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Sean and I carry pocket knives every day.  Well, every day we’re not going to the airport, in which case we ship one in our checked luggage so we can have it on the other end.  Think of them as the ultimate man’s security blanket.  There’s just something comforting about having your good ‘ole pocket knife with you.  We use ’em, too.   From slicing open the mail to cutting wire and digging stuff out of the shop vacuum filter, we use ’em hard. 

So when Case suggested that we put aside our beloved daily-carrys and try out some of their new stock for a few weeks, we jumped at the chance.  Then it sank in.  Remember when Charlie Brown hid Linus’ blanket?  Yeah, that’s us.

Then the package arrived, and we opened it up to find two shiny-new W.R. Case Red CVs.  How do you get the attention of a couple of tool writers?  Send ’em two knives with chrome vanadium blades and red bone covers.  Half our shop is red and/or CV.  Nice.  Instantly it was out with the old and in with the new.

Now after two weeks of daily use and abuse, we’ve got lots to say.  Read on to see how they fared.


Case knives ship in a box slightly larger than the knife with a paper wrapper to protect the knife in transit.  (Hey, you’re going to carry it in your pocket for the next ten or twenty years, it doesn’t need much protection.) 

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Note: Click on smaller images to see their larger counterparts. 

As you might guess, the Red CV line draws its name from its two most distinctive features: The red bone covers and the use of chrome vanadium (CV) steel in the series’ blades.  Toolmongers will immediately recognize chrome vanadium steel as the material used to make the vast majority of quality hand tools in America.  Think of CV as “stainless-light” offering some of the advantageous characteristics of stainless — from the chromium included in the alloy — yet retaining some of the strength of carbon steel.  This combination is perfect for tools, and works quite well for pocket knife blades as you’ll see below.

As you can see, Case shipped us two different knives to give us the opportunity to sample both the Red CV and a couple of different configurations.  Specifically, we tested the Medium Stockman (#6981) and the Copperhead with Wharncliff (#6985).

I carried the Stockman and Sean carried the Copperhead, so I’ll interject Sean’s opinions here as we discuss the Copperhead.

The Medium Stockman 


I’ve always been a fan of Case’s stockman variations, which generally offer three blades.  In the case of the Red CV medium, we get clip, sheepfoot, and pen blades.  The pen blade (the blade that’s all alone on one side of the knife) is handy for situations where you want to slide the blade into or under something.  This can be handy for food, or — as we tried this week — slicing a long eraser in half in order to use it as a shim.  The curve at the point makes it slide right in.

The sheepsfoot blade is the small one on the other side — the one with the curved back and straight blade.  This is a powerful blade that’s great for cutting open boxes or packaging — like the dreaded clamshell.  It’s also nice for when you’re looking to make a super-straight cut since you don’t need to sweat the angle of the blade quite as much as you do with a curved cutting point.

The large blade (the clip blade) has all kinds of practica uses, but my favorite: cutting foot-long hot dogs in half at the ballpark so I don’t look like an idiot trying to eat them.  I tend to reserve this blade for softer items.

The Copperhead w/Wharncliff


Sean: “This model features two blades: a small pen blade, which i used for most general purpose stuff like opening mail and digging a tick off the neighbor’s dog.  The large Wharncliff found its home cutting open boxes, though I did cut some food as well.  Though this is a bit larger than the knife I normally carry day-to-day (3-7/8″ closed), the rounded edges make it comfortable to carry.”


Read on to page 2 for our first-hand experiences using these knives. 

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10 Responses to Hands-On: W.R. Case’s Red CV Pocket Knives

  1. NarcolepticDoc says:

    If you want to start talking about newer blade steels, I’d suggest you head over to bladeforums.com. The stuff used in the Case knives is nothing special compared to the newer cutlery steels out these days. For example, ZDP-189 has a working hardness of up to 67rc, resulting in amazing edge retention.

