Schrade-Walden introduced the Old Timer pocket knife model 2OT, in 1959. Those early Old Timer knives were a long time coming and backed by half a century of knifemaking knowhow. With that kind of background, you have to wonder if you should bring their knife along on your next camping adventure.
Walden Knife Company and the Schrade Cutlery Company partnered up in 1904. Some forty years later the associates officially became Schrade-Walden Cutlery Corporation, a division of Imperial Knife. By 1958, the new owners, cousins Henry and Albert Baer, were at the top of their game. They wanted to create a line of pocket knives that harkened back to days of old, so the name Old Timer made sense. And they made the sentiment apparent in their slogan, "Knives like grandad's." Back then, an Old Timer pocket knife was handmade for superior blade placement and inspected for craftsmanship and durability.
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Schrade-Walden and Beyond
Schrade-Walden's commitment to quality is what made them leaders in their industry for a hundred years. Time marches on, however. In 2004, Taylor Brands LLC bought out Schrade-Walden. Then, they moved production to China where manufacturing is less costly. Taylor continues to use the original designs and patterns to manufacture new Old Timer knife models. And they also incorporate the traditional packaging to stay true to the originals. But only time will tell if the quality is everlasting.
Types of blades and how you use them
Old Timer pocket knife blades are high carbon steel, a metal known to hold a sharp edge. Be aware that the blade will get a dark patina over time; that's the nature of the steel. And it will rust, so it's vital to keep the knife dry. These days you may run across an Old Timer pocket knife made out of stainless steel, but high carbon is still the steel of choice for the most part.
Blades come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and uses. A pen blade has a straight spine that curves down to form the tip. This sleek, lightweight knife is for woodworking and tasks that require precision, though it's not a super-sharp blade. The clip point is, as its name suggests, “clipped.” The spine is concave at the business end and angles up to a fine needlepoint tip. It's versatile and ideal for piercing, cutting, or slicing.
Spey blades are for castrating livestock. They have a short, flat, straight edge that curves upward and straight back to the tip. The sheepfoot got its name because of their original use, which was to trim a sheep's hooves. They have a flat edge and a blade with no point. They're used for whittling and for cutting through things without worrying about getting stabbed. The Wharncliffe blade is similar to a sheepsfoot. However, it is thicker, and it has a slight curve that starts close to the handle.
The handle of your pocket knife should not only be nice to look at, but it also needs to be comfortable to hold and durable enough to last through years of use. Plus, it's important that it doesn't get slippery when it's wet. Otherwise, it becomes a hazard. A traditional Old Timer pocket knife has a handle that's saw-cut to give it texture, as well as a better grip.
The classic "nail nick" is the most common way to open a pocket knife. It works as you would suspect. You'll find a nick cut into the top of the blade. You use your fingernail to pull it open.
Liner locks are a common mechanism on folding knives. They typically have a side spring bar located along the “lining” inside of the handle. The spring bar is closed tight under tension. When the knife opens, the tension slips the bar inward to the butt of the blade and holds it in place so it can't close accidentally. You push the spring bar in to clear the butt of the blade and close the knife.
A lock back mechanism works by locking the blade's spine into place with a notch on the back of the blade. You push down on the middle or back end of the handle to disengage the lock, which allows you to flip the blade open and closed.
The Gunstock is an iconic folding knife, with a three-inch clip blade. However, it doesn't have the spey blade as is typical of a trapper, or jackknife. It does have the well-known saw-cut handle, characteristic of an Old Timer pocket knife, with nickel and silver bolsters. The handle measures just a little less than four inches long. The knife measures seven inches when fully opened.
- Pros and cons
Reviews would indicate that the Gunstock Trapper is a hit with customers on Amazon.
People love how sharp the blade is on this Old Timer pocket knife. They also rave about the tension and how stable it feels when it locks into place with the liner lock system. While many customers think that manufacturing in China hasn't hurt the product, others say differently, claiming that the steel is a lower grade and the line lock doesn't hold up as well as earlier versions.
Old Timer's classic clip point knife hit the market in 1979. The Cave Bear has a lock back mechanism with a high carbon steel blade that's just shy of four inches long. This Old timer pocket knife has a Delrin handle that's close to five inches long, with the vintage saw cut pattern. It has nickel silver bolsters and brass pins that secure the blade, as well as heat-treated back springs for easy opening and closing. The Cave Bear is almost nine inches at full length.
