The modern day hunter has never had such a vast array of equipment to choose from be it rifles, glass, or clothing, the list is seemingly endless. One item that is vital to every hunter is the humble knife an item that causes uproar on most hunting forums as to what is best, cheap and cheerful that won’t break the bank or a bespoke custom blade that is a considered purchase.

There are two schools of thought. First is buy a cheap utilitarian knife such as a mora they cost around £10 hold an edge for a while and if you break it or lose it in the field who cares? Yes I can see this point of view and many people use them for exactly the reasons I’ve just mentioned. 

Then there’s the second school of thought. Buy the best you can in terms of the gear you use including the knife you carry, after all it is a vital piece of kit so invest in one that will give you years of sterling service if you can afford to invest in something suitable.

In the UK we are truly blessed to have some of the world’s best craftsmen and women and no more so than in the field of blade smiths. Emberleaf, Stuart Mitchel, Alan Wood, are just a few of the many people bringing top quality blades to the end user some of these knives carrying eye watering price tags too. Recently whilst browsing my social media accounts I became aware of a chap by the name of Mike Smith owner of Manor Knives. I was instantly struck by the quality of his work and struck up a conversation, I was surprised to hear Mike isn’t actually a full time knife builder he is in fact a farrier and makes knives on commission in his down time, although Mike is very well respected within the knife building community, but is off the radar of most - me included…

Mike is far too modest to blow his own trumpet, but credit where credit is due Mike, more people should be aware of your work!

One particular knife that caught my eye is one Mike produces called the Gillie V2. The word Gillie (different spelling) roughly translates from Gallic as the hunter’s servant a name Mike thought rather apt. After a lot of messages to and from each other Mike asked if he could build me something rather special for me try in the field and wanted me to give my honest feedback on it, an absolute pleasure I was more than happy to undertake.

So was born a custom limited edition version we have named the “Rionach Gillie V2” The handle is made from black and red fat carbon lava flow scales with white G10 spacers, the blade a 4.5” ¾ flat grind sporting a micro bevel with a total length of 9.5”

The concept behind Mike’s Gillie V2 is for it to be small enough to cope with all six UK deer species yet big enough to carry out all you demand of it without having to carry separate knives for the breast bone or skinning etc. the Gillie has a generous finger groove with rounded edges to eliminate wet or bloody hands from slipping and can easily handle gralloching, skinning bleeding and dressing out and caping.

My custom model Rionach Gillie V2 is made from Sheffield steel 3mm SF100 stainless with matching stainless hardware, although we went for brass loveless bolts (pins) on the finished blade that look beautiful with the red black and white theme and look like the bases of a pair of centrefire rifle cartridge’s - a nice touch I thought. The blade hardness is around 60.5 HRC. If you wish you can also have 2.6mm RWL 34 stainless or 2.5mm Sandvik 14c28n stainless with numerous handle material option that Mike is more than happy to discuss with you. 

The fit and finish is first class, as good if not better than some knives costing three times the price, with an edge like a light sabre that with a few strokes over a strop every dozen or so deer will retain its edge with ease! The knife arrived scarily sharp and has held up to everything I’ve thrown at it so far, that’s saying something I’ll tell you, as I’m pretty heavy handed with my kit, after all the gear you take out in the field are tools to be used not just admired something Mike is very keen to point out to me and I’m in total agreement. 

The Rionach Gillie V2 also comes with a beautiful custom made leather sheath completing the package a treat. Mike is an extremely talented leather worker and can make a sheath to your requirements in a variety of colours with contrasting stitching, he also makes some very nice belts too. Mikes is a pretty humble guy saying that functionality always comes before cosmetic appearances…  

I disagree Mike your knives are something to behold and in the hand are a joy to use, the Gillie V2 has weight and balance in perfect harmony! I’ve used mine on Muntjac and roe with ease and I’m looking forward to the start fallow buck season so that I can try out my hunter’s servant on the big boys soon… A real test of any blade.

With prices around starting from around £275 + postage for the standard Gillie V2, or PM Mike ref the limited edition Rionach Gillie V2 for a variety of additional options you are getting a hand crafted work of art that will last a life time from a true English craftsman where nothing is too much trouble I strongly urge you to check Mike out via -

Manor_knives on Instagram or visit his website

You won’t be disappointed.


Peter Meek.