"Lion Steel Knives was founded in 1969 in Maniago, Italy by Gino Pauletta and his wife Cesarina. The company continues today under the direction of their sons; Gianni, Daniele and Massimo. The brand Lionsteel was inspired from a lion steel sculpture, handmade by Gino's grandfather."
"The family-owned Italian company made great strides in quality with a large investment in top-of-the-line machinery. Lionsteel Knives continues to introduce designs that are advances in technology and quality. The Lionsteel knife model SR-1 was awarded the coveted "Most Innovative Imported Design" at the 2010 Blade Show in Atlanta."
"The philosophy of Lion Steel knife company is to produce the knives using the highest quality materials and world class quality control."
This short introduction is quoted from the website of the company.
Steel: Lohmann Niolox @ 60 HRC
This German made stainless steel is gaining popularity among knife-manufacturers, especially in Europe. It has very fine grain, good resilience and D2 like wear resistance.
Components of Niolox steel:
The fit and finish on this midsized knife (and its sheath) is superb. Excellent workmanship and quality is written all over it. This was obvious as soon as I handled it. The knife feels good in the hand, it has good balance and a good heft without being too heavy. It is stout, robustly built and it has a full broad tang construction. The balance point of the knife is just about at the first screw in the handle. The olive wood (Santos wood and black Micarta is available as well) handle panels are fastened by Torx T8 stainless steel screws and have a nice surface texture done with a 3D milling machine. This generously sized handle has a lanyard hole, palm-swells, integrated finger-guard and a very ergonomic shape, all of which provide a comfortable and secure hold. Here are a few "in hand" photos with and without gloves in various grips.
The M3 has a wide, full flat grind, satin finished drop point blade with a secondary bevel. The knife had no problem shaving arm-hair off with the original factory edge. The thick spine of the blade has a thumb-rest with jimping and the spine itself is square enough to be used with a ferro-cerium rod. Part of the package is a very nicely made, good quality, layered style leather sheath in natural colour. There is a retaining strap with a snap closure to secure the knife. One has to be careful drawing or inserting the blade in order to avoid slicing into the retaining strap. The sheath rides high on the hip and it is belt mountable only. I think, perhaps it is an overkill to mark Italy both on the front and the back of the sheath... I would also mention here, that the micarta handled models come with a black ballistic nylon sheath. Now, let us see some pictures of this leather sheath.
I have this M3 model for about three months now and I have used it quite a bit during this time period in different fields of use. The following is the collection of my observations and experiences in practical use, by line of application.
Making feather-sticks from different kind of wood is an important part of fire preparation and I think it is an excellent practice to get a feel of the blade. This task was very easily accomplished with the help of the sharp, full flat grind blade. I have made a few pictures of some of these nice, thin and curly feather-sticks.
In my opinion another important job in this area is splitting wood or batoning. This comes handy, for example to get the dry inside of otherwise wet and moist wood for fire making. But it is useful for a number of other purposes, as well. The M3 had no problem with this chore at all and performed well.
And here is a nice little pile of split wood ready for the fire (with some "feathers" for good measure...)
To test the strength of the blade tip I did a little digging and prying in a big, fallen log...
...and did some drilling as well.
I can say, that this blade has a very strong and robust tip.
I used the knife for whittling too. Here is a nice sharp point on a stick.
On this other photo the knife is separating some thin shavings from a notch.
A few more notches on that stick.
This picture would fit right in with the feather-stick photos as well.
None of these tasks posed any difficulty for the M3 and the knife proved to be a good companion in the woods.
This next group of assignments is another good indicator of the cutting and slicing capability of a given knife. I always try to get as many different kind of materials as I can for cutting subjects.
Such as reinforced pneumatic air-hose...
...bicycle inner tube...
… and used car tire.
After the rubbery stuff let us see some fibrous materials, like 6mm braided nylon rope...
… kernmantle rope...
… and a piece of 55mm wide polypropylene construction anchor.
For plastic type subject I have used some thick walled and very hard plumbing pipe.
This next plastic material could have gone in the fibrous group as well. It is a piece of flooring carpet with thick, hard plastic backing.
I used newsprint for paper in this test regime. In the following picture I cleanly sliced off letters of a word from the page without breaking through the paper. I think that demonstrates well the sharpness of the edge and how nimble this knife really is.
Then I cut up some more newsprint-paper, as well.
The knife completed these assignments without any hick-ups at all.
Of course I have pressed the M3 into kitchen service as well. In this front I have found the only limiting factor was the relatively short blade. This knife has a 5mm thick blade. But because it is wide and has a full flat grind, the angle of the primary grind is shallow and "sharp", thus it exhibits very respectable slicing abilities with minimal splitting tendencies. And I took a few photos of some food slicing and dicing in the kitchen and out of doors.
So far, after close inspection I did not find any damages, nicks, cracks, rolls or anything similar on the knife. There are a few barely visible surface scratches on the blade, which is normal. During this time the edge was touched up a couple of times on a charged leather strop in order to keep it razor sharp at all times. So, I am happy with the edge retention of the blade. I have found this knife to be very comfortable to use, it gave no hotspots during extended use. In general, I enjoyed using this blade. It is comfortable and built like a tank, yet it is still nimble and easy to control. It performed well throughout my testing. I can recommend this knife for sure. I think it would serve anybody well in the woods as an all around cutting/bushcrafting tool and it would make an excellent dedicated hunting knife as well. A smaller version of this knife, the M2 model is also available in D2 steel for those who would like a bit shorter and smaller blade. Both of these models were designed with the help and cooperation of an Italian knife forum and it shows.
The only thing I can think of to improve this knife/sheath combo is regarding the otherwise beautiful sheath.
Because this sheath rides high up on the hips, it is a bit difficult to draw or (especially) re-insert the blade. Perhaps an optional or available detachable dangler loop would remedy this.
Thanks for reading!