Camillus Becker Campanion

Cougar Allen

Buccaneer (ret.)
Oct 9, 1998

The newly reissued Camillus Becker Campanion is a knife designed for the hunter, wilderness camper/survivalist, soldier, who wants one knife to do everything.

The blade is 5 1/8" (13cm) long to the plunge cut, .225" (5.72mm) thick, and 1 5/8" (41mm) wide. The grind line is 1" (25.4mm) from the edge. The blade is 0170-6C carbon steel. It came with a good shaving edge if anybody cares, .063" (1.60mm) thick just behind the edge. The scale handle is fat, 1.100" (28mm) thick in the middle, and made of Gv6h, which is a glass-filled nylon but it's not like zytel at all -- zytel is only 10-14% glass; this stuff is 60% glass. It's very hard and rings like metal when I tap it with a fingernail -- feels like smooth metal except it isn't cold.

The blade has a rough sandblasted finish under the black epoxy. The handle looks lightly frosted but feels smooth; it relies on shape rather than texture for secure grip. It's nicely rounded and swells a little in the middle; it's not at all slab-like as you might think from the picture. The grind lines are not quite symmetrical and the tang isn't flush with the handle scales; it bulges out past the scales a little on the finger side. The scales are held on by three allen-head bolts; you could take them off to renew the baked-on coating when it gets worn.

The ambidextrous sheath is made of .125" kydex and retention is secure; it takes a good strong tug to get it to release. There's a strap for additional retention but there's no need for it IMHO. The webbing belt loop could fit a belt 4" (10cm) wide and it has a polymer buckle to fit it to the kinds of belts human beings normally wear. There are slots and eyelets so you could strap it to your leg or horizontally to your belt, to a pack, etc.

It's one seriously ugly knife and the sheath matches it well -- it's not a prit-ty knife; it looks utilarian, massive, even brutal. The Campanion is not made to hang on a wall; it's made to use.

It feels good in my (large) hand, so good it's hard to put down. I think I could use it all day and not get blisters. It's heavy for a 5" knife but not heavy for a chopping tool. Balance is right on the forefinger.

The wide thick blade is heavy enough for serious chopping and yet thin enough at the edge for good whittling. It chops like a hatchet and whittles like a pocketknife. The first thing I did was to chop and whittle at a pine 2x4 and the performance impressed me -- it chops great, whittles great, and feels great while you're doing it.

The pommel is well designed for hammering. Hammering with the spine wouldn't work very well; the handle isn't shaped for comfortable grip upside-down.

For fighting purposes, it's heavy but ergonomics is great -- again, the handle isn't designed for an edge-up grip but it works in hammer, saber, and reverse grips and transitions well between forward and reverse grips.

There doesn't seem much point in testing it for prying because it's so massive nobody human could break the thing -- and the point is not weak either. I'm going to try chopping some mild steel pipe just to make sure the edge doesn't chip ... I don't expect it will, of course, but I feel I have to do something more than chop and cut soft wood with it -- this knife just cries out for heavy use.

Looking back over what I've written so far I don't think I've adequately conveyed how impressed I am with the Campanion. Until now I've had serious doubts about the whole idea of chopping wood with a 5' knife -- no more! This thing really chops! And it cuts too! And it feels good! Although it's very heavy for a 5' knife it's not at all heavy for a chopping tool, and it's comfortable to carry on the belt, unlike longer knives and hatchets.

-Cougar :{)
Chopping Steel Pipe

This is the first time I've chopped pipe with a knife, but I've seen enough posts to convince me it isn't abusive so I didn't hold back at all. The pipe rings when you whack it; it would attract attention at a knife show.
I looked at the edge after the first chop and it was rolled and blunted but not chipped -- and there was a cut maybe a couple of millimeters deep in the pipe. I gave it a dozen or so more whacks just for fun, chopping in the same place on the belly to minimize the sharpening I'll have to do, and then steeled it on another part of the same pipe, which scratched up the pipe and straightened out the edge -- it's still blunted, but not too badly. It looks like the edge was pushed back -- upset as a blacksmith would say -- rather than chipped away. It definitely needs sharpening and I'll start with a coarse stone, but the indentations in the edge after steeling are less than one millimeter deep.

