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Cabela's Alaskan Guide S30V Knives - A product Review at Cabela's

Cabela's Alaskan Guide S30V Knives - A product Review

Author: Frank Ross

If you have a passion for high-quality blade steel, then you need to experience the excellence of S30V steel, the new standard by which all others will be measured.

Regardless of what you end up field dressing, you will be well served with an Alpha S30V blade.
To me, a knife should be razor sharp, or left at home. That’s why I have spent so much time looking for the ultimate blade. The result of that search has garnered me a fair collection of knives of various sizes, styles and steels. Add to that, the fact that my two sons often give me a knife for special occasions. From that collection, there is only one or two that are what I would consider top drawer. Cabela’s new Alaskan Guide Series will be the first one you reach for no matter what the task.

This series of knives, made for Cabela’s by Buck, will become the standard by which all other blades are measured. S30V steel was developed by Crucible Steel for the cutlery industry to improve upon sharpness, stain resistance and ease of honing. On all three points, they hit a homerun.

Naturally, Cabela’s knife specialists weren’t content to make just one perfect knife, so there are numerous options that incorporate the remarkable sharpness of S30V steel.

Fixed blades with S30V steel to consider include the Alpha, Zipper and the Vanguard. The Zipper has two features that make it a great field knife. A 4-1/8" partially serrated guthook blade with a rubberized handle, brass butt and guard makes for a nice look; but the advantage of the rubberized handle is considerable for skinning big game with a lot more fluids that make a knife slippery.
Zipper
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series Zipper Knife


The Vanguard has a more traditional fixed blade, without the guthook and features a 4-1/8" drop-point with rosewood handle and polished brass butt and guard.

If you prefer a more compact knife, but still prefer a guthook, check out the Alpha folder. This model has a 3-1/2" guthook blade, made of the same outstanding S30V steel, with rosewood scales for that same distinctive look and feel. This knife will fit easily into any pocket and will always be there when you need it, without being obtrusive.
Vanguard
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series Vanguard Knife


The Alaskan Guide 110 folder is an even more compact option, with a more traditional blade. This slim-line design has a lock-back blade that’s 3-3/4" long, with a clip-point.

Another great option for compact folders is the innovative Alpha PBS Crosslock that includes a 3" saw with guthook as well as a 3" spear point blade. PBS stands for Portable Butcher Shop. With the Crosslock you can use the saw blade to cut through bone, or hack off limbs to clear shooting lanes. This is a very versatile knife.
Alpha Fixed
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series Alpha Fixed Knife


When I first picked up the Alpha fixed blade model for a field test, I was taken by its good looks. On closer examination, there is much more than beautiful rosewood, nice lines and a razor-sharp edge. Two separate sets of knurling on the blade’s spine and an ergonomically recessed curve for the forefinger helps to prevent accidents when hands are wet and slippery. I also feel that the position of the gut hook, on a slightly curving arch positions it for more effective use and makes it easier to see what you are doing.
Alpha Folding
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series Alpha Folding Knife


I put the Alpha through several tests, but nothing compared to those it had already passed with flying colors. Cabela’s wanted to document this knife’s performance, paying for an independent lab evaluation by the most demanding process. The tests were conducted by locking the blade into a machine that measures the exact downward pressure and draw while making repeated cuts through industry standard medium that is designed to wear down blades quickly.
110 Folder
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series 110 Folder Knife


In the final analysis, the Alaskan Guide Series’ S30V blades proved to be 45% better than 420HC in terms of edge retention. Steel hardness for S30V measures 59-61 on the Rockwell scale, yet the edge is very easy to sharpen with conventional stones. Another positive aspect, for keeping the blade looking good, is the high chromium content; but for me the most fascinating part of the knife is how it is made.

The process starts off with metallic powders, which are fused together under a combination of intense pressure and heat. The tempering process comes next, again under very high pressure, and then the blade is quickly dropped into a cryogenic freezer for some extreme cooling. Finally, for a maximum corrosion resistance, each knife is treated with a Titanium Aluminum Nitride coating, which also gives the metal that distinctive dark finish.
PBS Crosslock
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series PBS Crosslock Knife


While I gave this blade a rigorous test, that far exceeded previous field-dressing experiences, a co-worker used it to field dress, quarter and bone a very large bull elk without touching the blade to a stone from start to finish. After the job was completed, the blade was as sharp as when he started. I would have been happy to have field dressed a bull myself, but none volunteered.

Regardless of what you end up field dressing, or the blade you choose to do it with, you will be well served with a blade made of S30V steel on your hip, or a folding version in your pocket. These are truly knife lover’s knives.



Mini Alpha
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Mini Alpha Knife


If you prefer a smaller profile fixed-blade knife, consider the Alaskan Guide Series Mini Alpha. It’s compact modern cutlery at its finest. The 2-1/2" drop-point blade is crafted of the same high-quality S30V steel as its bigger brother. The Mini Alpha is unobtrusive to carry and use since the diminutive blade fits nicely into the palm for delicate work.

Click here to view Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Series Knives.