Do you think sub-zero conditions with snow and ice are perfect for knife testing? I do! I couldn’t imagine a better season than the middle of a winter to test out the Giant Mouse GMF2 knife ($165.00). It was inspired by Lappland’s puukko, a knife developed centuries ago in the forests of Northen Europe. The Giant Mouse GMF2 was design by two Norsemen: Jesper Voxnaes and Jens Anso, both of whom are well known through the knife industry. Let’s take a closer look at this handsome, slim, and slick blade that’s ready for outdoor action!
When I think of a ‘puukko’ style knife, a hidden tang with a scandi zero-grind immediately springs to mind. However, that’s not exactly the case here when it comes to the Giant Mouse GMF1 knife. While the overall shape is clearly “puukko-ish”, the GMF2 as a package is actually a very stout full-tang knife with a classic double bevel ground blade. It’s all done for added strength and to add rigidness to the knife. That being said, it’s still fairly lightweight and very portable with a 8.15 inch total length and weighing just above 4 ounces.
The Bohler N690 Cobalt powder steel holds an edge well and offers very good stain resistance. In my opinion, it performs slightly better than VG-10 and easily takes a keen edge. N690 has become an industry standard for high quality European made knives for a reason. The blade’s spine is aesthetically rounded with about an inch long jimping section in the middle to support the thumb (or index finger) during fine detail work. The blade is finished with fine stone wash applied over a pre-polished surface so it looks really handsome and keeps scratches under control by blending them with the actual finish.
With an overall utilitarian shiny look and blade just under 4″, the Giant Mouse GMF2 should be legal to carry in most places worldwide without issue. When it doubt, be sure to check your local regulations. All in all, it seems to be a really good personal workhorse – something I’ll elaborate more on later. One thing to note – the knife is made in Maniago, Italy, a region with long-time tradition of high-quality European knife making.
The contoured and sandblasted canvas micarta is my all-time favorite handle material for a fixed blade knife – period! That being said, I might be a bit biased about it, but not much. Actually, most of the custom knives that I have ordered in last two decades have come with such a handle. This include pieces that have been handmade by both Vox and Anso, but also many other top makers like Tom Krein, Marcin Slysz, or Bill Harsey. The material isn’t just for aesthetics.
Sand blasted micarta offers exceptional strength of a fibrous resin composite combined with a nice grippy structure which also works well when in wet conditions or while wearing gloves. It also doesn’t absorb dirt or blood. It’s also very easy to clean with just a hard brush. Plus, I like the fact that it’s resistant to chemicals like white spirits, oils, acetone, and gas. It is all of these reasons combined that make it perfect choice for hard use knife grip. Plus, it looks great too!
The Giant Mouse GMF2‘s handle is grooved in the center section for safety and easy grip change. Just grab it with your thumb and index finger and you can change from hammer to reverse or vice versa. It’s so easy! You won’t find a pronounced hand guard on this knife, which is another feature reminiscent of its Scandinavian pedigree. This allows for multiple grip options for cutting, whittling, and general woodcraft – especially in a hammer-grip with edge-up (great grip for strong whittling) or during feather-sticks preparation any kind. The hand guard would be a serious nuisance.
There is a reason puukko blades were made that way for centuries. Yes, it requires some extra care and experience, but in the right hands such a handle makes a huge difference, especially when working with wood. The grippy surface of the micarta combined with shallow double finger cutout should give enough safety margin. A lanyard hole is obvious feature on an outdoor knife and of course it’s there. It’s even big enough even for a doubled paracord lacing.
The sheath is always an integral part of a knife. It can really make or break the whole deal. In the case of Giant Mouse GMF2, it’s the first one for sure! Made of meaty, high quality leather, the sheath is perfectly stitched and riveted with brass eyelets in all of the crucial areas. It keeps the knife secure, yet always at the ready. The sheath is a “slip-in” style and the knife sits really deep inside. It is secured by friction alone. When you need it, just draw it effortlessly. When you’re done using it, simply push it back into sheath. All of this can be done with one hand and without any unnecessary manipulations.
