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Opinions on big "camp knife" designs

Oct 4, 1998
If you were designing a large FB to take the place of a hatchet for fire wood gathering, splitting ,making kindling etc. what design features would you incorperate? Size,blade shape,grind,handle material etc. It should also be usable for other tasks but it primary mission would be firewood/shelter making tasks. Because it will be used mostly in camp weight is not a significant issue. Steel will be 5160. BTW due to blade stock size a true kukri will not be possible. Marcus
Hoe about a Bolo or Barong shape?

They are effective, bolos have a nice sweet spot, and barongs offer a very utilitarian leaf shape.

When designing a camp knife you may want to concider that weight plays a big part. IMHO
many camp knives are to thick. The weight of a knife for these chores should be thin is relation to the lenght. Balance and HT are important also.
Here is my question.
How long can you swing this knife and how many hits will you deliver before you have to sit down and rest with a tired arm?

A thin blade will will do the same work as a thick blade if the balance, edge design, and handle design are correct.

I recommend a edge forward type design.

Web Site At www.infinet.com/~browzer/bldesmth.html
Take a look!!!

I agree with Darrel most camp knife are way to thick. I got a Greco it is made of 1/4 steel with a small or short flat grind (it is steep)the knife is very very stong It cann't be broken by hand. And I just got my Knife from Jim Hrisoulas it is a bowie knife it has a 13" blade but the weight is less then the Greco with a 6" blade. The Bowie knife is hollow ground and it is very thin .030" up 1/8 from cutting edge. It is much more fragle but it cuts like the devil.

I was cutting up down trees with both(had an ice storm)it did not take me long to put down the Greco and use the bowie only. The diff. in cutting was not to be belived. And the Greco was sharper it could shave hair the bowie could scrape hair.

Love my new toy

I think that weight could actually work in your favor, especially for chopping wood. With regards to balance, I think that the knife should be blade heavy (for chopping). It should also be in the 12"-14" range overall length. This will help with chopping, prying bark off of logs, splitting wood, etc. I think a heavier, properly balanced knife would actually be less tiring than a lighter improperly balanced knife.

I also think that the tip should be strong. It should not be a clip point or similar design. It should be a spear point or similar design. I've broken the tips off of two knives in my life, both while prying bark off of logs and they were both a clip point design. The handle should be designed with a big butt/pommel (like a Ka-Bar) so it won't slip out of your hand while chopping.

My 2 cents,


I just had a large camp knife made for me. The design was somewhat similar to the Busse battle mistress and I have to say it works great. I had a large grapevine covered trellis in my backyard that had to go. I chopped the entire thing down with my knife. This meant going through six 4x4 posts as well as numerous 2x4's. The grapevines themselves were 3+ inches at the base. No problem. In the end I had two small nicks where I had hit nails but that was it. My design is ~12 inch blade with a ~6 inch handle and is ATS-34. The blade itself is about 2 inches deep. I didn't think the weight was too much and I wasn't overly tired after hacking for 90 minutes. It is a little large for gutting fish and I don't think you could get on a plane with it but it's a great size for what I need it for.

I`ve been kinda leaning toward a heavier knife myself. I have a 12" EDMF bowie that chops very well but it`s not that blade heavy due to being made of 3/16" stock. Chopping requires a lot of effort since there isn`t much momentum. I have a piece of 5160 that`s 1/4"x2.5"x17",I may make my big chopper out of that or cut up a piece of 1/4"x3" I have laying around. The wider stock would let me cant the blade foreward more. The design I`m imagining would be BattleMistress-esque but with a wider blade that`s cutting edge would be canted foreward a bit more. I`m also considering a mild single finger groove to help keep the hand from smacking into the pommel hook area as much. Marcus
Cold Steel Trailmaster is hard to beat for the $. I would have Wayne Goddard re-grind it.

Moran "style" camp knife design is hard to beat, but alot more expensive.

Jay Hendrickson makes them very well. Near perfect!

Cold steel Kukri in Carbon V (if you can find one), again, Goddard for a regrind. Some personal experience to share.
I've been grinding a few bigger knives here again, and have to admit that one of my problems is that after so many 4" hunters, a 9-10" camp knife just looks HUGE to me ;-) One with a 12" blade...

Unless everything you are chopping is 3-4" thick or more, I'd still lean to a bit smaller, lighter knife. As Sal said the Moran and Hendrickson styles are very good. One reason is that their blade and edge geometry cuts so much better than most factory knives that are bigger and heavier. I imagine Wayne is thinning out and putting a convex edge on the trailmaster's and kukri's?

That 1/4 x 2" stock I think would work fine. I went to some 3/16 x 1 1/2" stock for a D-2 fighter, but its so light that it would not make a good chopping tool.
I'd go with a flat or slight convex grind from the spine to the edge of the blade and a fairly thin convex edge. A bit of a recurve to the edge at the rear of the blade would put a little more meat forward and a bit lower. With that much length a slight taper from the handle to the point should work good too.
I put a bit of a swell in the middle of the grip, similar, but not as exagerated as that on a Busse on my big knives, along with a hook at the end of the pommel. Like I think I said before in another post, with some practice, you can just grasp the front of the handle of the knife with thumb and forefinger, and leave the other fingers loose so you can draw the blade back at an angle by twisting your wrist up, then snapping the blade down and closing the other fingers at the same time without having to use a big chopping motion with the arm. Using the knife's speed and momentum, and a blade with a thin profile will outcut a lot of bigger, heavier knives.

just my two cents

Hmmm,this is good stuff. How about a 12"long 1/4"thick blade with a slight distal taper to say 3/16" at the tip. 2 1/2" wide at it widest with lots of belly. Roughly Bowie profile with a subtle unsharpened clip point. Convex grind right to the spine with a thin edge. Blade canted foreward a little more than normal but not as much as a kukri. Busse-esque grip with a slight swell and hook at the pommel. Maybe a subtle single finger groove ala MD. Applegate style lanyard. Big and heavy but with a comfy grip and high performance grind or jack of all trades and master of none? Marcus