Survey - The classic hollow handled survival knife

Hmmm . . . .

Chris Reeve developed his knife with an eye toward the Kalahari Desert. The Fallkniven survival knives, developed up near the Arctic Circle, have wrap-around synthetic hard rubbery handles. Likewise the new Sissipuukko. Still, Chris Reeve now lives and works in a place where it gets cold in the winter.

Even with something as simple as a knife, we see experienced people swear by or swear at radically different design philosophies and material choices.

I hesitate throwing in to the fray-

But-I keep reading about HOT. I live in a hot climate-Arizona. The point that I would like to add is that it doesn't make any difference what material the handle is made of it will be hot when you grab it. We get 120 degrees in the shade in the summer and any material is hot. I would agree that the best course of action is to try to shield whatever you are trying to keep from getting hot.

Also any material other than steel does not seem to tolerate the heat over an extended period of time. I would guess that that is why Reeve has decided to stay with a steel handle.

This has been a very interesting thread and it has entertained me immensely-thanks to all!

A2 must have just enough chromium that it doesn't lose much edge when not in use. The longest my Project ever goes without getting a workout is maybe two or three weeks, but it's just as sharp when I pick it up again as when it went in it's sheath. I don't live in an airconditioned abode, we open windows and turn on fans. Some of the aluminum trimmings on various fixtures inside the dwelling show signs of corrosion, so the salt air is definately getting in. I must have a lot of weak-force-fighting mojo to keep my knife from degrading or something.

The touble with the internet is that you pretty much have to rely on a person's word, and it's hard to know if the person is being perfectly up front about what they're talking about, it's even harder to get particulars.

That's why I encourage everyone to try out anything I may say for themselves. I know that I'm not making anything up, so my results are reproducable. I ain't saying that if somebody gets different results than me that they're automaticaly liars, just that I feel the situation warrants closer study. Something may be one way under a particular set of circumstances, another way under another set of circumstances.

"Swear-by" part I have no problem with, unless it flies in the face of the laws of physics or something, but the "swear-at" part I have a problem with.

The Project 1 is a good knife that has proven itself over time and in many environments. I don't have a particular hard-on for it, if there was something better I'd trade up, in fact I'm stilling trying to get some work done on it.(I want to see about getting it re-heat treated, austempered to 57R, and I want that steel endcap, maybe welded on, and I'm debating either getting the kalgard stripped of entirely or geting the knife coated w/titanium oxide)

Point is, if somebody goes making false statements, especialy on the order of "that just goes to show you anybody whoever uses this is a poser", that's gonna make me speak up. Likewise, I ain't gonna sit by while somebody who has no idea who I am or what I do tries to discredit me.

I was checking out those dogs, and apparently they're only in the Alps. Too bad. I think they were called Saint Bernards or something like that.

There was no challange, you lead us to belive that you had experience. Unfortunately you choose not to share it with us.

Besides why would I pay for you to take a trip to give me information I already have? As they say "been there...done that".

Getting back on the subject. Chris did not design the knife for the Kalhari (which is in Northwestern Africa). Chris was stationed on the northern border of South Africa. Roughly 2000 miles apart.

The thread was the "best hollow handle knife". No the Reeve is not the best. In my opinion the Parish is the best. Is there anyone posting on the this thread that has also compared the two.

There is no doubt the the Reeve will take alot of abuse. However, it does have limitations.

Of course all this discussion is moot. As a hollow handle knife will not replace a full tang knife. Additionally, the amount of gear you can carry in a hollow handle can easily be carried elsewhere on your gear. The pocket on the nylone sheath would be a starting point.

As I have stated a couple of times. If the knife works for you, then that is all that is important.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

"As a hollow handle knife will not replace a full tang knife. Additionally, the amount of gear you can carry in a hollow handle can easily be carried elsewhere on your gear."

I agree this is the current popular view of hollow handled knives; but I don't understand why. Granted the hollow handle places certain limitations on the shape of the handle and the ergonomics of the handle are, or can be, inferior to some full tang knives. The full tang knives on the other hand tend to transmit vibrations along the tang directly to the users hand.

As for strength, the only hollow handled knives anyone seems to have broken so far are the ultra cheap no-name flea market variety and possibly a United Cutlery Bushmaster. I would suggest that on any reasonable well constructed knife the hollow handled knife is strong enough to reliably perform as a camp and field knife.

We are probably more likely to separate the point of the blade than to separate the blade from the handle if we apply that much pressure.