I tried a Bushman for comparison. The edge of the Bushman was rolled to one side -- I think I probably didn't strike square on; the round handle is hard to index. When I steeled the Bushman the rolled edge broke off, leaving indentations much deeper than on the Campanion. It blunted quicker too. The Bushman's edge is more acute so I wouldn't have expected it to hold up as well as the Campanion even if the steel were as hard.

I used 1 1/4" inside diameter pipe; the outside diameter is 1.673" (42mm). It's ordinary mild steel pipe I found in the plumbing section of the hardware store; I've been using it for a breaker bar and it'll still work for that -- it would still hold water; I didn't chop all the way through the wall.

Both of these knives have edges much more acute than a cold chisel. If you wanted to chop steel with them as a regular thing they'd do better with a more obtuse edge. Some of you are probably wondering why anyone would want to chop steel with a knife ... well, it seems to be a reasonable quick way to see if the knife is tempered too brittle or too soft ... I'll have to do it with more knives before I can really see how valid a test it is.

Now I've got some sharpening to do!

-Cougar :{)

P.S. The Bushman is blunted worse than the Campanion but it really isn't bad -- have you ever tried scraping electrical connections with a cheap surgical stainless knife? That's about what it looks like.

If you are looking for a heavy duty knife this is the one. I just got mine today and really would not chop at steel pipe but this thing looks STRONG and STRONGER. Can it chop you bet it can I can tell it just by looking at it. The only way you are going to break this knife is hitting it withe a missle.
Cougar - thanks for the informative review. Yup, I agree with ya - this one cries out to be used! My first impression of this one after it arrived was if I were ever stranded on a tropical island, this is what I'd use to pop open coconuts
It's definitely a hand full of a knife. Like you I've used it for chopping and whittling - I did not encounter any hot spots or discomfort. The Campanion has whetted my appetite (so to speak...) to get the other BK&T offerings!

Dexter Ewing
AKTI Member # A000005

Living life "on the edge"
I bought one of the original 1095 steel Campanions before Blackjack went belly-up, after I read an article in which the author tested the edge by skinning a Buick. He used a three pound sledge hammer to drive it though the sheet metal of the trunk (not just through, but along). Said the edge needed a touch up but didn't chip. Haven't done that with mine but I keep it in the Jimmy just in case I need to cut someone out of a car. Holds an excellent, shaving sharp edge. Good tool for levering old motorcycle tires over the rim. The new Camillus ones look better finished, and the sheath definitely looks classier. Mine is a nylon sheath with a heavy plastic liner that looks like squashed down PVC. It does hold the blade securely, though. Once I wear this one down, in a century or two, I'll have to look into the new ones.
Well, well....
I guess the infamous 'brass rod test' ain't got nuttin' on Cougar Allen's 'steel pipe test'!
Sounds like the CAMPANION is holding up pretty well. I trust that if you guys come up with a problem with the PROTOTYPES you are chopping steel pipe with, you'll let me know

THe GV6H does feel different doesn't it, stiff, it does feel almost 'metal like'. Maybe thats why the Swiss firm that developed it, refers to GV6H as "Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic Alloy". All the right curves to facilitate a good grip, without any rough texture or rubber to raise blisters during a days work. Or emergency plumbing work if your Cougar Allen

The sheath has been modified since the ones you guys were sent[the ones sent for the contest winners were some of the first production proto's, the knives really didn't change much, but the sheaths were modified some]. The webbing on the back of the sheath was shortened to be JUST long enough to go over[tight fit] a GI 'pistol belt', which is part of the basic soldiers LBE. This was a must, but it didn't require as much material as we originally had, as the pistol belt is only 2" wide. So there is less 'flop' to the sheath now. The extra buckle you noticed is there for an accesory drop sheath/thigh rig availible directly from EDGEWORKS, the makers of the sheath. Its not used by most customers, but if you need it, its already ready, and avialible from them for about $15. Nice setup if you are an entry team member, wearing lots of gear and body armor.

