Guest Review: The Hoodlum Knife

Ron Hood's Hoodlum Knife

It's only fitting that while I am off in Northern Idaho, my old friend, Tim Adams, comes through to help me out with a guest post about a knife that originated in both design and manufacture in the part of the country where I am right now.  Tim is rightfully proud of his Hoodlum Knife, but I'll let him tell you all about it.

Buck Hood Hoodlum Hunting Knife

As I sat with my very good and long…long time friend Donald Green of ifithitsthefan.com as I have done on countless occasions, thoughts were, as usual, focused on various vectors of preparation for the breakdown. As loyal readers of Don’s excellent rolling diatribe on victim-proofing yourself and family will no doubt attest, our Mr. Green has created himself into an authority on all things preparatory. On this night, I had been invited to join Donald and his lovely wife as they entertained their young nephew. I strapped my soon to be kindergarten attending son into his perch within our Jeep and lit out for Ches Green to help him test various fire - making apparatus. What Donald did NOT realize is that I had with me what would very shortly (and tragically) become one of my most cherished possessions…My very own iteration of the wildly popular “Hoodlum” knife designed by the great Ron Hood of Hood’s Woods.

By way of some back story I’ll share with you that I discovered Ron and Karen Hood’s ground-breaking “Hoods Woods” series of instructional videos in the mid nineties…When they were only available on VHS…Both Donald and I have been in the getting ready business for several decades now…The first videos I ordered from the Hoods were the two-tape set “Survival Basics”…I knew immediately that Ron was no poser and upon closer scrutiny I discovered that he was a former Army spook of great pedigree and that he had made his living as a survival instructor. The fact that the old fart had managed to make himself irresistible to the lovely Karen (many years his junior) only served to further solidify his claim to the recently occupied Hood estate in Valhalla). In short, Ron Hood was a god among men and few will live to match his myriad achievements of decorated warrior, learned professor, trail-blazing entrepreneurial media producer, and designer of truly squared away and field proven severing implements. Yes, you could say I’m a big fan.

Forgive me, I digress. As we sat near the site of the fire-making trials, I turned to Donald and asked, “you wanna see it?”…He knew what I meant! I retrieved my new knife from the Jeep and as I presented it to Don I could see that he got it immediately. In my humble opinion there are two camps within the preparation-minded community…those that currently own this knife, and those who will fix that hole in their kit where this knife belongs.

While I am reluctant to resort to threadbare idioms, one of them is undeniably appropriate. This knife is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The first inescapable truth is that this knife should weigh more than it does…A lot more! Ron designed many knives…I have either owned or handled many of them. That said, this knife proves that artists and designers evolve as they age. The blade is longer, the knife has greater power, the geometric relationship of the cutting angle to the knife’s handle suggests Ron learned a thing or two while he was teaching all of us. The Hoodlum is remarkably fast handling for a really, really big knife. As the so called “survival experts” were cleaving to shorter and shorter blades, Ron boldly stuck to his guns and proffered a blade that is equally useful as a tool for creating kindling as it is the capital of a pike that would give pause to a grizzly. One of the reasons the Hoodlum is so light and fast is because Ron chose to have it made from spring steel because his experience taught him that it is remarkably strong and light in weight…but it is notoriously difficult to work…That said, bucking the trends and doing things as he saw fit were among his many hallmarks. Little but significant touches like a notch for breaking wire or pulling a hot coffee pot off a fire only add credence to the assertion that Ron truly got it and like all the greatest teachers, he not only got it, but he was able help us, his students get it too. For those of us who have tracked Ron’s progress as he ascended into the rarified stratum of truly great knife designers, the news that Buck knives had agreed to mass produce Ron’s Hoodlum came as no surprise. The one that I own was made by Buck, and it is a fine knife that I am proud to own. Mine is even signed by Ron…I purchased it shortly before his untimely death. That said, the sheath leaves something to be desired. While the blade was crafted right here in our great nation, the sheath hails from China…and is not the equal of this beautiful and storied knife. Because I had corresponded with Ron occasionally throughout the years, I decided that I should shoot him an email to congratulate him on his achievement. This knife really is one for the ages. I did mention to him that the sheath was not up to snuff and he quickly wrote back. I’ll close by including the entire text of his reply. I had no idea how valuable my Hoodlum would become, as would the brief message he sent in reply to mine…Ron left the planet not a week after. I’m honored that Ron took the time to read and reply to my message himself…ever the teacher, to the end.

From: "Ron Hood"
Date: June 18, 2011 7:40:27 PM EDT
To: "'Tim Adams'"

Subject: RE: Impressed

Thanks Tim,

'Preciate the nice comments. I here ya re the sheath but we do have aftermarket sources for kydex and leather that really dress the blade up. My personal sheath is leather made by Luke Swenson.


-----Original Message-----

From: Tim Adams
Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2011 3:25 PM
To: Info@survival.com

Subject: Impressed

Hugely impressed with my Hoodlum knife! Still cannot get over the fact that it's BIG and LIGHT!! Everyone who handles it is impressed with how light it is.

I was, however, surprised by the Chi-com sheath...I do understand cost control...Just sayin'

Many thanks for a truly excellent design!


"A government large enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have." -Thomas Jefferson

My thanks to Tim for sharing this review, and especially for sharing the email he got from Ron so shortly before he passed.

Luke Swenson, the maker of Ron's sheath, can be found at http://www.swensonknives.com/


  1. I'll tell Luke that Ron mentioned the sheath he made for him in that e-mail... :)

  2. Lynne, please ask Luke to email me at ifithitsthefan@gmail.com. I'd love to discuss sheaths with him and give him a plug on here.


  3. Luke does amazing work. I have one of his sheaths for my Hoodlum and Sis has one of his skinners, awesome knife.


  4. I'm puzzled by the fact that you think spring steel is especially light for steel. Steel is steel and weighs what steel weighs... If you were trying to say that spring steel has a lot of strength for weight, no, it's pretty mediocre - especially in transverse impact strength. It's not hard to work either - village knife makers manage it all over the third world. And finally, the Hoodlum's blade is far from unusual in its design or handling - it's an almost mm for mm copy of a Trailmaster blade, with only the addition of that dubious notch (which seems to have caused quite a few blade fractures) and and angled tang.

    (You can get an almost identical blade profile for $25 from MTECH in the 151 Bowie, in very usable 440A with a straight tang - or the $600 Fallkniven Thor in laminated VG10 - or more: this is of the most common blade patterns in large knives!)

    1. Netbooker - I'll see if I can get Tim to put up a response to you. thanks for the feedback!

  5. It is really a nice post, its always great reading such posts, this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information. Thanks for the post.


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