As for the utility of the hollow handle - I would leave it up to the individual user. Survival is usually not an issue for me. My hollow handle is usually put to better use as a dry storage space for a trail map; and, at other times it may be filled with a small tube of oil, a small rag, and a couple of band aids. Yes, I could always carry all this stuff in my backpack, jacket, or belt pouch (and I usually carry an extra set there); but these items are sometimes left in camp - and I sometimes find it more convinient to reach for the knife handle rather than stop and rummage through my pack/pockets.

Can a hollow handled knife replace a full tang knife? For me it sometimes does; then again sometimes a good folder can replace both.
Geography note . . .

The Sahara Desert is the big one in North Africa. The Kalahari is the desert that occupies a bunch of Botswana and Namibia over the the Northwest border of South Africa.

You pretty much said "I challenge you...", that reads as a chalenge to me. If you don't want to shuck out the cash, don't issue chalenges. Why should I pay to stroke someone else's ego?

Lead you to believe I had experience yet am unwilling to share it? What do you mean, I share it all the time. Maybe you mean I don't sit around recounting glory days or great deeds past and instead relate things to what's happening in reality right now. I'm reminded of a line from a song;

"Don't tell me stories `cause yeasterday's glories/ have gone away, so far away"

I frankly don't care if somebody was a Special Ed Airborne Seal Ranger who took some kuh-rotty classes. It's better policy to relate what's really going on now, so often despite our best intentions our recounts of events past lose some accuracy in the retelling.

You may be interested to know that this thread is actualy "Survey-the classic hollow handle survival knife", not "the best hollow handle survival knife". The Project has it's limitations? And the Parish does not?

I have full faith and credit in my knife, do you have the same in yours? Give me a Parish and I'll be happy to do a comparison review for you. They're just a little hard to come by, or I'd get one myself.

Besides, why can't a hollow handle knife replace a full tang? Personaly, I could care less if there is a storage compartment in my knife's handle, that fact had nothing whatsoever to do with my selection of it. The idea isn't to put your all your gear in your knife's handle anyway.

The idea is if you can only grab one item, it'd probably be a knife, with these things you get a knife, and something to start fires with, some water purification tabs, some first aid junk, etc. Actualy, I have a pouch that I can stick on my sheath too, so I can store twice as much stuff if storage space is what you're worried about.

I stand corrected, you are correct.


Impress me, how many custom knives have you owned? I wont ask you for your experience again as you have avoided the question on two occasions so far.

I buy and sell custom knives daily. Take a gander at the cover of the May 99 Tactical Knives. Those knives are from LDC (guess who the designer for LDC So much for resting on my laurels.

Who has designed a set of knives 4 fixed blades and 1 folder that is currently being photographed by Jim Weyer for another article in Tactical Knives. The article is being written by Bob Kasper. Again the answer is me.

In addition to those 5 knives, I have 22 more knives in the works, designed by and made exclusivly for me. These knives feature the latest in blade geometry and materials.

Who was invited by the Canadian Knifemakers Guild to attend their show next April and present awards for best tactical and best using knife...once again it's me.

Resting on past laurels and accomplishments, not hardly.

On the plains of hesitation, lie the blackened and bloody bones of the vanquished. As the conquerers sat to rest....resting they died.

As this thread has ended, I will depart.

Snickers, I wish you and your Reeve all the best.

James, thank you for the Geography lesson.

Cliff, thank you for your ever insightful comments.

To all those who have commented and lurked. I think this thread has provided alot of good information. Afterall that is what this forum is about.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
It seems that some knife topics arouse as much enthusiasm as if folks were talking about religion and politics.

Daniel :

it doesn't make any difference what material the handle is made of it will be hot when you grab it

Heat transfer through materials differs drastically depending on its thermal conductivity (primarily). This varies hugely. The conductivity of wood is about 500 times less than steel. This means that it takes 500 times longer for heat to travel through a wooden handle slab than a steel one.

Specific to use, this means that steel handles will gain a tremendous amount of stored internal heat very quickly while wooden ones will only heat up on the contact surfaces as its takes too long for the insides to warm up.

Of course the same is true in reverse to cold. I can work with wooden handles in cold temperatures with little discomfort. The same is not true for bare metallic ones.

Dare I post here? I just wanted to comment on Mr. Mattis' statement:

"Even with something as simple as a knife, we see experienced people swear by or swear at radically different design philosophies and material choices."

I'm coming to feel that this is because the person is the most important part of the equation, not the knife. A skilled user understands the strengths and limitations of their knife, whatever it might be, and works within them. The knife performs well because it is used well. This unfortunately leads to a confusion between "best" and "adequate."
Given that everyone's favorite knife is the one they own, I find that most any skilled user will find a well-made knife "adequate" and often call it the "best." This is what makes ferreting out the real problems and areas that need improvement so difficult. It's often like pulling teeth to get folks to suggest improvements to an adequate knife that they have carried and it met their needs.

