skull of a zombie invader.
The ergonomics of the Junglas are excellent. This is a knife I have chopped for hours and hours with. I’ve never had a problem with hot spots or discomfort. The handle fills the hand well, and the shape of the handle helps to hold your hand in place. The combination of the smart design and high traction micarta keeps the Junglas in your hand, even if you are a sweaty bastard like me, and near delerium from an afternoon of chopping in the 95 degree Florida heat. The ergonomics are outstanding and I can’t overemphasize that. It’s critically important for a big chopper like this, and the Junglas nails it.
The sheath is often the weakest link from a production fixed blade. Most manufacturers spend their money on the knife itself, and the sheath sometimes feels like an afterthought. Thankfully this is a non-issue here because ESEE made a sheath as good as the knife, if not better.
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 the fabric part that attaches to your belt and is removable with 4 fasteners.
My favorite part of the sheath is the sound it makes. The knife slams into the sheath with a loud “crack” that reminds me of a 12 gauge racking a round. It’s a sound that means business. Maybe it’s the 12 year old boy in me or something, but it find it immensely satisfying. If you don’t care for the sound, you can adjust the retention so it’s a little quieter.
Regardless, once locked in place this knife isn’t going anywhere. The secondary retention strap is there for a little extra security, and if you were going to jump out of an airplane with this knife, there is a way to physically lash the blade into the sheath. My friends, blade retention is not an issue.
And the sheath comes with all the bits and bobs you would expect here. There is a water drain, tons of eyelets for running paracord, and it’s MOLLE capable. And everything is built to the highest standards. My sheath shows very little wear. I appreciate how the secondary retention strap falls away, so you don’t cut into it while drawing out the knife. I’ve inadvertently sawn through the retention straps of other sheathes before. You don’t have that problem with this sheath. In fact, you don’t have any problems with this sheath.
In conclusion, this sheath rocks. ESEE thought of it all and you have a sheath that wears just as well as the knife.
As a parting size comparison shot, here is a shot of the Junglas next to an ESEE-3:
ESEE Junglas Review – Final Thoughts
There is a reason I keep coming back to this knife. The Junglas is a beast of a knife. My collection has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the Junglas remains a constant piece of gear. At around $175 this is not a cheap knife, but when you consider what a quality folding knife goes for this is an easy one for me to justify. If I lost it today I’d buy another one tomorrow. No questions asked.
And I think you get what you pay for. Nothing else comes close. The Becker BK-9 is about $100 less and is a great tool for the money, but the Junglas is the knife I continue to reach for. After owning this blade for over 5 years this is the highest endorsement I an offer.
Even if you are just a mild-mannered suburban guy like me, if you do your own yard work or enjoy the occasional campfire you will get a thrill out of owning and using this excellent knife.
- ESEE Tactical Suvival Knives.
- Kydex Sheath w/ Cordura Backing.
- Steel: 1095 Carbon, 55-57 Rc. Finish: Black Powder Coat.
- Hammer Pommel w/ Lanyard Hole. Flat Grind.
- For Full Specifications, Features, Survival Kit Contents, Care, and Warranty Info Please See Description Below.
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.
Hey Dan, I really like the looks of this knife. Geat size for serious camp chores. Right now I am packing a BK&T-9 which serves about the same functions but The high flat grind does appeal to me.
Dave, this knife is the real deal. I saw your post on your BOB and the BK&T-9 is a serious knife as well although like you said, the Junglas has its appeal!
I love mine!
I really enjoyed this review until I got to the point where you compared the Cold Steel coating to the ESEE powder coating. What do you expect?! The ESEE’s price is almost 950% more than the Cold Steel blade. That was more than a bit of a stretch.
That said, I WANT this blade.
Dave I meant to provide that point of comparison more to show what you, a potential purchaser of the knife, might expect! Of course comparing the $125 Junglas to a ~$50 Cold Steel product isn’t a direct apples to apples comparison, but the fact is a more common teflon coating does wear much easier than the powder coating. When you consider that many people interested in a knife like the Junglas are probably already familiar with a more inexpensive Cold Steel coated blades, and that knives shouldn’t be studied in a vacuum (after all – nature abhors a vacuum 😉 ) I think I can safely draw the comparison when I’m trying to illustrate the quality of the coating. Especially since it’s a Junglas review – if I was reviewing the CS SRK (which I own and plan on reviewing) and was like “this coating sucks compared to the Junglas!” then I feel like it would be a stretch.
