Let’s be factual with one another:
Esee knives are what all the cool kids on the survival block are getting, so being here today means you want to join the cool kids’ club too.
That said, this Esee 3 vs Esee 4 review is just there to help you pick your first Esee knife – or the first between this two. Cos, at the end of the day, you’ll end up buying them all 😂.
That’s just how amazing these knives are.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me walk you through both knives, the best use cases, and which one would be the best bet for your money today.
Introducing Esee Knives
I don’t think I even need to do this given how popular this brand already is. But as a force of habit, let’s talk a little about these knives.
For a brand that has been here since 1997, Esee sure knows what they are doing in the market. Otherwise, they would have been called out on their BS and sent packing since.
In this time, they have created one of the best lines of survival, tactical, and self-defense knives.
As of the time of this speaking, they have an Esee numbered line-up that spans 3 – 6, and they are nothing short of amazing. They also have an Izula knife series on top of that which continues to make strides in the market.
Given the popularity of EDC and such other minimalist tactical applications, both the Esee 3 and 4 became extremely popular in such a little time. Add that to the quality of build and materials that these knives bring to the table, and we have a winner.
Getting Familiar with the Knives
Just for a brief moment, let’s see what makes both the Esee 3 and 4 special in their ways.
Looking at the Esee 3
I’m not going to give you a rundown of specs here. That’s something you can check out on the product page itself, so let’s get to the interesting stuff instead.
The core steel is the most important thing about a knife for me. So, I love that this is a 1095 high carbon stainless steel which makes the knife harder, tougher and stronger. This full tang knife carries an overall 8.31-inch length so it is not too long for everyday carry comfort.
One other thing that I love about the knife is the steel patina on the blade. It might look a little bit rustic now, but you’ll start to appreciate that look better when the knife starts aging. Thus, it can look better with age.
For a high carbon steel build, this is a fine consideration. These blades are more susceptible to rust (learn how to remove rust here) and anything you can do to make sure they stay functional and aesthetic for a longer time makes sense. So, thumbs up to Esee there.
Initial Overview of the Esee 4
Esee 4 leveraged the success that the Esee 3 had, improving on some of the design elements that the predecessor brought to the table.
For the most part, the handle and blade were designed the same way. Both knives have their jimping in the same place and carry a choil too.
Where the Esee 4 design stands out the most is in the thickness of the blade spine. Speaking of the blade, it is also slightly longer here – at an overall length of 9 inches.
Esee catered to even more survival and tactical knife lovers here by making the Esee 4 available in a variety of options. From customizing the scales on the handle to choosing what color finish your blade comes in, the possibilities are almost endless.
Lest I forget, the core steel here remains 1095 high carbon stainless steel scoring 54-55 on the Rockwell hardness scale, so you get all the benefits from the above.
Differences between Esee 3 and Esee 4
This is my favorite part of the review and comparison.
Under the following headings, we discuss how these knives differ from one another.
If you’re looking for something a little weightier in the hand for your EDC and tactical needs, the Esee 4 is the best pick for you. Otherwise, always pick the Esee 3.
Truth be told, the 2.8-ounce difference between the Esee 3 and Esee 4 might sound like something so small. For a knife that you will have to lug around with you on your belt, or carry on your person in another way, though, the weight starts adding up after a while.
However, don’t make your decision based on weight alone.
The Esee 4 has to carry all that weight to pack in the sturdier blade spine and extra length, among other things.
Speaking of the length…
Length and Width
Having a slightly longer blade makes the Esee 4 even better for outdoor usage.
The extra 0.6 inches that you get on the Esee 4 makes it a better-rounded knife for more outdoor operations. Thanks to the bigger width on the knife spine, you also get to deploy the Esee 4 on heavier cuts than you would manage with the Esee 3.
That said, the length and width of the Esee 3 make it easier to pack and carry around with you every day.
To strike a balance, I would take the Esee 3 to be my everyday carry knife within the city – and reserve the Esee 4 for how functional it will be when I’m veering away from the city.
Every other thing I have been talking about boils down to the applications of both knives.
The Esee 4 is, hands down, the better tactical knife of both. It is great for a list of things from light chopping to cutting through seatbelts, paracords, and other tough items with relative ease. The Esee 3 is also great, but you won’t be breaking it out as much for chopping wood or batoning firewood if that sounds like your thing.
