InnerBark Outdoors Delivers a ‘Do-All’ Blade in the Tahoma Field Knife
I first found Andy Tran, the brains behind InnerBark Outdoors, on a video that I stumbled upon through YouTube. The quality of the videos that he is producing is certainly top-notch and after following him on his channel and associated Facebook page, it became pretty apparent that he puts a lot of thought into his gear, how he reviews them, and what he is talking about. How he designed and executed the Tahoma Field Knife is par for the course, and the quality shows.
Through watching Andy’s videos, its easy to grasp that he is a big fan of knives….in all shapes and sizes. That being said, he always seemed to find a shortcoming in many of his reviewed pieces and you could tell that he wasn’t quite satisfied with current offerings that would fit his specific needs. There wasn’t a knife out there that was his ‘one stop shop’ for what he needed, so he began to mess around with his own designs. After about a years time and many design changes later, the Tahoma Field Knife was born. (Get yours here)
Being a guy that is drawn more to things that go ‘bang’, the Tahoma Field Knife looks HUGE as compared to what I’m used to using and my initial thoughts were that this might be just another ‘Rambo knife’ that someone might lug around to look cool and maybe cut a few things along the way. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first time you hold the knife, you definitely get a sense that this is a solid piece of equipment…and you instantly look around for something to start chopping! Following Andy and his design process from start to finish almost felt like I was part of the process as I understood the reasoning behind the material chosen, features, size, and all the thought that went into the TFK.
By the numbers, the TFK is 13 15/16″ long in overall length with the top edge being 2 3/4″ long, dwarfed by the main cutting edge measuring 7 5/16″. The blade is made of 3/16″ thick 1095 high carbon alloy steel featuring a differential heat treatment on the blade, which you can see in the darker color along the cutting edge of the tool, and clear Cerakote rounding out TOPS ‘black river wash’ finish. The total weight with the supplied sheath and 550 cord was 24.2 ounces, just north of a pound and a half. The blade by itself is 18 ounces.
Through the InnerBark Outdoors facebook page, I saw that Andy was taking some pre-orders for the Tahoma Field Knife and he mentioned that this was going to be a serial numbered piece. Naturally wanting ‘907’, I asked to see if I could reserve that blade. Andy spoke with the folks at TOPS and they hooked me up with an early serial number and Andy surprised me with my name on the blade as well. This is something that is not typically done, but I had developed a relationship with Andy over the time I had been in contact with him, and TOPS was able to hook us both up with something for myself and The Alaska Life (note the serial number designation as well…cool stuff).
From end to end, this unit is absolutely packed with features that make this knife more than just something to cut with. The TFK is truly a multi-tool in every sense of the word. The top edge works really well in conjunction with the main cutting edge for plunging into material and also serves as a backup edge in the off chance that your primary edge has been dulled past the point of completing the task at hand.
The notches along the spine of the blade serve as a bone scoring device, a means for bending and breaking wire, and also can be used as a pot puller if you are cooking over a campfire with a pot that has a wire handle. Though I haven’t tried any of these tasks with my limited hands on experience with the Tahoma Field Knife, Andy is seen in his videos trimming some blacktail deer antlers by scoring and striking the bone along with other video reviewers chewing through fencing wire with minimal effort as well.
The large finger choil at the base of the blade between the cutting edge and the handle material allows you to choke up on the blade by a fair margin, allowing you greater control over the blade for finer tasks like whittling or carving a feather stick for starting fires. By placing your hand as far rearward on the handle as possible, you change the geometry of how the blade strikes your material making it more efficient for chopping. Along with a more standard grip on the handle, a pinky grip can be utilized for shortening the overall blade length for chores such as field dressing an animal.
The Tahoma Field Knife handle material is a tan canvas micarta that is chemical, heat, and impact resistant. These micarta scales also feature a spindle socket on both sides allowing both right and left handed users an easier way to secure a spindle if one needed to attempt a bow drill fire. A rear lanyard loop with brass insert is tucked away near the rear edge of the handle as well that can be used in conjunction with the hole on the top edge of the tang below the thumb ramp to lash the knife for a field expedient spear.
Regarding the thumb ramp, the added ‘hump’ adds some material for added rigidity to the blade and also allowed for the hole to be utilized for bullet separation, which allows access to the gunpowder after the bullet has been pulled from the case. The slight jimping along the thumb ramp definitely aids in the positive grip as well.
The rear pry bar is positioned down and away from the rear of the micarta handle so it is out of the way when employing the ‘backseat grip’ for chopping. This pry bar could also be used for scoring, scraping, and digging, to an extent.
Wanting to utilize the one-tool option for processing some wood, making everything needed for a bow-drill fire for the first time, I set out to see if I could turn friction into fire. After reviewing Andy’s video on the subject, I started by finding an appropriately sized round. I batoned the wood in half and then made a ‘board’ out of one of those halves by again batoning through the log.
Utilizing the ‘spear point’ of the blade, I carved a spindle hole and breather notch. A short time later, I had my spindle ends shaped, adjusted the para cord to the appropriate tension for the spindle, and I was making SMOKE…lots of smoke! What I ultimately ended up with is a nice round hole burned all the way through my board (which you can see in the photos below), and I will admit that my first attempt at a bow fire drill was…a bust, although utilizing the drill socket on the Tahoma Field Knife was easy.
Wanting to still utilize the Tahoma Field Knife for making a somewhat primitive fire, I decided to give the bullet separator a try. I had seen Andy separate a bullet from a 5.56mm case and started with that. No problem. I went up one step and pulled a bullet from a .308 casing just as easily. After the powder was poured out of the cases, a fire steel easily turned that gunpowder into a very large flame that you could definitely utilize to start a fire.
With anything being a one-tool option for conducting multiple tasks, some will argue that there are better options for finishing a job. Yeah, its better to have a hatchet, a skinning knife, and other general camp equipment, but if you needed something all rolled into one, the TOPS Tahoma Field Knife is a fantastic option for you. I know its already found its place in my gear kit.