This is the Most Useful Nameless Knife With A Blade Under 3 Inches that I Own
I’m always on the search for cheap, useful knives because I enjoy the feeling of being surprised that something was useful after I only spent $20 on it. The Camillus 6.5 Inch knife with a marlin spike has probably been the most surprising knife I’ve bought with this intention.
It was designed mostly for boating activities: the blade was made to cut rope, the spike is for untying knots, and the lanyard loop seems to assume you will be surrounded by cords.
Putting a rope cutter and a marlin spike in one package is a pretty brilliant move as I’ve been told several times by my brother (who would probably be writing this review if he weren’t busy lounging on top of his mountain of bushcraft knives) that in the navy they used to carry marlin spikes all the time, but they carried them separately as their own tool. Anytime they needed to switch from untying a rope to cutting a rope they had to reach into their pocket again.
This design gives you both tools in a small handle that ends up being pretty easy to use. There are a couple small details that keep this multi-tool from reaching its full potential, but it’s become one of my favorite irregular carries throughout the week.
|Very sharp blade with a nice steel
|Good lock up
|Good ergonomics for the size
|A lot of utility for a small price
|The name (or lack of one)
|Plastic lanyard hole is too large / feels weak
|No pocket clip
This Knife Badly Needs a Name
I need to get this out of the way first because it drives me crazy:
I get that it can be hard to name knives, but listing this knife literally as “Camillus 6.5 inch with Marlin Spike” is like printing “Roughly 1 inch Square Cheese Cracker Things” on a box of Cheezits. It’s technically true, but it makes the grocery list look more complicated than it needs to be (Please note: this is a joke. I don’t need a grocery list when I buy Cheezits, because Cheezits are the reason I’m at the store in the first place.)
Camillus didn’t even have to come up with a good name for this knife so long as it was a little shorter than a comprehensive description of what it is. They could have called it the “Boating Knife” for all I care.
I would have made fun of that name, but at least it would be easier for me to tell people about it, and to distinguish from the Camillus 7.5 inch knife with Marlin Spike (complete with bamboo scales). They could call that one the “Bamboo Boating knife” or even “Boat Knife 2”. Then I wouldn’t have to do a word dance with my recommendations: “No, the 6.5 inch marlin spike knife is the one with G10 scales and a wider blade; the 7.5 inch marlin spike knife is the one that looks like a toothpick.”
If we can all just move past the name, though, there’s a lot to like about the Camillus 6.5 Inch Sheepsfoot-style Knife with Marlin Spike and G10 Scales Probably Made in China and Weighing Approximately 3 Ounces. But when I talk about them I’m just going to call the knife the Camillus 6.5 Inch.
Crazy Sharp Blade
You know when you read a knife review and they say something stupid like “this is the sharpest knife I’ve ever owned!”? And you realize with a rising suspicion that you’ve seen that phrase used to describe the last ten knives you’ve looked at?
Well, this is the sharpest knife I’ve ever owned.
Camillus put a super thin hollow grind on this blade, so the factory edge is like a razor. It shouldn’t have surprised me the way it did. I know this was designed to cut rope, I just didn’t believe it actually would. It takes almost no effort at all to get a cut started, and past that point everything feels smooth.
Now having said this is for rope, I guess I should get that test out of the way. So does it cut rope?
Yes. It cuts rope really well. Someday I’ll be on the lake in my golden yacht and find myself caught somehow in a spider web of ropes and pulleys in the middle of a storm and be really happy I have this knife created specifically to cut and untie ropes…
In the meantime, I mostly use it for packages and cheese. In fact, the very first thing I did with it was open up a brick of cheese and cut some slices onto crackers. Ropes be damned; I was hungry, and it did a great job, mostly, and I was in the woods far away from any proper cheese slicing tools.
It’s actually changed my life, because sometimes cheese blocks are so tightly packaged you can’t really get a big enough fold of plastic for scissors to cut without slicing into the cheese. Turns out The Camillus 6.5 inch is a perfect solution to this problem. The blade is so thin and sharp it doesn’t need any slack to get a cut started.
I know cutting the plastic wrapped around cheese is not this knife’s intended use. It should be out there cutting rope and loosening knots and saving lives.
Well it is saving lives. My life, from not having cheese on my crackers.
It’s a Little Short, Though
There have been a couple of times I wished the blade was at least an inch longer. Even with all that sharpness, you have to restart a cut most of the time to finish anything up.
Take the paper test as an example: It would beat any knife I have except the shortness of the blade makes long cuts hard to maintain, especially since the edge is straight and there’s no recurve to hook into the cut. You either have to find that perfect slicing angle or constantly change the angle to keep the cut going.
It’s tricky though, because I like its size for carrying and packing. If it were much longer it wouldn’t fit as easily into some of the weird side pockets and slots I’ve been packing it in. But, even that wouldn’t be a problem if they put a pocket clip on this thing.