This kind of sheath system has been used by Norsemen for hundreds of years and it still works great today. The quality of that sheath, combined with its simplistic functional design, make it joy to use. Without a doubt, it’s a very well made sheath. It can be carried on a belt, backpack (as pictured above), or in a dedicated pocket in a hunter’s style pants like my favorite Fjallraven Barents Pro. It’s also a very easy knife to make a kydex sheath for if you’re so inclined. There are no ‘negative angles’ to mask or sharp corners.
REAL WORLD USE
I’ve been using my Giant Mouse GMF2 for two weeks now. I took it on a trip into the mountains. The knife was in use every single day of the entire trip. I used it for kitchen work, cutting, whittling, and fire starting. It even traveled with me up to an almost 8k ft high peak. General woodcrafting with the knife was easy and effortless. I had no problem making some tent pegs with a small folding saw and the GMF2. It only took just a matter of minutes. The cutting edge on the knife is sharp and robust enough to work with frozen wood in a winter forest. The steel performance is on par with the other Giant Mouse knives. It just keeps cutting and sharpens up easily after a long day of heavy work.
I had no issues trying to start a fire in sub-zero winter conditions recently with just the GMF2 and a ferrocerium rod. The Laplander saw was helpful, but not necessary as I could easily break the branches before batoning my knife through them. A high quality steel, good heat treatment, and full-tang construction makes that entire process safe and easy.
With the dry wood exposed from the inside, I simply whittled couple of feather sticks. Be sure to check the curly shape of the shavings, it’s what a really sharp edge should produce with push-cuts. In the end, just one or two strikes with a cutting edge produced healthy sparks and quickly started my fire. Sure, if you have a dedicated striker attached to your fire starter you should use it. However, if all you have is just a knife and ferrocerium rod – don’t worry! You won’t ruin the strong cutting edge of the Giant Mouse GMF2 with a couple of strikes. Sharp edges on a blade’s spine are always a compromise between comfort and fire starting ability. Which is better option? There is no good answer, but I like the aesthetically pleasing and superbly comfortable rounded spine and don’t mind using the cutting edge as impromptu striker when I need to.
The tip of the knife is needle sharp. It is easily capable of cutting and drilling small holes in wood or puncturing heavy leather. The slim profile of the blade combined with the needle-like tip result in a massive penetration, even with a moderate a thrust. Actually, this is one of the reasons that I like puukko-shaped knives so much. It’s effortless work, not only using the cutting edge, but also with the point. Be careful when using the Giant Mouse GMF2. It’s not very forgiving if you make a mistake and stab yourself on accident. You’ll remember that needle-point puncture combined with a razor edge for a very long.
I’d also like to recommend not prying too heavily with the tip of the GMF2. It was not designed as a prying tool and you could snap the fine needle point. Remember – it’s a cutting tool, not a crowbar! I’ve used the knife on ropes, cloth, in a kitchen, and a multitude of other ways. However, where it really shines is when you’re using it as a backpacking cutting tool. It works great for all sorts of hiking and outdoor tasks. Whether you’re starting a fire, whittling wood, doing camp-related stuff, cleaning fish, or something as trivial as processing food while enjoying a break in a shelter while mountaineering with friends – all of these things are perfect tasks for the Giant Mouse GMF2.
If you’re looking for a backpacking companion knife that won’t let you on your next outdoor trip, I’d recommend the Giant Mouse GMF2 in a heartbeat. It’s lightweight, strong, cuts well, and won’t scare everyone off when you take it out of your pack. You can pretty much carry the knife unnoticed until you need it. Pair the Giant Mouse GMF2 with a small folding saw, ferrocerium rod, and a 1 lb. hatchet and you’ll be ready for any backpacking adventure! Trust me – you can take my word on it! For more information on the Giant Mouse GMF2, or to order one for yourself, please visit their website.