And for the record I generally am a big Cold Steel fan (although I’ll point out issues with their products when I see them). I didn’t mean it as a knock on the company or the products. The teflon coating is usually done on their stainless steel blades so it’s not as important as a high carbon blade (it just shows wear much easier). I revised the language a little to make the point better.
And honestly I’m not sure which comparable CS product you are referring to when you say the Junglas is 950% more expensive. I know that was probably meant as an exaggeration, but the closest thing I can immediately think of is the Trail Master, which is about the same size, fills the same general use, comes with an uncoated high carbon steel blade, and costs about the same.
In my opinion the Junglas really doesn’t compare at all to a $10 CS machete as the Junglas is a full on survival / bushcrafting knife – much heavier and thicker, designed for heavy chopping and batoning. You couldn’t do that with a true machete which is designed for clearing brush and is made of much thinner blade stock (it could clear brush, but it would wear you out real fast).
But Dave, ultimately I agree – this is an awesome knife. Sorry for being so long winded! I just wanted to clarify my reasoning. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and provide some feedback.
Yeah, I was reading up on the Cold Steel Kukri, and had that on the brain at the time of the comment; guess I shoulda mentioned that. Amazon has them on sale for $18 with sheath.
Thanks for taking the time to explain.
My pleasure Dave, thanks for asking. Many times I learn more from the comments section than from my own examination of the knife – its a big part of the reason why I enjoy publishing these reviews. The CS Kukri for $18 sounds like a very nice deal.
“In my opinion the Junglas really doesn’t compare at all to a $10 CS machete as the Junglas is a full on survival / bushcrafting knife – much heavier and thicker, designed for heavy chopping and batoning. You couldn’t do that with a true machete which is designed for clearing brush and is made of much thinner blade stock (it could clear brush, but it would wear you out real fast).”
Tell that to Colhane on youtube…
These are just my personal opinions man, nothing more. If you want to clear brush all day with your Junglas then rock on. Personally I prefer a lighter machete with more reach for those kinds of tasks, but I totally acknowledge everyone is a little different. Thanks for stopping by!
The knife itself seems great, but I am disappointed in the kydex sheath. I’d much rather they charge less and not include the sheath, and leave it up to the customer to supply their own. Either that or charge a bit more and provide a quality sheath like the molded plastic one they send along with their ESEE-6 knife.
Too many people think kydex is a miracle sheath material and it isn’t. In extreme heat like found in south Florida or desert areas, kydex deforms easily. In freezing climates kydex becomes brittle and can crack or even shatter with an unintentional impact. Kydex is also known to be quite noisy when removing or sheathing the blade. The only reason kydex is commonly used is because it inexpensive and easy to form.
While much more expensive to manufacture molds for, a molded plastic sheath is more durable, doesn’t deform in heat like kydex, nor does it become brittle in cold. Molded plastic sheaths are also noticeably more quiet when inserting or removing the blade. It would actually be worth paying a little extra to have a knife-specific molded plastic sheath provided with the Junglas.
If looking at the Junglas or any other knife for use as a survival blade, the sheath durability and material traits should not be overlooked.
First of all, thanks so much for the excellent comment! I have not had any issues with kydex myself, but I’m just one “data point” so it’s certainly great to get some thoughts from other people on any knife I review. I know Cold Steel is quite fond of molded plastic sheathes (they call them “secure-ex” but it’s plastic), and I’ve had good experiences with those style of sheathes as well. Ultimately you gotta find out what materials work best for your specific environment and go from there.
I love the kydex sheath!
Douglas Charles Freeman says
Yea I’ve had no issues, with the Jude’s sheath. Hasn’t cracked in the cold . Heat hasn’t done anything to it. I love it. And the Junglas!
They do offer the Junglas at a cheaper cost without the sheath as stated by Dan in his review under the value section (The Junglas is priced around $125 for the knife alone, and $180 with the sheath) This knife was made primarily for drug enforcements agents in South America. I sure hope that they tested the sheath in extreme heat to make sure it doesn’t melt. This is all conjecture except for the cost and the reason the blade was made. You would have to warm tydex to about 300 to 350 to change its shape. So even if it was 200 in south Florida I think the kydex sheath would be OK. In the cold it really depends on the grade of kydex but the kydex website test down to -29c/-20f and it holds up pretty well also. A plastic mold would only add a dollar to the price if you wanted made in china. Here it adds a lot more. Like Dan said its a matter of opinion in what you like to use and trust.
Thanks so much for offering your thoughts. I tend to agree with you about the Kydex. I actually live in S Florida and haven’t had any issues with deformation ever – but I dunno maybe if you leave it in the truck all day in direct sunlight something *may* happen but I’ve never heard of it. And thanks for reminding me Chris, I totally forgot you can buy the knife separately.
