Question Of The Day: How Big Is The Big Knife Market?

Image courtesy Buck Knives

Big blades are completely different animals from even the most badass EDC folders. Knives like this $115 Buck ‘Thug’ (hate the name…) will chop brush, split firewood, fell small trees and skewer a wild boar; in a word, they’re just plain manly. But they are several other things as well, things that aren’t quite so cool. What is driving the market for these big knives, and when will that market be saturated?

Big quality blades are (duh) more costly than small quality blades, and only the most devoted knife guy will spend more on a knife than the cost of a Ruger 10/.22 rifle and ammo. Many of us have a whole drawer full of pocketknives for no other reason than that we dig them, but the expense of a big ‘big’ knife collection can discourage all but the most ardent.

Many quality big blades are extremely costly, although there are makers like Becker that seem to deliver a lot of bang (or slice) for the buck.

Image courtesy Survive Knives

Most parts of the country aren’t terribly friendly to large-blade carry, either by statute or by informal street law. Strapping on a 10-inch survival knife like this $350 GSO-10 in a populated area might not always get you arrested, but unless you’re in a Cabela’s store you’ll probably find yourself the subject of unwanted police attention.

Even where they’re allowed and accepted for daily wear, big knives aren’t very good at a lot of the things we frequently use knives for. Even when it’s pretty sharp, a 12″ Bowie stinks for food prep and letter opening. And mistakes with big knives cause much bigger problems than mistakes with Victorinox Classics, as more than one friend has learned to their dismay.

But big knives are big business right now. One of their benefits is that the optimum steels for larger blades don’t tend to be as exotic or expensive as the space-age supersteels we covet in our tactical and EDC knives. There’s not much need for a `12-inch Kukri made from CPM S35V, when ordinary tool steel (properly hardened) will work better. Of course, that Kukri is going to need a honkin’ huge slab of tool steel, compared to the sliver that becomes an Al Mar or Boker blade.

If you’re into big steel, do you use it or are you a collector?  How many big knives do you have and what’s your favorite?


  1. LES says:

    Never had a need for one myself. If it’s too big to skin game, well thats about the only time I carry a fixed blade. That aside, its the same reason people buy as many accessories as they can for their AR, they think its cool. Like you said, it exudes manliness, who doesn’t like the tough guy image?

  2. Sam L. says:

    Well, I bought a big Buck knife in the late ’60s–and haven’t had a reason to carry it except in my car. Also a Gerber Mark II, in ’69, just cause it was so cool. A kukhri a couple years ago, just because. (Car kit.) And a Gerber 10″ Chef knife at a rummage sale a few years back–always admired those old Gerbers–and it works well. Scratched blade from bad sharpening attempts before, but the rocker shape was still there.

  3. Aharon says:

    The big fixed knife market (BFKM) is nowhere near as big as the small folding knife market and I believe the BFKM is smaller than the small fixed blade market. Just going by personal observations.

    I looked up the specs on the above Buck Thug knife. It is certainly much bigger than your typical SAK and everyday folder yet it is not a big clunky Rambo type or Orc knife. The Thug is full tang and has a seven inch long blade and it’s made from 5160 carbon steel, it’s jimped so you can do some finer work with it, and the scales are micarta. Amazon $124.

    Smaller knives are obviously more functional for skinning most game (and btw, I no virtually nothing about skinning game) and bush craft. IMO, I don’t see as a matter of practical routine a need to have more than one or two knives that fit into the mid-size range. If I was ever facing a two or four legged aggressor I would generally prefer a mid-size or bigger knife. The Thug middle-sized knife can easily perform many camp chores and will also hack, chop, and slash through things better than a smaller knife. Bottom line: I think there are good reasons to own at least one manly mid-size survival/adventure style knife.

    1. Aharon says:

      BTW, I own the Ka-Bar made Becker Camp Magnum knife. It has an 8 inch trailing point blade. The knife is excellent for food prep and general camp use. I like it so much I use it in my home kitchen. I’ve added micarta scales to it to improve the gripping ability. Many people also regard the design as a great potential self-defense knife.