This doesn't mean that there is not a "best" or that it cannot be found, but simply that there are many ways to make a knife that will serve quite adequately when combined with a skilled and knowledgable user. This has been a valuable and interesting thread, but let's not lose sight of role of the user and start arguing with one another over what comes down to personal preference.

-Drew Gleason
Little Bear Knives
Average cockpit temperature of an Apache attack helicopter at Yuma Proving Ground, and the middle east is around 145 degrees in the summer. Average winter temperature at the DEW radar site is pretty damm cold. I have been to both and believe me you do not want to touch metal with your bare hands. I wear my knives on the outside of my clothing for easy access.

I owned both the Project 1 and the Randall 18. I pick the Randall because of the availability of stainless steel, a better guard, a better leather sheath (it lasted longer than the Reeve's), and better resale value. I have a Lile's Rambo knife in D2 but can not comment on it since it is still brand new.
Most of a Chris Reeve steel handle is checkered and not smooth, presenting a little less surface area against the skin than smooth steel. And I wonder if the Kal-Guard coating might retard heat transfer just a smidgen. No data here - just wondering.

Also, short of actual first degree burns or worse, different people develop different pain thresholds. If you're used to it . . . .

Actually, I'd guess that the checkering presents quite a bit more surface area as your flesh presses into those little grooves. Still, everyone does have a different tolerance, and some folks build up mighty callouses. Hopi Indian women develop tough fingertips that let them work hot batter against a griddle bare-handed, and although (until this weekend) I hadn't ground a blade in two years, I still have some decent callouses on the sides of my index fingers that let me hold the hot metal a bit longer against the belt.

Les, so let me get it straight, you sell knives and you design knives?

I still don't know what you mean about me not sharing my experiences. I have pretty muched described and shared input on my activities and what I do with what and how whenever it adds to the topic at hand.

Once again I must assume you mean that I have to be a Special Ed Airborne Seal Ranger to have knowledge that is worth anything, despite the fact that Special Ed Airborne Seal Rangers don't really use knives all that much, and nowhere near as much as a civilian outsdoorsman, who doesn't use modern military firepower nearly as much as Special Ed Airborne Seal Rangers.

Well, I'm not a Special Ed Airborne SEAL Ranger. I am more or less an adventurer, I don't travel with groups or famous guides or former Special Ed Airborne SEAL Rangers, I don't seek recognition from Canadians, I pretty much just think about something I want to do, and then go do it.

You wouldn't be intrested in the localities I've visited, because they're not particularly high-profile or exotic. I wasn't an Army officer when I went there, and I didn't go with some world famous explorer. Nor did I stay in just one spot, or even somewhere that I knew what to call it. I'd be on a bus, train, or somesuch, find a promising wilderness area, get off, and go live there a while.

About the highest profile places I've been are the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and Mercury Bay in New Zealand. Neither of which are particularly renound in survival circles, which is too bad because they are both quite beautiful. The Yucatan gets a lot of attention for the Mayan ruins though.

Unfortunately, I don't know if anybody really gives a crap about Whitianga. Rotorua was cool, though it was cross country from Mercury Bay, it was like Yellowstone, only in a city. Stunk pretty bad too, and all hazy. I don't know what they call the surrounding countryside. 'Never got a chance to go to the south island.

I can oblige you with a military background though, a whopping three months or so of it. At eighteen I enlisted as a regular ol' light infantryman, one of the briefings we had early on before we ever really even got to real training was that anyone who had lied on enlistment papers would be caught, fined U.S.10,000, and be sent to prison for five years. Having a criminal background I withheld from my recruiters, and believing their jive, I confessed in hopes of getting leniency.

Instead, I got ELS'ed, but only after I was one week away from graduation and had passed all my phase testing.

I didn't puss out, I got spooked by threats of legal persecution. I've been trying to get back ever since, and am presently working on a deal that just might let me but hasn't panned out yet. If I knew then what I know now...

I've related this experience once before, even though I really rather keep it to myself. Check out the "pepper spray" thread in the "tactical+martial arts forum". That's ythe first place I mentioned it, as I got exposed to much tear gas of some sort in basic+ait, and I don't think chemical sprays of any sort are adequate defense, and I hate the thought of a woman thinking it will protect her and then having something go wrong. Otherwise, I would have never mentioned it.

So tell me, how much killing have you done with a knife? I can say I have in total used a knife to kill some 50-60(somewhere around there, I don't keep exact count, most were boar though) large animals; sharks, aligators, and wild boar. I have related these experiences elsewhere. In fact just a while ago we had a thread on skinning aligators.

