Thursday, August 19, 2010


A friend gave me one of these last year. I liked it right away. The flippers are plenty long enough to act as a flipper to get the blade moving, but also the larger flipper makes a much mo' bettah handguard.

Read about the history of Jim Bowie and why he incorporated a handguard into the later designs of the knife design he worked on since childhood. I read he carved his first version of the infamous Bowie Knife when he was a young teen, out of a piece of wood, a solid limb of some kind of hard wood. One of his early versions of the Bowie Knife sans handguard slipped in his hand and sliced his palm open. Or as I recall from various Texas history courses and readings over the years.

So I was visiting a friend who is a knife collector and he had a variety of knives on his coffee table and the Camillus Wildfire caught my eye. I liked the blade, it is wide and I like the design on it. It was plenty razor sharp and looked sturdy. It has large flippers to actuate the blade into opening and once the blade is opening, the flippers become handguards of sufficient size with which to keep a hand from sliding into the blade.

So my friend of more than 20 years, Senor El Bar, gave me the knife. It was new, although he didn't have the box. He told me it cost $30 or $40 bucks new and was made in China. He told me that the original Camillus knife company was in operation for decades and made great knives here in America. They went bankrupt and in 2009 a new knife company emerged using their name.

I try not to buy Chinese products. My family actually makes an effort to do that, as do many families I know. Even when it means paying a little more for the product to get American made stuff. But as this knife was *gifted* to me by my longtime friend, it of course has some friendship value as well. But I've truly come to like the knife, and it's certainly become my daily carrier since I've gotten it.

In the past 8 months I've had the knife, it's hacked medium size vines and branches, making short work of both. It will slice an aluminum can all up, as well as shred paper. I've hacked rubber and frozen shrimp and mullet with it and even though I have the plain and not (partially?) serrated blade, it makes small work out of chopping frozen mullet into useable bait sized chunks.

Of course, it has no problem opening packages or slicing through the Pentagon level of security bindings and flex ties and wire ties and other anti-theft packaging that toys are currently sold in. Likewise, some of the anti-theft plastic enclosures that cover certain products is almost impossible to cut even with a good pair of scissors, but this knife slices through it like warm butter.

I've cut some rope of varying expense and density and it's held up well. It can cut through most any plastic or metal or organic materials that I've cut with it, so it's pretty darn impressive. I plan to get another one soon, as well as one of the slightly smaller Sizzler models.

Made in China or not, the Camillus Wildfire is a strong folder. It's not the same kind of sturdy as my 80's Cold Steel tanto folder, or the several Buck Hunter 110's that I own, which are SERIOUS lockback 4" folders with some serious strength in construction.

But the Wildfire is much more sturdy and better constructed with a superior blade to lots of the so-called name brand "defensive knives" that are on the market right now.
My Wildfire has had some rough and tumble use since I got it. It's been fishing at the beach 3 times cutting through frozen mullet with a fair amount of ease, several other freshwater fishing trips, numerous home construction and package opening chores, hacked various vines and bushes and branches from paths around a friend's lake, whittled kindling wood and bunch of other chores.

It may not be a $500 tactical folder, but for my needs, it's a great everyday pocket knife to carry and excellent back up defense weapon to whatever handgun I am carrying.

It's a big knife. It's also a heavy knife, by today's folder standards. The Benchmade I carried for years before getting the Camillus weighs 1/2 as much as the Camillus, and it's not much smaller and is an excellent blade. The Spyderco Delica I carried years before that weighed probably 1/3 as much as the Camillus. Before the Delica, I carried a Cold Steel tanto folder for many years, again weighing less than the Camillus. All three are fantastic knives, but I like the Camillus now.

As I said, I plan to get another one. It's literally the best large folder I've ever handled.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of cold steel folders are made in Taiwan, China or Japan nowadays anyway. Do you know what steel it's made of? A lot of American manufactured knives are overpriced because of production costs which is why they go abroad. I've been looking at Bench made recently, I like the look of the Onslaught, Presidio and Rukus.