Camillus does make a similar knife that’s 7.5 inches, but the blade is thinner and has wood handles. I just don’t like the look as much overall. I got this knife because it’s wide and compact, and I like things with G10 scales and VG-10 steel. So I’ll just have to put up with this thing as it is.
Ergonomics: Surprisingly Comfortable
Considering that any kind kind of multi-tool is difficult to design ergonomically, I was ready to give Camillus some leeway here. Turns out I don’t really have to. This is pretty nice to hold.
On the blade side, everything works great. The knife angles into your hand and so long as the marlin spike is in, it gives you a really strong, comfortable grip. It’s a little different on the marlin spike side though. When the blade is closed it angles into your hand in a similar way, but it does not feel as comfortable since the spine of the blade is what ends up resting in your palm and it’s pretty thin. I’m also always worried about screwing up the washers on the blade if I get too rough handling things with the spike, but I shouldn’t be doing anything rough with the spike anyway.
The Lanyard Loop / Marlin Spike Issue
There has to be a better choice than this floppy thing. It has only ever gotten in my way when I’m trying to use the spike. I appreciate the thought behind it since the knife doesn’t have a pocket clip, but it needs to be smaller or maybe a metal piece carved out of the liner itself, and it needs to be a sturdier piece because it’s not just the lanyard loop; it’s the way you disengage the back lock on the marlin spike.
This actually took me a while to figure out. I didn’t think this plastic loop could be the lever for the back lock because it looked (and felt) like it would snap under the pressure needed to disengage it every time. I probably spent a good half hour trying to find a different way to put the marlin spike back in before my brother finally took it and just pressed the lanyard loop down and got it all put back together.
After working the lock a couple times it loosens up and gets easier to release, but I still get a little nervous about this thin piece of plastic. If it snaps off, putting the spike back in will become a practice in mild self harm, if it would even be possible at all. It’s holding strong so far, but who knows what years of use will bring.
So How does it Carry
Actually carrying this knife was a problem at first because it doesn’t have a pocket clip. I put too many other things in my pockets for a loose knife to be an option for EDC, so I had to find a different way to carry this knife.
This is actually where the lanyard loop ended up being useful, because it pokes out just enough to grab when I put the knife in the inner pocket of my pants. It’s easy to pick out of there by the loop and have it in hand pretty quick, but it’s not a perfect solution. If I’m not careful, the knife will start poking out a little when I sit down are hike up a steep incline. Then it’s only a few big steps or wrong moves before it drops on a trail behind me, or I accidentally leave it at a restaurant.
So in cases where you’ll be in extreme terrain (or actually on a boat) I’d suggest making legitimate use of the lanyard loop and tying this knife to something like your belt loop. Or better yet, let it hang on a carabiner on your pack.
You’re usually going to spend somewhere over $30 on this knife, although sometimes you can find it on a good sale down in the mid 20s range. For that price, it’s great. Definitely worth the price even if you’re not sure what you’re going to use it for yet. Leave it around the house or on your desk and you’ll find something soon enough.
In terms of both size and price, it’s alongside something like the Kershaw Shuffle or (of course) the Rat 2. Just in terms of style, though, you could put it up against the Kizer Vanguard Sheepdog or the CRKT Pilar and it would still stand out as the sharpest blade of the bunch. It might be thinner and a little trickier to carry (depending on your preferences), but it has a unique utility that sets it apart entirely from these knives.
That’s not to say I would recommend it over any of these knives. The Kizer Sheepdog in particular is a fantastic design, and a much sturdier way to go if you want a wider, tougher sheepsfoot blade, but you’re probably not going to use it to cut rope. Or if you do, it’s not going to match the Camillus 6.5. Plus the Camillus costs half as much and the Sheepdog doesn’t have a big metal spike on the backside.
Conclusion: It’s a Good Knife, but a Pocket Clip would Make it Great
If you ever go out on boats, or even if you camp regularly, take this knife. You will use it, and you’ll be happy about it. Turns out there are a lot of different ways to use something that combines a really sharp blade and a long pointy metal slab.
That said, if this thing had a pocket clip it would be my default EDC. I would carry it until I died, because I’m pretty sure this thing could last that long so long as I don’t get too rough with the blade and the lanyard loop holds up. It feels petty to make that a sticking point on this knife, especially since I carry it anyway most days of the week, but it’s such a small detail that would make the knife miles better for me.
The lack of a name makes me think this design was something of an afterthought. Camillus knew there are people out there who want a sharp blade with a marlin spike so they drew up a couple quick designs and pushed them out to manufacturing. But if they had just given it a pocket clip and a marketable name I think people would be talking about this knife as much as they should.
It doesn’t even have the decency to come with a sheath like the Buck 110. But that would probably boost the price at least $20, so maybe I should just stop complaining while I’m ahead.
This knife is good, and probably more useful than whatever 4-inch custom blade with milled titanium scales you’ve been drooling over for the last year.