Apache Black Gila

The fierce-looking Black Gila is the most recent offering from the industrious folks working  the Apache Strata Quarry.

This hone just arrived, and I’ve only the time to shoot these three photos. The first impression is that this feels like a very dense and hard stone. Testing will follow; after I get a read on it, I’ll post my review here. 

Prelim test, 5/24/2015. 

Having lapped out the factory scratches on a progression of SIC, I see one spot at one end is low, but enough of the stone is flat enough for my needs. It arrived with a bounty of scratches from the quarry, so that needs to be dealt with. This stone is very hard, and distractions like that can give a false negative on edge performance.

This is one tough stone – it’s hard like a Translucent Ark and possibly even harder than that. Lapping it on anything but SIC powder will mean investing an exponentially greater amount of time than I’m comfortable with. The Atoma 400x performed well initially, but the deeper scratches in the Gila were stubborn. SIC powder sped up the process well. 220, 400, 600 - maybe 15 minutes with clean up. The surface is slightly matte and 99.9% of the factory scratches are gone. Not perfect but, as they say - good enough for gov’t work. 

First test blade took a killer polish really quickly. Feel is not like Chalcedony, Jaspers, or either of the two other Strata. Honestly – the honing feel is very much like my surgical black Arkansas. This is a very dense stone, it pushes back at you so pressure has to be regulated meticulously. My first test razor, which was a junk blade sitting in a cup on my bench, took a very high polish over a rusty bevel very quickly – maybe 12 passes with what I’d call moderate-light pressure. I tested the other side of that razors bevel on my Apache Strata, and while there was a similar effect of rust removal and polishing – the efforts on the Gila proved to be significantly greater. 

So far – I’m impressed. To judge – I’d say this stone could prove to be finer than the Apache Strata and it may turn out to be more efficacious and have greater latitude.

Apache Gila Top 1
Apache Gila Back 1.jpg
Gila Label 1.jpg


So, I finally got around to cutting and trimming the stone to suit my tastes. There were some bothersome distractions that precluded this stone from being usable right out of the box. No big deal – most stones need some work – this one needed some extra work though.  One of the original flaws  was a fissure running across the top, down the side, and to the bottom of the stone; it was grabbing the blade, and it left a nasty scar in the edge. Atoma 400x and elbow grease to the rescue.   

Here, in this pic – the stone is nearly ready. I still need to check it again for ultimate flatness and smoothness though. This is a very hard stone and any irregularities in the working surface will definitely cause an issue.  The small piece of Gila is seeing use as a dressing stone for the top. 

As I had surmised early on, this is a really nice stone, with a lot of potential. It may be a type of Jasper, but I’m not sure. Whatever it is – the polish its leaving on the razor’s bevel is outstanding.   

Gila Cut 1.jpg

© Keith V Johnson 2014 - 2015