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Hollow handled survival knives are a point of significant contention amongst survivalists and preppers. They were popularised by the iconic Rambo First Blood Movie in a scene where Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo unscrews the handle of his knife and stitches up his wounded arm with the contents of the hollow handle.
Since then though the market has been flooded with cheap, poorly made and fragile knives that copy the concept. I would normally never recommend a knife with a hollow handle. To start with the concept of a knife, which should be strong enough for any wilderness task, that is deliberately constructed with a shortened tang is flawed. The most sought after survival knives have full tangs which reach the full length of the handle for strength. Hollow handled knives often only have a tang an inch or so long and this is inherently weak. I have seen many hollow handled knives break over the years and my confidence in them has been completely undermined.
This cold steel knife though has restored some of the that confidence;
- Weight 2.8oz
- Blade thickness 2.5mm
- Blade length 5 inches
- Handle 4.25 inch hollow polypropylene
- Steel German 4116 stainless cryo quenched
For Cold Steels own summary of the Survival Edge check out this video of them putting it through some very extreme tests;
I started using this knife with relatively low expectations even though I have a number of cold steel knives that I am very happy with I wasn’t convinced that even Cold Steel with their reputation and experience could produce a hollow handled knife that was really good.
It soon grew on me though, the blade it ‘self is comparable to that staple knife of bushcrafters the Mora Companion. The slightly clip point blade was perfect for basic camp chores, carving and preparing game and the only real complaint I have is that the handle is quite fat, to accommodate the survival kit in it’s special compartment. This means it isn’t the most comfortable knife to use for long periods but it does not cause hand fatigue or hot spots it’s just a bit large.
It is clearly strong though, it stood up to some moderate batoning to split kindling and while I didn’t really thrash it or abuse it is clearly strong enough for all sensible bushcraft and survival tasks.
The main event though for the purpose of this review is the survival kit that is housed in the handle;
The advantage of this kind of survival kit is that you have access to a full size knife blade with a proper handle, something that is rarely available in smaller survival kits. The fire steel is a little smaller than others but still bigger than what you might expect to find in a miniature kit. The ceramic rod is a good addition to the kit and is an excellent way to include something to sharpen you knife with while still fitting in the small compartment in the handle.
The compass is another essential survival tool and is wisely stored on the inside of the screw cap rather than on the outside where it might look ‘cool’ but is prone to being damaged. As well as this well thought out compass the storage of the other items is very sensible, the fishing line for example is coiled on a special metal spool rather than coiled and bound with a piece of tape like we see in other survival kits. Fishing line bound with tape can rarely be uncoiled free of tangles and maintains a lot of ‘memory’ and is really difficult to striated when you do want to use it. This little spool alone shows that this kit was though out very well. The line could be a little thicker though, there is just enough space to up the breaking strain of the line which would be very useful. The thin line although it isn’t marked looks to be no more than about 6lb breaking strain which is useful for fishing but without the shock absorbent properties of a fishing rod 6lb line isn’t as versatile as it could be. Stronger line is not only more versatile but I would argue essential in a salt water environment where fish can be bigger or where you could catch multiple fish on a single line if you tied it correctly and the light line just isn’t going to be up to it in those situations. The hooks and split shot are essential companions to the fishing line and while there are no floats included in the kit you could easily carve some of make some from reed or feather stems.
The brass wire is also a great addition to the survival kit, popular opinion would have it that passable snares can be made from almost any cordage and while snares can be made from fishing line and natural cordage wire offers significant advantages in strength and durability. Small mammals also can’t bite through wire as they can with fibrous cordage.
The strength of the Survival Edge’s kit lies in it’s full size knife and fire steel which will make survival tasks much easier than trying to have to struggle through with a razor blade or small folding knife but the kit does complement the blade well and lends a lot of functionality to the overall kit. This kit will perform a lot of essential survival tasks for you, as long as you can use it to make yourself a shelter and work out a way to boil water you will be fine even in challenging outdoor circumstances.