The Ultimate Guide to Old Timer Knives
For many, the mere mention of Old Timer knives elicits positive feelings of warm summer evenings wandering through the woods or whittling small trinkets on the back porch. Even after 55 years, Old Timer knives remain popular, whether it's because the name itself means so much to so many people or the knives still carry a lure in their appearance and construction (probably a bit of both).
Despite the enduring legacy of a brand commonly associated with quality and dependability, Old Timer has been on a long, winding road with many obstacles along the way.
In this article, we'll talk about the storied history of Old Timers, give you a quick breakdown of some of the most important Old Timers ever made, and offer up a comparison chart.
The History of Old Timers
Even though the Old Timer brand wasn't created until 1958, its roots date back to 1904 when George Schrade formed the Schrade Cutlery Company in Walden. Schrade found great success with his knives, but the company was eventually sold in 1946 to become part of the Imperial Knife Associated Companies group. The old Schrade company was renamed Schrade-Walden Cutlery Co, Inc.
That group (which would later become the more familiar Imperial Schrade Corp) had already consisted of two established knife companies: Ulster Knife Company and Imperial Knife Company.
A Murky Origin Story
We're skipping over a ton of Schrade history, but since this article focuses on Old Timers, we're jumping directly to 1958. The true origin of the Old Timer is unclear with stories and snippets on how the brand came about coming from many sources, including some that are reliable and some that aren't.
One of the stories reported in the Old Timer Almanac says that Uncle Henry Baer, president of the Schrade Cutlery Corp, or his brother Albert Baer, chairman at the Imperial Knife Associated Companies, desired a good old-fashioned knife and the name Old Timer was a natural fit for a new line of knives that harkened back to the days of old.
Another similar story is found in the paperwork that accompanied a 25th anniversary model of the 34OT. This one says the following: 'We decided to offer a knife like Grand-dad had, so the name ‘Old Timer' was developed. We reached back into the files to find a pattern with the greatest utility. One that was comfortable to hold and that would be practical for whittling and carving, and husky enough to stand the rough treatment by the home handyman.'
That story is probably some parts reality and some parts legend, but Schrade was not the first to use the name Old Timer on a knife. Impressive sleuthing by a Schrade collector and confirmation from an employee indicate that KA-BAR sold a trapper knife bearing the Old Timer name as early as the mid-1930s.
This was likely just a coincidence, but either way, Schrade-Walden took the Old Timer name and made it their own.
When Old Timers were New
The Old Timer line as we know it today was first produced by Schrade-Walden in 1959 with the 2OT, a Barlow knife with the name Old Timer stamped on the button bolster. Then, in 1960, the 8OT was added to the line.
Although we commonly associate the line with Schrade, Old Timers were also put out by another arm of the Imperial Schrade Corp: the Ulster Knife Company. In late 1960, the Ulster 58OT was produced, and the Ulster 50OT was made available in 1961.
Here's a great excerpt from a thorough Old Timer article by Larry Vickery that lays out some of the earliest models, including those from Ulster.
In 1962 Schrade added the 108OT and ULSTER added both the 10OT and the 12OT. Both the 50OT and 12OT were only available for 1 or 2 years. The next change to the Old Timers line was in 1964 with the addition of the Schrade 15OT and 34OT. No other Ulster OT's were added, except for the special 114OT in 1968.Larry Vickery
For whatever reason, by the end of the decade, Schrade decided to close down the Ulster line to focus solely on the Schrade-Walden name, which allowed the Old Timer knife to be forever connected with Schrade.
Fun fact: According to some investigating by Dennis Ellingsen, who wrote an article in the Oregon Knife Club newsletter, an advertising program conducted by a tobacco company let customers collect coupons from inside tobacco cans to redeem one of three new Ulster Old Timer Knives. The dates for these Ulster knives vary, but the 50OT and 58OT Ulster Old Timer were made as early as 1961. You can still find some of these old knives and tins on eBay.
The Golden Age of Old Timers
As you might expect, Old Timers became increasingly popular with each year and were considered a prime example of quality and craftsmanship in a knife. At a time when stainless steels were becoming all the rage, Old Timers featured high carbon steels that would hold an edge and sharpen easily.
Schrade continued introducing new models into the Old Timer line, and the knives were always made to meet the high standards laid out by the company. (Schrade even released a Bill of Rights on what makes a great Schrade knife that included notes on the finish and craftsmanship.) The handles were consistently made of durable materials like Delrin and Staglon and featured liners made from solid brass.
