Steel Will Druid 265 Reviewed
Posted by Steve Ackerman on Dec 19, 2015
Marketing from Steel Will
The mini Druids are light and compact hunting and camping knives. Incorporating the DNA of the Druid series, they provide a small and convenient alternative to the larger members of the Druid family. The Druid 265 is a unique knife in the Druid family. It is distinguishable by its pronounced drop point blade. Made in China.
Manufacturer: Steel Will, steelwillknives.com
Model: Druid 265
Overall Length: 8.66 inch (22.0 cm)
Blade Finish: Satin
Blade Material: 9Cr18MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 3.94 inch (10.0 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.14 inch (3.55 mm)
Handle Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) Handle
Handle Length: 4.72 inch (12.0 cm)
Weight: 4.94 oz
Accessories: Leather Belt Sheath
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty against any manufacturing or material defects
Origin: Made in China
In this article I will be reviewing Steel Will’s Druid 265. It is part of their 2015 lineup, and definitely one of the knives that I was most excited to review before the new 2016 blades were released into the wild. It is a rugged fixed-blade, compact, lightweight and extremely comfortable to wield. So let’s get to some of that bushcraft stuff…
After having reviewed the Druid 230 a few months ago and loving it, I was thrilled to get my hands on the smaller Druid 265 and take it for a spin.
As always, the Steel Will packaging is superb. To gain access to the blade inside, the inner box slides out from either side of the outer box. The blade itself is covered with a thin cardboard sleeve and fixed to a cardboard support platform with two hook and loop straps to protect the blade during shipping. Below the cardboard platform lies the durable leather belt sheath.
The Druid 230 is 8.66″ long with a blade that is a little shy of 4″ and the whole thing weighs only 4.9 ounces. It is constructed from a rugged 9Cr18MoV high-carbon stainless steel with a beautiful scratch-resistant brushed satin finish that features a long full-tang design with a sharp 90° spine, a subtle drop-point profile that is factory-sharpened with a high-flat saber grind and polished micro-bevel.
The black TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) handle is little over 5″ long, moulded with an attractive wavy grid pattern, finger guard and an enlarged rear bolster for a durable slip-resistant grip that is well-balanced and extremely comfortable to wield wet or dry. Near the end of the handle, there is a lined lanyard hole just big enough to fit some paracord through.
The tang extends beyond the end of the handle forming a smooth pommel surface that should not interfere with the handling of the knife.
The Druid 230 comes with an attractive form-fitted black leather belt sheath a little over 7″ long leaving just 2″ of the handle exposed and accessible. The sheath features a dangler-style belt loop capable of holding a belt up to 2″ wide and a small drainage hole.
Now for a closer look at the Druid 265 and its features…
The Druid 265 is a full-tang fixed-blade bushcraft knife nearly 8.66″ long, 0.14″ thick, and 1″ at its widest point. The blade is made from 9Cr18MoV, a Chinese stainless steel alloy comparable to the Japanese AUS-8 and the American 440B. 9Cr18MoV is a high carbon, high chromium stainless steel alloy that is best heat-treated to a hardness somewhere between 58-59 HRC providing a good balance between strength, rigidity, edge retention and resistance to wear so it is not overly difficult to sharpen, but holds an edge rather well.
To further enhance the integrity of the tangs used in Steel Will knives, there are no sharp corners or tight radiuses which tend to create weak points susceptible to stress.
High carbon stainless steel alloys are popular for use in knife blades due to its exceptional rust and corrosion resistant properties, and 9Cr18MoV is no different. However, it is important to note that stainless steel alloys are only rust and corrosion resistant, and not entirely rust and corrosion proof. Therefore, is still susceptible to various forms of rust and corrosion without proper care and maintenance. If the blade becomes wet, simply dry it thoroughly and lightly coat it with a protective oil before you pack it away and it will likely last you a lifetime.
The Druid 265 features an attractive drop-point profile, best explained as a blade with a slight convex curve from the spine to the tip of the blade which provides a strong, robust tip that is easy to direct when chopping, cutting and prying, but is often less suitable for piercing. The Druid 265 also features a factory-sharpened edge with a high-flat saber grind and polished micro-bevel. This edge profile is very easy to maintain on a flat stone or diamond dust sharpeners both in and out of the field.
The blade itself is just under 4″ long with a sharp 90° edge along the entire length of the spine, perfect for striking against a ferro rod without fear of damaging the edge or the attractive brushed satin finish. This finish is not only attractive to look at, it also tends to hide minor wear and scratches rather well, keeping the blade looking good much longer.
The 4.72″ handle is made from a durable black synthetic thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) overmolded onto the Druid 265 and locked in place with a 1/4″ OD lanyard tube, perfect for keeping a paracord lanyard for quick and easy knife retention.
The handle features an attractive, aggressively textured grid pattern and a pronounced rear bolster providing an exceptional slip-resistant grip that is extremely comfortable to wield wet or dry. It also works well with gloves, but they are certainly not necessary with this grip pattern. The tang protrudes just beyond the lanyard hole and the end of the handle providing a smooth pommel surface for hammering various materials and stakes.
