While they are probably better known for their outstanding electric knife sharpeners, EdgeCraft’s ChefsChoice line also includes an ever-expanding group of manual diamond hones. Three of the newest are the “Sportsman,” “ProntoPro,” and “Tactical,” with each having their own special advantages.
This is a three stage sharpener set up to provide both 15-degree bevels for thin Asian style knives, and a steeper 20-degree grind for thicker European/American patterns. Between the three stages, the sharpener will handle straight edge kitchen knives, “santokus,” sports knives, pocketknives and serrated blades. One of the unique features of this sharpener that sets it apart from many other “pull through” systems is that it functions on a back and forth “sawing” movement that removed metal in both directions. Of course, it also has the advantage of utilizing diamond abrasives that will easily hone the hardest steel.
At a point during my evaluation of the ProntoPro I found myself coring and dicing up a five-gallon stockpot of garden tomatoes for cooking down into sauce with a set of Ontario kitchen knives I was also testing. While most of the knives in the set easily handled slicing ripe tomato skin, there was one utility knife that seemed to be just a little under-honed for the job. By giving it a quick 20 pulls on stage two “Euro/Amer” and then finishing with a half-dozen on stage 3 “Polishing and Serrated,” I found the knife would now slice ripe tomatoes with the best of them.
Having noticed that stage 3 was the serrated slot, I pulled an older Spyderco kitchen knife from the block and gave it a try. I probably don’t resharpen my serrated knives as often as I should, so this one was fairly dull. The instructions said to give it five passes and check the edge, if it was still dull give it another five passes, all of which I did. After 10 push/pulls through the ProntoPro stage three slot, the knife was once again properly honed.
Next up was the Model 442 Tactical. EdgeCraft has both given this sharpener a subdued finish for field use and widened slots to make it better suited to the thicker blade stock common to military and LEO knives. My first try with this model was on a TOPS Model Laci Szabo USMC Combat Knife followed by an issue M-9 bayonet. Unfortunately, I quickly found the EdgeCraft had not quite widened the slots enough for these very heavy blades. Backing off to a couple of other common military blades, a Glock M1981 and a SEAL issue Ontario MK3 Mod0 showed the Tactical would work just as well as the ProntoPro had on kitchen knives. Having found that most of the troops today and a large percentage of law enforcement officers are carrying some type of serrated edge folder, I think the Model 442 would be an excellent piece of equipment to add to their base camp foot locker/kit bag.
When I took a close look at the last model in these recent additions to the manual sharpener line, the “ChefsChoice Sportsman,” while it looked similar in appearance to the 4643 ProntoPro (which uses rotating discs), the 4635 Sportsman uses interdigitating pads. The first two sharpening stages are now marked “fish,” “hunt” rather than the “Asian” and “Euro/Amer” found on the ProntoPro. The stage three is still “polishing and serrations” as on the first sharpener.
What the “fish” and “hunt” really means it the two stages are again set at 15 and 20 degrees like the ProntoPro. This makes excellent sense, given filet knives tend to work much better with a flatter sharpening angle than hunting knives. Hunters, on the other, hand see a wider variety of uses in the field that makes a steeper, stronger edge more desirable. I tried the sharpener on both my favorite Victorinox 6-inch boning/filet knife and a variety of hunters that I use in the field from time to time. The Sportsman produced excellent working edges on all with very little effort on my part. As with the M442 Tactical version, the Sportsman will not work with ultra-thick blades but, frankly, I see no purpose in a ¼-inch thick spine on a hunter. At 7.5 ounces, the Sportsman would also be a much handier option to a conventional bench stone for field sharpening. No oil, water or special skills required.
EdgeCraft continues to be the leader in making knife sharpening a skill that anyone can master in a few minutes time. And as I like to always point out, the finest crafted blade from the best custom knifemaker in the world is of no more use than a bargain bin stainless special if it isn’t sharp. Suggested retails for the trio run $46.99 for the ProntoPro, $29.95 for the Sportsman and $29.99 for the Tactical. For more information please call 800-342-3255 or visit edgecraft.com.