  4. jwm says:

    I have a cold steel srk with a 6 inch blade. It’s my big knife. I have a ka bar cutlass machete that was given to me. I’ve never used it. Just my opinion but I think the big knife craze is a direct result of hollywood. Rambo, Conan and Klingons come to mind. I’ve never played a video game so I have no idea if they’re promoting big knife use.

    I’ve seen the old timers take apart big animals, deer, pigs and cows with small knives and hatchets or saws.

  5. Out_Fang_Thief says:

    It’s either a BFK or a small hatchet. Which one do you want to carry?
    Clearing brush, felling small trees, and batoning wood for kindling,
    are but 3 examples of why a BFK is more than a manliness booster.
    As a matter of weight, my smallest hatchet is 1-1/2 pounds heavier
    than my Ontario RTAK-II BFK. What do you want in your pack?
    That, and a machete is often less than useful in the deciduous forests
    that account for most of Americas wilder places. This is one of those,
    you didn’t know that you needed one…until you actually need one.
    It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
    See, your mom was right. Listen to your mom.

  6. Culpeper Kid says:

    Couple of Randalls, investments, and a Becker 7″ for everyday use. Gave my sons my SOG Tigershark and my Glock knife.

  7. Bob Damon says:

    I don’t think it is very big, but I think everyone wants at least one, big has a fascination.
    I bought a Entrek USA Fighting Falcon MKII a couple of years ago to see what a big knife would be like and to learn how to defend against it. I. Also wanted a big knife that has an edge on both sides.

    I learned it was really too big for me use as a weapon, too bulky, hard to hold and control. Only real use for me would be for stabbing center mass, but for a large guy with big hands, it might work better. I did also find the bottom of the handle was solid and could be used like a hammer, for pain compliance.

    I did try carrying it on my belt a few tines, but it was awkward when you sit, especially in the car.

    I think knowing about all types of weapons is a part of a good defense strategy.
    Knowing how to defend a large knife and what to do with it if you find yourself using one instills confidence, confidence you will need if you are ever defending yourself against one.

  8. WVAnonymous says:

    I have a bastard sword with a 39″ blade. Never bring a knife to a sword fight. 😉

  9. knightofbob says:

    Without going into sword territory, the biggest knife I have would probably be the 100+ year-old Kukri I picked up when they hit the market in huge quantity a few years back. As far as use, I keep a GLOCK sawback in my car, I used to keep a SOG Pentagon in my luggage, and I’m a fan of a 10″ chef’s knife in the kitchen. I do have a lot of more traditional fighters in my collection, Ka-Bar, a Boker Applegate-Fairbairn, a handful of Gerber designs, but I’ve never really considered them “big.” They’re what I usually lean towards when adding to my collection, though I have to admit my folders tend to be a little more exotic (maybe because they’re not usually my first impulse.)

    1. DrewN says:

      Yeah, I thought every gun nut owned at least a Fairbairn- Sykes, and a kukri just for the cool factor, since both are pretty impractical. I

  10. Johnny B Goode says:

    The only big knife I have is a Glock knife. I ordered a magazine extension knowing that Glock was going to stick me for $8 shipping. I had heard the spring steel Glock knives were very durable so I ordered one. The knife has been very durable and to get used to the beast I have used it in the kitchen. Using the Glock knife in the kitchen is a bit like using a samurai sword to cut up onions. But the Glock knife is the only thing in the house that will mske quick work of a frozen chunk of seasoning ham.

  11. Dmg says:

    If you’re going to spend any time in the mountains or in any back country setting a 10 inch blade isn’t necessarily a big blade but is absolutely useful it chops like a medium size axe can do small chores well if you know how to use it and has nothing to do with manliness or cool factor a small knife just won’t work in many instances no matter what you may think

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Question Of The Day: How Big Is The Big Knife Market?

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