Two From Hallberg...

Jan 31, 1999
For the lack of names, here are "Little Chuck" (L) and "Big Chuck" (R).


I first heard about Chuck Hallberg in this thread by Donovan --

I liked the look of the little knife, especially since it was made with a handle designed for a small hand. I ordered and received the knife several months ago. I like the comfort and retention of the handle which really locks my hand in. And I have used the knife enough to know that the D2 hollow ground blade is a great cutter. I like it enough to order a slightly larger brother. I wanted a slightly larger handle to allow some movement of the hand and also the addition of file work on the blade spine to give a little more security/control with the thumb on top. Thus, the addition of the Big Chuck to the collection this week.

Here are the spec's:

Little Chuck
- 7" OAL
- 3&3/4" blade length (measured from index point to tip.)
- 3&1/4" edge length
- 1/8" thick stock
- 7/8" deep blade
- 3/8" handle thickness
- multicarry kydex sheath

Big Chuck
- 8&1/8" OAL
- 4&3/8" blade length (measured from index point to tip.)
- 3&3/4" edge length
- 1/8" thick stock
- 1" deep blade
- 3/4" handle thickness
- Leather Sheath with integral metal clip.

Both knive have served well in general tasks I have put them through. I will be doing a comparison of Little Chuck with the BM Pinnacle later on because the Pinnacle has a similar length edge and recure. However the Pinnacle is ATS34 steel and saber ground vs the Hallberg's D2 steel and hollow ground. Should be interesting.

More later,


AKTI #A000356

Okay, my review of the Lil Chuck Hallberg in comparison with BM Pinnacle is completed. Again, taking a cue from Cliff, I thought if would be more informative for folks to see how the Hallberg performs with another knife as a baseline. I chose the Pinnacle for several reasons. One, the Benchmade knives are fairly common and many users are have or familiar with them. Two, the Pinnacle specifically has a recurve thought not to the extent of the Hallberg. And, three, I was interested in extrapolating some information about the performance of the (Hallberg) D2 steel vs. (BM’s) ATS34 and also the performance of the saber grind vs. the hollow grind. You may note from the pictures that the primary bevels on the Hallberg and the Pinnacle starting around the same area. However, whereas the Pinnacle employs a flat bevel to the edge bevel, Hallberg uses an aggressive concave (hollow) grind to the edge bevel. I don’t have measurements of the angles but the Pinnacle is definitely thicker and has a steeper angle (wedge shape) than the Hallberg. There are some variations in the actual blade and handle dimensions between the two knives. The Pinnacle is slightly longer in both regards. Here are the comparative numbers:

BM Pinnacle
- 8&1/4” OAL
- 3&3/4” blade length
- 3&5/8” edge length
- 1/8” stock
- 7/8” deep
- 3/8” thick
- NA

Little Chuck
- 7" OAL
- 3&3/4" blade length (measured from index point to tip.)
- 3&1/4" edge length
- 1/8" thick stock
- 7/8" deep blade
- 3/8" handle thickness
- multicarry kydex sheath

Since both knives have been used a fair amount prior to these tests, I sharpened both blades on the Spyderco Sharpmaker to restore a shaving edge. I tried to maintain the original angles of the respective knives since part of my interest is in seeing how they perform as originally designed. I did not sharpen the knives hereafter, as part of what I wanted to see also is the edge retention of the knives. Onward to the test:


Here I simply put a newspaper on a table and performed three drawcuts with each knife, weighing down on the knife as I cut. The sheets cut by the Pinnacle on the three tries were 14, 22, and 17. For the Hallberg they were 20 22, 21. Since I started off with the Pinnacle, I suspect the discrepancy in numbers may be affected by a difference in technique application. The Hallberg numbers were much more consistent.


I utilized 3/8” braided nylon rope that I cut on top of a fence post. I count all the cuts cleanly made and stopped when the knives were not longer able to cut through in one swipe.

The number of cuts made by the Pinnacle was 40 while the Hallberg was able to make 49 cuts.


