Survival knives

Aug 3, 1999
I am looking for a survival knife and have been looking at the Schrade Extreme Survival and the Buck BUCKMASTER. I would appreciate any opinion of these knives or any other knife in this category.
Oh, btw if you know where to get the best price on any of these knives I would be in your debt.

There`s a pretty big thread on "survival knives" on the Reviews forum. I believe the Buckmaster is out of production but I could be wrong. Marcus
A lot of people are going to say "a survival knife is whatever knife you happen to have on you when you're trying to survive", and "a combat knife is whatever knife you have while engaged in combat".

They're talking about pressing things into service, "making them work" as opposed to having a purpose designed tool. Like using a butterknife as a screw driver.

That holds true to an extent though, there are many types of knives suitable for a variety of survival needs.

What specificaly are your survival needs?
As someone who has owned a Buckmaster, I can tell you it's a sturdy knife. It holds a decent edge, and I doubt you could break it. But, it's very heavy, the saw doesn't work, and the grappling hooks... never did figure those out. Get yourself a CS Recon Scout or if you have the bucks, a Busse Basic. If you like the hollow handle idea, and have quite a few extra Franklins, get a Reeve Project 1. Ask Snickersnee.
The knife would be used when I go up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota; which us city folks call the sticks.
I would like to have something that is smaller to carry and can cut some kindling.

Apparently the BuckMaster is out if the saw doesn’t work.
If you want a survival saw, buy a survival saw, they cost $30 or so, and don't take up much room at all in your rucksack. Much more efficient than any knife you are going to try to press into service, and if you break it, you aren't going to cry over your $900 wondertoy.

Knife, Saw, Firestarting tool(s), spaceblanket, poncho+liner, first aid, water, good gear, good boots, etc etc etc.

Ask Doc Ron or Jeff Randall, they should be able to steer you in the right direction. Heck, here's a thought, maybe one of them would post their recommendations for a survival kit (as a seperate topic).


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

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I agree on buying one of those pocket chainsaws if you want a saw. I personaly find sawbacks an annoying hinderance. Especialy if you're splitting wood for a fire or trying to use it as a drawknife.

I would reccomend either the Reeve Shadow IV or Sable.

Not so much for the hollow handle as much as because they are well designed and indestructable(well, as close to as possible). Just get an aftermarket kydex sheath. There's a bazillion sheath makers out there.

Since the knife comes free with a hollow handle, you may as well use it though. Stick some matches in there. As many as you can. Then if you have your knife, you have fire too; and worst comes to worst, what two things would you rather have?

As far as posting personal survival kits, that'd be fun and all, but your loadout depends not only on environment but also personal quirks and survival strategies, so one size doesn't fit all. It could be a fun thread though.
No offense, but why carry matches when butane lighters are so cheap? Matchs are a good fallback, but these days, it'd be stupid not to have a lighter on you. Put it in a condom, there you go, water resistant, and easy as pie.

I personally don't like any hollow handled knife other than Chris Reeve's designs, and even then I'd prefer something more ergonomic. If you are going to have a survival kit, have a survival kit, not something in a hollow handled knife. Best one I've heard so far was to put a roll of lifesavers in there, or a couple of cigarrettes.

Please note, the above is light humor, I'm not going to get in any pissing matches about hollow handled knives, since IMHO, everything other than Chris Reeve's One Piece line is a bit lacking.


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

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Bill F.
E-Mail me and we'll talk. I was raised up there. I still trap in that area. Portages need to be considered here (weight) and space.
Dan K
Hi Folks,

Jeff Randall sent me a heads up on this topic. I guess he thought I should add my two cents.

1) Hollow handle blades, IMHO, are worthless. The only one that even approaches usability is the Reeves. The problem in most is the lack of strength at the blade/handle junction. Tho' Chris has pretty much solved this problem there remain the following problems.

In field use you will need to gain access to the components. At that point water or moisture is introduced into a sealed container. The components deteriorate. Shock transmited to the components of the kit during heavy use can cause damage the the pieces contained within. The hollow handle, even when packed with bits and pieces, do not "feel" right. There is a lot of vibration transmitted up the handle to the users hand. When the handle is packed the shock of use will tend to pack the contents even tighter making them difficult to access. If the contents are loose, they make noise and they are more heavily damaged. We have tried dozens of packing systems but there is always some problem. Finally and most important... if you lose your knife, you lose your kit. People lose knives all the time. No one loses a sheath attached to a belt. The kit belongs there.

2) With respect to cntents.

We produced a video, almost two hours long, detailing possible contents. These contents vary with terrain, climate, season etc. Personal preference plays a big part of the choice as well. The video shows how to make the choices and how to use the components in a variety of ways.

There is no ONE kit list that is better than all others.

Finally, I make these comments based on 35 years of field experience. I've seen every conceivable hollow handled knife and I own about a dozen including a Reeves, a Randall and others. Several in the collection are broken... given to me by students. I advise against hollow handled big knives and now I recommend a solid, full visible tang, knife. Those don't fail.


[This message has been edited by Doc Ron (edited 19 August 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Doc Ron (edited 19 August 1999).]
Definitely follow the other poster's advice and check out the survival knives threads in Knife Reviews forum. Neither of the 2 knives you're considering were even mentioned -- and for good reason, IMO. There are much much much better choices.

I was told that there was a lot of knowledgeable people on here; boy were they right.
I have a lot more choices to make.
Thanks for all the great info.

Dan K,

I sent you an e-mail.
Please remember the history of the hollow handle S knife was made for aircrewmen. Limited to what they could strap on and literally wear in confined spaces.

