Survey - The classic hollow handled survival knife

3) There was a real concern that the short tang blades (Chris Reeves excluded)
could separate from the handle under
The only hollow handled knife I've ever owned is a Bianchi Nighthawk. The hollow portion of the handle is only about 2" deep, allowing for a 2" threaded tang. I used it several times in the field and, despite the short tang, never had any concerns about its durability. The handle is resin (plastic?) covered brass and, judging from the weight and balance, appears to be solid brass in the tang area.

I didn't buy it for the hollow handle, but rather for its overall looks. It has a 6" mirror polished, wide spearpoint blade with a micro-serrated sharpened swedge. As would be expected, the leatherwork is superb.

I haven't used it in years, but took it out to play when I saw this thread. The hollow handle still houses a couple of Sparklite fire starters and some water/wind proof matches. I keep a waterproof striker in the sharpening stone pouch.

Does anyone else remember the Nighthawk?




I have a copy of the Bianchi Nighthawk in my collection. My version came with a high quality tactical cordura sheath; but otherwise the same as yours. An excellent knife.
can anyone help me identify or give info about my hollow handle knife?What i really want to know:is it a P.O.S?The knife is made by Marto has a 61/2"blade(black)Double cut sawteeth on the spine,cast aluminum handle with finger grooves and a removeable hand guard that protects the fingers.In the handle is a capsule with a bunch of"survival" gear-morse code key on the outside.It has a cool sheath with a sharpening stone on the back covered by a velcro flap and a wire cutter on the tip of the sheath that meshes with a cutout in the blade.The blade is etched with "Explorer survival" and a bunch of degree markings around a small hole drilled through the blade.Near the blade handle junction is stamped E-4135.It also came with a survival book that I lost 10 years ago.Sorry to run on so long ,but can someone please tell me what blade steel this is and if the company is still in business. Thanks.

Troy Webber

Dr. Charles Brewer Carias (zoology/botany) is a well known Venezuelan politician, and author. He is also an accomplished pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, and mountain climber (I may have missed something?).

Internationally he is know for reputation as an explorer which he developed by exploring the Venezuelan Jungles for over 25 years.

Your knife is the result of a collaborative effort between Dr. Brewer and Marto de Toledo - a leading Spanish cutlery firm. The "Marto-Brewer - Explora" became commericially available around 1982-83 and is probably still in production. Blade length was either ~5-1/2" or 6-1/2", available with bright (the "survival") or darkened (the "Comando") blades.

Your knife sound like a Marto-Brewer Comando in 6-1/2". Examples appear to be moderately priced.

p.s. the steel is 440-C at 56-58RC

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 10 July 1999).]
In volume 3 of the Woodsmaster series, Ron Hood gives a comparison of several hollow handled knives. He gives some good reasons for preferring a full tang. Aside from the inherent weakness of the handle/blade joint, the best reason to avoid putting your survival kit inside one of these is possible loss of the knife. With it goes the kit you hoped would save you. Bummer.

You asked why I liked the Parrish better. First, one of the primary reasons I liked the Parrish better was for the teeth on top. They were excellent for cutting through aircraft aluminum. For someone who rides to work in a Helicopter, this could come in handy.

Second, the handle was a little undersized. This lent itself to being covered with Para cord (550 cord).

Unfortunatley, with the Reeve knife this isn't really possible without creating an oversize handle.

Also, try operating in a artic or desert environment with a Reeve knife. Ever pick up a all metal knife at -30? Yes, belive it or not once you have been out in -30 for awhile especially while snow shoeing, cross country skiing, etc. You do start to get a little warm. Of course as soon as you take your gloves off and grab the knife, you will be instantly reminded why you should not have done that.

The other side of the coin is, pick up a all metal knife that you have had in the sun, when it is +120. Again, you will be instanly reminded as to why you should not have done that.

Also, one other thing, is that coating that Reeve uses (like most coatings) comes off fairly quickly while being used in the field. Where your coating comes off the A-2 steel, in a liquid environment, your knife will now start to rust. One more thing, many have complained of the serrated handle over a long day. You may want to think about gloves if your going to be doing a lot of chopping and hacking.

Obviously, my use of knvies differs from most posters on these forums.

Reeve's knives are a good product for the money. I just wish he made them.


Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
Les, the Reeve handles always struck me as odd. Probably the reason this stands out so much is because of the attention to detail that Reeve has. It looks like his knives are designed to be used and yet the handle sticks out as something that would make using it very uncomfortable and I wonder why Reeve doesn't do some kind of rubber coating (like Busse) for example.


