Back in the 1980s it seemed like every knife company was producing some sort of hollow handle “survival” knife, and the truth is, most were just junk – plain and simple. Oh sure, there were some good ones, however if you wanted a really good hollow handle survival knife, you had to go to one of the custom knife makers – and at that, there weren’t that many really producing this type of knife. I remember being at an auction one time in Colorado Springs, Colorado – and there was all manner of stuff up for auction. There was one lot of the very cheapest, and poorly made hollow handle survival knives that were just junk. You could have purchased these knives any place in town for a couple bucks. When the bidding started on this lot of a dozen knives, a couple bidders just went crazy, and the winning bidder had purchased the knives for $20 each. My friend and I just stood there in shock – as did almost everyone else. You would have had a difficult task slicing warm butter with those knives, and the saw on the back of the blade – it wouldn’t saw anything. To each his own. And, I’m glad the “Rambo” hollow handle survival knife craze has passed. You can easily pack all the survival gear that was in a hollow handle survival knife in a 35mm film container to put in your pocket, in a pouch built into a sheath, or in your pack.
Today, most Preppers tend to lean towards smaller fixed blade knives as their first choice for operating in the boonies. However, while a smaller 4 or 5 inch blade fixed blade knife can handle many chores, there’s nothing like a bigger/longer blade for the hard tasks. Ever try chopping a small tree down with a smallish fixed blade knife? I didn’t think so! How about breaking through bones on a big game animal? You need some heft behind your blade, and smaller blades won’t get the job done!
I recently tested the Columbia River Knife & Tool “Redemption” survival knife, a design from the creative mind of custom knife maker and knife designer, Ken Onion. Onion is very well-known for his folding knife designs, but a lot of folks don’t know about his fixed blade knife designs, and there are quite a few of them on the market being produced by various knife companies. Onion collaborated with CRKT to come up with one of the biggest and baddest fixed blade survival knives I’ve ever run across. And, if you’ve ever looked at any Onion-designed knives, you’ll readily recognize the graceful flowing lines of the blade – all are a bit different from one another, but all have the same “Onion” design behind them.
The Redemption has a 9.50-inch long blade made out of 01 tool steel, that has a black powder coating on the entire blade – nice subdued look to the knife. The blade is recurved, and this actually extends the cutting edge over the overall length of the blade – in reality, you are getting more than 9.50-inches of cutting power. Blade thickness is .26-inches, so just a touch over a quarter inch in thickness. Overall length of the Redemption is 15-inches with the bulbous handle shape with finger grooves placed right where you need them. The handle material is G10 and this is super-tough stuff. At one time, only custom knife makers used G10 handle scales because the material was so expensive. The top front of the handle has what I like to call “friction” grooves, for sure thumb placement, giving you tremendous control and gripping power when using the blade in slashing and stabbing moves.
The 01 tool steel blade has a Rockwell hardness of 56-58 and that’s about perfect for tool steel – you don’t want it too hard, or it becomes brittle and hard to re-sharpen. And, 01 tool steel has been around as a blade material for a lot of years, and the only drawback is that it will rust if not properly cared for – thus the black powder coating on the blade to help protect it from the elements. For such a large blade, it only weighs 20.8 ounces – not too heavy, and not too light for the tasks you’ll use it for. And, speaking of tasks, the Redemption can be used as a self-defense blade, as well as a mini-machete, and it can replace a hand axe, too – it can chop better than many small hand axes I’ve used over the years. And, in my neck of the woods, we have blackberries vines all over the place, and the Redemption sliced right through them without much effort and blackberry vines are quite tough.
Truth be told, I don’t normally like a fixed blade knife for survival purposes, with a blade much more than 7 or 8 inches. However, the balance on the Redemption is such that the blade doesn’t feel that big – although it is. And, I believe you can get a blade that is too long for self-defense use – however the Redemption seems to work when I put it through its paces slashing and stabbing it into stacked cardboard in my car port. While I couldn’t stab it the complete length of the blade into the stacked cardboard, I have no doubts at all, that this blade would easily penetrate its length into warm flesh and bone. There is also a lanyard hole, with a 550 paracord lanyard attached, a great thing to have and use.
The sheath that the Redemption comes in is worthy of mention, too. Not too many years ago, you would have paid $100 or more for this type of sheath from a custom sheath maker – I know from experience! The sheath is made out of high-strength Nylon, with a formed and fitted thermal plastic insert, so when you are putting the Redemption back into the sheath, there is no fear of the blade piercing the sheath – I’ve seen it happen numerous times on leather sheaths and unlined Nylon sheaths – not a good thing. There is also a leg strap on the sheath, for securing the knife so it doesn’t flop around on your leg – and the sheath is easy on/off, too, so you don’t have to remove gear to put it on your web belt. There is an additional paracord length of material on the bottom of the sheath, so you can further secure it to you leg – as in making a parachute jump – you don’t want your gear flapping in the wind at 120 MPH, nor do you want to lose your gear in a jump. The knife is further secured in the sheath with a Nylon retaining strap with a firm one-way snap.
If you’re in the market for a large fixed blade knife that can serve as not only a large camp knife, but one well-suited for self-defense as well as serving as a small hand axe, then be sure to check out the CRKT Redemption. I think you’ll be surprised at how well it handles, for such a large blade. Full-retail is $300. However, like many CRKT products, you can find them discounted at many big box stores and on the Internet. And, don’t forget, all CRKT knives come with a lifetime limited warranty, and I’ve used it once or twice, excellent service. The Redemption has all the quality of a hand-made custom knife, but without the high price tag. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio
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