To perform this test, I sacrificed two old copies of Blade magazine. I taped the magazines to a 4 feet long, 1”/8” board and locked the board onto a wooden fence with two vises. I stood at a distance from the target where only the knife tip can touch to minimize variations in distancing. Twisting my hips in the slashing motion enhanced the power and reach of the slash. The Pinnacle slashed through 11, 13 and 15 sheets on the successive tries. The Hallberg was able to perform slashes through 29, 35 and 39 sheets successively. The interesting thing here was that the slashes of the Pinnacle resulted in clean linear cuts until the further into the sheets where the slashes were no longer able to cut uniformly through. The Hallberg, had similar clean cuts but as the depth increased, the pages had bifurcated cut lines. Essentially, the cuts of the Pinnacle and the top portion of the cuts made by the Hallberg looked like this: (-------------------- ). As we get towards the bottom sheets of the cuts by the Hallberg, we begin to see cut lines like this: (---- ----). This indicated greater force and depth of cut being effected by the front of the recurve and later by the tip.


I wanted to see how the handles of the knives felt and the performance of the blades in whittling in a 1” wide pine dowel. I whittled from 1.5” from the dowel end to create a spear. Both knives achieved the essentially the same results at 337 cuts. I did notice that the Pinnacle took bigger chunks out but the edge had a tendency to slip off if I didn’t take a steep enough angle. The thinner edge of the Hallberg cut into the wood consistently at lower angles and took thin shavings out.


I wrapped 8 sheets of newsprint around a 1.5” inch dowel. The Dowel was clamped horizontally on top of a wooden fence with about 12” inches extending beyond. I stood at a distance where the belly of the knives can touch the top of the dowel. I performed three snapcuts for each blade and the cuts went right through the newsprint to the wood core. There was no damage to the edge of either blade. The cuts into the wooden dowel by the Pinnacle were visibly wider and a little less straight than those made by the Hallberg.


I started with this grip because I wanted to see the penetration abilities of the knives, without the variances created by psychological factors (you’ll understand later). I held the knives in a reverse (ice pick) grip but capped the handle butt with my thumb. This grip gives better retention and safety when stabbing full force into an object. The object in this case was a telephone book on a tabletop. I did three stabs for each knife. The Pinnacle penetrated to pages 222, 236 and 267 on successive tries. The Hallberg penetrated to pages 290, 298 and 304 on successive tries.


Next I held a telephone book against the wall and thrust into in with hammer grip. The Hallberg penetrated to page 264 and the Pinnacle to page 154. My hand almost jumped out of the handle cockpit of the Hallberg and gave me a damn good scare!
The Pinnacle held much better because of the filework on the index area and on the ramp on top of the blade spine. Part of the discrepancy in penetration can be partially attributed to some leeriness on my part to go full force after what happened with the Hallberg. I did not attempt any more successive tries with the forward grip.


Okay, I was impressed and glad that neither knife suffered any edge damage on the snapcuts. However, I found myself wondering since I have heard some complaints about the brittleness of BM knives and have had direct experience with 1/16” of the tip breaking off my BM Ares when it was dropped onto a wooden floor at about a 2 foot height. So, biting the bullet, as I generally am not interested in testing in what may border on a destructive manner, I decided to cut through a paper clip with each knife. I laid a straightened out paper clip flat on a cutting board and proceeded to hammer each knife through the clip. Both knives suffered minute chipping. Nothing that would show on a camera and nothing that would take much to remedy with the Sharpmaker. The chip on the BM was, however, slightly larger than on the Hallberg despite more thickness of it’s edge. (Neither chip shows up on camera.)


Although a comparison was made with the BM Pinnacle, the focus of this review is really on the Hallberg knife. So this section is really devoted to the latter.

Overall, I am pleased with Hallberg Lil Chuck and have been after several months of usage. The knife is a handmade but not a custom in the sense of me giving input to Hallberg about what I wanted in attributes. I saw the knife in Donovan's thread, liked the geometry of the blade and the handle. Plus, hearing that it was designed for a small person, I figured the knife would fit me as a low profile utility and defensive backup. The Lil Chuck would fill that role because it’s small and light enough for a neck carry but with a multi carry sheath can be carried in other modes as well.

