RoseCraft Beaver Creek Barlow Review

This Classic Styled Barlow Further Cements RoseCraft Blades As a Major Player in The Budget Slip Joint Market.

The barlow has a storied history. The knife’s origins are unclear, but may well date back to 1670 in Sheffield, England, when a bladesmith named Obadiah Barlow was making folders. The RoseCraft Beaver Creek Barlow has its origins closer to home, and builds on the classic American barlow design that dominated the 19th and much of the early 20th centuries.

The RoseCraft Beaver Creek Barlow is a classic style slip joint with great fit and finish and a nice aesthetic.

Specifications

Blade Length2.9″
Blade EdgePlain
Blade SteelD2
Blade FinishSatin
Blade Thickness0.106″
Overall Length6.4″
DesignerAndy Armstrong
Blade Hardness56-58 HRC
StyleSheepsfoot Barlow
OpenerNail nick
Weight2.9 oz
BolstersBrushed stainless
Handle MaterialBourbone Bone

Pros

Traditional style that’s easy to maintain
The price keeps it from being precious and pretentious
D2 steel has better wear resistance than most carbon steels

CONS

Not produced stateside
D2 has better wear resistance, but not as much character as it ages
The covers have distinct corners

RoseCraft Blades is a new company. They’re approaching two years old. In that time, they’ve drawn attention to the brand with a mix of styles. They’re based in the Appalachian region of Tennessee, though they’re currently producing knives overseas.

RoseCraft Blades is a new knife company that is growing quickly.

The eastern Tennessee foothills are familiar territory for knife aficionados. As a kid, I’d make annual pilgrimages to a brick-and-mortar store on the main drag in Gatlinburg. It was the best knife store I had ever seen, and had an excellent mix of budget blades and nicer knives. I learned more about math in that one store, checking price tags and counting my wadded-up cash, than I ever did in school.

RoseCraft knives established themselves as a trusted brand quickly based on the overall quality of their initial knife releases.

Now, Blue Ridge Knives and Smoky Mountain Knife Works are the big dogs—on distribution and retail. If you like knives, this is a great place to be.

RoseCraft is building a factory in Maryville, one that will allow them to take their designs in-house. There are benefits to both approaches, but I’m not complaining about their efforts to bring production back to Tennessee.

The Beaver Creek Barlow

The RoseCraft barlow draws on barlows of old--more of the America style with large bolsters.
RoseCraft Blades has a diverse catalog, but its classic-styled slip joints seem to be the most popular.

The catalog at RoseCraft is mixed. While some start-ups lean in on one aesthetic, RoceCraft is mixing up the traditional designs with some more modern, utilitarian builds. The result of this, at least now—in the company’s infancy—is a brand image that can’t easily be pinned down. I’ve yet to see a knife, from any distance, and think “now that’s a RoseCraft.”

And that’s hard with traditional knives. I’m a huge fan of the old-school designs, especially those of Great Eastern Cutlery. I’ll duke it out on knife drops to get some of those, and GEC’s take on the North Woods knives have yielded some of the most artistically exquisite tools around.

The point of the Beaver Creek Barlow blade has a small swedge that provides a break,

The RoseCraft barlow draws on barlows of old–more of the American style with large bolsters. This is a single sheepsfoot blade with a flat grind. The belly of the blade is almost flat but has a slight convex curve that is only noticeable when you put the blade on a straight edge.

The point of the blade has a small swedge that provides a break, visually, to the long flat-ground blade. The plunge line is angled forward slightly and the choil, at the end of that line, is deep enough to allow the blade to be easily sharpened.

The RoseCraft branding is on the mark side, but it’s subtle. RoseCraft founder and designer Andy Armstrong’s mark is stamped on the pile side, even smaller.

The covers on the barlow are bone—dyed a lovely shade of (dare I say it) Longhorn orange. RoseCraft skirts the animosity of the Volunteer faithful by calling these “Bourbon Bone,” but I’ve licked it and find no trace of Bourbon.

How’s the Beaver Creek Walk-and-talk?