The extra strap on the sheath is needed to make the sheath 'JUMP QUALIFIED', meaning that the sheath has 2 points of retention. I can't find where that is an official rule, but seems to be a general military guidline, and for very active activities, makes sense. But you are right, we wanted the sheath set up so that you could simply snap the knife in, either direction, and go. BTW, the strap rotates, so it can be properly set up for left and right hand use.

Any other questions I can answer, just shout. Glad you like your new knives,....go have some more fun with them!

Stay Sharp!
Will Fennell
Camillus Cutlery

[This message has been edited by Will Fennell (edited 04-03-2000).]
Cougar :

The blade is 0170-6C carbon steel.

Alloy description?

There doesn't seem much point in testing it for prying because it's so massive

I would be a bit careful here as there is a huge variance in behavior between various steels regarding strength. Pure carbon steels like for example are much weaker than tool steels. To be specific, the yield strength of 1095 is about 74-120 ksi, for 6150 it is 108-270 ksi (the range covers various heat treat options).

I looked at the edge after the first chop and it was rolled and blunted but not chipped

How hard is the 0170-6C, and roughly what is the bevel angle?

How does it chop compared to the Uluchet?

The Brute looks interesting.

Glad to hear your interested in BK&T! Lets see what I can cover for you...

0170-6C is a cutlery grade carbon steel that CAMILLUS and several other companies have used in the past. The mill that used to provide it to everyone is unable to supply it now, so we tweaked it and have it custom run for us only now. It is in that sense, proprietory. I cannot give out the breakdown, but we are VERY pleased with its performance, and we have ALOT of experience with it, especially in heat treat. No voodoo, just good carbon steel with a few alloying componets that is very clean, and heat treats very consistantly.

We heat treat the steel to 58-59 Rc. We DO NOT use salt bath heat treatment, but a more refined method of heating the blade more accurately and consistantly. And yes, its proprietory also.

The sharpening bevels are done by hand of course, and run between 30-35 degrees on the CAMPANION.

And yes, the BRUTE is interesting. Its my personal favorite, but they all have their specific uses. I thought the BRUTE or the MACHAX would probally be your pic also

Stay Sharp!
Will Fennell
Camillus Cutlery

[This message has been edited by Will Fennell (edited 04-04-2000).]
The Campanion is so thick and wide -- and short -- that it doesn't need to be especially strong steel to resist prying forces. If it were 1095 or whatever ... if I put it in my vise and pull on it the only question is whether I'll rip the vise off the bench or whether I'll throw the bench across the room. Trying to bend the Campanion would be like trying to bend a crowbar ... actually, I've bent two or three crowbars but they weren't as heavy for their length as the Campanion is. If I clamp it in some way that's stronger than the vise and workbench I happen to have I still don't think I would be able to bend or break it, even if it's no stronger than 1095. It's designed to be heavy for chopping and that makes it a very strong pry-bar as a side effect. The point is very strong too.

I should compare chopping to the Uluchet and to the Bushman, too, because not everybody has a Uluchet. I should do some kind of edge-holding test, too ... when I get a chance.

Will, I can understand why you don't want to reveal the ingredients of the steel, of course, but can you tell us what advantage it has? It must have some advantage or you wouldn't go to the trouble of special ordering it....

-Cougar :{)

P.S. For whatever it's worth, when I sharpened it after the pipe chopping it seemed to grind about as easily as 1095. I started with a coarse silicon carbide stone and it only took a few minutes (by hand -- I have power tools but I seldom use them for sharpening).

