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Camillus Barbarian Fixed Blade Knife with Kydex Sheath, Black, 7.75-Inch
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- 1095 high carbon, black powder coated steel blade
- Drop point blade
- Saw back blade
- Black canvas Micarta handle
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Camillus 7.5" Barbarian Fixed Blade Knife with Kydex Sheath, 1095 High Carbon, Black Powder Coated Steel Blade.
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First is the shape of the blade and the point. I wanted a smaller, sharper point for finer work and improved piercing ability, but still with adequate width for strength at the tip. The addition of the saw blade on the spine is a minor plus. The hollow ground blade was shaving sharp out of the box and has retained its edge after many feather sticks and much carving.
Second is the contoured micarta grip with curved back, finger choil, thumb jimping, and extended length, as well as the large finger grooves. These provide very good grip for my medium sized hands and I had no "hot spots' after extended use.
Third is the Kydex sheath. Solid lock in with good retention and only minimal blade rattle. The smaller tech-lock belt attatchment with multi-directional mounting offers a lower profile for concealed carry. It will only work horizontalIy or vertically though as the holes aren't spaced for diagaonal carry. I did have to smooth the edges where it contacts the skin when wearing vertically under a shirt. I used the bottom two holes on the sheath to mount a pen barrel with zip ties to carry a ferro rod.
This knife is a great compliment my gear bag and I highly recomment it to hunters, hikers and outdoorsmen.
Until recently, I was unaware that Camillus was once again producing American-made knives, and as of 2014, this is still not the norm for them. Most of their knives are built in China or Taiwan, so when I discovered that the Barbarian (as well as a couple other models) is indeed made in the USA, I decided to compare it against ESEE, TOPS and Ontario knives with similar features when researching - and eventually purchasing - a knife for general outdoor use. The closest competitors are the ESEE Model 3 and Ontario RAT-3, with TOPS offering a number of comparable models, and the standard specs for the knives I was looking at were as follows:
3.75" blade length
1095 steel (usually coated)
Micarta or G-10 handle material
Kydex or equivalent sheath
As you can see by looking at the Barbarian's specs, it has all those bases covered, but what made it interesting was the slightly different blade and handle shape, as well as the saw teeth along the spine, all in contrast to the ESEE and Ontario knives. If anything, the Barbarian looks somewhat closer to a number of TOPS designs. In the spirit of trying something new, I opted to buy the Barbarian despite the lack of online reviews and without any prior experience using Camillus fixed blade knives.
My first impression was that the knife seemed smaller than I'd envisioned, but realistically, most so-called bushcraft knives tend not to be the sword-sized behemoths that people often expect, nor do they need to be. The Barbarian's blade is not quite as wide as other knives of this type and has a slightly less pronounced belly, but still well within the definition of a drop point and what I would consider a hollow grind. I purchased my knife used (carried only, never cutting anything) and found that there is a bit of black residue along the edge that could be due either to some scraping along the inside of the Kydex sheath or less-than-precise application of the black blade coating, so I'm not sure what a person could expect from a brand new knife. However, the blade was sufficiently sharp to cleanly cut paper. The tang and micarta scales have a bit more in the way of ergonomic contours than comparable knives, allowing the user to "choke up" further and more easily than on other knives while still having the safety of a choil. There is no thumb ramp, but there is subtle jimping along the spine. Detailed cutting tasks ought to be somewhat easier thanks to the blade shape and overall ergonomics. At the back end, the placement of the lanyard hole and shape of the scales has a slightly more polished appearance than the ESEE and Ontario offerings. My only complaint is that, although the left and right scales are attached flush to the steel, they aren't perfectly symmetrical with one another when viewed from the edge. This can be forgiven, considering how comfortable the grip is. In all other aspects, the attention to detail is fantastic.
A good knife with a bad sheath is hardly ideal in the great outdoors, and although I own other knives with very nice leather and nylon sheaths, I wanted Kydex or something along those lines. Not only is the Kydex sheath included with the Barbarian quite nicely assembled and with excellent blade retention, but it also includes a Tek-Lok modular clip. I was able to set mine up for small-of-the-back belt carry with right-hand draw, keeping the knife out of my way until I need it. This is my first experience with a Tek-Lok, and I can confidently say that it won't be the last.
As it stands now, I haven't yet put the Barbarian through its paces, but my initial impression is such that I'll give it four out of five stars. Why not a full five? Honestly, it really comes down to price. Yes, this is a USA-made knife with all the features I wanted. However, even at the price I paid ($10 below current Amazon price) it is still more expensive than the Ontario RAT-3; Amazon's price puts it just a little below an ESEE Model 3 (note that some ESEE sellers charge extra for a Kydex sheath) as well as a few TOPS models. It's entirely possible that the Camillus ends up being superior in some regards, but I initially balked at the price until a used one turned up for a little less. Prospective buyers looking for a "high value" knife may be dissuaded by the Barbarian's price point alongside more established competitors, especially combined with a general lack of information on Camillus USA circa 2014 and a stark absence of reviews here on Amazon, on YouTube, etc. On the other hand, while this is not the Camillus of old, with a bit more visibility in a crowded marketplace and a commitment to building quality products, the brand might once again be mentioned in the same conversations as other American companies with reputations for highly capable, heavy-duty knives.