Im glad to read Im not the only one who has a problem with the handle.

Chris is a very good businessman. Im sure the profit margin is very good on this knife, as the majority of the work is done outside the shop (Chris is very upfront about this).

I dont know if a rubber coating is the answer either. As sub-zero temps would have a negative affect, as would both jungle and desert environments. Dry rot would become a factor in both places. This of course could me minimized with the use of silicon on the handle.

I feel for a hollow handle knife the best material is para cord. Especially as a person in the military. It's very easy to find. Also, should you need some in an emergency, you simply unravel your handle and use it.

I think the fact that others don't complain about the handle, shows you what level the owners are using their knives at.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
Les, for rubber I was thinking along the lines of something slimilar to what Busse is putting on his Basics. It is supposed to be very durable. You might be able to get a thinner layer of rubber than paracord (so you can make a bigger hollow handle) although the cord would obviously have its advantages, one being its rather easy to replace.

Mr. Robertson, very good points you brought up and I can see where you are coming from on them.

My use of the Reeve would probably be differnt though. If I were to use it it would probably be in a more mountainous forested area so of course I don't have the smae requirements you do.

The saw teeth I don't need them and they just would get in the way for me probably.

As for the checkering the area I would use it in would probably make it comfortable to where gloves at the same time.

The A2's rust resistance isn't really a factor for me as my lifestyle allows me to provide maximum care for my blades (which by this I mean I have a lot of time on my hands so I can spend alot of time carrying fo rmy blades.

I intend to wrap the handle in paracord soon and I doubt the size of the handle will then bother me. Each man to his own though.

I must admit though I don't use my Reeve. I have a select number of blades I do use and they meet my needs at this time just fine so I don't really need to use it. I have it simply because I like it. One day I may use it but right now I don't need to so I don't care to mar it up.

Mr. Stamp the rubber coating is something I would like to see as well or another thought I had is since they are making the handle out of the same piece of steel why not shape the handle different. I mean I am sure some shape would still allow for the handle to be hollow but more comfortable.

thanks and take care

Your comments address a problem in the tactical knife reviews. Many people make comments about some knife being the best ever and have never used it.

This is not to say you do not use your knives.

When I was using knives on a daily basis, as a Infantryman. I was generally not afforded the opportunity to "pamper" my knives. I had too many other things to do.

Additionally, I worked in all different types of environments. Consequently, I had to have a knife that could perform in all situations.

Don't worry about scratching your knife, you can send it back to Chris and have it re-coated.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
Les, I'm calling bullsh*t on the bit about the A2 rusting quickly in an auqeus environment once the kalgard is gone, and that since others don't complain about the handle "it shows to what level they're being used".

I live in an evironemnt with high concentrations of salts in the air. In fact, I could litteraly throw a stone and have it land in the Atlantic Ocean right now from my doorstep. I wore half the kalgard off my Project 1 the first day I had it while testing it's abilities by plunging it into the dirt(to determine durability of coating). I only got it recoated two months ago. It has seen about a year of actual field use since(I have owned it for longer than that, but that's the total number of days spent in the field being used). I have never had a problem with it rusting, wether I was using it in swamp or estuary.

The extent of my care for it was wiping it off when it got dirty and rinsing it with fresh water after inmmersion in salt water. I have never used Tough Cloth or Renaisance Wax, or any similar product. While A2 isn't a true stainless, the carbon content does help out. But I have never even had a problem with my other knives, which were mostly 1095 high carbon. For that matter, all those South American natives seem to do just fine with their high-carbon machetes.

I use my Project 1 for everything from killing large game animals to chopping down trees, preparing food, opening coconuts, carving wood, splitting wood, damn near everything. I go on excursions into the wilderness for hunting and relaxation typicaly two days out of a week. I go on longer lasting several days somewhat less frequently, and multiple-week long excursions several times a year. Never have I found the handle to be anything but a joy to use. You guys either have soft hands, or I have hard hands. All I know is that I don't even really have any callouses. Oh, and last time I talked to Cliff, he hadn't even used one yet.

If you really have such a problem with the checking on the handle, I suggest wrapping it in duct tape. The cloth backed type would probably be the best.

Likewise, I've never had any trouble with it in a hot environment/sun beating down. I guess Mr. Reeve didn't either. Remember the bit about why he makes the one-piece knives?

He was a soldier stationed in South Africa/Angola border, and the heat and low humidity caused the wood handle on his knife to crack.