    As for the opinion of your professional sharpener, the sharpening (or polishing rather, they’re one in the same with these swords) of traditional japanese swords is an art form in and of itself. Having a real sword polished by a non-specialist will pretty much ruin it. A “Hanzo Kantana” sounds like one of the cheap replicas styled after the Kill Bill movies.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    NarcolepticDoc: It’s funny; He suggested that we not mention the Hanzos because we’d immediately see comments on how they’re fakes.

    The short take: We did, anyway. He was right. They’re not fake. He is a “specialist” in a number of areas of sharpening. That’s why we go to him. That’s why we mentioned the Hanzos — real ones are rare and difficult to sharpen, and it’s the kind of thing he does — and that helps others to understand why we value his opinion.


  3. NarcolepticDoc says:

    The simple fact of the matter is that there is NO such thing as a ‘real’ Hanzo katana, because the swordsmith in the movie is a fictional character. There is a historical record of a real ‘Hatori Hanzo, but he wasn’t a swordsmith.


    The very fact that you’re even talking about ‘Hanzo Katanas’ speaks volumes about the likelihood of those being real japanese swords (as opposed to ‘sword like objects’) or of your sharpener being somebody who’s qualified to properly polish a valuable sword (of which there are very few westerners).


    “Working 10 to 12 hours a day, the entire polish could take a couple weeks. A typical charge, including the polish, a new sheath, and any adjustments needed to the handle, is roughly 400,000 yen.” That’s about $4000 USD for a polish on a single sword.

    Either way ‘Chrome Vanadium’ is hardly a unique combination of alloys in a stainless, nor is it even a valid descriptor of a particular steel.

  4. Chuck Cage says:

    Great information!

    re: swords — The correct term, I suppose, would be “Hanzo-style” as the swords in question were made by a master bladesmith in Japan using the same methodology. Make sense?

    re: CV — As we’re primarily a tool site, the CV knives caught our attention not because the alloy was particularly “original” as much as because we figured the composition would strike a chord with other toolaholics.

    Thanks for the great comments. You sound like you’re pretty seriously into blades! Have you done some work in the field?

  5. Jay says:

    Thank for the excellent review on Case knives as actual tools. Case knives with CV blades are great!. They are handcrafted so no two are exactly alike (bone handles mainly) and CV can be easily brought to a razor edge with a regular sharpening stone. They are not stainless so they can rust, but I don’t work around a lot of water and it’s not a real problem.

    Some comments on a prior post: ZDP-189 I understand is a great steel. I’m guessing it is harder to sharpen and one will need a diamond sharpener (which makes life easier in the shop anyway). Plus, I don’t know of a stockman pattern made in ZDP-189. I like traditional knives. Lastly, if a stockman was made in ZDP-189 it would probably cost 2-3 times as much. I am prone to abusing my working knives. Browning I think offers a stockman (or did) in AUS-8 which is a very nice stainless. It is no ZDP-189, but still very nice. The CV will still be easier to sharpen.

  6. Dick Hickson says:

    I have no problem keeping my Case CV pocketknife rust free. I just make sure to keep it clean and dry, that’s it. I don’t even oil the blades other than every once in a blue moon. A dry blade won’t rust, not even a carbon steel blade. And man o man do these knives take a great edge.

  7. I’d sharpen and polish a katana myself with a belt sander, Arkansas stones, and a buffing wheel, and it would take maybe half a day. But then again I’m not personally involved in the production or maintenance of museum pieces, as you can probably tell from a glance at my website..

    As for rust, I live in a dry climate and yet find it necessary to leave a light coat of pharmaceutical mineral oil on my 10xx carbon blades. Any humidity is enough to get annoying red rust started. And it’s weird– one knife will spontaneously rust next to five others that don’t. So I keep the water away with a little oil.

    Love Case knives, this review, and old slipjoints in general.

  8. Chad says:

    Really nice review with excellent pictures. After reading your review I purchased a Copperhead. Thanks.

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  10. car says:

    un post interessant sa m’interresse , merci