Story and Photos by Patrick Rollins
I was pretty excited when asked to write an article on the L.T. Wright Knives Illuminous 5. I own a couple of L.T.’s knives and get to handle different models when students bring various ones to my classes.
The first thing I did was google the knife to get the specs and read up on it.
L.T.’s website states “This ten-inch overall Scandi ground bush knife really likes to work. With features such as Micarta scales, a bead blasted finish, and heavy-duty hardware, it’ll get the job done for you no matter what the circumstances. We take the time to do the little things: making sure the epoxy isn’t just on the scales, but around every bit of the hardware, including the threads of the brass nut, to ensure a completely sealed scale set. The Scandi grind is a high polish on the whole surface to make sure there is no drag when cutting.”
The Illuminous 5 is designed by Glen “Spen” Stelzer of JRE Industries Inc. fame, and knowing L.T. and Spen’s reputations – as the makers and designers of excellent products – I was anxious to get my hands on this one.
When I pulled the knife out of the box, the first thing I noticed was that it was beautiful – and BIG! With an overall length of 10 inches, it is bigger than most blades I use for bushcraft tasks.
But like all the other L.T. models I have ever seen, the fit and finish was superb. The tan micarta scales were smoothly sanded and polished, and the blade was buffed to a high sheen. The handle scales are also available in wood, but the test model I received was Micarta.
The Illuminous 5 features a .15-inch-thick, 5.5-inch long, CPM-3V blade – heat treated to 57-59 HRC. L.T.’s website says that it is “scandi ground with a secondary micro bevel that happens when we hard buff the edge.” I know some folks will argue over “true scandi” vs “secondary bevel” etc., but I couldn’t see a secondary bevel at all. All I could tell was that this knife was VERY sharp.
The spine of the blade featured the almost razor sharp 90-degree spine that L.T.’s knives are famous for – prefect for scraping tasks and ferro rod ignition. The Illuminous 5 fit perfectly in the included brown leather sheath – featuring a dangler and ferro rod loop – made by JRE Industries.
I simply could not wait to put it into action.
One of the first things I like to do, when using a knife for the first time, is make a try stick.
If you aren’t familiar, a try stick is simply a stick, which you “try” to make various notches commonly used in the outdoors. It has been made famous by the bushcraft legend Mors Kochanski (R.I.P.), whom I’m almost sure you’ve heard of. It teaches good knife safety and skills, while giving the user a good idea of how a particular knife handles, and what it’s strengths and weakness are.
I was curious to see how a larger knife would be able to handle some of the fine detailed cuts required in some of the notches.
I started by harvesting a semi green piece of tulip poplar, about finger thick. You don’t have to strip the bark off first, but I wanted to use the awesome spine of the Illuminous 5. Of course, it handled the job without any issues.
Over the next few minutes, I made a few of the notches, using the knife with different grips. Being 5.5 inches long – and a fairly wide blade – I used the last inch of the blade, where it gets much narrower at the tip, for the finer detailed cuts.
A scandi ground blade excels when it comes to wood working, and the Illuminous 5 is no exception. It carved beautifully and I don’t see anyone having problems using it for more intricate trap triggers, etc.
Bushcraft and fire go hand in hand, so next on the agenda was fire prep.
I much prefer using the right tool for the job when it comes to splitting and processing wood – you should have an axe or light hatchet with you if you are going to be doing a lot of it. But a good knife for the wilderness should be able to handle splitting some lighter wood, with the aid of a baton, without rolling or chipping the edge. If everything is wet, you may have to rely on processing standing dead wood, to get to the drier wood inside.
Using a baton, I pounded the Illuminous 5 through a piece of dead poplar, processing it down into thinner and thinner pieces – a few of which were selected for making feathersticks. The sharp edge of the Illuminous 5 was able to pick up material and shave with the slightest pressure.
When it comes to lighting shavings with a ferro rod – such as in a worst-case scenario – the shavings need to be as thin as possible. By changing the angle of the blade ever so slightly, thinner shavings are possible and easily lit with a match or lighter.
Wanting to use the awesome spine again, I utilized it to scrape a piece of fat wood for a tinder bundle. A good clump of these shavings is very easily lit with a ferro rod, and the spine of the Illuminous 5 produced a shower of sparks. I know a lot of rods come with a striker, but I think it gives everyone a little sense of joy to just use the spine of the knife they are carrying. It does me anyway.
Next was the ultimate test for a good bushcraft knife…how well does it slice summer sausage?
Only joking of course. But it is something folks are curious about. Depending on the angle of the grind, a scandi can, at times, not be the best slicer. While they perform great on wood, occasionally they will begin the slice well, but “bust” the slice open as the cut gets deeper and the full thickness of the blade enters the food item.
However, The Illuminous 5 performed very well, and the .15-inch thick blade glided right through some venison summer sausage I had on hand.
I mentioned in the beginning of this article that the Illuminous 5 was bigger than what I typically use in the outdoors. This is all just personal preference of course. It all comes down to using what you like. Many people use large blades when they first get into wilderness skills, and then progressively go smaller and smaller as their skill level increases. However, there are some extremely skilled folks who use a large blade for everything.
The point is, never let worrying about what people may think or say dictate how you enjoy the outdoors. The more I used the Illuminous 5, the more I loved it. While I didn’t “torture test” it and stab it through metal drums etc., it handled a variety of bushcraft related tasks extremely well.
It is available with a wide variety of handle and liner options, and for a little extra you can get a matching ferro rod to go with it.
I can’t say enough good things about L.T. Wright Knives, and Spen from JRE Industries did a great job designing this one. I hope to see more designs from him in the future!
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Blade Material: CPM-3VBlade Length: 5.5 inchesOverall Length: 10 inchesBlade Thickness: .15 inchBlade Finish: SatinWeight: 10.2 ouncesHandle Material: Micarta or WoodSheath: LeatherMSRP: $260
L.T. Wright Knives(740) 317-1404www.LTWrightKnives.com
JRE Industries(630) 837-1078www.JREIndustries.com
L.T. Wright KnivesKnife Center
Before becoming the lead wilderness survival instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training, Patrick Rollins was a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office (Georgia) – where he served as a Law Enforcement Instructor and member of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (Entry and Sniper). Patrick is certified as a First Responder, Firearms Instructor, Glock Armorer, Rope Rescue Technician, Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Rescue 3 International), Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and NASAR SARTECH I. He has many hours of training in various skillsets – including woodland operations, wilderness survival training, land navigation, and tracking.
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