The good times persisted for Old Timer through the next few decades and the brand became firmly established as a go-to for superior knives that were the true definition of gentleman's folders or as their slogan went: 'Knives Like Grandad's.'
Then, in July of 2004, on the 100th year anniversary of manufacturing knives like Old Timer, Schrade Cutlery Company closed the doors to its factories and ceased production. During the months leading up to the closure, a mad rush to buy up the last original knives took place because people were unsure of the fate of Schrade and its brands. Many thought the Schrade brands would be lost forever.
The Revival of Old Timers
Not long after the doors were closed, Taylor Brands LLC quickly picked up the brand name to breath new life into the Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, and Imperial brands. Taylor Brands was already a licensed manufacturer of Smith & Wesson knives, so it was clear these knives were in good hands.
By purchasing the company's trademarks, Taylor Brands is able to make and sell pocket knives that bear the old familiar Old Timer logo. Part of the revitalization process includes using the original designs and patterns to manufacture new models. Taylor Brands even uses some of the traditional packaging to maintain the feel of the originals.
One of the biggest changes to the Old Timer line is that the knives are now made in China, but that keeps the prices on the knives reasonable and modern advances in manufacturing mean the quality is nearly identical to the originals.
Five Important Old Timers You Should Know
Every Old Timer model released over the decades has held a special place in many people's hearts, but a few models truly stand out in the pantheon of the brand. While the original versions of these classic knives are no longer made, new versions are still available. Note: The pictures you see will be the new models.
Old Timer Senior Folding Pocket Knife 8OT
Earlier in the article, we mentioned that the Old Timer 8OT Senior Folding Pocket Knife was the second Old Timer model ever created by Schrade. It's a testament to the design that the Old Timer Senior remains in production to this day and is one of our best-selling knives here at Knife Depot.
This 3-bladed folder is as classic of a knife as you can get. It features a clip, spey and sheepsfoot blade. This newer version, which is widely appreciated as a faithful replica of the knife your forebears carried, has the iconic nickel silver bolsters, brass pins, and 'Old Timer' lettering.
Old Timer 152OT Sharpfinger
Even though Old Timers are commonly associated with folders, the Old Timer 152OT Sharpfinger Fixed Blade is one of the most popular patterns around. First introduced in 1974, the Sharpfinger had the longest lasting impact of nearly all the fixed blades.
The Sharpfinger has a recognizable and pronounced curve that was distinctive from other utility knives offered at the time. A 3.3-inch blade is also smaller than some of the other hunting knives out there, but this compact design helped boost the Sharpfinger's popularity. When large hunting knives began to fall out of favor, many people opted for the smaller 152OT.
The Sharpfinger became popular enough that it's seen a number of variants with different handles, and its impact was felt around the knife world so much that Sharpfinger basically became a generic term for a small skinning knife with an upswept blade. An excellent article by a collector of Old Timers gives a thorough history of the knife if you're interested in learning more about this model.
Old Timer 34OT Middleman
Introduced in 1964, the Old Timer Middleman is a smaller version of the Senior, so it's not necessarily breaking new ground. However, the Middleman is one of the most popular patterns Old Timer ever put out. Despite being introduced in 1964, the 34OT was only given the name Middleman in 1971 because the size falls right between the Senior and Junior.
As a stockman, the Middleman is a great EDC and the 3.3-inch handle length makes it easy to slip into your pocket. The Middleman is one of the longest continuously produced Old Timers and was unsurprisingly kept alive by Taylor Brands.
Old Timer 15OT Deerslayer
Along with the Middleman, the Old Timer Deerslayer was also introduced in 1964 and remains one of Old Timer's largest hunting knives. The Deerslayer has a hefty 5.6-inch blade and a sizeable choil that acts as a finger guard. With a slightly upswept tip on the full-tang blade, the Deerslayer has been a favorite for many hunters.
Continuously produced for 34 years, the knife is once again in production thanks to Taylor Brands. Like many of the other popular Old Timers, the Deerslayer was honored with limited editions, private issues, and even a variation put out by the Uncle Henry brand.
If you don't have this knife in your collection, it's definitely worth picking up.
