Author Topic: Fox Knives Parus  (Read 1134 times)

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Offline theJman

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Fox Knives Parus
« on: April 11, 2021, 10:37:07 AM »

Tracker.  Pretty much everyone with even a passing familiarity of outdoor knives knows about the Tom Brown Tracker.  You don't even need to say "Tom Brown", just Tracker will suffice.  It's a polarizing design if there ever was one, yet despite that many companies make a variation of it.  Fox Knives is no different with their Parus.  This version is slightly elongated from the original Tracker - not quite as stubby - but one look and the lineage is clearly evident.  Before I go any further let's take a look at the spec's...

  • Blade Steel: N690Co stainless steel
    Hardness: HRC 58-60
    Blade Coating: Black Cerakote
    Handle: Black Forprene
    Blade Length: 6.9"
    Overall Length: 11.8"
    Blade Thickness: 0.24"
    Weight: 12 oz

A blade nearing 7" long, steel that's 1/4" thick and weighing in at 3/4th's of a pound certainly says survival knife.  That's what the original Tracker was designed to be as well, a one-tool-option.  Most of us realize that's not practical but I'm still intrigued by the concept so I picked one up to see just how close it gets to that elusive goal.

In hand the knife feels solid but not overly heavy, it strikes a nice balance between the two.  Any one-tool-option would have to be like a beaver when it comes to wood processing so I spent a lot of my test day doing something with wood.  I probably battoned more with the Parus than any other knife I've used to date, and in so doing I started to uncover a few problems.  The first isn't really a surprise; the false swedge eats battons.  Since I regularly batton this didn't bode well, but again I assumed that was going to happen so it wasn't a shock.  Here's a sample of what I split that day...

The wood is some very tough stuff however, a challenge for any knife.  I'm not sure what it is but it has this yellow hue to parts of the heartwood and an unpleasant smell.  When it dries out it's like concrete so I had to beat on the knife to get it through.  After a while I checked the edge and by the rounded front upswept portion it had rolled in about a 1" section.  It wasn't a really bad roll but I could feel it.

After battoning came some chopping.  This past winter has been unkind to my spot, with a lot of strong storms and many days of high winds there's plenty of damage.  I used the Parus to hack down a few samplings that were snapped by large branches falling on them.  I delimbed some smaller stuff (an inch or less in diameter) off trees that had come down, nothing thick enough to require a hatchet though.  When flicking your wrist like you might in a chopping situation the pommel rubbed up against the backside of my palm with its sharp edges.  It didn't take long for that to become irritating.

Now I'm a couple of hours into my day and the next problem began to announce itself; the handle.  I'm not a huge fan of Forprene - I'm a G10 guy to the core - but that wasn't really the problem, it was the shape and the jimping.  I don't use gloves in the field, no matter what the conditions, so unless you do the jimping is likely to be a problem.  Maybe if you're a stone mason or something and have heavily calloused hands you'll be OK, but I don't work in the trades so that's not me.  It's thick enough so my XL hands didn't feel like they wanted to slip off, and when torquing down on a push cut there wasn't an issue with it trying to twist, but the weird finger indentations don't do you any favors.  My digits didn't align with their placement and when I forced them to it felt unnatural.

My normal process is to make 2 or 3 try sticks at the end of the day, not only to see how sharp the edge still is but also to get a sense for how well the handle feels after a day of hard use.  I couldn't even finish my second one; between the bizarre shape of the handle, the oddly placed finger grooves and the brutal jimping I simply gave up.  In the picture below you'll see an X battoned into the top of the stick on the left for another pot hook but I just didn't want to continue, it wasn't any fun.

I didn't take the handle off but I suspect the tang is not skeletonized, or if it is Fox didn't cut out much material because the balance point is just at the front edge of the choil.  That may have contributed to it not feeling very cumbersome despite the length and large front portion of the blade.  The spine is not sharp so that gets a demerit from me. The false swedge that tears up battons did work pretty good for scraping wood shavings and with a ferro rod, so it could be used that way in a pinch, but a dedicated striker would probably be a better option.  As you might expect, even after just one day of use the Cerakote is coming off.  I don't get why knives are coated in the first place - to me it's unnecessary - but it's even more confusing when the blade is made from stainless steel (Bohler N690).  Why bother?