I can't venture a guess as to why a black metal handle doesn't heat up unduly when it's strapped to your side, but that's never been my problem. Even when I take my jacket off.

Which raises another point, under the loose and bulky BDU's issued to soldiers in the U.S., and in other nations as well, the sun just won't get at it. Even the afforementioned denim jacket I routinely wear(it's like a second skin to me, no I don't mind the heat) covers the handle. And it get's plenty hot down here in Florida.

I will agree kalgard isn't the most durable finish. It doesn't wear much when just chopping wood or cardboard, but mine has got sheath wear already(from being in kydex, probably why they don't come in kydex). The quickest way to strip the kalgard off is to introduce some sort of abrasive, like sand or dirt.

I ain't a world-reknowned survival expert, I don't have a website or video. But I do know a thing or two about survival, a thing or two about my gear, and I use my gear more and ask more of it than most.

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 12 July 1999).]
My favorite hollow handle "survival knife" is a Swedish Mauser bayonet. I read an article many years ago on how to make it into an honest to gosh Rambo knife on the cheap. What you do is pick up a Swedish mauser bayonet ($19) and grind off the bayonet lug on the but. While you're at it you can re configure the hilt to taste. Next you fill up the hollow handle with the obligatory fishing gear, matches, condoms (they make great canteens in a pinch) and cap it off with a crutch tip, available at any drug store (you can pick one up when you get the condom). The steel on the SM bayonet is great but like most bayonets, you'll have to spend about an hour putting an edge on it. You can further cutomize it with cold blue, heat shrink around the handle, bows and ribbons. The issue steel sheath and "frog" isn't bad at all. I doub't you'll find a tougher, cheaper Rambo knife if you've got to have one.


Thanks for introducing the Swedish mod 1896 bayonet into this discussion. The 1896 was a very innovative bayonet incorporating a tubular steel hilt with a plunger catch as a mounting mechanism. Both blade and hit were made separately of high quality steel.

As Daryl mentioned in his response, the design of the 1896 bayonet is very similar to the design of the modern hollow handled "survival knife". A blade incoporating a short tang was attached to a hollow hilt (I believe these were bolted together). I can't thing of a better way to stress the blade/handle joint then this.

The original question we asked in this thread was whether anyone had experienced any problems with the blade/handle joint failure on a hollow handled survival knife. I can not say that the 1896 bayonet was used and tested in combat. But I would argue that the bayonets were most likely used extensively for practice and drill, and that the number that have survived should serve as evidence that a good bayonet (hence a good knife) can be made incorporating a short tang blade with a hollow handled hilt.

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 13 July 1999).]
Collin :

I intend to wrap the handle in paracord soon and I doubt the size of the handle will then bother me. Each man to his own though.

From the dimensions that I remember reading awhile back it would not be a problem for me. One thing that does bothers me though is that when I buy a quality tool I don't expect to have to modify or add to it to make it usuable. I will of course over time gradually make it more "me", but it should be usable right out of the box.

I mean I am sure some shape would still allow for the handle to be hollow but more comfortable.

The current shape does offer the maximum storage space. Index finger cutouts or similar would greatly reduce this as well making removal of stuff placed in the handle problematic.

Snickersnee :

Oh, and last time I talked to Cliff, he hadn't even used one yet.

As I have been clear about stating. I would bet strongly how the handle ergonomics on the Project would be to me and I don't need to use one to have a good idea for this. Likewise I don't need to actually grab ahold of a project at -30 or +100 to know how my hand will react. I have experience in related matters that allow the necessary extrapolation.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 13 July 1999).]
Generally I don't like rubber handles on knives, or on revolvers. Automatics don't bother me as much.

If the steel handle on the Reeves bothers you simply go down to your local bike repair shop and pick up an old bicycle inner tube. They are available in a number if sizes and good for lots of things.

Pick a size that you do not need to stretch too much to get over the handle and slip it on. It won't last for ever, but it is easy to replace.

I haven't done this with my Reeves yet as I haven't felt the need. In winter it would normally be under my coat and would be at least as warm as my hands. The "C" cell Maglights I have in the car are another story. They all have an inner tube cover over the barrel to keep bare hands off the metal at 20 to 30 below. The other advantage with a flashlight is that I will keep mud and other crap out of the switch.

You will be surprised how useful this stuff is. I often slip a small piece around my lighter. I keeps it from slipping out of my pocket when I sit down.


First, let me say it's nice to read comments from someone who actually has used the knife they write about.

