Sam1911 Camp Defender review


January 21, 2013, 01:09 AM
So, I ordered a Shirley/Owens CD II from Sam1911, waited for it, got it, then immediately got struck with a number of things that kept me from writing a review on it sooner. Jshirley wrote a better review than I can't add much too on the CDII HERE (, and I am not going to attempt to do better than that. What I will do, is add my two cents.

First, I feel like it is important to point out that I got excellent, proactive customer service from Sam. Long story short, he made a mistake by not applying the finish to the blade that I had requested, and he sent an email out practically before I had even received the knife offering to fix it and pay shipping. It worked out, because I really liked the way it looked, but it was nice too know that he both admitted his error proactively, and offered to fix it for free. Thats the kind of customer service that earns a customer, and I will order knives from Sam in the future at least partly because of that.

Second, I haven't had a chance to test it extensively, but I chopped some rose bush's down (I hate my friggin' rose bushs), prepared a meal using only the CDII, and showed my wife the knife. The chopping was successful, the meal was slightly less so only in the blade shape doesn't allow for precise slicing (a point covered recently by John in Shooting Reviews, in fact), and my wife actually liked it, which is different than the normal eye roll I get when I show her some new knife/gun that I purchased. This summer, I have about 7 trips planned already and it will get a workout. In my limited testing so far, I can see no reason why thats not going to be successful and delightful. Frankly, I ordered this knife to use and it will not be babied. Cared for yes, but not treated with kid gloves. Johns earlier review is what sold me on the knife, and my uses will be similar.

Third, it is worth pointing out that while this is a big knife, it isn't at all unwieldy. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is lively in the hand. In the rose bush test, plus swinging it around, I have discovered no hot spots, nor do I suspect I will. Time will tell. The handle is shaped perfectly for my hand, but that's obviously subjective.

Fourth, the sheath. Let me first state, I like it. Sam had warned me that it was easy to cut yourself due to the way the sheath was designed. Probably this is true, but if your careful and pay attention, it's doesn't seem like an issue, and certainly not one I intend to face. Sams kydex work is satisfactory, retention is great, and the teklok is a nice addition. I don't plan on carrying this on my belt for a few reasons, mostly due to it's size, but I see no reason why I can't lash it to my daypack and be happy as a clam.

Things I would change: First off, let me state that the "things I would change" are my own personal preferences, and are not meant to be indicative of any kind of design flaw or lack of craftsmanship. Had I thought about these things before ordering, I feel absolutely certain Sam would have happily incorporated them into my knife. They are minor: I would like a bigger lanyard hole, because I like bigger lanyard holes. I would have liked mosiac pins just to add some bling. Thats it.

The pictures are a regular view, the spine, the bottom and Sams stamp...

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January 21, 2013, 01:24 AM
And, finally, a picture of my three main outdoors fixed blades. I don't carry all three at once, but these are my three go-tos. Obviously, the CDII is on top, my Becker mid-sized knife is the middle, and my Harvey King hunting knife is the bottom. The can of chew is there just for purposes of scale.

The Harvey King is reserved for hunting. It's a nice knife, and it has one deer under it's belt already. The Becker has been on my belt/in my pack for 8 or 9 months now, and looks like new which is a testament to it's finish. I wear that knife on my belt in non-hunting outdoor situations, and it's in or on my pack as a backup for hunting. I am 100% satisfied with both to the point where I would replace both if something happened to either. Say all you want about ESEE, but for my money, Becker is the way to go for a production knife of that type.

I say "production" because it's worth mentioning that I now own three custom knives (the third being the THR Anniversary Breed knife). The THR knife gets used in the kitchen occasionally, but it is a special knife and I don't see myself taking it into the field for any hard use. The King and soon the CDII were bought to be used. Neither was cheap, but I can truthfully say that neither was expensive, either. I can assure you, neither was purchased without a great deal of thought, and I would (and hopefully will) buy from either maker again. Add Kim Breed to that mix, too. That was a little different given my interest in owning a THR knife and knowing that there was no way that HSO would recommend anything but a superb knifemaker to make the anniversary knife. Anyway, nothing wrong with a good many production knives, but pride of ownership, knowing that one person was involved in making each knife (and except for the THR knife, the sheath as well), and just an appreciation of good ol' American craftsmanship have all made them worthwhile purchases in my book.

