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Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor-Brands

Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor-Brands

I really, really hate to see an American icon go broke, or go out of business, or even go out of the country, but of those 3, I would rather see them move out of the country! Why? Because as long as they exist there is a hope for revival! There is a chance for a return to their former glory! Such a company is/was Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands!

Imperial Schrade Corporation

Imperial Schrade Corporation was built from a number of companies in the early part of the last century. They have had at various times and were having financial trouble. Operating expenses were high and they sold the brand to Taylor Brands in 2004, and is now known as: Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands.

Imperial Schrade Corporation was built from a number of companies in the early part of the last century. They have had at various times and were having financial trouble. Operating expenses were high and they sold the brand to Taylor Brands in 2004, and is now known as: Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands.

Imperial Schrade Corporation was built from a number of companies in the early part of the last century. They have had at various times and were having financial trouble. Operating expenses were high and they sold the brand to Taylor Brands in 2004, and is now known as: Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands.

I find this both disturbing and comforting! Disturbing because a hundred-year-old American cutlery manufacturer could not find a way to make it’s operation profitable manufacturing in the United States, and comforting, knowing that there is still life in the brand and though it may be manufactured in a distant land, at least the name is kept alive and brands like Old Timer and Uncle Henry and Schrade, and even Imperial will not just disappear from the face of the earth!

For this reason, I purchased a number of the Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands Chinese made knives from a local store and have been making them a part of my everyday routine. The first two were “Congress Knives” and the most recent was a two blade small trapper. These are the ones I will focus on during this discussion.

The two congress knives are an Uncle Henry and an Old Timer. The trapper is an Imperial.

Fit and finish

The congress knives are, as can be expected, not perfect in fit and finish. They are however not bad either. there are some sharp edges that are not on the blade edges, such as back springs, bolster corners and liners. That is pretty much it, and some of that even happens with American made knives. The Imperial suffers some of the same issues. A little steel wool or some polishing compound and a rag will solve the problem.

Handles

The handles seem to be made of similar if not the exact same materials of the past. A polymer that holds up pretty well to the pocket and does not break easily.

In the case of the Imperial knife, I just have to point out that the handle materials seem far superior to the handle materials of the past. I do have to admit that it has been a long time since I owned an Imperial, and that was for good reason! They were terrible knives with thin plastic film covers over a pressed tin or steel faux scale. The covers would peel off! I am not sure how they were during the intervening years but I assume that since the brand is still alive, it must have, at some point gotten better. The current scales are made of POM, Polyoxymethylene, (think Delrin) in some pretty amazing colors.

Blades

Let’s start with the steel. All Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands knives I have encountered thus far are stainless steel. There are three differing grades in the folding pocket knife category, with the highest used in the Uncle Henry, and the lowest grade in the Imperial. After using all three for some time on a variety of normal tasks I have found little difference that anyone without a pretty thorough knowledge of metallurgy or a die-hard pocket knife collector would notice. The quality of the steel really seems pretty high for an inexpensive knife. They hold an edge well, and sharpen pretty easily, and also are not too brittle. A knife without at least a little spring in the blade will eventually be a broken knife if it is used hard.

The quality of the steel really seems pretty high for an inexpensive knife. They hold an edge well, and sharpen pretty easily, and also are not too brittle. A knife without at least a little spring in the blade will eventually be a broken knife if it is used hard.

Congress Knives

With the congress knives, the blades are ground pretty thin compared to the pinned end. This is not a money saving tactic as some have claimed, but is rather the means of getting four blades, two on each end, to fold in together in the knife frame. There are two fairly large sheep foot blades, a coping blade, and a pen knife blade.

Trapper Knife

The Imperial has the standard trapper blades, the drop point, and the spey. They are standard shape and size for the knife and are well formed and sharp from the box. They could all use a little honing. Once again, my past ancient experiences with Imperials tell me that the blades of yore were really cheap steel that was rarely much harder than whatever material I was cutting at the time. Comparatively, these blades, even the lowest quality ones are awesome! In truth, the Imperial blade steel is better than many in the American knife trade.

Did I mention that all of the new Schrade knife blades are hollow ground? It is a nice concave grind, and the finish is not polished but finely brushed.

Operation

On all the knives the operation was good with pretty nice, fairly smooth travel (not perfect but nice and experience teaches that this will improve with use and lubrication). The springs are firm, and the knives snap open and closed with a nice click. The grind on the blade back end is superior to most American made knives today. Contact with the springs is even, almost appearing seamless!

I have to say that so far I am impressed! I would have loved the congress knives one way or another, because I enjoy that style, and plan to collect one from each of the imprints in all available handles.

As for the Imperial, I am more than impressed! Not that it is superior to other trappers on the market, but that a very low-quality knife has made the leap into a very nice and highly usable knife! I plan to continue to carry it for a long while and I will let you know of any additions or corrections.

I hate to say this, but it looks like the new Imperial Schrade Knives-TDI-Taylor Brands Chinese made knives could eventually challenge American manufacturers for quality and price!

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