The Urban Survival Knife: The Chris Reeve Shadow III


Or, it can be the rural or suburban survival knife; it does not matter a bit. This little knife is quite functional on many levels.


Each Chris Reeve hollow handle knife is made from a solid piece of A2 tool steel. Basically, Mr. Reeve starts out with a piece of round stock, a rather thick steel bar, and he machines it until he has a knife. Simple, right?


Look at these pictures, a display made by Mr. Reeve for a Dealer in the 1980s, the construction progression is right to left:



Continuing, right to left…



Here is a cutaway showing the hollow handle construction:



These knives are tough. Anyone that owns or has ever owned a Chris Reeve Knife knows precisely what I am talking about, these knives are simply superb tools.


The butt cap is made of 6061 aluminum. A Neoprene O-ring seals the hollow cavity in the handle.


The knives are coated with Kalgard and have a RC of 55-57.


If the coating wears out, from what I understand, Mr. Reeves will refinish your knife for a small fee.

Shadow III

Overall Length 8 inches

Blade length 4 inches

Weight 6 ounces 

What if I have to fight with this thing?

I’m not discussing legalities beyond what I am going to say right now. Treat knives like a firearm when it comes to Self-defense, know that contrary to what ANYONE says on this subject…in order to cut or stab someone in “Self-defense,” it would have to be a situation where you were legally and morally justified in SHOOTING them. DO NOT LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO STATE ANYTHING ELSE. They are either ignorant or they are trying to sell you something that is going to get you sent to prison. So, pack up your toothbrush and soap on a rope if you embrace their ideology.


This is reality. You don’t have to like it but you better believe it. Do not even PULL the knife or PUT YOUR HAND ON IT unless you could have done the same thing with a firearm or it could be a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.


Chris Reeve fixed blades have round handles that are checkered. They have an excellent grip but could pose some problems if exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures. You want to keep the knife covered, cover the grip or use gloves, etc.


The problem with the grip when using one for combat/fighting would be one of orienting the edge. I don’t, however, think it is a problem that cannot be overcome by practice. Knife-specific practice, you must make edge-orientation your second-nature.


I have observed some people who have intensely focused on the stick methods from the Philippines and among some of them, they have forgotten about the edged aspects of weapons and they tend to strike with the flat of a training blade instead of the edge. This is a training issue as well. You have to get your act together and then eliminate that and practice using the stick as if it were a Bolo machete and then you will have no problem.


This knife can be used in forward grip, edge up or edge down and in reverse grip, edge facing out or facing inwards. It is 100% viable in all of those grips. Enough said. This is what I prefer; it is a repetitive theme on this website. I tend to prefer reverse grip with the edge facing in with small knives like this, for self-defense purposes.


People get attacked and murdered on city streets as well as in the wilderness – in camping areas, etc. It is not unheard of. Should we talk about statistics? The statistics of this particular situation would be, you are safer on a hiking trail away from the urban cesspools – you are much more likely to be attacked on a city street.




It’s not “paranoia” to simply be prepared for any eventuality. People have been attacked while camping, hiking and fishing – even hunting at times although that is obviously even rarer given the fact that hunters are ARMED.


I’m not telling you to look for trouble or to swagger around some campsite like a moron. Conduct yourself like you would at any other time. Be professional, discreet and observant - be prepared.


What I am talking about here is having a knife that can do a great many things and do them all well. A knife that is simply a good survival tool, you can do whatever you have to with it in order to survive and it is more than strong enough to use it as a lethal weapon if you have to.

Assembling a small kit

A Penrith Tin, a Chris Reeve Knife and a Brit Space Blanket. This is a basic survival kit that you can (and should if you are venturing out into the great outdoors) carry on your person, place in a shoulder bag or keep in a vehicle for an emergency.



Here is a close-up view, looking down into the hollow handle of the knife.



This is actually one of the smaller CRK fixed blades, if you buy a larger one, they have even more room in the handle. But I chose the smaller one for specific reasons. Legality, ease of carry and presentation speed on the draw if I needed it quickly. Smaller knives tend to be more maneuverable, etc. Fast in the hand.


There are some simple items that you can place in the handle. There is a great controversy about hollow handle knives – that they are weak or you should not place survival necessities (like the ability to start a fire) in the handle of a knife you might lose.


There is no argument, if you think the construction of this knife is weak, I don’t know what to tell you! You’re wrong! You would have to break this knife on purpose and anything can be broken on purpose. Even those folks that might disagree with me on the issue of other hollow handle knives should be able to see clearly that this type of knife, the Chris Reeve hollow handles, are the epitome of the concept.


I think you would have to purposely break an Aitor Jungle King II or a Brewer Explorer, both of these knives have “inferior” construction compared to Reeve Knives, yet they remain viable for emergency use if you know what you are doing with them.


The second part of the “controversy” is carrying items in the handle and losing the knife, etc.


Well, these are EXTRAS; they are secondary or tertiary and not primary devices, OK? Redundancy is something you should strive for when you put together defensive gear or survival gear. These are not the only things you carry.


In this picture, you will notice the butt cap of the CRK has cotton balls compressed into it…



This, along with some more cottonballs compressed into the handle when packing, eliminates rattling and whatnot. This is also your tinder and the O-ring seal of the knife will make sure that it is dry when you may need it most.


The item that looks like a folded up piece of paper is actually a strip of (British) Puritabs, Chlorine-based water purification tablets. (I placed a red dot on the folded up section in the picture) I chose these for this knife because in order to use Iodine-based tablets, as per my understanding, you would have to use a small, glass vial for those and I have not found any small enough or tough enough for the task.


The small pencil, much smaller than a “Golf” or “Lotto” pencil, can obviously be used to write with. But, more importantly, you could scrape wood from that into the cotton balls if you had to – if tinder material in the area was scarce or wet – you could amp up the cottonballs with shavings from the pencil. Or, use that space for something else.


A small chunk of wax or a birthday candle or two would be a fine idea as well. That is what this is about – ideas.


The other two items are a Sparklite Firestarter (there is a blue dot on that in the picture) and a regular, cylindrical flint (there is a green dot on that in the picture). Either one will do! Or, you could place a covered striker in there with some British Lifeboat Matches. Your choice.


You could place a few rolled up twenty dollar bills, one dollar bills, other types of money. What you place in the handle should not be primary survival gear but extras! I won’t repeat information that you can find elsewhere on this site about what you can place in the handle of this knife, do some reading around the site to get some ideas!


I highly recommend Chris Reeve hollow handle fixed blade knives as well as Sebenza folders, excellent products.



Don Rearic


copyright 2004 DonRearic.Com

Back to the Main Index