Old Timer 108OT Junior Folding Pocket Knife
Finally we have the Old Timer Junior. It seems crazy to put three stockmans on a list of important Old Timers, but the Junior was yet another knife that helped propel the brand into popularity. It was first produced in 1963 and went until Schrade closed its doors in 2004. A newer version of the knife is still being made today.
Evidence of the 108OT's importance to Old Timer is illustrated by the fact that it was included in the 55th anniversary set (along with the Senior and the 12OT Pal). The Junior, with its smaller size, remains a popular knife for people wanting a versatile knife to carry around for everyday tasks.
Old Timer Comparison Chart
With more than 85 Old Timer knives available, it can be hard to determine which one is best for you. To make things easier, we made a sortable Old Timer comparison chart that takes all the currently available knives from the brand and gives you important information, such as the name, model number, type of knife, number of blades, length of blade, and more.
This chart solely focuses on knives, so you won't find the two very popular Old Timer products that aren't knives: the Wire Saw SAWOT and the Hone Steel HS1.
Here's the Old Timer Comparison Chart.
|Image||Name||Model #||Type||# of Blades||Blade Length (inches)||Handle Length (inches)||Overall Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Sheath|
|Old Timer Small Lockback||1OT||Folding||1||1.6||2.2||3.8||0.06||Shackle|
|Old Timer Bearhead Lockback||3OT||Folding||1||2.2||3||5.1||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Big Man||4OT||Folding||4||2.3||3.5||5.8||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Bruin Lockback||5OT||Folding||1||2.8||3.7||6.5||0.12||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Golden Bear Lockback||6OT||Folding||1||3.9||4.9||8.7||0.37||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Golden Bear Lockback, Desert Iron Wood Handle||6OTW||Folding||1||3.9||4.9||8.7||0.37||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Cave Bear Lockback||7OT||Folding||1||3.9||4.9||8.7||0.44||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Senior||8OT||Folding||3||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Senior, Desert Iron Wood Handle||8OTW||Folding||3||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Senior, Yellow||8OTY||Folding||3||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Cigar Whittler||9OT||Folding||3||3||3.9||6.9||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Large Canoe||11OT||Folding||2||2.5||3.6||6.1||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Pal||12OT||Folding||1||2.2||3||5.1||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Hunter Full Tang||14OT||Fixed||1||3.7||4.7||8.4||0.5||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Deerslayer Full Tang||15OT||Fixed||1||5.6||4.7||10.5||0.5||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Hawkbill Pruner||16OT||Folding||1||3||4||7||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Mighty Mite Lockblade||18OT||Folding||1||2||2.8||4.7||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Landshark||19OT||Folding||1||2.6||3.7||6.3||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Folding Hunter||25OT||Folding||2||4||5.3||9.3||0.44||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Mountain Beaver Jr. Small Lockback||28OT||Folding||1||2.5||3.6||6.1||0.19||Leather|
|Old Timer Mountain Beaver Sr.||29OT||Folding||1||3.2||4.5||7.7||0.31||Leather|
|Old Timer Middleman Jack||33OT||Folding||2||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Middleman Jack, Desert Iron Wood Handle||33OTW||Folding||2||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Middleman Jack, Yellow Handle||33OTY||Folding||2||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Middleman||34OT||Folding||3||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Middleman, Desert Iron Wood Handle||34OTW||Folding||3||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Middleman, Yellow Handle||34OTY||Folding||3||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Saddleman||36OT||Folding||3||2.4||3.3||5.7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Workmate||44OT||Folding||4||2.2||3.2||5.4||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Workmate, Yellow Handle||44OTY||Folding||4||2.2||3.2||5.4||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Big Timer||51OT||Folding||1||3.4||4.8||8.2||0.44||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Slim Premium Stock||61OT||Folding||3||3||4||7||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Premium Trapper||69OT||Folding||3||3.3||4.1||7.4||0.31||none|
