Break Out The Big Blades

In a survival situation, you’ve
gotta go big if you wanna get home!
; .

Among the chores big knives can be used for are blazing a trail, shelter building, clearing a camp, chopping firewood, butchering large game and food prepping for a large group. Yet, when used correctly, they can also perform delicate functions like making fuzz sticks and fine-dicing meats and veggies. Bottom line? If given the choice of only one outdoor knife to carry for an emergency, your best choice is a burly blade!

Some Basic Parameters

Burly blades come in all shapes and styles, but all have one thing in common. They get the job done. Typically you need a blade in the 5″ range or more to do some serious hitting. All of our following picks fall into this range. There’s a diverse group blade styles and grinds here from spear, drop and trailing point styles — plus a hybrid for good measure.


CRKT’s Rakkasan features a wicked 4.9" Bowie-like trailing-point blade.

CRKT Rakkasan

At a hair under 10″ overall, Columbia River Knife & Tool’s Rakkasan is the smallest of our fixed-blades, but it packs a mean punch. Designed by Middle East veteran turned knifemaker, Austin McGlaun, for CRKT’s Forged By War program, the Rakkasan sports a 4.9″ Bowie-esque trailing point blade of black powder-coated, easy-to-sharpen SK5 carbon steel. The ample 5.4″ G10 handle has sumptuous curves for finger protection and the Rakkasan comes with a Kydex sheath replete with paracord. It’s versatile enough to chop, slice, or fight — your choice.
MSRP: $125


Battle Horse Knives’ Bushman is a super-sized version
of the company’s highly popular Bushcrafter model.

Battle Horse Knives Bushman

A super-sized version of the company’s highly popular Bushcrafter model, this big brother checks in at 10.5″ overall. For all-round utility, we like the saber grind shown here, but you can also have the 5″ O1 high-carbon steel blade done up in a Scandi or flat grind. The 5.25″ canvas micarta handle — available in a range of color options — can fit the biggest of mitts. A brown leather belt sheath is provided (Kydex optional). The Bushman is for those who need a bigger camp cutter for heavier field chores such as shelter building, butchering and group food prep. MSRP: $250.


The Fällkniven A1 Pro features a 6.35" blade of tough, corrosion-resistant Lam.CoS over 1/4" thick. The handle is a durable, rubberized material.

Fällkniven A1 Pro

This one may appear a bit snooty with its refined looks, but once you get into the specs you’ll realize this knife is a juggernaut. The A1 Pro, 11.1″ in overall length, is an upgraded version of Fällkniven’s highly regarded S1 survival fixed-blade — and upgraded is the right word. The 6.35″ blade features tough, highly corrosion-resistant laminate cobalt steel (Lam.CoS). But here’s the kicker — it’s over 1/4″ thick. The 4.75″ handle is Thermorun, a soft but durable rubberized material offering excellent purchase. All of this extreme awesomeness comes in a heavy-duty waterproof storage case that also includes a Zytel belt sheath and diamond/ceramic sharpening stone in a leather pouch. Fällkniven knives are known to cut like a house afire. With the A1 Pro you can include the barn. MSRP: $539.95.

This member of the Benchmade Jungle Family sports a massive, 9-inch clip-type blade.

Benchmade Jungle Family

This bruiser can be had with either a 9″ Bolo-style blade or a clip type. The company says it is “designed for brush clearing in jungle warfare situations.” With an overall length of 13.5″ and a weight of 11.8 ounces (Bolo) or 10.9 (clip point) ounces, this would seem an accurate description. The handle is a bright, “easy to find” textured orange rubber. This big chopper comes with a belt loop leather sheath. And it’s got a lanyard hole. MSRP: $130


Habilis Bush Tools SRT is built for monster chopping and slicing jobs.
The “SRT” stands for “Self Reliance Tool.” And this is exactly what it is.

Habilis Bush Tools SRT

Simply put, the Self Reliance Tool is an ogre of a knife. Habilis is well known in Bushcraft/Survival communities for their designs that go the extra mile. At 11.74″ overall, the SRT is their biggest knife and built for heavy-duty shelter construction, batoning fat widths of firewood and big time butchering. The 7.0″ Scandi ground blade is humped on the backside for more effective batoning work. It’s made of 1095 high-carbon steel with a gun-blue coating for rust protection. The 4.75″ orange/black layered handle offers plenty of gripping real estate and there are two lanyard holes in the base. Habilis throws in an over-the-top leather dangler sheath with side loops for optional sideways carry. MSRP: $229.

Freaky Folders!

Folding knives are rarely thought of as imposing compared to their fixed-blade counterparts, but this pair turns the notion on its head. Although most knife handles are considered large enough for big folks at 5″ in length, these two folders have handles of 6″ or better. And, of course, they’re easier to conceal than a fixed blade.


A pair of brutish folders, these mega-size lockbacks can handle
heavy chores, yet have the added benefit of being concealable.
At top is the CRKT produced Ruger Go-N-Heavy, at bottom is
the Cold Steel Spartan.

