As with all of ESEE knives it features a full tang construction, very durable coating, and Micarta grips (G10 grips are available). Coming in at 3/16" thickness and a full flat grind it can be used in a wilderness or tactical environment. The knife is a mid-sized fix blade; and if I had to choose 1 knife I would choose one this size range. A mid-sized blade can handle most field craft task, camp chores, and food prep. The ESEE-4 has a standard drop point blade very capable of field dressing deer and any other comparable game. The exaggerated choil also allows the user choke up on the blade to help with even finer task. I also prefer the Plain blade over the Combination/Serrated blade.
The knife is made from high carbon 1095 steel and came "make a mistake and you may need stitches sharp" from the factory. I will profess to the ease of sharpening the ESEE-4. A few weeks after owning the knife I was making a bow drill set. During the process I dropped the ESEE-4 onto a rock and chipped the blade. Initially I thought "this can't be fixed"--but I tried to fix it anyway. I went to work with a diamond sharpening stone, a sharpening steel, and a leather strop; and after about thirty minutes you couldn't tell the nick was ever there. Many reviews I read on the web where folks detest 1095--but I say let me see you do that with an S30V(or another one of those super) steel knives.
I like the desert tan blade coating for two reasons: 1. It can be found on the forest floor when dropped. 2. Because I like desert tan stuff. The coating on 1095 is generally placed there to protect the blade from rust; However still keep an eye on the sharpened un-coated section with any 1095 knives. I'll be honest I've tried to wear the coat off the past month or so and have yet to succeed. I thought I did with one batoning session but the blade had actually just gotten dirty. With that the coating is very strong! During my batoning session I did notice a small bit of drag, but that's expected with any knives with a coating.
As I stated above the handles are canvas micarta but G10 are also available in orange. Micarta is an excellent handle material used by many knife makers. I will say that it took me a few days to get used to the handle of the ESEE-4; some folks with larger hands may feel awkward holding the knife. I would like to see the handle extended a 1/2 inch to fit completely in my hand. With that, I can see this knife fatiguing my hand and wrist after extended use. I think the extremely flat scales also make it difficult to get a strong grip.
The ESEE-4 comes with a standard kydex sheath and MOLLE locks/paracord for attachment. The MOLLE locks are good for that application. The paracord is to be used for belt attachment (printed mounting instructions come with the knife). I wore it on my belt with the paracord attachment. It's a very sturdy method but rides high on your waist and very close to the user. If you wear it in this manner just be careful when re-sheathing the knife. The kydex is of good quality and different mounting options can be added such as tek-loks and kydex drop loops (for the price of the knife I would like to see a tek-lok added to the package).
Overall I've enjoyed using the ESEE-4 and with a few modifications I think it could be great.. As I've said above, I would like to see the handle a bit longer and some width added to the scales. I would also recommend loosing the finger choil. Because on a knife this size it really isn't needed. I'd also like to see a tek-lok added with the price of the knife. It would make a decent starter blade. I will say it had to be the sharpest 1095 steel knife I've ever gotten (factory sharpened). Another huge benefit is the transferable "no questions asked" lifetime warranty. Don't let me forget to mention all ESEE knives are made here in the USA.