Hunters, outdoorsmen and knife enthusiasts are likely familiar with the Browning brand. In this review of the Browning Pandemonium knife, I take a look at the blade from two perspectives: tactical use and a traditional hunting and outdoors use.
I’ve personally used Browning knives when hunting all kinds of game near my home in the midwest. Generally, I’ve found the blades to offer a reasonable balance of performance and price. When I saw the Pandemonium in the company’s Black Label line, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
However, I also know that many readers are law enforcement officers, military service members and citizens who are more interested in its tactical applications. So, you’ll get my views on the Browning Pandemonium’s usefulness in both settings.
I’ll not waste any of your time and just invite you to scroll down to get into the meat of this review.
Black Label Pandemonium
The Browning Black Label Pandemonium fixed blade knife is just one of several Browning Black Label knives that have received many favorable reviews for their designs, materials, and practical uses, particularly in tactical settings.
In fact, the Browning Pandemonium is one of the Black Label “Tactical Blades” series knives, and we can definitely see the influence of international martial arts expert Jared Wihongi on this one.
Browning has been making knives for several decades now, but it wasn’t until a few years ago they switched gears a little bit and began producing more tactically minded knives. Previous knife offerings were the more traditional pocket knife or hunting knife variety, but the Black Label knives are definitely a departure into realm of professional use.
Browning took the effort to enlist the expertise and design advisce of professional knife fighters and martial artists to ensure their Black Label knives live up to their professional claims. The Black Label Pandemonium has a lot of potential.
Browning’s Black Label knives have been well received and even promoted by international martial arts master Jared Wihongi. In fact, Jared has been involved in the design work on several Black Label knives to ensure their quality and purpose-driven designs meet the needs of serious knife owners.
I purchased a Browning Black Label Pandemonium after seeing one at SHOT Show a couple of years ago. The unique Tanto blade really caught my eye, and I liked the feel of it in my hand. When it hit the market, I was quick to snap one up.
The Pandemonium has a 440 Stainless steel blade with a unique Tanto tip and razor edge. I liken the Pandemonium Tanto blade to a mixture of Tanto and Spearpoint tips.
I consider 440 stainless steel as a good quality, mid-range steel. The steel has a good resistance to corrosion and Browning adds a satin finish.
While a blade made of 440 is softer than some other stainless steels, you get a blade that is easier to sharpen while still holding a decent edge fairly well even under heavier work uses. The Pandemonium blade is a part of a full-tang design, which is the strongest and best design for fixed blade knives.
There is a serrated thumb notch on the spine of the blade near the grip. This jimping provides the user an even stronger thrusting or cutting grip, and the serrations are squared off to ensure they are not too abrasive to the user’s thumbs. The thumb rest is angle up from the grip to provide the most solid landing for the user’s thumb. Once the serrated thumb rest ends, the blade takes on a gentle roll downward and away from the grip until forming the Tanto/Spearpoint tip.
The Black Label Pandemonium comes with a razor edge that is very sharp right out of the box.
I don’t know why I really like the way the Pandemonium takes on a Tanto/Spearpoint tip so much, but I really do. I’ve always favored Tanto blades, but I also appreciate spearpoint blades. The Pandemonium is a unique and very nice combination of the two designs.
By doing so, Browning has also created a nice point on the bottom edge of the blade that can be used as the edge in slicing or cutting movements but can be an extra cutting edge for chopping, slicing, or stabbing type motions. I believe, the Pandemonium blade design really brings out the best of both Tanto and Spearpoint designs.
Browning places very nice G10 grip scales on the Pandemonium with a pseudo black wood-grain texture. The G10 grips are very attractive and sturdy. I found they do very well holding up when exposed to the elements or hard-working conditions. Of course, that’s one of the primary benefits of using a laminate like G10.
The grip of the Pandemonium is curved on top to fit the natural grip of the human hand. Along the bottom are four finger grooves that are wide enough for most hands. Unlike some fixed blade knives, the Pandemonium’s full-tang grip takes on the exact outline of the G10 grips to ensure the strongest support during even the heaviest of working conditions.
In my opinion, the balance of the Pandemonium is superb!
I must point out one that I found the handles a bit too slick for tactical use. I’m not suggesting the G10 handles are glass smooth. However, they really do lack the rougher texture commonly found on knives used for self-defense and tactical uses. I much prefer a rougher surface like that found on the Spyderco Yojimbo 2 or Blackhawk Crucible FX2.
Interestingly, the folding version of the Black Label Pandemonium has a rougher version of the G10 scales. This makes it much more suitable for tactical applications, in my opinion. Please scroll down for my take on the Pandemonium folder.
A final great feature of the Browning Black Label Tactical Blades Pandemonium is the selection of the Blade-Tech custom molded polymer belt sheath. This Blade-Tech sheath has adjustment points for different sized belts and uses a very nice tension retention system to keep the Pandemonium securely in the sheath when not in use.
When the user needs the Pandemonium, a slightly moderate amount of force will easily release the Pandemonium from the tension resistance and free the knife for use. I’m a big fan of custom-molded polymer sheaths, for their longevity, adaptability, and superior knife retention for carry.
The Blade-Tech sheath also has multiple attachment holes around the edge of the sheath, providing plenty of mounting options for backpacks, or other gear.
- Blade Material: 440 Stainless steel, satin finish
- Grip Material: G10 laminate scales
- Overall Length: 8.625 inches
- Blade Length: 4.25 inches
- Blade Type: Tanto, razor edge
- MSRP: $219.98 [Updated price for folding version. See the note at the top of the review.]
Browning does offer a folding version of the Black Label Pandemonium, and the folder actually has the rougher texture G10 scales I feel should be on the fixed blade version as well.
A fixed blade knife is more limited in application, and are typically designed for heavier knife jobs than folding knives. Even tactical folding knives, are often quite adept at performing simple folding knife jobs ordinary knives can perform. However, one usually does not whip out a fixed blade knife to simply open a box, cut some string, or scrape off some fraudulent license stickers.
Overall, I found the Browning Black Label Tactical Blades Pandemonium to be a very nice knife suitable for general outdoor use. While I found the lack of an aggressive texture on the handle to be a drawback, the knife could still be used in a tactical setting.
The steel quality is good and allows a decent edge to be maintained. If sharpening is necessary, the steel is soft enough to allow the user to accomplish a sharp edge again with relatively easy effort. We have really been impressed with the Tanto/Spearpoint combination to the blade tip. This design combines the two designs very well in an attractive appearance that also provides unique application opportunities.
The Blade-Tech custom-molded polymer sheath is excellent, and provides a variety of belt options and carry methods.
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