This looks like an awesome knife! For some reason, I’m a little bummed I didn’t get this huge hunk of steel. The only thing similar to this Junglas is my Grayman Mega Pounder, 9 inch chisel grind.
This was when I first started getting into destroying things and bushcraft, and I wanted a do it all knife. With that said, the MegaPounder is more of a sharpened prybar, shovel, breaching tool, and head hunting tool. I don’t know the weight of it since Mike didn’t post it, but its quite hefty when its smaller then the Junglas.
Oh well, I’m learning as I go on my knife adventures, and me and my bank account are really picking up on the right tool for the right job. I hope that blade serves you well!
Thank you Joseph! The Junglas is a mean piece of steel. I hope to record a video review of this one and update the review with revised thoughts and original photography. There is a lot I like about the Junglas, and for well under $200 the price is very reasonable too.
Thanks for reading!
Hey Mr. Dan!
Great review, as always. Seriously, good job.
Can you consider a review of the ESEE-6? It’s a little different than some of the other ESEE’s, and it doesn’t compare to a lot of other knives.
Thanks for your reviews,
Thanks Lightsky! If I can get my hands on one I certainly will. Thanks for the suggestion.
This was probably my first “high end” knife purchase 3-4 years ago and have been in love with it ever since. I typically pair this up with a ESEE 3mil and get some great results.
But where I live, I don’t need a axe but a machete. But I don’t need a 18 inch machete either.
Unfortunately, I live in a very humid area so I am in a constant battle with rust. I’ve forced patina on it and it still rusts.
Thanks for stopping by. Glad you like yours too. The more I use mine the more I respect it. I live in a pretty humid area and hose mine down with WD-40 after each use. Haven’t noticed much rust on mine, but I have noticed a little form on the edge and logo occasionally.
Was yours 47 th off production line? Is that what the 0047 means? Mine says 8620
Doug, The pictures aren’t of my particular knife, but yes I believe that is the production number.
Will this big chopper 1095 Junglas ESEE throw a flint spark to start a fire?… I bought a Ka Bar Bowie to chop and start fires; to discover that its 1085 stainless. Made in Taiwan and won’t throw a spark with flint. Also got a 1055 that won’t throw sparks and bought a 1095 cro van. That won’t throw sparks with flint…. I have a good Cold Steel bowie all Purpose thats great but if course it won’t make sparks either.. Looking for professional advise. Bunches of knifes work with a ROD. Nbut I want one that will spark with flint.
Gary, To be honest I’ve never tried. From what I can find on the internet this ESEE 1095 will throw sparks so you should be good to go if you are willing to wear through the powder coat.
Douglas Charles Freeman says
I haven’t tried either. But I use a striker anyway. One thing though. Man how do you guys baton a piece of mmm well 8 inch pine log?. Is that too big to baton? Because it just seems really hard to do for me
Doug, I don’t baton a lot of pine so I can’t speak specifically on that, but I’ve had an easier time with some logs than others. Might take a lot of whacking, or I might have to give up after a while. Just depends. The type of wood, and how long it has seasoned has something to do with it.
All I can say about the Junglas is that it one awesome beast of a blade. I’ve been using it on nearly a daily basis for 18 months, unearthing some of the most brutal Marlboro Clay & rock from my backyard and the Junglas cuts through this nasty stuff like butter.
The blade is unbelievably thick, powerful & resilient. The handle/grip is perfect for the weight and angle of the blade. It cuts, chops and carves all equally well and mine doesnt have a single, noticeable chip on it anywhere. The sheath is outstanding and the Junglas requires very little care/maintenance. It has been a life saver for the work I’ve been doing and if there ever comes a day that I lose or inconceivably break my Junglas; I’ll order another ASAP.
Thank you for taking the time to leave some thoughts on the Junglas. So glad to hear you enjoy yours.
If it ever breaks ESEE will replace it for you. Hopefully you never lose yours. I know if I were to lose mine I’d buy another as well.
Douglas Charles Freeman says
Ya! Love mine
Michael Cappello says
I just received my esee-5 and I didn’t receive any paperwork to register it with the company to ensure that my warranty would be honored. Is it necessary to do so, or do they track & register ownership through the sellers?
Dan Jackson says
Michael, There is no warranty card and you don’t need to be the first owner of the knife to use the warranty or provide proof of purchase. It’s a fully transferrable warranty and you can read more about it here. Congrats on your new ESEE-5. I hope you enjoy it!