NRS Pilot Knife - Small And Handy

Discussion in 'Blades' started by 3M-TA3, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    I've been looking for a fixed blade knife I could carry vertically blade up on either a shoulder strap or vest, something I could grab in an instant if needed. I've looked through hundreds of offerings at the big internet knife storesbut just couldn't find what I wanted.

    The biggest problem with finding what I wanted was that pulling the blade out of a sheath was that the knife would require enough space below it for clearance. Also there are relatively few knives that have a locking sheath that was both secure and could be pulled free without so much force it would shift whatever it was attached to.

    I had pretty much given up on the concept and figured I'd have to go with an assisted folder like my EDC SOG Aegis clipped somewhere handy. Then today I needed to run into town to get a replacement keyboard for Mrs. 3M and whadda you know - Across the street from BestBuy is my favorite Sportsmans Warehouse. Some "widow shopping" was mandatory and as I checked through the knife section I ran across the NRS Pilot Knife.

    I took one look and realized that this knife was exactly what I had been searching for. It had never bliped on my radar because NRS is a rafting company and the Pilot Knife is specially designed for rafting and water rescue. Because of that it has the locking sheath feature I was looking for. Basically you depress the two silver buttons and the knife all but pops into your hand. Due to the sheath design it needs very little movement for the tip to clear the sheath. This could be vertically mounted within an inch of a mag pouch and would have zero clearance issues. It's also very flat so it wouldn't cause issues with getting the mag out either.

    Top view in sheath. The knife blade and tang is actually a dark gray even though it looks much lighter in the pictures.

    Bottom view in sheath.

    Right side view. Features from left to right are breacher/skull crusher, lanyard hole, bottle opener, rope hook, serrated edge, straight edge. The blunt tip can be used as a screwdriver. The rectangular cut out and round hole are part of the sheath retention system. The rectangular cutout aldo doubles as an scuba tank valve wrench. The handle is surprisingly comfortable.

    And left side. Yes, it's a Chinese blade, but well made and the steel is 420 HC stainless. You can also get it in titanium for extra corrosion resistance.

    Close up of the bottom edge. This picture doesn't do justice to how sharp the blade actually is

    The top edge is not sharpened, but alots begs to have an edge. I'm considering tht along with the tip. The picture also shows the aggressive stippling on the handle.

    And a size comparison to the Gerber StrongArm.


    What would I change on this knife? While the knife isn't as reflective as it shows in the picture I would like a matt finish. I'd also like the release buttons to be a matt black as well. It's likely I'll pop the out and refinish them. I'd also like the top edge and tip sharpened, but for the purpose this knife was designed I think NRS got it right. Honestly, as is it's still great for my purpose.

    Also, I don't see this as a primary woods or combat knife, but I think it's a great backup that doesn't take up much weight or space.

    It's also not overly expensive at $50 retail.

    Manufacturer's Web site
    NRS Pilot Knife at

    There is also a smaller version called the Copilot
    NRS Co-Pilot Knife at

    Some specs
    Blade Material: 420 HC Stainless Steel
    Handle Material: Glass-reinforced polypropylene with TPR over mold
    Sheath Material: Fiberglass-reinforced nylon
    Total Length: 7.38"
    Blade Length: 3"
    Weight: 5.5 oz
    Knife only Weight: 3.5 oz

    The obligatory YouTubes

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
  2. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Experience is you want the LMF size ( or Bear Grill) or old school K-bar.
    I carry a small CRKT Sting when I want to be more stealthy or am in an area where knife blade lengths are restricted!
    another good option is the Seal Pup! That NRS one looks like trouble and more novelty then anything useful! Just my observation!
    mechstdr, sec_monkey and 3M-TA3 like this.
  3. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    You probably missed it above since I was pretty wordy, but I don't see this as a primary woods or combat/survival knife. I see it as a handy backup knife that can be carried to be easily accessible when your primary knife isn't.
    mechstdr, GOG, Motomom34 and 2 others like this.
  4. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    I would go with a good folder as a back up! I like the Spiderco Krambit's as well as a Kershaw Leek for a good handy secondary to my primary fixed blade!
    mechstdr, sec_monkey and 3M-TA3 like this.
  5. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    My knife sank with the Titanic.
    mechstdr, Gator 45/70 and Ura-Ki like this.
  6. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    I have the older version of the Gerber river knife like this one always a good little knife for 30 bucks
  7. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    I've been looking for a shorter fixed blade , there's some things a folder just aren't made for . This might be close to what I've been looking for . Thanks .
    mechstdr, Gator 45/70, GOG and 2 others like this.
  8. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    But if I was going to purchase a new one it would be a KNIFE.
    Folders are always too little to late.
    Short Sheath knives are too short and too late.
    This setup with the proper belt will come out with ease and will not get lost in a scuffle.
    Rides high on the belt and can be concealed with only a T shirt.
    YMMV but this will save your life.
    SOG Limited Edition Pillar LTD USA-Made Fixed Blade Knife 5 inch Bronze Cerakote S35VN Clip Point, Tan Canvas Micarta Handles, Coyote Tan Kydex Sheath
    mechstdr, Byte, Gator 45/70 and 3 others like this.
  9. Ya know, I'm almost as much a sucker for knives as for firearms.
  10. Gafarmboy