You should also get an Esee 4 if you’ll be using the knife for self-defense or in any other military capacity. The build and shape of the blade are just so perfect for such usage. It even has a special clip point version that is best suited to such applications.
I love the fact that the Esee 4 doesn’t look like it is designed for one task. It is, thus, not a master of any one operation but applicable for a wider range of usage.
Esee, being the great knife makers that they have, also manage to pack some of that utility onto the Esee 3 when it first launched. While the Esee 3 will handle itself fine in these situations too, though, it won’t manage what the Esee 4 will bring to the table.
PS If you want a capable outdoors knife, the Esee 6 is the overall best bet. However, you won’t be EDCing that one anytime soon and you’ll always feel the weight. So, keep to any one of these two otherwise.
Similarities between Esee 3 and Esee 4
For all the differences that they bring to the table, these knives are similar in some places.
Besides the fact that they are both made by the same great brand and are capable of EDC in their own ways, here are some other similarities that will catch your fancy.
Both knives are designed and made in the USA, so you should expect quality materials from them.
They are also beautiful knives to look at which I believe contribute somewhat to how popular they are these days. The fact that they work as well as they do is a bigger boost on top of all that beauty that they pack.
These full-tang knives use the 1095-grade high carbon stainless steel, known for its great edge retention and being in lesser need of sharpening.
If you ever need to sharpen this knife, make sure to follow the best knife sharpening guides so that you don’t ruin the blade.
So trusted are these knives that Esee promises to replace the entire knife for you, at no extra cost, if it ever breaks. Now, that’s saying something.
The Esee 4 might be better suited to military applications and self-defense than the Esee 3, but they perform the same basic tasks fairly well.
Whether you are cutting small wood when outdoors or processing small game, both knives come in handy quite fine.
They are also legal EDC knives under the knife open carry laws in the US so you are fine to take them around with you daily.
For open carry, the knives come with a lanyard hole on the base. You can choose to use that or go with the sheath, for those who pick one up with their Esee 3 or 4.
PS Some users swear by the BladeTek carriage attachment for a better everyday carry experience, and I think it’s great if that’s your thing. Make sure to check it out.
Safety/ Ease of Use
Esee invested a lot in the safety of these knives, which is something that I love to see.
It starts with the sheath that they include with the knife – and I recommend picking one up when you’re buying yours also.
The sheath converts these knives into a horizontal carry which makes the experience even more enjoyable. Where your vertical sheaths will press into seats when you sit down or tangle up on your belt, this one is just better.
As a bonus, pulling your knife out is much faster and easier with this sheath.
Elsewhere, Esee slaps a nicely designed choil on both knives. Pair that with the jimping and you can get in there to make heavier cuts/ press down on the knife better without hurting yourself.
At the base of the knife is a glass-breaker extending out of the handle to increase the usability of these survival gears even better.
Possible Dealbreakers on the Esee 3 and 4
If you’re a user with a larger hand, you might want to keep an Esee 5 or 6 around somewhere. The handle on either of the Esee 3 and 4 might be too small for your hand, so you’ll do better with the bigger knives.
For everyday operations, though, the Esee 3 and 4 come in handy no matter how big your hands are. Seeing as there is a choil and jimping in there, you get even more room to maneuver your way around the knife.
Now, some users have complained that the Esee 4 is a little too thick for its size. To be candid, I don’t disagree with that.
Just look at that spine – especially when compared with the Esee 3 – and you will agree with me. I know that is probably to pack in all that strength that the blade brings, but the blade is not big enough to handle all for that.
That said, you won’t notice the size much once you get down to using the knife right. It’s just something for you to consider when starting on this unit.
So, in the match-up between the Esee 3 vs Esee 4 knives, who wins?
Both knives are sturdy EDC units that are up there with all of the other well-made blades in this category. They have been in the market for some time now and they keep impressing every day.
If you’ll be using your knife in a self-defense form, or for other military applications, go for the Esee 4. The same choice is true for those who want a weightier EDC knife that is great for chopping without being too long.
Otherwise, the Esee 3 handles light cutting and chopping tasks just right too. It is also better suited for city carry with its combination of weight and dimensions.
When in doubt, get the Esee 4 knife. It is better to have all that weight and length and not use it than to need it and not have it.