I want one! Where can I buy one of these and how much do they cost? Your review was quite good Cougar, and the knife seems to be just what I'm looking for if it isn't too expensive. TIA.

(edited due to grammatical flaw)


[This message has been edited by Roadrunner (edited 04-05-2000).]
Probally the biggest advantage we have with 0170-6C is how 'clean' it is. This also leads to extremely predictable, consistant heat treatment. We aren't implying that it is the next 'wondersteel', but if you like what you have seen from its performance, we can produce that again, and again, and again. The only downside is that it rusts, so we coat it. Let us know how the coating holds up Cougar. I think you will be surprised.

Suggested Retail is $99.95 on the CAMPANION. At the risk of being to commercial, I believe that you can find these knives at some of the larger internet dealers that frequent this site.....if you have any further problems finding one, come over to the CAMILLUS forum, and I'm sure that someone could direct you to a dealer. Or maybe try the DEALERS; For Sale Forum.

Thanks for your interest!

Stay Sharp!
Will Fennell
Camillus Cutlery

thanks for the review. I ordered a Campanion yesterday (hope it shows up this week!!!). I'm glad to see the Becker knives back, and glad to have Camillus along.

16-17 years ago, I bought a Camillus usmc knife. I carried it for 4 years in the field in Germany. I abused the heck outta that knife - chopped wood, opened C-rats, dug trenches, pried open ammo crates, etc. etc. Never a problem. After the Army, it spent 10 years in my attic (in it's leather sheath!)in the Texas heat. I found it last year rummaging thru the attic - not one spec of rust! I resharpened it and have continued it's abuse for the last year. The black coating is all gone, but that's the only thing to indicate it isn't new. My guess is that the Campanion will do even better.

Given the Camillus name and your review of the design, I HAD to have it!!

The only downside is my hands keep shaking...I don't think it'll stop until the Campanion shows up... :-D
Roadrunner: The new Bladeforums store has it at a discount -- click on "1 Stop Knife Shop" at the bottom of the page or take this link to go right to it: I expect other net dealers have it too but I haven't looked.

The whole Becker line will have the same handle and they all look like bargains at the prices -- especially if they all come with sheaths as good as the Campanion sheath.

-Cougar :{)
Cougar and Will, thanks for the replies. Cougar, for some reason my browser won't open onestopknifeshop, so I can't check it out. If you know how much it is maybe I can call an order in if Mike or someone will give me the phone # and order #. I can't get it right now, but maybe in a month or two I can swing it. Thanks again guys.
The UPS guy came by. Here are scans of the knife and the sheath (click on the small pictures):

<A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>

<A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>

AKTI Member # SA00001
It seems to me that an excellent comparison here would be the CS SRK knife. I have always considered the SRK to be a little sharpened pry bar. There is no doubt that the handles on the Companion far outclass the SRK. But the blade comparison would be interesting.
Bringing Cougar's excellent review BTTT.

6 months later what is the general opinion guys? Just got mine today and am looking forward to taking out in the wilds in the AM.

Seems like a winner and even more hefty than the Busse basic 7 I had last year. For a 5 inch blade it seems like a lot of knife. Very comfy handle, too. Sheath is really well done. You can appreciate an ambidextrous sheath until you actuall see one. This sheath is really ambidextrous.

Will post my thoughts after I get to play with it.

~Greg Mete~
Kodiak Alaska

How would the campanion do as a hunting knife? Is it too thick to function well as a skinner?

Dennis Bible

....Coming soon, The Leading Edge....
I personally would not use the Campanion as a skinner. After having this knife over 6 months I have to say it is one tough camp knife.

I think the handles are a bit too big but the stell is very easy to sharpen. I am going on a bear hunt/viewing in April and I plan to use it as a camp knife. If we get a bear I will use either my Spyderco Wegner or Ed Fowler Proghorn for skinning.

I hope this helps.