Gareth Bull Crafts More Affordable Version of Popular Front Flipper

South African knife maker Gareth Bull has begun to release runs of Field Grade Shamwaris. The new variant relies on simpler finishing techniques to create a more affordable, work-ready tool for those genuinely interested in using their custom knife.

“The Field Grade Shamwari is our ‘back to basics,’ hard use version – the essence of Shamwari, if you will,” Bull tells us. “We wanted to create a version that owners would be more likely to use and carry as opposed to being a safe queen.” He explains that there are four major differences between the Field Grade and the standard model. A Field Grade model has chamfered slab scales rather than contoured ones, and N690 blade steel rather than M390 or Damasteel. Furthermore, its blade sports a stonewash instead of satin finish, and the pivot uses phosphor bronze washers in place of caged bearings. The result is a Shamwari that can cost hundreds less than ‘classic’ versions.

“Otherwise the knives are effectively the same,” Bull continues. “The radiused spine, swedge, front flipper and deep carry clip all feature on both versions. Both are great options and everybody has their personal preference between the two.” In fact, despite the implication in the name, the Field Grade Shamwari is still a custom knife, made by Bull in his Gordonsbaai, South Africa shop. Some users have not been able to tell the difference between the two at a glance. “I’m really pleased by this as it means we managed to retain enough of what makes them Shamwaris,” Bull says.

Another, less obvious advantage of the Field Grade Shamwari’s simplified construction is that Bull can make more knives at a time. He’s able to lavish extra attention on a batch of classic Shamwaris while still working on Field Grade models too. “Our goal was and is to try to increase our production and try to fill some of the demand by releasing more knives, more often,” Bull notes.

At present Bull doesn’t have any plans to give his other models the Field Grade treatment. “We do have new designs lined up for release that would fall into the budget-friendly, user category though,” he adds. What about production collaborations? “We have a couple irons in the fire, but it’s still too early in those projects to know numbers and prices. Hopefully we should see prototypes soon and be able to elaborate then.”

Knife featured in image: Gareth Bull Knives Field Grade Shamwari