Camillus Knife Review

When Ranger Man first asked if I wanted to do a review on a couple of Camillus knives I thought, “Camillus?  Sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.”  Some of you might remember them, but I had to go looking and then I had a surprise.

Here’s a quick history of the company…

(Excerpted from Wikipedia.)

The Camillus Cutler Company has roots going to back to 1876.  Adolph Kastor started the company in New York City where he imported German knives.  In 1897 due to a new tariff law the knives became too expensive to import, so he started manufacturing them instead.  He found a guy named Charles Sherwood who had his own knife manufacturing business in Camillus.

They did quite well with the business and then along came World War II.  In 1942 two Marine Corps officers, Colonel John Davis and Major Howard America, working together with cutlery technicians at Camillus developed what would later become the USMC 1219C2 Mark 2 Combat Knife, or as the military likes to describe things:  Knife, Fighting Utility .

Camillus made more of these knives than any other manufacture during the early years (there were several manufacturers.)  Care to guess what that knife is?  Check it out:



That’s right.  Camillus helped to design and develop what later became known as the USMC KA-BAR Fighting Knife.

Skipping ahead, the company went bankrupt in 2007 and then re-launched itself in 2009 featuring modern knives with titanium carbonitride coated blades.

But Are They Any Good?

Hello late 2011 and Ranger Man asking Jarhead Survivor if he’d like to test out some new blades.  “Hell yeah!” I said.  “Send ‘em on to me.”

You can buy these knives at Walmart if you think they’re something you might like to own after reading the reviews.  One of the things I like is that the prices are very reasonable and another is that the brand is endorsed by Les Stroud – someone I consider to be a top notch and realistic wilderness survivalist.  (Unlike Bear Grylls and his survival knife endorsement.  Read my review of that knife here.)  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not swooning because Stroud put his name on it, but I’m much more apt to give it a try because I like his style – marketing at its best.

So the company rep shipped me a few of the blades to try out and here’s my review.

First of all, I’ve got to admit that I was all set to dislike these knives simply because they are sold at Walmart (same as Grylls’ knives), but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and dug the knives I’d ordered out.

First was the Camillus 9” Fixed Blade Knife with Bamboo Handle.  I wasn’t too sure about the bamboo handle, but after holding it in my hand I was forced to rethink it.  It felt good and was far more rugged feeling than I expected for what I would consider a smaller field knife.  It’s not as heavy as my beloved Bekker KA-BAR, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

camillus fixed bladeBut the question is does it work well?  I took it out in the field for a few days and have to say that I like it.  I used it to split wood, cut rope, trim trees, cut steak, and onions and peppers, and all the uses and abuses you subject a field knife to and it held its own with ease.  It came with a decent edge and so far has maintained it.

The sheath is a standard nylon sheath.  Nothing special, but it works fine.

To be honest I like to test a knife for months before I give a solid recommendation; however, from what I’ve seen of this knife so far I don’t think you’d be disappointed adding it to your collection.

I give this knife four out of five stars.  It’s usable, tough, and damn it, it’s a nice looking knife.

The next knife I tested was the 7” Folding Knife with G10 Handle.  (I’m taking these descriptions right off the website.)

I’d been using a Gerber folding knife as my EDC knife, but after putting this in my pocket I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Gerber.  This knife is solid, has a nice weight, a very smooth open and close action, and it was reasonably sharp out of the box.  The only feature I haven’t decided I like on this knife is the pocketknifeTanto point.  I’ve never used one before and every time I take it out to use it for something that requires a tip it throws me off a little.  Still, this is a pretty nice little knife.  The only trouble I’ve had so far with it is the clip that holds the knife in your pocket:  it’s wiggling loose and the small screws are one of those star bits, of which I only have a limited set.  I’m going to have to buy some of the very small bits in order to fix it.

Still, a very nice knife and I give it four out five stars as well.  Click here for a closer look.

There’s one more knife I’ll cover in a later post as I haven’t had a chance to give it a fair test yet.

If you have experience with Camillus knives I’d like to hear about it.  Sound off in the comments section below.

-Jarhead Survivor

10 comments… add one

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. January 30, 2012, 8:45 am

    I own quite a few old Camillus manufactured knives, they were very good working tools. Also made quite a few contract knives for other knife manufacturers (Becker, Cold Steel, Schrade, Buck and others), it was less expensive to go this route vs. retooling for a new knife design.

    I’ll check out the ‘new’ Camillus, I wasn’t aware of their existence. Thank you for the review.

  • irishdutchuncle January 30, 2012, 9:29 am

    i have three of their knives, all late seventies production. i like their “air force” survival knife. (leather handle and scabbard, with sharpening stone)

    the other two are regular GI “pen knife” folding knives, all stainless. (one i bought, one i found…) the pocket knife i bought from the army-navy store broke within a few months. (that may have been why it was surplus) the lock/spring cracked and broke at the rivet hole. the one i found, is in one of my survival kits. so far it’s held up ok. i would buy a victornox, instead of buying another one of these. (in general, i wouldn’t buy another folding knife, unless it has a very substantial locking mechanism for the blade)

    i have no complaints about the fixed blade Camillus. it feels solid. it is a “full tang” knife, with adequate heft. (shorter than a K-Bar) it holds its edge, and does a nice job splitting firewood.

  • Mattress Man January 30, 2012, 4:15 pm

    That knife with the tanto blade is exactly like the Smith and Wesson knife I have, it looks great. I also have the same problems with the loosening clip and those darn star shaped screw heads.

  • T.R. January 30, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Yeah , the Tanto shape blade does take some getting used to . Its definitely not designed for delicate or finesse jobs . I have the Cold Steel G.I. Tanto . Its really made more for stabbing and chopping , in that type of utility , when you need a strong blade for rough tasks , the tanto shape blades do quite well . The Cold Steel one I have is a heavy knife and I abuse it daily , You will learn to appreciate its shape with use .

    • Jason January 31, 2012, 11:35 am

      Dumb question but are those Cold Steel knives really as tough, durable and as sharp as their Youtube demos show?

      I really like high quality things & willing to pay extra, just wanted to hear your thoughts as to value.

      • T.R. January 31, 2012, 10:36 pm

        Well I cant speak for all their products but I have two of their knives and the speznatz shovel . I have abused all of them to death and they haven’t let me down , the shovel comes sharpened and you can indeed throw it like an ax and chop down a small tree with it . The tanto I have strapped to my leg at work and I have beat through fiberglass , very thin sheet metal ,etc. its a dirt simple knife but damn near indestructible , havent been able nick the blade lol . I was able to shave my arm with it right out of the box . If your as hard on knives as I am , you will have to resharpen it a lot . I dont have any of the stainless stuff , but the 1055 or 95 carbon is a strong blade . Try the GI tanto , if you dont like it , you haven’t spent much .Im sure they have some things that are bummers but thats the chance you take with any company . I heard their heavy machete isnt worth a crap . The videos are very cool . I was looking at youtube and might get the Smith and Wesson tomahawk for my backpack .

        • Jason February 1, 2012, 12:01 am


          Just watched the video on the shovel – holy crap, what a shovel!

          • T.R. February 1, 2012, 9:04 pm

            I love mine , but just keep in mind , it is small . Great for your truck or a backpack . You wont be doing any heavy duty digging with it . But for an emergency or setting up a camp , its fine , it is a very well balanced , and feels good in your hand as a weapon .

  • Joe January 30, 2012, 11:05 pm

    How the heck did they bankrupt ?

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. January 31, 2012, 8:37 am

    Here is a link to Camillus bankruptcy – a darn shame!


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