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SILVER STAG Lion review by Thomas Christianson for

  • 7 min read

Silver Stag Lion, by Thomas Christianson

The Silver Stag Lion is an heirloom quality, primarily handmade, semi-custom knife. It has a razor-sharp three-inch blade made of D2 tool steel and a handle made from naturally-shed deer or elk antler. It is 100% made in these United States.

It is by far the finest knife I have ever carried. At the time of this writing, it was available for $169 from The major drawback of the knife is that it is such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship that I am almost afraid to use it. It seems to deserve a place of honor in a display case rather than hidden in my pocket.


I have been systematically seeking out American-made knives for testing and evaluation. In the course of my search, I ran across Silver Stag knives. I looked through their product line for something with a pocket clip for every day carry (EDC). When I did not find anything, I wrote a note to Silver Stag mentioning that if they ever introduced a knife with a pocket clip, I would be interested in reviewing it.

About a week later, Mr. Brad Smith, founder of Silver Stag Handcrafted Field Gear, replied with information about their lanyard system. It sounded interesting, so I said that I was interested. Mr. Smith then promised to make me a knife the next week, when he was caught up on his Father’s Day orders. Exactly a week later, the knife arrived in my mailbox.


The knife was shipped in a padded plastic envelope via USPS Priority Mail. The envelope contained a Silver Stag product catalog rubber banded around a product box.

The product box is a simple white cardboard box 5.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches. The box has two stickers on it. One says, “Silver Stag Handcrafted Field Gear”. The other says, “D2 Folding Series, Liner Lock Lion (FLLL 3.0), Blade: D2 Tool Steel, Handle: Shed Deer or Elk Antler,, 100% Made in USA.”

I opened the product box. A sticker inside the lid announced, “Pivot Pin Can Be Tightened With Allen Wrench To Adjust Blade Tension”. The knife was wrapped in bubble paper inside the box. I fully approved of this arrangement. The packaging was simple, effective, and communicated helpful information. The major focus was on the product rather than the packaging.

The box also included instructions for using the antler tip lanyard: “Tie the antler tip to your belt loop above your carry pocket. When you need to retrieve your knife, pull on the lanyard and the knife will slide up from your pocket into your hand. You can use it while tied to your belt loop and you will never lose the knife. When using your knife in a stationary position (for example when cleaning game), you can let the knife dangle and pull on the lanyard to retrieve the knife when needed.”

The box also contained a copy of a one-year warranty, and a brochure that indicated that Silver Stag has a “Limited Lifetime Warranty.” Since the one-year warranty is a fairly standard warranty against defective materials and workmanship, I don’t know how it differs from the limited lifetime warranty. The one-year warranty requires that a customer returning a knife for service pay seven dollars for return shipping and handling.

The catalog indicated that Silver Stag has been making products for two decades primarily by hand. It is a garage hobby that grew into a nationally respected brand. Their blades are made of D2, 1095, or 15N20 steel — in addition to hand-forged high-carbon Damascus steel.

They also have a free sharpening and refurbishing service.


Unwrapping the bubble paper revealed that the knife is a gorgeous piece of workmanship. I was almost afraid to carry something so beautiful. The antler handle felt great. It was ideally shaped to fit the human hand.

I can open the knife one-handed with the nail slot, but it is difficult. Two-handed opening feels much more natural.

The blade is held open with a liner lock. The blade gleams beautifully in the light, and is extraordinarily sharp. I used it to shave a patch on my left forearm. It shaved so smoothly that I accidentally made the shaved patch a little larger than I intended. A couple of days or so later my wife Kari asked me why I had such a large bare patch on my left forearm.

The knife shaved so smoothly that I was tempted to use it on my face. Since I have never used a straight razor, I decided that the learning curve for shaving with a knife might be too steep.

I tied the lanyard to my belt rather than to a belt loop, since my cell phone case covers the belt loop nearest my carry pocket.


Silver Stag thinks of the lanyard as a replacement for a pocket clip primarily in terms of knife retention. I don’t primarily think of a pocket clip in that way. For me, the pocket clip primarily serves to hold the knife above the other items that I am carrying in my left front pants pocket (plasma lighter, ink pen, and Swiss Army Classic SD knife). I could make the lanyard serve the same purpose by attaching it to my belt, and then pulling the loose end of the lanyard through the lanyard hole in the knife until the top of the knife was even with the top of my pocket. I could then thread the loose end of the lanyard under my belt, and let the remainder hang down over the top of the belt. This caused the knife to ride in my pocket in the same place that it would ride if held by a pocket clip.

This functioned quite well, but all other things being equal, I prefer a pocket clip to a lanyard. The lanyard looks good in terms of style, and provides better retention. A clip confers greater ease of use.


I took the knife with me on a four-night camping trip with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

On our way to the campground my wife and I were running about an hour ahead of schedule. We decided to stop at a garage sale. It was a good thing we did. Shortly before we stopped, we had hit a fairly large pot-hole. We did not think anything of it at the time. Unbeknownst to us, the jolt had sheared the bolts holding the upper hinge of the camper door to the side of the camper. The door was left hanging only by the lower hinge, and was just beginning to drag on the ground when we stopped.

The garage where the sale was being held had a workshop in the back. This emboldened me to ask the man hosting the sale if I could buy a few bolts from him to repair the upper hinge. He was kind enough to give me three bolts, nuts, and washers of the appropriate size at no charge. I bought some arrows and broadheads at the sale as an expression of gratitude for this kindness.

As I began installing the bolts, I really missed the Leatherman multi-tool that I usually carry. The Silver Stag knife, of course, is a knife and not a multi-tool. It did not include a pair of pliers to help tighten the bolts. My regular tools were buried under camping gear in the back of the truck. I did not want to take the time to empty the bed of the truck so that I could open the under-bed-trunk to access the tools. So I tightened the bolts as well as I could with my fingers, and we set out again.

Our route to the campground took us down a washboard dirt road. The nuts on the door hinge began to loosen with the vibration. That gave the door enough free play that it came open again at the next big pothole. I had to stop a couple of more times to tighten nuts before we arrived at the campground.

When we arrived at the campground, I discovered that the hinge bolts were not the only ones impacted by the vibration. Some bolts had worked loose from the cooking surface in the camper as well. I missed my Leatherman again. I decided that some attention from a tube of Loctite would be helpful as well.

A couple of days into the trip, I was laying a fire in the fire pit. I was carving off some wood shavings to use as kindling. The Silver Stag Lion functioned extremely well at removing shavings from the hardened, kiln-dried wood. I was very impressed.

All in all, I decided that I prefer a good multi-tool for everyday carry. But when it comes to actual cutting, I don’t think anything else I own can beat the Silver Stag Lion.


The Silver Stag Lion is an outstanding knife. It is beautiful, sharp, beautiful, durable, beautiful, has a comfortably shaped handle, and is beautiful. Did I mention that it is beautiful?

The only drawbacks are that it does not offer the functionality of a multi-tool, the lanyard is not quite as convenient for carry in a crowded pocket as a pocket clip, and it is almost too beautiful to use.


Silver Stag was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Lion folding knife for testing and evaluation. I tried not to allow their kindness to influence my assessment of their product, and believe that I have succeeded in remaining objective.

I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.