When I made the comment that A-2 will rust, it will. Perhaps not over night, but it will. Additionally, it will discolor as it comes into contact with the salts found in body's of mammals.

You say the knife never gets too hot to handle. Does it get up to 120-130 degrees where you live?

As for BDU's covering the knife, I belive you are incorrect. I never wore (nor did I see anyone else wearing a knife the size of a project 1 underneath their uniform). Most of these knives are worn on the LBE/LCE (Load Bearing/Carrying Equipment).

Also in Airborne units and Air Assault units, knives such as the Project 1 are not allowed to be carried. This is not due to the knive, but to the leather sheath it comes in. Leather after exposure to the elements looses it's shape and allows the keeper strap to loose tension and the tip gets soft and allows a soldier to roll over his knife and puncture himself as the tip comes through the leather. I have brought this point up to Chris on several occasion's over the years.

So if you do see any of Chris's knives in the elite military units, they will have a different sheath with them. This of course adds a minimum of $50 to the cost (including shipping back and forth) not to mention the down time on the knife it's self.

Part of the reason for the continuation of using a leather sheath as opposed to Kydex or Concealex is that leather will not as readily scrape off the Kal-Guard. Asthetics is no excuse for a inferior carry system.

I glad you are happy with your Reeve knife, it is a good product for the money. As long as it meets your needs that is all that matters.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
I have had my Project 1 out in 90-110 degree-Farenheit temperatures in the summer, and this is while on a hunting expedition, so it was out there from sun up to sun down. If it is strapped to my side, it never reaaly gets hot. It's not like if you just left it laying on the ground out in the sun.

I did some experimentation, and I think this is due to the fact that by virtue of the handle being straight up and down, it doesn't get enough exposure to sunlight. It's 12:30 in the afternoon and about 90 degrees outside right now, I'm going put my Project 1 in my friend's car and see how it's doing by 5:00 or so, that's when the shadow from the building nextodoor will start to block the direct sun. I'll report my findings. Then I might stick it in my freezer for a few hours.

If the Project is worn under a coat as MNH suggested, even in the winter it should stay warm. Maybe you just have to know how this tool is to be used to use it effectively.

Les, A2 will rust. 440C will rust. What's your point? As I've said, after several unbroken weeks in salt marsh and estuaries, environments with much salt in the air, and only getting wiped with fresh water once in a while, with the kalgard on the blade rubbed off, the knife showed no signs of rust or discoloration. For that matter, the 1095 non-coated knives that I carried before never displayed any signs of rust, though in all fairness they discolored, 1095 has no chromium whatsoever, and these knives got bloody. It's just a non-issue with A2, and just a cosmetic thing with 1095. I like the looks of broken-in carbon steel better than that shiny stuff anyway.

Average temperatures around here in the summer hover around hover around the 90's for at least six months out of the year, 100-110's aren't uncommon in the summer.

I dislike the leather sheath myself. Being that I spend a lot of time in swamps and marshes and estuaries and gunkholes, it didn't take long for the sheath to get gross. It actualy developed mold. I now keep it in kydex, a Scot Hendryx SB-1. He says it's a jump-qualified sheath, I don't know having never been a paratrooper, but it does have a secure buttoning nylon web strap, and a removable secondary "jump strap". The trick to this sheath is to make sure you here a "click" when you button it, or it's not securely buttoned. Test it by grabbing the sheath and pulling the handle like a monster. You shouldn't be able to free the knife. It's not a bad sheath, I think the next one I get will be completely custom but I had no previous experience with kydex. Unless you count a cheesey All-Way sheath I picked up from Brigade Quartermaster or one of those guys. The materials and construction left something to be desired on the All-Way, but it would have worked, could it have accomedated the knife. Anyway, the SB-1 cost U.S.$40, round trip.

As to most guys wanting to wear their knives on their LBE's or LCE's or whatever they're calling them today, that really has no bearing on what I'm saying. You can still wear a knife on your hip. I can't speak for Airborn and Air Assault units, but I have an Uncle who was a Ranger, and he wore a fixed blade(I think it was a Buck of some sort) on his waist. I would wager that after a paratrooper lands, he could move that knife to any position he pleased, especialy in an actual war. Personaly, I wouldn't want my knife on my LBE anyway, I could see situations where I'd want to rapidly shuck my LBE but not lose my knife in the process.

If you haen't heard my disclaimer before, I am an a$$hole. Though I stand behind what I say as it is based on fact and first-hand experience, I apologize if I come off as abrasive.

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 13 July 1999).]