November's Best Picks for Hunting Gear: Knives, ATV's and More

This month our Gear Editor, John Geiger, gives his top picks on affordable hunting gear from the newest knives on the market to an awesome air gun to the newest ATV's and more.


HANDS-ON REPORT


.22 AIR GUN MADE FOR HUNTING

If you owned an air gun as a kid and haven't shot one in awhile, you're going to appreciate them in a whole new way. We recently picked up an Umarex Octane because at the Game & Fish/Sportsman magazines, we're hunters and we love the idea of another option to shoot squirrels, ground hogs, rock chucks or even coyotes.


This good-looking gun comes with a suppressor — not a silencer — and that helps keep the sounds below that of a .22 Long Rifle (see Dick Metcalf's article on page 20 for more information on suppressors).

I got excellent groups from a bench at 35 and 50 yards. The 35-yard groups would have covered up a dime. You can expect tight groups at 50 yards.

The trigger broke over at between 6 and 6 1/2 pounds. The gun, with scope, weighs about 9 pounds.

Much of the power and accuracy can be attributed to the Reaxis gas piston. It's explosive. I consistently shot holes through 1/2-inch plywood and the 1/4-inch behind it. I should not have been surprised, considering the Octane sends alloy pellets downrange at up to 1,050 fps. Lighter pellets definitely make a supersonic report.

I'm generally not a fan of the thumbhole-stock look, but the sleek Octane pulls it off.

The scope rail is bolt-on, and I know some folks will prefer a welded-on scope rail. I would like a better quality scope than the 3-9x40 that comes with the package. The gun is so accurate that I'd recommend a scope that costs at least as much as this gun, which sells for about $260.

This is definitely not a kid's toy air gun. The Umarex Octane is a serious small-game air gun that looks, feels and shoots a lot like a rimfire.

Do They Cut It?

For each job, there's the right tool. Fixed-blade knives are durable and have backbone for tough jobs. But there's a place for folding knives.Folders are safer to carry when you are trudging through swamps, mountains or woods, or getting in and out of tree stands. Knifemakers get it. Here are a few innovative new folding knives that we used, abused and wanted to tell you about.

[1] REVELATION AMP  Real Avid

How does your flashlight taste? If you've ever field-dressed a deer in the dark, you probably know what I am talking about. You've used one hand to hold the deer, the other wields a knife and you stick your flashlight in your mouth. Personally, I'd rather eat backstraps.

The Revelation Amp folding knife by Real Avid was the first practical lighted knife for field dressing. It has two water-sealed LED lights that point down both sides of the extended blade or bone saw. Very cool. I left the lights on continuously, and they were still shining strong after 72 hours. Extra batteries are included.

When you pick it up, first you'll notice the overmolded grips that tightly adhere to the stainless steel frame. The 3 1/2-inch blade is a respectable 440 stainless. Knifemakers often use this grade because it is lower-cost than say the 440C. But 440 is highly corrosion resistant, keeps an edge and is easy to sharpen. It's a good choice for field-dressing an occasional deer.

The knife is just over 5 inches folded. The blade is a modified drop/clip point, which makes it good for puncturing, gutting and some skinning in a pinch. The package also has a bone saw and an extra wide gut hook for quick unzipping.

During testing, I found that the lock bar could be thicker to ensure the saw stays open when cutting. Still, because of these overmolded grips and click-on lights, I'll be carrying a Revelation Amp in my pack this year. MSRP, $59.95. — John Geiger, Game & Fish/Sportsman gear editor

[2] ONTARIO KNIFE XM-1 

For years I've gone to military surplus stores for hunting and camping gear. When I had the opportunity to review the Ontario Knife Company's XM-1 folder, the tactical style seemed to me like old times. However, this is not your Daddy's hunting knife. It's more like Great-Grandpa's tank.

When I first put my hands around this beast, even I was a little taken aback. This knife is almost an inch wide; it definitely is best suited for those with medium- to large-sized hands. The cobalt-enhanced, cryo-quenched, stainless-steel blade (a combination that makes for a really good blade) is 3/16-inch thick at the rear. It has machined, aircraft aluminum handles with tactical groves cut into them for excellent grip with or without gloves. The titanium liner lock is very secure, and that combined with the large thumbscrew makes the XM-1 open easily and fast, with a clicking sound of authority, even though there are no spring assists.

The thickness of the blade and handle gave it incredible leverage when I cut wood with it. After several cutting sessions, it was still sharp enough to pass through a piece of typing paper like butter.

Considering this knife was built for the military and has what I consider a price point in the middle range for quality cutlery, I would highly recommend it for its quality, craftsmanship and reliability. MSRP, $252. — Ron Sinfelt, Game & Fish/Sportsman photo editor

[3] HUNTER XT  Victorinox

Victorinox (the company that makes Swiss Army knives) now has a knife designed specifically for hunters: the Hunter XT.

Victorinox knives have long been famous for their durability, workmanship and functionality, and the Hunter XT clearly comes out of that tradition.

It has four implements: a knife, a gut hook, a bone saw and, on the reverse side, a Phillips head screwdriver. Like the iconic Swiss Army knife, the Hunter XT is a folding knife. But two of the blades — the knife and the gut hook — are designed so that they can be opened with one hand and each blade locks for safety.

The steel is Victorinox's standard 1.4110 steel, a chromium- and carbon-steel recipe designed for a mix of corrosion resistance and tensile strength.

The steel is a good choice for a knife in the field that has to hold up to abuse, but what actually limits the durability of many folding/lock blade knives is not the quality of the steel, but rather the quality of the handle. One of the strong points in Victorinox's reputation is that the handles of their knives don't fall apart around the steel.

The Hunter XT comes with a key ring, nylon pouch, and the option of a black handle or an orange handle. MSRP, $62. — David Johnson, Game & Fish/Sportsman regional editor

For more reviews on the latest hunting gear, check out gameandfishmag.com/gear-accessories

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