Cold Steel Spartan

This monster, designed by custom knifemaker Andrew Demko, is a hat tip to the legendary Greek Kopis style, taking cues from its C-shaped handle (which offers excellent finger protection) and curvaceous blade. The Spartan is 10.5″ extended and its 4.5″ stonewashed BD1 alloy stainless steel blade has a Kukri-style configuration. The 6″ Kopis handle is thoroughly modernized with Griv-Ex synthetic scales and the blade locks up rock solid with Cold Steel’s patented Tri-Ad locking mechanism. A pocket clip keeps the Spartan stowed. MSRP: $129.99.

Ruger Go-N-Heavy

If the Incredible Hulk toted a folding knife, it might look a whole lot like this Bill Harsey-designed monster. Stretching out to a lengthy 11.18″ fully deployed, this formidable folder feels like a nice sized fixed-blade in the hand. The Go-N-Heavy sports a deep ground, stonewashed 5″ stainless drop-point blade that rolls out via a thumb stud and is secured by a liner lock. The 6.18″ handle is skeletonized black anodized aluminum. Tipping the scales at 10.42 oz., the Go-N-Heavy comes with a nylon belt pouch for easy carry. It’s manufactured by Columbia River Knife & Tool for Ruger. MSRP: $99.95.

Super-Burly Bashers

These are often referred to as “camp knives” for their ability to clear brush and small trees for camp space, chop wood for a fire, butcher large game and prepare a meal for a hoard of hunters. Many choose camp knives over machetes because they are much stouter and take up less space, yet they can perform many of the same functions. We’ve also thrown in a pair offering alternative ways to chop like a champ.


At 17.5" in length with a 12" blade of ¼" thick 1095 steel, the TOPS El Chete is a burly companion for any monster task.

TOPS El Chete

No one has ever accused TOPS of producing dainty knives, and a mere sidelong glance at the El Chete should remove any doubt. This knife is, in a nutshell, a hand-held guillotine. At 17.5″ overall, the El Chete, designed by TOPS president and resident designer Leo Espinoza, is a delightful handful of carnage. The 12″- long, ¼”- thick 1095 carbon-steel blade is based on the Indonesian Golok clip-point machete pattern and the Acid Rain Cerakote finish is not only protective but adds to the knife’s imposing looks. The ample black-and-green layered canvas Micarta handle features a deep index-finger choil and bow drill pivot. Two holes for lanyard attachment reside in the base. TOPS delivers the El Chete with a black Kydex sheath. MSRP: $300.

SOG’s Jungle Warrior is 15.5" overall with 9.75" of the total
in a curvaceous stainless blade. A Kopis-style handle offers
excellent finger protection for intense whacking.

SOG Jungle Warrior

Here’s a thoroughly modern Bowie knife with curves leaning to the fighter side. At 15.5″ overall, the Jungle Warrior can blaze a trail or fend off any beast coming its way. The 9.75″ black oxide coated, 8Cr13MoV stainless blade has a nice recurve — great for trapping whatever you choose to cut — and a notched thumb ramp makes for enhanced purchase. The Jungle Warrior’s Kopis-style handle offers nice finger protection fore and aft and is made of soft Kraton textured with SOG’s trademark Digi-Grip pattern. A black nylon belt sheath with securing loop is included. MSRP: $78.


The Ontario SPAX was designed as a firefighting tool 20 years
ago but has found a following among military and law enforcement
personnel, plus hunters and outdoorsmen.

Ontario SP16 SPAX

Originally designed as a firefighting tool, the SPAX quickly saw use in military and law enforcement circles. Outdoor types have discovered it as well. The SPAX is 13″ overall and tips the scales at a tad over a pound and a half, so it’s very packable. The flared blade has 4.5″ of chopping edge and the backside has a wicked pick/breaching spike. A cutout in the blade can be used for hydrant/gas valves. The 5″-ribbed Kraton handle is no-nonsense military style with a lanyard hole for safety during heavy use. A black leather belt sheath with drop-loop and securing snaps is included. The SPAX is a handy tool for chopping duty around the campsite or as a backup basher in your SUV.
MSRP: $117.50.

ESEE’s Expat Cleaver is a beast. At 11" overall, it weighs in at 10.8 oz.


The Expat CL1 Cleaver is the first in a new line of choppers under ESEE Knives “Expat” label and they came out swinging! At 11″ overall and crashing the scales at 10.8 ounces, the Expat Cleaver is a handful of game-butchering and meal-prep utility. The 6″ 1095 high-carbon steel blade (0.188″ thick) has a deep 1″ grind, a handsome dappled black powder coat finish and sports a cutout of the state of Idaho at the tip. The ample handle, an ESEE trademark, has dense canvas Micarta scales (your choice of black or orange) and loads of finger protection. The Expat Cleaver is delivered with a black leather sheath with securing loop. MSRP: $276.50.


Big, Bigger Or Biggest?

Choosing your burly blade depends on several different factors. If space limitations are a factor in your decision, a hefty folder will serve your needs, yet still tackle big chores. For moderate to heavy camp chores, a fixed blade with a blade in the 5-6″ range is capable of providing just about everything you need. And even at this size, you’re not dealing with a knife so big it drags you down. There are times, however, when only swinging and slinging a big ol’ chopper will do. Happy cutting! 

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