The action of the Beaver Creek Barlow is good, as the blade isn’t going to snap back closed if it slips, but it is even better on the return.
RoseCraft nailed the half stop action of the Beaver Creek Barlow.

The Beaver Creek Barlow gets a lot of things 100% right. The half-stop is clean and crisp and even has a bit of a click as it falls into place. This makes opening easy, as the blade isn’t going to snap back closed if it slips, but it is even better on the return. A good half-stop allows a slip-joint to be closed one handed, safely and easily.

There’s no blade rap. When open, the spring falls in perfectly behind the blade. There are no gaps in the liners, and the blade rides damn-near straight on in the haft when closed. All are marks of distinction.

The bolster of a Beaver Creek Barlow is smooth and fits seamlessly into the knife scales.

And to be clear, this isn’t one that RoseCraft hand-picked for us to review. We bought this one, sight unseen, to better replicate what you’ll see in retail.

All-told, from the etch on the bolster to the joint where the bone aligns, to the attention to detail on the build, I’m willing to give this barlow top marks for its quality. As traditional knives in this price range go, I’ve not seen one that ticks all of the boxes like this one.

What would I change about the RoseCraft Beaver Creek Barlow?

The Beaver Creek Barlow is pocket friendly in almost any type of pocket.
The Beaver Creek Barlow is a good option for watch pocket carry.

Not much. As is, this is a rock-solid entry into the traditional knife market. I like the use of D2 steel and the lack of mirror polishing that so-often defines the Case brand aesthetic. The price on these is superb and, because they’re imported and new, the knives are easy enough to find. You won’t have to beg, trade on the secondary market, or fight eBay flippers to get one.

That all may change when they bring production stateside. American-made traditional knives are often a touch softer on the edges, especially on the haft. The edges of the bone here have defined corners with very little radius, which feels exceptional but may not wear well, as the sharp corner of bone will take a beating going into and out of a pocket.

Pocket deployment of the Beaver Creek Barlow is seamless.

This is a barlow, so the easy-open-notch is not a must, but I’m a sucker for the way they look. I’ve thought about adding one to this knife, just to see—and that speaks volumes about RoseCraft. 1—I like this blade so much that I want to take it to the next level. 2—I’m an amateur, so if I screw it up I can just get a new one.

What’s the Beaver Creek Barlow for?

A barlow style slip joint is ideal for all of those everyday carry knife tasks.

As someone who often carries an aggressive pocketknife for self-defense, I am not opposed to carrying two knives. A slip joint pocket knife is ideal for all of those everyday tasks. If you want an everyday carry knife to open boxes, slice apples, trim a hangnail…. Just remember that there’s no actual lock on this and, if misused, it will fold up on you—at least to the half-stop.

And it is classy, too. I’ve moaned about it before, but some of the knives I carry tend to scare the sheep. This one won’t. The old-school barlow is the bow-tie of pocketknives: refined, relaxed, and formal without being conformist.

Final thoughts

Hopefully RosCraft Blades early success will lead to more quality classic style slip joints like the Beaver Creek Barlow.
Hopefully the early popularity of knives like the Beaver Creek Barlow will lead to more classic slip-joint-style knife releases from RoseCraft Blades.

MSRP on the Beaver Creek Barlow is $54.99, which makes this just about perfect. As RoseCraft picks up distributors, the sale price will come in under that, and likely under $50.

As I’m writing this, RoseCraft is still not available from my go-to online retailers. This is a solid sales tactic, though, as direct sales through the RoseCraft site give this team the best return and allows them to keep pricing low. While I’m not 100% confident that this is the strategy in play (they may be new enough that they’ve yet to pick up distributors), I like the approach. This is one amazing knife at $54.99, and I’d like to see RoseCraft keep as much margin as they can on each one as that means we’ll keep getting additional designs.


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David is a writer and editor with a uniquely mixed background as an English professor and a backcountry guide. Somewhere back there he got a PhD in Creative Writing and an MFA in Poetry either before or during his time professionally showing people around the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and if we’re being totally honest, we’re still trying to figure out why he’s willing to write for us.

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