January 21, 2013, 07:27 AM
Our knife interests are quite similar. I have all three with purposes identical to yours.
Harvey's knife is exceptional as is Sam's. I have several of the Beckers and they are great production knives that I abuse with no fear of failure.
I also bought one of the Breed THR knives. I gave it to my son in law for field dressing deer and other uses. First custom knife for him. He was amazed at the quality.


January 21, 2013, 09:55 AM
I still like my original Camp Defender better than the II as it is less bolo and more knife like. When I want a brush cutter there are other specialized bolos and tools available to me that work better. But the Camp Defender is primarily a razor sharp knife for me with good chopping abilities.

January 21, 2013, 12:21 PM
Jim, our CDII's are kind of brother knives, as I think they went through heat treat together, and I think Sam was working on yours when he wasn't working on mine and vice versa!

January 21, 2013, 01:04 PM
Yep, Timbo, I thought the same thing.


January 21, 2013, 03:35 PM

Glad you're happy, man.

Now to go visit a Timbo...

January 21, 2013, 05:30 PM
Does that mean that Timbo and I are related????


January 21, 2013, 05:59 PM
Actually, I should be completely up front and say that, while I've heat treated several CDs, and John's CD2 and Jim's CD1 were some that I did myself, for a variety of reasons -- mostly wanting to make sure I was producing the best product I could and having read a lot about how easy it might be to make a mistake and produce a less than stellar hardness -- I've sent out the majority of my 5160 blades to Lee Oates at Bearclaw Knives (where I send 52100 stuff) and he's done them for me. So those are just fraternal twins I guess! :)

Ironically, the most beat-on, abused, and hammered CD in existence (John's CD2, which has chopped multiple hardwood logs in twain, batonned fatwood and other stuff, cut brush, sliced open steel cans, and ... well, shoot John will have to fill in what all else) was one of my very first heat treats, and it has proved fabulously tough and resilient.

I am very glad everyone's happy with them! It is a pleasure and an honor to make something useful for y'all!

I've got a few more CD blades HT'd in the "to finish" pile hopefully I'll get to this spring. Figure I can find a few homes for them. :)

January 21, 2013, 07:38 PM
That butterscotch Micarta speaks to me. Very nice knives.

January 21, 2013, 10:26 PM
Yup, that micarta feels great. I'll have it on my next CD. :)

January 21, 2013, 10:46 PM
I like Micarta. I also like butterscotch. That's a great color for scales. The contours of those scales just beg to be held.

January 21, 2013, 10:54 PM
:D Yup! And I think they're getting better each time.

I've accentuated my initial idea of working the pommel up to a swell that's about the widest point on the handle in each direction, which provides a very positive "stop" when you're working with a full-power swing. (You can see it pretty well in Timbo's 3rd picture.)

In past years (a past life almost) I spent many hours of every week working with hand tools (you'd be amazed at how good things like hand-saw handles felt to touch back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and how badly they're made these days) and I've got some pretty firm ideas of what a usable handle feels like.

January 21, 2013, 11:39 PM
Judging by your handle design, I'd say ye have a damned good "handle" on what a good handle shape is.
So, how much would a CD with butterscotch Micarta handle cost me, and how long does it take to make?

January 22, 2013, 07:15 AM
Jaymo, I'm currently working on a "small batch" working plan. I find that things always tend to take longer than I'd like, and I'm trying to shift from bespoke work to putting together small batches of finished work as I can, then offering those items to folks who've shown interest. I'll be happy to send you a note when some are ready.

I do have some CDs already heat-treated in my "to finish" pile and hope to get to them this spring. Price point for the knife itself is about $175, with micarta handles and a bare, utility-polished finish.

January 22, 2013, 11:33 AM
My Shane Justice Soldier's Knife had what I thought was the perfect handle, and it definitely has an excellent handle, but the micarta handles on the CD are literally the best large knife handles I've ever felt. This includes several years of BLADE shows.


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