    Gafarmboy Monkey+++

    I fear a bad man with a good knife more than a bad man with a good gun. With that said, I don't like folders and only carry full tang blades. Will only carry my 50+ year old K-Bar in the bush and my 40+ year old Mora as my EDC. Both have served me we. I will live and die with the KISS rule.
    mechstdr, Ura-Ki, HK_User and 4 others like this.
  11. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    I used to really like SOG knives but the last few have not been very good hard to keep sharp and stay sharp
    mechstdr, Ura-Ki, HK_User and 2 others like this.
  12. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I still haven't gotten around to purchasing a Gerber StrongArm since I am so fussy where to buy one because afraid I will get a knockoff.

    I like smaller blades but no so sure about the NRS sheath, looks interest and handy but I am freaky about my knife coming loose if I take a tumble cause I am about as graceful as a drunken elephant.

    Someone mentioned the Seal Pup and I can tell you with complete honesty and tons of experience that little knife is a worker. I bought it years ago and it sits in my garage where I use it for every darn thing under the sun. I use it because the blade is such good steel, can't hurt it and the it's been wet and abused and still soldier's on, still looks good too! My only complaint is it is damn difficult to sharpen when it comes time to do so cause the steel is so hard.
  13. Waydah

    Waydah Monkey

    There are now so many great choices in blades and mounting systems that just choosing one can take a lot of thought. A man should always carry a blade of some sort. I always have a folder clipped to my pants pocket. Currently its a Zero Tolerance 'flipper' type. But it could just as well be a Benchmade or Kershaw.
    For a sheath knife I prefer carbon steel instead of stainless. Just personal preference. Sharpening seems easier and the blade will throw a spark if required. Lately I've carried a TOPS puukko. Its a great blade, not too large nor too small.

    I wouldn't attach a primary knife to web gear. If I would be forced to drop the web gear I would loose my primary blade. I prefer it on my belt. Feel the same about a sidearm. If I have to drop everything else I want those two things to stay with me.

    I have owned and used several 'river knives' and have never been too impressed with them. Hope the OP has a better experience.
    mechstdr, STGThndr, Bandit99 and 2 others like this.
  14. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I like a point. If push comes to shove a point get's you in.
    I like real steel. The durability of hardened steels is superior to other metals. if it's wet you dry it off.
    I like both a smooth and serrated blades. Each have their place particularly in a rescue atmosphere. Serrated blades are relatively new in the grand scheme of things, the strait blade still functions just fine if it is kept sharp. If I know that I am doing a lot of rope work I have done a fine serrated edge that serves just fine on a stainless blade.
    I like full length blade (6" or better") if forced to fight with it. I have been face to face with mountain lions and bear ,short blades are no comfort .
    I like the grip to have a hook in the pommel . Using a knife heavily often requires listening the grip , letting the weight of the blade do some of the work.
    I like a finger guard. If you have never run your finger against that edge , good for you.
    I like it to fit my hand (Large) A knife can also become a pry bar in a desperate situation. Small handles are OK for a pocket knife because you can't put much load against the pivot point ,it's a given.
    As for the need for a screw driver, I keep a selection in my bag well as a crescent wrench in my pocket, and Swiss army pliers as well.
    If I am diving I will use a diving knife and the sheath straps to my calf.
    If I am hunting I will use a Bowie knife parallel on the belt in back.
    I have built neck knife sheathes but I really don't like things dangling ,I don't wear chains or jewelry they are hazardous as a mechanic.
    I suppose that I could get use to a knife being on a vest, but i can tell you that if I had that knife I'd modify it for a point, and it would not be the only knife i carried .
    mechstdr, STGThndr, Gafarmboy and 2 others like this.
  15. STGThndr

    STGThndr Monkey+

    I've successfully used Cold Steel knives, (among others, mind you) for years and they in general beat the heck out of KaBar and Buck. I like a bowie and have a selection in various sizes and I do (he said sheepishly) carry a Buck 119 or 120 in public. (Not a problem where I live- yet).
    My folders these days run to (except for a very special stag-gripped older Gerber) Kershaw and similar with pocket clips. Except for the SWAK "Huntsman" which is a bit bulkier than I like for a pocket, but it's usefulness trumps.. Recently found a carbon-steel Old Timer LARGE folder in a pawnshop after looking for years, which I carry a good bit, when not in sweats...
    mechstdr likes this.
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