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubber, and made from a comprehensive mixture of plastic and rubber polymers that provide the handle material with the best characteristics of plastic and rubber.
The quality sheath that comes with the Druid 265 is an attractive black leather dangler-style belt sheath a little over 7″ long leaving only the topmost 2″ of the handle exposed and accessible. The high-grade leather is durable and form-fitted to hold the blade securely in place unless you physically draw the weapon. The sheath also features a thumb rest for convenient knife extraction, a dangler belt loop that is capable of holding a belt up to 2″, and a small drainage hole near the bottom of the sheath to allow any unwanted moisture in the sheath to drain out.
So now lets what the Druid 265 can do… In order to provide a some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between blades, I will be performing four durability and functional tests; Batoning, Fine Blade Control, Tip Strength and Edge Retention. In a survival situation, all resources are fair game. However, since I am not in a life-or-death situation, I’ll stick to some dead wood that I have lying around for these tests.
With a blade a little less than 4″, the Druid 265 is really more of a small bushcraft knife so batoning is really not a something you’d be doing a lot of like you would with a larger survival knives. However, the blade is 5/32 of an inch thick so it is certainly tough enough to process any material that you come across 3″ or less in diameter.
For the first part of this test, I used 2″ diameter baton about 18″ in length to strike the spine of the blade in order to crosscut a few sticks about 2″ diameter that I would later be using to split into kindling. As I drove the blade through each cut, the material provided very little resistance for the slender blade and high-flat grind of the Druid 265.
Once I had three pieces cut, I moved on to splitting them into small kindling. To do this, I struck the top of the spine, working my way through each of the logs. First halves, then quarters, and so on until I had a small pile of small kindling. The Druid 265 made its way through the material, even through some very tough knots with ease.
The ergonomic handle geometry provides a lot of control over the blade, and the soft TPE handle material was very shock absorbing so I didn’t really feel anything significant through handle whatsoever.
Fine Blade Control
In the past, when I’ve tested out a new knife, I would try my hand at some fine bushcraft tasks like making spear tips, tent pegs, and even some various trap triggers. However, I’ve recently adopted something called a Try Stick by Mors Kochanski, which I think is a better and more consistent method of demonstrating fine bushcraft abilities with a small blade and a factory-ground edge.
There are no rules for creating a “Try Stick” so they can include many different kinds of notches, and over time I will likely explore some of these as I learn them. But for my first Try Stick with the Druid 265, I tried to stick as close to the Mors Kochanski variation as possible so it consists of ten common bushcraft notches; Blunt End, Reduction, Pot Hook Notch, Saddle Notch, Dovetail Notch, Latch Notch, 90° Planes, Bow Notch, V Notch and a Root Stripper.
From the first notch to the last the Druid 265 performed exceptionally well. Some of them easy, some of them not so much. But the blade geometry and factory edge certainly excel at fine material removal. This coupled with the ergonomic TPE handle and textured grip that provide fine control over the blade perfect for detailed bushcraft work and intricate carving like these notches.
For the final part of this test, I decided to feather a stick like I normally would because I feel that this is probably the most common bushcraft task for testing fine blade control and edge retention.
I started with one of the pieces of kindling that I had split earlier while I was batoning. It was a little over 1″ in diameter and about 16″ in length. I started off by taking long strokes down each of the corners, rounding the stick as I went. I was careful not to dig in too much which was somewhat easy due to the blade’s geometry and polished edge. As a result, I was able to achieve some pretty fine curls with the high-flat grind and secondary bevel. After a few short minutes, I had a decent pile of dry tinder ready to light.
Testing the its ability to stab or pierce without bending or breaking the tip, I drove the blade into the end of a 12″ stump with a baton a little over an 1″ deep. Then I loosened the blade using a side-to-side motion until it became loose enough to pull out. I repeated this action a few more times without any sign of bending, breaking, or chipping.
The final stab at testing the tip strength was to bore a hole into the side of a log approximately 6″ in diameter by rotating the blade back and forth to remove the material. Within a few minutes, I had a hole approximately 1″ deep and 3/4″ in diameter. The tip of the Druid 265 is really quite tough and performed well with no sign of damage whatsoever.
The final test of the Druid 265 is to slice through a single sheet of copy paper. While it did not start out shaving sharp, it was certainly sharp enough to glide through the paper. There were no visible sign of cracks or chips of any kind, and with a quick wipe of a lightly oiled rag you could hardly tell it had even been used. However, after the three previous tests, there are a few spots along the edge that need to be touched up with a fine stone nonetheless.
Steel Will’s Druid 265 is a compact outdoor knife with an attractive design that is constructed from quality materials. It is exceptionally comfortable to wield, even for extended periods of time without becoming fatigued. Everything that you would expect from a good bushcraft blade. The quality is very high, and with a little preventative maintenance from time to time, this blade should last a lifetime.
I love bushcraft blades, and compact fixed-blades above all others. Chopping wood is one thing, but creating intricate mechanisms with nothing more than a knife and your hands is really quite another. The level of fine control that it provides makes the Druid 265 one of my favorite blades from Steel Will so far. I will undoubtedly be enjoying this one for years to come. Two thumbs up!