Wilson Tactical’s Model 26 Camp Knife has a contoured handle with a large forefinger groove that is so large it is close to being of sub-hilt proportions. Weight-wise, the knife is substantial and, combined with its thin, hollow-ground edge, it pack a shot.
At 14-inches thick, the full-tang construction no doubt leaves the knife carries more than enough durability to do serious chopping. Over long periods of time the heft can prove a bit tiring. Profile lines of the edge are clip-point-style with a slight recurve towards the back, forming a pocket for a grip when doing finer work.
The blade grinds meats up with a false grind on the spine, achieving a strong, yet effective, tip for piercing. A slight drop at the back of the handle allows the user a bit of wrist action through the end of the swing to get some short, but effective, chops in when needed.
The Model 26 comes with a large Kydex sheath. A problem for my hand with the Model 29 is that the second ridge forming the large finger groove tends to jam my fingers on full swings, proving to be bit uncomfortable at times.
Ka-Bar’s Bowie is a style that is large in proportion with a clip-point design. It comes with a nylon/leather sheath with double buckle loops for the handle to hold it in tight. The weight of the knife is kept down by the use of a coffin tang design with Kraton G for the handle. It has good weight for the swing, and the coffin-style handle not only keeps cold steel from touching flesh, but also cushions the vibrations sent through the handle while chopping.
At first look, the hawksbill at the back of the handle would seem to bite while chopping but the lack of tight corners forming edges. The use of the Kraton G actually makes it comfortable and keeps one’s hand from sliding off the back swing. The handle is also a full handle that makes it easy to get a grip on and swing without jamming your fingers. Ka-Bar’s Bowie is a good, modern representation of a classic design.
Ontario’s RTAK II is a large drop-point version of a camp knife with full-tang construction and micarta scales. One group in this article, the RTAK, is the second longest, being that it is only 2/8-inch behind the Steel Eagle by Tops.
A wide, long blade on the RTAK forms a formidable cutting plane with solid penetrating power on the full and snap swing. The handle is contoured and roomy, making it comfortable to use. It comes with a multipoint attaching sheath so, given its size, it is a more comfortable carry then on the hip, making it easier to lash to the outside of a pack. Another feature that comes with the sheath is a side pouch pocket to carry a folder, stone or multitool. Although the RTAK cuts well, I think that by pulling back the edge just a little, therefore thinning it out, it would be a monster of a cutter.
From Browning comes a cutting competition award winner of the International Cutting Competition Trail designed by James Crowell and Reggie Barker. The design is a wide, long-drop clip point that seems to be flat-ground on a disc and then convexes off to the edge. The handle is made from Micarta and features a forward lanyard system. The forward lanyard system helps lock the handle into the user’s grip on each twist of the lanyard.
Overall, the knife has great chopping power and meets competition standards so a person can even purchase one and compete with it. Also designed into the handle is a flare at both the profile and width, which keeps the hand forward on the knife during the swing. For a sheath, it doesn’t get more traditional in the group than a full-leather sheath that comes with a frog system so you can take the knife off without taking off your belt.
Debates will rage on for years over small versus large, and the need and utility of a large knife anymore. Arguments aside, one thing is for sure, there is still a demand for the large camp knife, and in the future, there is no foreseeable shortage of a supply of designs for this style of knife with a long North American history.
By Abe Elias