Gear Review: FirstEdge HR-1

If you recall, we did an interview with Fit To Fight founder Ryan Hoover a couple months back, and he touched on the need for both a fixed blade back up knife, and retention capability. This next bit should be no surprise then.

Hoover linked up with FirstEdge, a company which is known for it’s quality blades, Elmax steel, and robust product lines; to come up with an outstanding defensive and back up knife (which comes with a blunt training blade if you get the package!)

I carried the knife for a couple weeks, and wanted to give you my impressions here.

Overall, it’s a fantastic tool and tactical weapon with good balance and is quick to deploy. The HR1 Combo Pack (Item Number 4880) is a great value for the money and stellar back up weapon.

Now let’s examine the knife and it’s parts, from pommel to tip. We’ll start past the tip – at the sheath.

The HR-1 has a great kydex sheath that retains the blade extremely well, to the point where it stays put, but with a methodical yank it breaks free. The trainer and knife secure equally well. The sheath itself is designed for IWB carry, great for those that conceal carry, to have something like this on your weak side. I really like the way the belt clip has an upturn on it to hold fast on your belt. This makes taking it off a bit of a chore, but i’d rather that than a sheathed knife in my hand when I need it most. The scalloped edge of the sheath by the finger groove also makes a positive purchase of the weapon not only feasible, but necessary before you deploy it.

From there, the blade, which is hardened to 60-61 HRC is shaped to a tanto point, and all business.

Their Elmax steel is no joke, and you can see videos of the 5050 Survival Knife chopping through rebar with no issue.

It’s no surprise they make great product, but they also will repair or replace your knife free of charge. They posit that their knives are meant for heavy use, and you can tell. The blade is lightweight with a nice balance, and there are ergonomics at play with the handle itself. A nice index finger groove makes this relatively comfortable, but your pink can live there as well if you use the knife like a kerambit. Also, the finger loop had a striking tip on it, making both ends of the blade dangerous. The trainer is exactly the same – except it’s made of aluminum with a blunt tip (so is a little lighter) – and feels the same in the hand. I love this, especially if you’re familiar with Hoover’s Fit To Fight system – it’s all about stress inoculation and repeatable drills.

Pros, what we like: Ergonomic, concealable, HRC of 60-61, lifetime warranty, quickly deployable, and it comes with a trainer. In addition, it’s well thought out to be used as a defense tool with a retention element, as a back up knife, and even has a sheath designed to retain the weapon and stay put. 

Cons, what we don’t like: For extended use, the blade is a bit uncomfortable, but it’s purpose is for quick self defense action, not sustained utility. That being said, FirstEdge stands by their products and you can expect a full warranty should you use and abuse it. I do imagine some paracord wrapped right would make it more comfortable if you really didn’t like it. For a back up weapon, it’s fine as is in my opinion. 

Update 11/2018 – I’ve been carrying this blade for several months, and practicing with the trainer. Especially when using it in drills, the retention feature is worth 10 times it’s weight in gold. Holding onto your knife is the priority in a knife fight, next to winning.


Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter.

His where-abouts include getting after it in his garage gym, practicing martial arts, hitting the trails, or running CrossFit and Strongman competitions for his non-profit, Barbells for Bullies, which holds fundraiser fitness competitions dedicated to aiding Bully breed rescues, dog rescues, or other non-profits with similar missions.

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