Not too many years ago I was still a streetpunk. I have used knives on people and had them used on me. Have you?

How many years behind bars do you have? I have a couple under my belt. Mostly penny-ante misdemeanor and assault charges. No, I've never attacked women, or mugged anyone, not my style.

How many years have you been homeless? I have a decade and a half.

My people are notoriously xenophobic, I'm quite a bit more open than most. Mostly because of the anonimity that the internet provides.

That doesn't mean that I want to go around telling everybody all the intimate details of my pre-history. I certainly don't feel the need to impress everybody with lofty credentials. I trust that my words speak for themselves.

(And anyone who has any self-righteous bullcrap to say about my prior transgressions can shove it where the sun don't shine. You don't know me. You don't know where I've walked. And I'm not the same person I was.)

How much crap do you own? All I have fits in my backpack. I don't have room for a lot of unnecessary junk.

How many custom knives have I owned? None. Or one. Depends on wether you consider Chris Reeve Knives factory or custom. Personaly, I don't care about the particulars as I am not a knife colector.

I have handled quite a few more custom knives than I have owned. Most were very expensive, showed fine finish and fit, the latest in materials, and the geometery and over-all design didn't really offer anything new, yet alone worth $400+. In fact, I think the Project is over-priced.

I'm not a collector. I own at any given time two knives. One fixed blade, one folder. Both are using knives, get used quite a bit, and I'm more than happy to trade up to something new if and when something wholey better comes along. But I never own anything that I can't use first.

If some guy wants to sell me a U.S.$500 knife, with big names backing it and claims of supernatural powers, and it doesn't instantly blow me away as being something radicaly different and highly functional, I move on. Likewise, I have never gotten caught up in this "tactical" scene.

If you want to ask questions to see what I know, to find out if I'm all jive or not, fire away. Rehtoric is rehtoric, the proof is in the, I hate this expression, pudding.
This has been and continues to be an informative and interesting discussion on hollow handled knives. I have been waiting for the Chris Reeves/Robert Parrish discussion to settle down to again invite other members out there to join in and give us their views on hollow handled knives.

The original questioned raised was whether anyone has experienced blade/handle failure on the hollow handled survival knives. This is hardly a statistically correct sampling, but if we the members, who truly enjoy knives, have neither experienced, nor heard of, a problem with one of these knives; it would probably be reasonable to assume that serviceable hollow handled knives can and have been made.

Lurkers, please join in and be heard (we don't bite - most of the time).

The information provided here will help us make inform decisions on:
1) which knives to buy
2) which knives to carry
3) how much stress can we apply before we
risk catastropic failure.

As for the Reeves vrs. Parrish discussion - at least for me the answer has been very easy - Buy them both (you can't go wrong).

p.s. Snickersee; Don't know who you are or what you do, don't care what you have done or why, do value your views and commentary.

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 15 July 1999).]
Would the EOD solve all of your problems? Just remove the steel handle isert in the civilian models(because autorities get REAL jealouse of blades without any magnetic signature at all), and stick a cork in it. Vwalla! hollow handled knife.

"All of our knives open with one hand, in case you're busy with the other"
This has been a long, heated yet interesting debate. About Reeve & Parrish, there's one factor that comes to my mind: availability. While we see Reeve knives' sold almost everywhere, I have yet to find a dealer who has a Parrish knife for immediate delivery. Maybe it's just my strange habit that, the harder to find the knife, the less likely I want to use. I wouldn't be too upset if I lost or broke (how?) a Reeve one-piece.

The suggestion that we keep things both in the handle and some place else sounds good. One might get caught in heavy rain or fall into water and all equipments soaked. At least, the stuff in the handle wouldn't get wet and could be life saver.

Comments on using a knife in extreme weather condition did scare me. Thanks god I don't live in such a climate. Anyway, someone raised an interesting question about how well some of the handle, esp. natural material, would withstand the extreme hot and cold. Could the same subzero temperature that prohibits a normal human to touch metal handle cause the stag to crack? Could the extereme heat that seems to ignite matches in the hollow handle cause some wood slab handle bent, or Zytel deformed ? I have no experience so would appreciate to listen to the one(s) who have.


[This message has been edited by Dew (edited 16 July 1999).]
I believe Mr. Glesser said at 30 below Zytel breaks "like crackers." That's one serious temperature effect, for starters.

Wood can stand fairly low temperatures without breaking under chopping vibrations. My brother carried an Endura all last winter and the handle held up fine (Zytel), no direct impact though. Concerning direct impact, about the only thing I would do that with anyway is G10 or similar. To be specific MD's composite (which is a G10 like compound) can handle impacts at low temperatures.