Rough Rider’s Burl Wood Lock-back (RR 078)

RR 078 lockback

At first glance.:

Before I go into great detail, let me say, what really drew me to this knife were its lines. The knife just seems to flow from tip to hilt when open. I love the slander modified skinner blade.  I love the curve of the blade’s edge and the way it just seems to flow from the tip and meets the handle of the knife. I also love the bent handle.  It reminds me of a cross between the old Navaja knives and Grandpa’s barlow.  Others companies have made similar knives, but none come close to the beauty of this knife.  The amazing thing about the knife: it is basically an inexpensive “throw away” knife. Rough Rider really should consider reissuing the knife.

A little bit about burl.

I have a weakness for burl wood. If you’re wondering what burl wood is, don’t feel bad.  Burl is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds.  Most often it forms underground and thus is sometimes called root wood. Any type of tree can produce burl wood but it commonly comes from maples, redwoods or oak.  It is also called curly wood; that is: curly maple or curly redwood.

Curly maple is probably the most common found on knife handles. Burl is somewhat difficult to work with because it doesn’t have a uniform grain pattern.  But it is the lack of a uniformed grain pattern that gives burl wood its beauty.

Both sides

Both Sides of the knife in the closed position

Another view in the closed position


Such a deal!

I came across this knife a few years back while browsing eBay. The bidding on the knife was around $4 with about two minutes to go. Shipping was free! I had only purchased maybe four or five Rough Riders by this time.  One of the knives I had recently purchased was the model 844 fixed blade hunter with a burl wood handle.  I thought the model 078 knife would make a good companion piece for it.

RR 078 and RR 844The RR 078 Lock-back and the RR 844 Hunter. Both have beautiful burl wood handles.
The 844 has a five inch 440A blade. More on that knife in a future review.

The Blade Steel:

Upon reading the description I noticed that the blade was described as “stainless steel” The seller had not listed it as 440A.  I looked at the pictures on line and also saw no markings of the type of steel.  I then quickly looked online to see if another site, listed the type of steel.  I could not verify the type of steel. I did discover the knife normally sold for between $6-7.00.    With seconds left to go, I put in a bid for $6.50 and won the knife.  I think my winning amount was around $5.75.

A week later the knife arrived and again I tried to verify the type of steel used in the blade. To do this day, I cannot honestly say if the steel is some variety of 420 or the usual 440A used by Rough Rider.  The only markings on the blade are a tang stamp of the Rough Rider Signature and a PAD stamp of the word China on the reverse tang.

What I can tell you is the blade is unique among Rough Rider knives.  I can also tell you that other companies, such as Elk Ridge make a very similar lock back but not with a blade like this one.  I’ve have carried and used this knife on many occasions and it has always performed excellently.  It remains as sharp as the day I received it, and I’ve cut up quite a few boxes with it.  I’ve also used it to slice meat, peal apples, and carve soft wood. The blade is non-stop.

The down side.

Does the knife have faults?  I think the first thing one will notice, at least on mine, is the center pin that holds the back spring in place protrudes ever so slightly. It isn’t enough to snag a pocket but when you rub your finger across it, you will feel it.  The same goes for the lanyard hole. I’ve thought about getting the old dremel polishing tool out and buffing it smooth, but it really is a minor flaw.  All the other pins are flush.

Spine 078

A view of the RR 078 spine. note the small line where the blade locks open.
It is no Moki, but you can't feel the line, either. (and it was 10 times cheaper!)


The up side:

Stainless steel is used throughout in the construction, including the bolster, pins, and springs. All of it has a brushed satin finish which gives the steel a nice luster which complements the burl handle.  The lock-back is very positive and makes a nice positive click when the knife locks open. There is a fine line visible once the blade is opened but the there is no play in the blade.

One of my favorite things about the knife is that with practice you can easily open it with one hand.  Grasp the knife blade between thumb and index finger, blade up, with the point facing away from you. Then simply flick downward like you do when grabbing a Spyderco by the thumb hole, then slide the knife into the palm of your hand.

Final thoughts.

The knife is a one of a kind in the Rough Rider line and it is made by no one else.  Surprisingly, it is currently discontinued. While people say Rough Riders will never go up in value, the going price on for this discontinued knife on eBay is currently $12.00, almost double the original sale price, and sellers are getting it!   

If Rough Rider ever reissues the knife, I hope it is with a clearly defined 440A stainless blade and perhaps a different tang stamp, thus making the original production a “first run”. This unique little knife deserves a certain amount of prestige.  It’s a keeper!

A look at the lines of both sides of the knife in the open position.



  • Model number: RR078
  • Style: Folding lock-back
  • Country of origin: China
  • Closed length: 3 7/8 inches
  • Overall blade length (guard to tip): 2 3/4 inches
  • Blade style: Saber grind, modified skinner (modified clip)
  • Blade steel: Surgical Stainless (400 series)
  • Handle material: Burl Wood (root wood)
  • Bolster: Brushed stainless steel
  • Tang stamp: Obverse - Rough Rider signature - Reverse: China
  • Other identifiable marks: None
  • Spring: Stainless steel
  • Pins: Stainless Steel
  • Bail or lanyard: Lanyard hole