While I am still very pleased with the how the knife performed as a utility in the tests, I believe Lil Chuck is not optimal for my defensive needs. Specifically, I was concerned that my hand almost popped out of the cockpit in the forward stab tests. The handle was a tad too small, through no fault of Hallberg because I ordered the knife as is from the Donovan thread. There was simply no extra room for my hand to go on force of the impact, except to pop out. The handle is well radiused, smooth and comfortable in the grip but evidently a tad bit too slippery. In ordering Big Chuck, I believe I addressed the handle fit but it too came with a smooth handle finish. In addition, I asked Hallberg to put some filework on the blade spine to enhance grip security and blade control on some tasks. The filework was nicely done. The Big Chuck is more a custom because of my input on the handle and blade length and filework. Here too, however, I made an oversight in giving the dimensions of the handle except for the width. So Big Chuck has a 5/8” wide handle when I would have preferred between 3/8” to .5” inches wide max. (As you can tell, I am still learning about how to work with a custom knifemaker.
) The handle of Big Chuck is also very comfortable, as is, but has bigger print and will not be as low profile for a discrete carry. Hallberg offered to redo the handle but I declined because I think the knife will be perfect for my camping and outdoor needs.

The fit and finish of both Chucks range from very good to excellent. On the Lil Chuck, the only slight flaw I found was the beginning of the primary bevel grind differed a bit from one side of the blade to the other. On Big Chuck, I found no flaws whatsoever.

The sheaths Hallberg made are also good. He is new to kydex and is still learning. Nevertheless, the multicarry sheath is very functional and secure for the knife without being too tight. The clip can be adapted to horizontal, vertical or diagonal carry because the holes on the clip matches with well with the various holes on the sheath. A lot of kydex sheaths I’ve seen miss the diagonal carry possibility. The finish of the Hallberg kydex around the edges is average. The leather sheath is well done. It has two layers and a metal clip is used instead of a belt loop. The metal clip is embedded/secured between the layers of leather and held on by a bolt or eyelet. The clip facilitates putting on and taking of the knife, something I like as opposed to having to take on and off a belt in the case of a belt loop. The clip holds well in normal speed draws but quick forceful draws can result in the sheath coming off the belt instead of the knife out of the sheath. This is a small point since the sheath was not designed for a discrete, urban, defensive carry.

I can’t make any definitive conclusions about how D2 performed against the ATS34 in edge retention and toughness because of the differences in the geometry and thickness between the Pinnacle and the Hallberg, though I tend to think it performed a bit better. For those who like the “stainless” quality of ATS34, I can say from experience with D2 used by Dozier, Madpoet and now the Hallbergs that the latter is not too far off from in that quality. I generally take fairly good care of my knives, rinsing if not wiping off after each use. I have not had any stain never mind rust on my D2 knives because of this, though I can say I have had some stain on a BM ATS34 knife because I was less meticulous. You do have a choice with Hallberg.
He works with ATS34, D2 and recently with CPM3v.

I like recurve blades. Some of the tests affirm why I like them. I think the recurve enhances cutting by drawing in the object being cut into the edge. I think the bigger recurve on the Hallberg made a difference in helping it outperformed the Pinnacle in some of the cutting test. The recurve, however, may be a hindrance in some precise tasks where one may want entire edge flat against the object being cut.

Finally, if one is considering the Hallberg for a defensive carry, I suggest you ask for a less smooth finish on the handle, that you include filework on the blade spine and, perhaps, even file work in the index area. The latter sometimes make the handle a bit uncomfortable for repetitive tasks over a period of time, like whittling, but it definitely enhances the grip retention. Also, I would suggest you take a measurement across the open palm and give it to the maker. This will help in making a better fitting handle (something Jerry Hossom did with me another blade that fit perfectly). Take your time, think about what you want, communicate and the chances are you’ll get a knife with the features you’re happy with. That’s what a custom knife is about.

Both Hallbergs are about $10-15 over the “street price” of the Pinnacle. Chuck Hallberg’s email is


AKTI #A000356

[This message has been edited by sing (edited 07-13-2000).]
Sing, do you have any specifics on the heat treatment of the D2. RC? Cryo?

In regards to the whittling, your comment about the angle of attack as a function of bevel angle is an important detail. Very nice to see such detailed exposition. You note that you had to use a steeper angle with the Pinnacle, this is probably what elevated its performance. The thinner Hallbery would probably outcut it given the same angle of attack.