|Old Timer Dog Leg Jack||72OT||Folding||2||2.3||2.9||5.2||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Muskrat||77OT||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Muskrat, Yellow Handle||77OTY||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Muskrat, Desert Iron Wood Handle||77OTW||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Blazer||89OT||Folding||3||3||4||7||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Wrangler||93OT||Folding||2||2.7||3.6||6.3||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Gunstock Trapper, Desert Iron Wood Handle||94OTW||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Gunstock Trapper||94OT||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Gunstock Trapper, Yellow Handle||94OTY||Folding||2||3||3.9||6.9||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Large Gunstock Trapper||95OT||Folding||2||3.3||4.1||7.4||0.25||none|
|Old Timer Bearhead Trapper||96OT||Folding||2||3.3||4.1||7.4||0.25||none|
|Old Timer Buzzsaw Trapper Lockblade||97OT||Folding||2||3.7||4.1||7.8||0.25||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Ramrod||98OT||Folding||3||2.7||3.6||6.3||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Minuteman||104OT||Folding||2||2||2.8||4.7||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Grandad's Folding Pocket Knife||106OT||Folding||2||2||2.8||4.8||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Junior, Desert Iron Wood Handle||108OTW||Folding||3||2||2.8||4.7||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Junior||108OT||Folding||3||2||2.8||4.7||0.06||none|
|Old Timer Pioneer||123OT||Folding||1||3.1||4||7.1||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Mustang||125OT||Folding||1||4||5.3||9.3||0.31||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Sharpfinger, Black Camo Handle||152OTBC||Fixed||1||3.3||3.7||7.1||0.19||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Sharpfinger||152OT||Fixed||1||3.3||3.7||7.1||0.19||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Lil' Finger Full Tang||156OT||Fixed||1||2.5||4.1||6.6||0.25||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Golden Claw, Guthook||157OT||Folding||1||3.5||5||8.5||0.37||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Guthook Skinner||158OT||Fixed||1||3.5||3.7||7.3||0.19||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Mountain Lion Full Tang||160OT||Fixed||1||5||4.3||9.3||0.44||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Boot Knife Full Tang||162OT||Fixed||1||3.8||4||7.8||0.25||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Woodsman Full Tang||165OT||Fixed||1||5||4.3||9.3||0.5||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Gunstock Trapper Lockblade||194OT||Folding||1||3.1||3.8||7||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Folding Hunter||220OT||Folding||3||4||5.2||9.2||0.56||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Lockblade Pioneer Clip Folder||223OT||Folding||1||3.1||4.1||7.2||0.19||Pocket Clip|
|Old Timer Sun of a Gun||225OT||Folding||2||4||5.2||9.2||0.37||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Barlow||280OT||Folding||2||2.3||3.4||5.7||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Liner Lockblade Clip Folder||294OT||Folding||1||3.1||4.1||7.2||0.19||Pocket Clip|
|Old Timer Trapper||296OT||Folding||2||3.2||4.1||7.3||0.25||none|
|Old Timer Marine Lever Lock||735OT||Folding||1||2.8||4.1||6.9||0.25||none|
|Old Timer Lumberjack||858OT||Folding||3||2.8||4.6||7.4||0.31||none|
|Old Timer Small Canoe||1011OT||Folding||2||2.2||3||5.2||0.12||none|
|Old Timer Trail Boss Full Tang||1140OT||Fixed||1||5.6||4.8||10.4||0.37||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Outfitter, Orange Handle||1141OTO||Fixed||1||4.4||4.8||9.2||0.31||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Outfitter||1141OT||Fixed||1||4.4||4.8||9.2||0.31||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Guide-Master||1142OT||Fixed||1||4||4.8||8.8||0.31||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Blade Runner||1143OT||Fixed||1||4.2||4.8||9||0.31||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Blade Runner, Orange Handle||1143OTO||Fixed||1||4.2||4.8||9||0.31||Black Leather|
|Old Timer Lockback||MA1||Folding||1||3.6||4.9||8.5||0.19||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Lockback Serrated||MA1S||Folding||1||3.6||4.9||8.5||0.19||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Small Lockback||MA2||Folding||1||3.1||4.1||7.2||0.12||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Small Lockback Serrated||MA2S||Folding||1||3.1||4.1||7.2||0.12||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Small Lockback||MA3||Folding||1||2.3||3.1||5.4||0.06||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Small Lockback Serrated||MA3S||Folding||1||2.3||3.1||5.4||0.06||Black Nylon|
|Old Timer Lockback Folding Knife||MA4S||Folding||1||3.4||4.5||7.8||0.19||none|
|Old Timer Mini Pro Hunter Full Tang||PH2W||Fixed||1||2.8||4.1||6.9||0.25||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Pro Hunter Full Tang||PHW||Fixed||1||3.6||4.4||8||0.37||Brown Leather|
|Old Timer Switch It Lockback Interchangeable||SCAMP5||Fixed||4||4||4.7||8.7||0.5||Black Leather|