The one area I don't really have any complaints with is the sheath.  Personally I would rather have kydex than ballistic nylon but Fox got this part right.  It's about as small as it can possibly be, which I like very much.  Big, bulky sheaths are not what I want to carry on my side and this one isn't.  To be honest, when you lay the knife next to the sheath you can't help but wonder if it won't be too big.  It's not.  The Parus is held in place by two snap straps, one that attaches the handle to the belt loop and the other at a 45 degree angle securing the knife into the sheath.  There is some friction tension as well so while I was tramping through the woods there were times I didn't have either snap done and the knife never came close to falling out.  If you don't do up the handle strap it will point away from your body somewhat so if you're going through an area of thick underbrush you might consider securing at least that one so it doesn't get snagged on something and pulled out.  There's also a loop for a leg lanyard to secure it even further.

Fox includes PALS webbing on the front and back of the sheath body so you can attach it directly to your kit if you would rather go that route.  The belt loop has a buckle as part of the dangler system so you can disconnect it at any time.  The loop itself is velcro overlap so it can be taken on or off your belt without removing it. It's wide enough for belts over 2".

As is my custom with every knife reviewed I use it to make at least one meal to see how it handles that chore.  Before I could do that however I needed to use a butchers steel to correct the roll and then stropped it back to sharp.  It didn't take me long, maybe 5-6 minutes in total.  Unfortunately I didn't have anything challenging on the menu so I used it for dinner and breakfast the next day.  The former was kielbasa and rice while the latter was french toast.  Tough eh?  I found that when cutting it was actually better to pull the butt of the handle up at about a 45 degree angle and push down using the front portion of the blade to make my cuts.  Of course that looked and felt awkward but it was quite effective.  The Parus does the job but I won't be tossing my steak knives any time soon.

So what's the verdict?  I think the concept is a good one but for me the execution doesn't perform as well as I had hoped.  That's not to say it won't work for you - the knife can probably take a beating for years and still perform - but there are a few things that didn't work in my case.  Several of them could be solved by using gloves though, so if that's something you typically do than it's worth a look.

Offline wolfy

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Re: Fox Knives Parus
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2021, 10:54:28 AM »
That was a good, honest & thorough review, but how much do they cost?
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Offline madmaxine

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Re: Fox Knives Parus
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2021, 11:29:02 AM »
Nice review.
Red wields a Tracker with enviable skill.

...I don't.

Offline theJman

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Re: Fox Knives Parus
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2021, 12:09:13 PM »
That was a good, honest & thorough review, but how much do they cost?

I paid $160 for mine.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Fox Knives Parus
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2021, 12:34:51 PM »

  I agree that tracker styled knives are intriguing but mostly impractical as a general duty woodsman's/bushcraft knife,  and the idea of a one cutting tool option is again attractive on paper but a good quality Tracker (WSK) doesn't really do any cutting chores well,  they can however do most cutting chores, but not well and not without allot of extra effort.
  If I were lost, stranded, or otherwise caught in a long term survival situation I'd want a Tracker on my side, but that almost suggests that you have a notion before hand that you may get stuck in that kind event,  but for most woods outings, hikes, campouts, fishing or hunting expeditions they are too overweight and clumsy to bother carrying,  it makes more sense in most cases to carry a medium sized fixed blade belt knife, a good pocket knife and either a folding saw or a small hand axe.
  I speak from experience, I had one of the best tracker knives ever offered,  made by the guy who actually designed the WSK or Tracker as it became known after Tom Brown copied the design and claimed it as his own (the actual designer and maker of the Tracker is Gossman knives), Mr. Gossman didn't bother to patent the knife leaving it open to copy.
  My Gossman WSK was made on the original design, had a short section of blade that was only sharpened on one side to be used as a draw knife, then had a 4" section of curved blade that was basically a covexed edge, the spine had a approx. 4" row of saw teeth that was there not to saw through trees or limbs, but made to use to make notches in wood, it was followed buy a short section of semi round incised blade for stripping bark to use as campfire tools or in making fire tinder, mine weighed about 1-3/4 pounds.
 It was fun to learn how to use it effectively, but it wasn't practical to use on a daily basis or on a routine camping trip,  it wasn't particularly suited to food prep or cleaning fish or game.
 The one being reviewed in this thread has less attributes and functionality than either the original Tracker or the Tom Brown Tracker,  I see it more as a novelty knife designed more to attract people who get excited about Rambo type tactical and or fighting type blades,  which I find nothing wrong with,  everyone to his/her own,  I just don't see it as a useful camp knife or practical survival tool,  but that's just one man's opinion,  everyone is different in their taste and that what makes us all unique.         
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline crashdive123

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Re: Fox Knives Parus
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2021, 01:22:57 PM »
Nice review.  Without having handled the knife, I would have assumed that the handle would prove to be uncomfortable just from the way it looks.

I do like the look of the blade more than the traditional tracker though.