From the team of RAT Cutlery and DPx Gear comes the H.E.S.T. knife. HEST is the acronym for "Hostile Environment Survival Tool". RAT stands for "Randall's Adventure & Training". DPx alludes to the knife serving best in the world's most "Dangerous Places". I'm not quite sure why the X was added, but I THINK it means "extreme". All that laid out, I was slightly surprised to get such a small knife designed as a survival tool. Of course, I had to test it, learn about it and so on. What I've learned is interesting and I'll share it with you.
According to the information disseminated about it and available online, the knife is manufactured from 1095 steel hardened to a measurement of 57-58Rc. The entire length of steel, with the exception of the sharpened edge, is powder coated black and it's one of the most evenly applied, fine finished powder coating jobs I've ever experienced. On the left side is laser engraved the DPX Gear logo and on the right side are the initials of the designer, Robert Young Pelton (RYP). The scroll is fancy, as if he'd written them on there himself. Near the pommel on one side is "RAT - USA" and on the other, "H-E-S-T".
As I measure it the overall length of the knife is 7.625". Blade width (all but the front 1.25" of the knife) is a full 3/16ths of an inch. The blade accounts for 3" of the overall length leaving the handle at just over four and a half inches. The grip is fairly ergonomic with a nicely integrated finger groove near the hilt. The sharp projection you can see at the pommel is an intentional design feature put there to serve as a pry bar. In my case, due to my medium sized hands, as I hold the knife I can just feel that pry bar pommel projection on the side of my pinky.
Look carefully and you can see that what there is of a hilt is just slightly off perpendicular with the line of the knife, leaned forward at the spine. This is very common in modern knives and RAT/DPX took advantage of the slant to put ridges in the spine. The ridges indicate thumb placement so you can index your grip to press into cuts. Immediately forward of the hilt in the spine is a bottle opener. (I have to say, this is one of the coolest "church keys" I've ever seen) At the base of the sharpened edge is what we would normally take for a choil but in this case it was designed deep to serve as a wire break notch as well. There are three lashing holes designed into the knife: one centered just behind the hilt and two at the pommel.
Author's Note: In the past I've had email exchanges with folks about using a survival knife as a spear point. As this is something I've always wanted to at least have as an option, most of those I've communicated with felt it was a potential way to lose the knife. Instead, they suggested just sharpening to a point whatever stick I'd be using as the spear handle. Their argument has merit, but I still appreciate having the option, so this is a design feature I especially appreciate.
The handles feel like linen micarta, and thanks to the texture they look both OD Green (or close to it) and khaki or tan at the same time. The "high points" in the texture look green... the grooves or weave appears tan. The grip slaps are just thick enough to feel comfortable in my hand and, when combined with the shape of the handle, provided a secure grip even as I tested it under wet conditions. The grip slabs can be removed with a regular screw driver and there is a hollow space between them to store emergency supplies (not included with the knife kit). We will circle back to this farther down in a moment.
The knife is delivered with a kit that includes:
- HEST Knife
- Kydex Sheath
- Paracord and Cord Lock
- MOLLE Lock Kit
The knife speaks for itself. The kydex sheath is a minimalist design that covers and captures the knife all the way to the front edge of the micarta grip slaps. Using the instructions available on the back of the H.E.S.T. instruction sheet you set the sheath up to carry the knife horizontally or vertically on your belt or on MOLLE webbing. Using those directions you can attain any one of the described carry positions listed on their website.