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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Gear Review: Rapid River Knifeworks Royal 7 Clip Point Knife

Updated: Mar 7


Rapid River Knifeworks Royal 7 Clip Point Knife

Overview:


In 1899, from his shop in Gladstone, Michigan, Webster Marble developed what went on to become one of the most iconic hunting knives in history, the Marbles Ideal Hunting Knife. Over the centuries it has been carried by scores of people including, at least as far as legend goes, the vaunted explorer, outdoorsman, conservationist, and two-time U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt. Stacked leather washer handles and clip-point blades with a deeply fullered edge grind were Marble’s trademarks, setting the knives apart from other blades of the time.


Eventually every major cutlery company in the United States, England, Germany, and Sweden began offering their own versions of Marble’s most popular knives, and Marble’s-pattern sheath knives ruled the market for decades.


Historic photo of Marbles knife

That Michigan knife-crafting tradition continues today at Rapid River Knives, in the upper peninsula village after which it is named. Kris Duerson, Rapid River’s founder, and Matt Seawright, the company’s General Manager, both cut their blade-crafting teeth at Marbles.


When Marbles elected to discontinue their lifetime warranty repair and service, Kris decided to start his own business refurbishing those knives. A short time later, he began designing and building a few protypes of his own. In the fall of 2000 Rapid River Knives was born in a barn with a single grinder, a single buffer, and a dream to create the finest quality knives from materials sourced from within the United States.


While drop points tend to be a more popular choice for hunting applications, The Royal 7 is one of Rapid River's best selling knife blades and features a subtle clip style that is great for skinning and, at least to me, harkens back to that original Marbles Ideal.


The blade length is approximately 3-3/4" with an overall length of 8-1/4", and it is available in a number of different handle-material options including Arizona Dessert Ironwood, Birdseye Maple, Bocote, Cocobolo, Curly Maple, Leopard Wood, Zebra Wood, and Elk Antler (which is what I selected).


The price for the these options ranges from $175-$200. You can also elect for a custom handle from a variety of acrylic/burl materials for $275.


Knife display with Marbles knife, White River Knives, and Rapid River Knives

What I like:


Blade Material: It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “There never was a good knife made of bad steel.” The RRK Royal 7 is no exception, crafted from forged-carbon D2 steel – tough enough for bone-hard jobs, yet razor sharp and precise for finer cuts. Could I shave with it? Probably, although I don't intend to.


Handle: While the blade is extremely impressive, my favorite part of the Royal 7 is the elk-antler handle. For starters it has a grip that seems to fit my hand perfectly and comfortably. It also provides a heft that balances the knife nicely – giving it a very substantial in-the-hand feel. And it's just really damn beautiful, I'm not sure how else to say it.


Display of Rapid River Knife

*Other handle options are available for the Royal 7


Craftsmanship: Another reason I love this knife is because of the craftsmanship that I know went into it. Rather than being churned out by a machine at a big factory, all Rapids River Knives are made by hand, one at a time. This particular one was built by my buddy, Ryan Cavanaugh.


It's an intensive process, and a true testament to American workmanship.

Sharpening a Rapid River Knife

Sheet-stock steel blanks are cut out with a waterjet, ground for style, and then prepped for the handle. Once fully assembled, they are satin finished and sharpened with a 120-grit belt by hand, then edge polished with a 1200-grit micron belt.


The handles start on the 36-grit belt for rough shaping before final shaping on an 80-grit. With the shaping process complete, they move to the 320 and 600-grit belts for final finishing and blending of the thumb guard into the handle. Last, they are polished with 400-grit compound on a buffing wheel before moving the jeweler’s rogue (known in the shop as the black wheel) where 600- grit compound provides the final finish.


Personalization: Once complete, Rapid River Knives are finished with free laser engraving on the blade and handle.


Warranty: Rapid River offers a lifetime warranty and free lifetime polishing and sharpening on every knife they sell. In fact, they will even sharpen and polish other brands’ knives for a donation to organizations supporting disabled veterans.


Interior photo of Rapid River Knife headquarters

What I don't like:


Clip point versus prop point: While it's subtle, the Royal 7 is a clip-point knife, and many hunters tend toward a drop-point style for their hunting knives, especially for skinning. But, while I own plenty of both, I personally prefer the more subtle clip points, finding them more versatile and, honestly, more aesthetically pleasing.


a variety of Rapid River Knives on display

Perfect For: The Royal 7 is an heirloom piece of practical art that I hope to pass down to generations of my family. It makes a great hunting knife, field knife, or collector's item. And, while perhaps a bit on the large side, it can also function as an EDC.


If drop points, skinners (including beavertail), capers or small game/fin and feather are more your thing, Rapid River Knives has plenty of those as well. Or, if you prefer a folder, be sure to check out my favorite, the Yooper.


Stars: 5 out of 5


Learn more about the Royal 7 Here.


* Portions of this review come from an article I wrote for Michigan Out of Doors magazine, which can be found here.

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