While the knife industry these days is becoming increasingly dominated by US powerhouses like Benchmade, Buck, Kershaw and Spyderco, it’s always inspiring to see smaller companies enjoying success in producing great knives. The Parker River Knife Company is located near the banks of the Parker River in Newbury, Massachusetts where owner Jim Bowes and his wife have designed a portfolio of elegant yet functional knives.
Parker River’s Classic folding pocket knife comes in Rosewood, Ebony or Red Grain wood handles complete with brass bolsters. The model I’m reviewing today is the Rosewood expertly engraved with my name on one side.
Here are the key specifications of the Parker River Classic:
- Blade length: 2.75 inches
- Overall length: 6.25 inches
- Closed length: 3.75 inches
- Weight: 4.5 ounces
- Blade material: 440C stainless steel
- Locking mechanism: Liner Lock
- Country of origin: China
- Price: About $50 (expect to add another $10 for custom engraving)
In opening the package I was pleased to see the knife comes well presented in a burlap gift bag with a penny attached. The story behind why they include a penny is told on an accompanying card which explains this local tradition. The penny represents a token of good luck to whoever uses the knife so we’re already off to a good start!
First thing I noticed with the Parker River Classic is that it feels solid and really well made. The other thing I noticed was the “China” stamp on the base of the blade. It’s shame to see a classic American icon like this not produced locally. Still, while these are by no means expensive knives but you can tell the production is of a high quality. The style of the knife is clearly aimed at those wanting a classic design, like our fathers and grandfathers were used to. With that being said, this knife clearly combines classic styling with materials and design elements used in many modern knives today.
The knife measures 3.75 inches when closed and 6.25 inches with the 2.75 inch blade deployed. It weighs in at 4.5 ounces so a little on the heavy side but still well within EDC territory. The handle felt good in my hand and the knife is nicely balanced.
The partially serrated drop-point blade is made from 440C stainless steel which should hold up to corrosion reasonably well. The wood handle is smooth and looks great between the brass bolsters. The Classic sports a liner locking mechanism which I found to be nice and tight.
In using the knife for the first time I could tell the blade was pretty damn sharp! 440C stainless steel ranks in the upper mid-range category in my knife steel guide and is reasonably tough while being relatively easy to sharpen. It is also extremely resistance to stains which makes it ideal for many mid-range EDC knives. I do like the drop point blade shape used on the Parker River Classic which is very similar in style to that found on the Mini-Griptilian.
The blade is nicely centered and like the rest of the knife exhibits a high quality that you don’t always get at this price point.
There is a thumb stud located on one side of the knife (sorry lefties) which can be used for one-handed blade deployment. The blade action was a little stiff out of the box but with became smoother the more I used it. I found the liner lock to work effectively and there is very little blade play. There is jimping on the spine of the liner lock but still I found it takes quite some force to push in the liner and close the knife.
I put the knife through a series of tests and abuse and found it held up very well. For sure this will last me a long time indeed.
What makes this into the perfect “gift-knife” is that Parker River Knife offers a custom engraving service for a small fee with a selection of fonts to choose from. They can squeeze up to 18 characters on the handle and while my name consist of only four characters I could tell the quality of engraving was good. If you’re buying as a gift then I recommend the engraving service as this adds a nice personal touch.
The Good: Feels solid, well made with classic styling. Bonus engraving option.
The Bad: A little stiff out of the box. On the heavier side for it’s size.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a classic-style knife to present as a gift then the Parker River Classic is a decent choice. It’s well made, performs well and can be engraved with a personal message to top it off.