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Imagine you can pick out anything from Kizer‘s lineup. I was recently put in that position. Not a bad place to be. Thumbing through their catalog yields all sorts of stuff from the pedestrian to the outlandish. The Sheepdog is more in that second camp. It’s a big bold design. Not likely to dislodge something like the FRN Chaparral from your pocket, but definitely a conversation piece.
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The Sheepdog is a design from Chris Conway of Sheepdog Knives, and is the production version of Conway’s C01C custom knife. The Sheepdog even has “C01C” laser engraved on the blade. It’s a big and chunky offering for fans of big and chunky knives. Clearly this one won’t be for everyone, but the unique design and loyal following piqued my interest.
This knife was provided to me free of charge from Kizer. All thoughts are my own.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Sheepdog has an overall length of 7.75″, a 3.125″ blade, and it weighs 6.17 ounces. Right now I have the open knife resting on my chest as I type this review out on my couch. The resulting sensation is what I would expect the early onset of a heart attack to feel like. It’s a heavy pressing weight, bearing down on my solar plexus. I better move this review along before my girlfriend has to call 911.
While the Sheepdog is categorized as an EDC knife, you will need to be a fan of BBKs (Big Beautiful Knives) to tote this one around.
For those seeking something smaller, Kizer wisely decided to introduce the Kizer Mini Sheepdog a while back. As part of the Vanguard series, the Mini Sheepdog comes with G10 scales and a liner lock, but it also clocks in at a mere 3.25 ounces. I received a Mini Sheepdog from Kizer as well, but stupidly forgot to take a size comparison photo before sending the Mini over to Grayson for review. I liked the size and weight of the Mini Sheepdog and could see that making for an interesting daily carry tool.
The Sheepdog’s blade is a massive slab of S35VN stainless steel. It’s a modified sheepsfoot, with a gently curving edge, high flat grind, and dual swedges. Sheepsfoot knives generally don’t have a penetrating tip, but the Sheepdog’s leading edge is canted out slightly, resulting in a strong tip that won’t pick out splinters, but could easily blow through a hollow core door.
The blade has been nicely made. The grind lines are crisp, the edge is clean and even, and the finish is a fine stonewash. No complaints.
Given this blade is a hair over 4mm thick, I was dubious of the Sheepdog’s cutting abilities. But much like an NFL linebacker, this big boy has some moves. I started with an apple, as apples are a great test of the slicing ability of a pocket knife. A slicey knife will cut the apple cleanly, while a chunky blade will plow through it, leaving a series of fault lines in your apple slices.
Much to my surprise the Sheepdog cut the apple cleanly. It’s like a small butchers cleaver.
I moved on to cardboard. No problems there either. The S35VN blade peeled through the cardboard boxes. It eventually slowed down as the edge dulled, but the edge geometry is good and the knife cuts well. After the boxes, I touched the Sheepdog up on the ceramic rods from my Sharpmaker and we were back in business. At that point I carried the knife with me. Mostly on the weekends when I could carry a big blade like this. It performed regular EDC tasks, including opening mail and packages containing other knives, without any issue.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
Handle construction is simple and elegant. At the front of the knife you have an oversized pivot with an anodized blue titanium pivot collar. Towards the butt of the handle are two stainless steel standoffs. A series of three slots have been milled into the show side, offering a little extra traction and a view inside. Not much to see except for an expanse of dully shining titanium when the knife is open, or the glinting stainless steel blade when the knife is closed.
There is something oddly cathartic to the handle of this knife. It’s a hefty piece of contoured and bead blasted titanium, and it reminds me of palming a well worn river rock.
While the Sheepdog doesn’t have much of a “traction plan” with respect to aggressive texturing or jimping, the knife has clearly been built for comfort. Your hand naturally wraps around the handle, fingers finding the grooves, and thumb sliding across the broad spine of the blade. The result is a secure and confident grip without hot spots or ergonomic issues. I had no problems using my knife during the testing period. Granted I didn’t try to break down a yak with it, but for normal utility tasks the knife worked fine. I suppose you could always slap some skateboard tape on it, dudes.
The pocket clip is not without its controversy. First of all, it’s a milled titanium clip, so by default it’s going to raise the ire of a percentage of our knife loving brethren. I’m talking about those who have sworn their swords against the recent rebel uprising of milled pocket clips. Those folks will forever condemn the Sheepdog with its milled clip as a glorified paperweight, unfit for daily carry.
I’m a little less dogmatic when it comes to this sort of thing. Yeah, I’ve handled some knives with milled clips that didn’t work, but the one on this Sheepdog isn’t bad. It has been designed in a way to produce a lot of spring tension. Spring tension is critical for the success of any pocket clip, as this is what keeps the knife in your pocket.
The pocket clip works fine. I mostly wear lightweight shorts with a triangular pocket, and like to keep my knives high in the pocket up near my belt. Nothing upsets me more than a loose clip that allows my EDC knife to constantly sink towards the bottom of my pocket. That is the worst. Thankfully we don’t need to worry about that here. The Sheepdog’s pocket clip defies gravity and keeps my knife where I want it. No small feat given how heavy this thing is. Job well done, Kizer.
Ultimately, the Sheepdog carries well for what it is, but this is still a 6 ounce+ pocket knife. It isn’t a Dragonfly. You are going to notice it. It may even pull your pants down if you forget to wear a belt.
Deployment and Lockup
The Sheepdog makes use of an oversized flipper tab to get the blade open. The flipper is a substantial piece of steel allowing the user to pop the blade open with a lightswitch stroke. The detent is dialed in, and the blade runs on caged washers. The end result is a knife with reliable and satisfying flipping action. I’d put it at a solid “7” on the 1-10 scale. It gets the job done, but this is still a big heavy blade, and you feel that in the action. There is no jimping on the flipper tab, and I don’t think it needs it. My index finger has never slipped on the flipper.
For lockup we have a standard titanium framelock with steel lockbar insert. This is much like the Kizer Intrepid I reviewed two years ago. Kizer has the lock tuned to perfection. It locks up early, there is no blade play, and the lock is easy to disengage. There is no lock stick, and thanks to some contoured edges I can easily jam my thumb in place to release the lock bar. Much like the framelocks you find on a Zero Tolerance knife, this one just works.
Here is a parting shot of my Sheepdog next to the Paramilitary 2:
Blade centering is perfect on my knife.
Kizer Sheepdog Review – Final Thoughts
The Sheepdog is not for everyone. In fact, the Sheepdog is not for most people. It’s simply too big and too heavy. Despite that this knife has been well received. After carrying one for a while I can see why. It’s well made and functional. For those who want something big and chunky, the Sheepdog could be the one.
While the Sheepdog a big chunky knife, it is surprisingly light on its feet. The blade cuts cleanly, the knife feels good in hand, and it actually carries alright thanks to an especially strong milled pocket clip. And you can’t argue with the material selection or the fit and finish. Top notch materials combined with excellent fit and finish all lend a premium feel to this knife. That’s important given its ~$200 price tag.
The end result is a big but surprisingly refined knife. It isn’t for everyone, but I suspect that those that find themselves drawn to the Sheepdog will be pleased with its performance and execution.
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