- Pros and cons
Customers mostly like the Cave bear 70T, with 59 percent out of 270 reviews rating the Old Timer pocket knife at five stars.
Customers love the good, sharp blade that's perfect for use as a hunting knife. It makes it easy to clean and gut game. Its handle is sturdy, with a non-slip grip, and durable. On the other hand, some folks found that the lockup was either too loose or too stiff and many of the knives were showing tarnish upon delivery. Considering that Old Timer still uses traditional high carbon steel, it's not surprising that some of the knives would need to be cleaned straight out of the box.
The Minuteman has a pen blade and a two-inch clip point blade. Both blades have a nail nick and heat-treated back springs. Nickel silver bolsters and brass pins stabilize the handle. The overall length is close to five inches.
- Pros and cons
With 11 percent of buyers giving it 1 star.
On the plus side, people find that this Old Timer pocket knife comes in handy around the house and fits neatly into their pocket.
But some customers claim that the blades are flimsy and poorly made, causing them to knock into one another. In general, the feeling is that quality has gone down since manufacturing moved out of the country.
The Model 80T Senior Old Timer pocket knife boasts a three-inch clip point, a sheepsfoot, and spey blade, making it a versatile pocket knife for everyday use.
- Pros and cons
Customers are a whole lot happier with this Old Timer pocket knife than they were with our previous pick.
According to buyers, the Model 80T Senior's blades are stainless steel. That could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it and what you expect. Unlike high carbon steel, stainless doesn't rust, so that's a plus. However, it also doesn't hold a sharp edge as long, which is a drawback for some people. Overall though, customers agree that the knife is well-made and sharp enough to do the job.
The Old Timer Workmate has a high carbon steel, clip point blade, a sheepsfoot, the Wharncliffe blade, and a pen blade, all with nail nicks. Its overall length is just about five and a half inches.
- Pros and cons
People like to use this pocket knife daily around the house and in the yard. They say it's a decent knife for the money. Most buy it because they don't want to run the risk of losing a more expensive pocket knife. Still, the Schrader name is well-known, and customers seem loyal even though they know that ownership and manufacturing moved around over the years.
The Workmate is versatile and easy to sharpen. It's a decent knife for the money. On the flip side, customers complain that the blades aren't as sharp as they used to be, and the quality decreased since moving the production overseas.
How We Reviewed
First, we looked into the history of Old Timer pocket knives and discovered that, until 2004, they were American-made. Then, Taylor bought the rights to the company and moved production to China. So we checked to see if the quality has suffered by looking into reviews to find out what customers think.
Next, we determined who makes pocket knives that are comparable and checked to see how their knives stand up against today's Old Timer pocket knife.
Who Offers a Knife That Compares to an Old Timer?
Nowadays there are a plethora of companies offering high-quality pocket knives. Some have been around for decades, while others are newer entities.
The knives we've added to our comparisons are similar to the traditional pocket knives that an Old Timer pocket knife emulates.
The Buck Solo is comparable to the Old Timer Gunstock Trapper 194OT, with a clip blade that measures close to three inches, and a woodgrain handle with nickel silver bolsters. Much like Old Timer, Buck manufactures this knife in China.
Customers love buck knives, as they are a well-known company that has a reputation for quality and dependability.
Here's a clip point knife that compares to Old Timer's Cave Bear 70T, except for its stainless steel blade which is less likely to rust. The Gerber Gator's textured plastic handle provides excellent grip. It won't slip out of your hands, even if it's wet. It comes with a lock back mechanism that's durable and secure. This one is American-made if that matters to you.
This little beauty grabbed the highest reviews of any we have mentioned. They love everything about this knife, from the sharpness of the blade to the lock-back mechanism.
A two-bladed trapper knife is the quintessential pocket knife. The Case Trapper boasts the traditional set-up. It has two blades of equal length -- a clip and spey. A jigged bone handle provides a good grip. Surgical steel blades mean there's no rust. This little jewel is great for everything from opening boxes to cutting rope or fishing line. People also use it as a hunting knife to clean small game.
The Case Trapper wins as far as customers are concerned. They appreciate everything about this pocket knife, especially its comfort, quality, and price.
Do Old Timer Knives Pocket the Win?
It appears that though Old Timer manufactures their pocket knives in China, they're working to maintain their reputation. Overall, an Old Timer pocket knife is reliable and well-made. However, the quality has waned. So you may find that there are better choices within the same price range. Ultimately, it depends on what your needs are.