Back to the discussion we were having in the "how to evaluate fighting knives" thread :

I have a couple of utility blades that are much thinner that the knives you use in the above. I would be interested in seeing if they were able to handle the stress of the cutting you put those blades to. I could just do the work myself, but I can't be sure that I would be using the same amount of force that you would. Would you be interested in having a look at one of them?

I would be very curious to know where the limit of practical durabilty is for such knives and a couple of points might shed some light on the situation. The blade may in fact get damaged, possibly even suffer a major fault, I realize that this may not be offputting to you, so no worries if you don't want to do it. If you do let me know and we can work out the details in email.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 07-17-2000).]

>>do you have any specifics on the heat treatment of the D2. RC? Cryo?<<

Actually, after the paper clip cutting test in which the thinner Hallberg did better than the Pinnacle, I was interested in knowing the same. I had thought Paul Bos did the heat treat. Hallberg said only for his CPM3V and I haven't followed on it. I'll email him.

>>You note that you had to use a steeper angle with the Pinnacle, this is probably what elevated its performance. The thinner Hallbery would probably outcut it given the same angle of attack.<<

It may, or it could get stuck. I started with the Hallberg and was actually more interested in whittling a good spear point. When it accomplished the task, I stopped. When I used the Pinnacle I stopped at the same number to compare. In the pictures, you can see the spear whittle by the pinnacle was not quite complete. It had a blunt point and was not as symetrical. I had better control with the Hallberg.

>>I have a couple of utility blades that are much thinner that the knives you use in the above. I would be interested in seeing if they were able to handle the stress of the cutting you put those blades to.<<

Sure. I am interested in along the same line. I'll get RayMD2020 to lend me a caliper to measure the bevel thickness if not the angle this time.


AKTI #A000356
Hi Sing, Great job on the review and testing,
I have all my blades (with the exception of
the 3v) done at Texas Knifemaker's Supply, as
they do a sub-zero cryo of -300F. The Rc of
the D-2 when they do it is 58-59. Hope this

Chuck Hallberg
Hi Chuck,

Thanks for responding. It's interesting that the RC is 58-59. I believe BM takes their ATS34 to 60-61. I thought higher RC means higher edge retention...? So with rope cutting the thinner edge made the difference?


AKTI #A000356
I believe TKS actually treats them a little lower than that, 58-59 Rc range. I'm sure you
could temper them higher if desired, but in this range you still have all the great qualities of ATS-34. Your right (imo)the higher the Rc the greater the edge retention,
would be a little tougher to sharpen though.
I believe Hatachi has a different reccomended heat treat for ATS-34, with tempering range a lot higher, in the 900F range. That may be why BM's Rc is coming out

,with the thinner edge.

Chuck Hallberg

[This message has been edited by chuckh (edited 07-18-2000).]
Sing, I hadn't noticed the carving detail when looking at the pictures, important distinction. One thing you might want to try is to vary the cut length. The difference in performance tends to grow with an increase in the length of the slices used.

In regards to the rope cutting, 9 cuts is pretty close considering the type of variation you would expect from one run to the next. Very roughly, if you want to know if a difference is significant, take the amount you think the runs might be off by, multiply this by 3, and if this is equal or larger than the difference seen, the difference is probably not significant and is just a random variation.

So let say you think that 2 cuts is a reasonable variation from trial to trial. Multiply that by 3 and you get 6. This is smaller than the difference seen (9) so the difference may be significant. However if you think 3 cuts from trial to trial is more reasonable of a variation, multiply this by 3 and you get 9 which is the size of the difference seen. This indicates that you may in fact just be seeing a random event.

The estimate of the variation has to be made from past experience - or you can simply calculate it if you do multiple runs. However generally if you have to calculate it in order to make a conclusion then the difference you are seeing is probably so low that no one is going to get overly excited about it anyway.

In any case, D2 may in fact get the nod edge holding wise depending on how it and the ATS-34 are heat treated as the D2 has much more Vanadium. The thinner edge as well as Hallberg noted gives it an advantage as well.

Drop me an email with your address and the particulars and I'll send you out a blade after I clean it up and sharpen it.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 07-20-2000).]

I'll go back and do two more trials just to satisfy my own curiosity.


AKTI #A000356