As a hiker, you can pack more stuff into a plastic soap carrier and stick it in your pocket, than you can into a knife handle. Don't get me wrong, I love my Randall 18 and it was with me on every flight I flew for six years, but Space Blankets fit better in my helmet bag than the handle.

If you want a one piece deal, pack the survival kit on the sheath, and not the knife like Ron said in the video. You can drop your knife, but not the sheath belted to you. -Brian

Luckily we all have a forum like this that we can state our opinions and experiences without getting hammered or flamed like on 'some of the other' knife forums. - Jeff
BTW don't forget that a metal handled knife generally stays the same temp. as your surroundings. Something to consider up north of th' Mason-Dixon line!

If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.

I have used my Project 1 extensively and a helluva lot harder than most for over two years now, I have absolutely no complaints about comfort, ergonomics, and haven't had any problems whatsoever about transference of shock through the handle.

As I have stated, it was not the hollow handle that drew me to this knife. In fact, I've got a machinist maiking me a tempered steel endcap right now that will be permanently fixed.

The main reason I like this piece is because I use my knife for everything from killing and cleaning game, to building a camp and food preparation. There are a plethora of little harmful bacteria that can take up residence between blade and gaurd/handle scales on a multi-piece knife. I for one don't like that idea. Especialy with all these bloodborn pathogens going around these days.

As for temperature and the metal handle, after extensive testing and evaluation, I have found that this is only a problem in the coldest environments. Not an artic knife, but no problem anywhere else. Remember, Reeve designed this knife while he was a soldier stationed in a desert region.

Uh, guys, you don't put your whole kit in your knife, that one's a no brainer. The idea isn't that you replace a backpack with a hollow handled knife, the idea is if you have your knife, you've got some other stuff too.

I have a pouch for my sheath too, now if I have my knife, I have all the basics I need, even if I lose my pack.

Condoms suck, no pun intended, for water carrying. The slightest little prick(hehehe) and the thing will burst, meaning you lose your water. The best place to cary water is in your stomach, where it does you some good, or in a canteen if you have some extra. Condoms are for smuggling drugs and making love.

The reason you don't want that butane lighter in the hollow handle is because it's airtight. The butane lighter leaks, and then you're talking apocolyptic fireball. I know, I tried.

Matches are safer for long term storage in the handle, keep the blowtorch in your pocket.

I understand the aversion to hollow handled knives in the survival/adventure industry, but practical experiment has proven many of the above point to be false or of little worth.

Not that I'm arguing for hollow handled survival knives, like I said I'd still have the Reeve even if it didn't have this feature, and am sealing up the cavity on mine to fix the only real problem with the knife; if you do a whole lot of extensive chopping, the endcap will try to unscrew. I can't chop long enough without resting to make this happen, and I'm in pretty good shape, but it would be nice to not have to retighten it when I take a break. A little LokTite will fix this too. If you've got the lanyard around you wrist, it doesn't matter anyway, as even if the endcap did unscrew, it'd still be hanging from your wrist.
Bill I'd get one of those breakdown bowsaw types where the blades store in the handle. A lot more efficient and easier to use than the pocket chainsaw. Also if getting a fire started may be a matter of life and death, get a Blastmatch and some of those little fire starter cubes. They fit easily in film cans. Carry a good folder (or two) for the small jobs. For a camp knife depending on your budget look at the CS Trailmaster, Randall Model14 or 16 and the Busse Basic. I'm of the Bill Moran school in prefering large camp knives as long as the weight is not excessive. I know the trailmaster weighs in at 17 ounces with its sheath which I find reasonable. The Randalls will be in the same range. Haven't handled a Busse yet so I can't say but I would be suprised if it is not in the the same range.


who dares, wins

Hollow handles...hmmm after toting around my Randall 18 (nylon & para cord wrapped) for years I blew some P/C minds. few years back ,canoed a very isolated grade 2 river. 5x day trip. murfy arrived. flooded. our polite G2 became a swollen raging Grade 4 + . using plastic double skin canadian style.supposedly indestrutable. they wern't. after running areal nasty rapid (no portage option) & terrifying the kids (who thought it was pretty cool afterwards) managed to smash up one of the boats REAL bad. after a wrap. boats' gunwhales smashed + thwarts.after recovering boat & inspecting damage (2x days travel to go) we realised major reconstruction in order. after about 15 mins of p****ing around with the usual 3x inch blades, I produced my Randall to get the job done.jeez what a reaction. HORROR .strange huh ? well once everything settled down, we chopped & trimmed limbs & sawed thru that plastic like butter. only thing it couldn't do was weld .(butane lighters to the fore) after finishing, one of the kids (6X years) wanted to look @knife... sat him down & handed him knife..his eyes darn near bugged out of his head ! (so did his mothers,but for a different reason ! ) jeez what a laugh .I bet young Paddy will be up for a BIG blade when he' s old enough..tommorow. what really iterested me was the srange looks I got from toting this blade. sad but true.. cheers W
If you want a BUCKMASTER, go for it!

I don't oppose experts' discussion, and admit all the downside supposed to be there within a BUCKMASTER. But I kinda feel a knife utility in a survival situation depends more on how familiar the knife is to you than how functional the knife itself is.
If you trust in a decent knife, it will serve as much as you want though not promise a comfort while dealing with chore.

But...don't forget to buy a wire saw, and a lighter to avoid to feel betrayed by the BUCKMASTER with only few extra $.

\(^o^)/ Mizutani Satoshi \(^o^)/