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Swamp Rat Knife Works Camp Tramp
Combat Knife Review

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Swamp Rat Camp Tramp

Camp Tramp is one of the original four blades introduced by Swamp Rat Knife Works along with the company itself, back then in 2002. As you might already know SRKW is Busse Combat Knife Company's spin-off. The company is run by Jennifer Busse, Jerry's wife. As SRKW states their goal is to provide high performance knives at affordable price. IMHO they do that very well.
    Such low cost imposes certain limitation, but other than mandatory coating I can't think of any that'd mean anything important to me. Considering that SRKW provides unconditional lifetime warranty (in other words if you break it you'll get a new one, no questions asked), those knives are even more amazing. At that price point I can't think of any other knife company matching the warranty and the performance of their knives. In short if you need a beater knife that you can completely depend on in tough situations or easy ones but with tough knife jobs SRKW is definitely a good choice, if not the best.

General

 - Camp Tramp(CT) is the second largest blade in SRKW assortment. Bowie style, perhaps more of a clip point blade has a lot of belly and plenty of straight edge for various cutting. For finer tasks CT has a well defined choil, so you can choke down close to the blade if you need to. NIB edge was shaving sharp. All SRKW knives feature convex grind edge, although with quite steep angles. The edge is even, and closer to polished than coarse. I have no complaints regarding CT's fit and finish. Sheath is ok, standard cordura with kydex insert sheath, that Busse uses for long time. Hence the same issue with overly tight button and slight rattling of the knife when sheathed. However no problems with security.
    Overall, CT can be described as a medium size field knife. If I was to carry only one blade and weight would be of a concern, CT would've been an obvious choice. It is not as large as Battle Rat, and still plenty tough for heavy duty works, such as chopping and prying, and without big complications can be used for fine cutting tasks.

Handle

 - One of the best parts of this (and SRKW knives as well) knife. Made of Respirene C, it is very comfy and the grip is quite versatile. During heavy use it's a lot more friendly to your pars than textured micarta. Some may argue that this means reduced grip security, but personally I didn't feel any slippage during my tests. And to me, handle comfort is more important for prolonged use in non combat situations, such as kitchen, your own backyard chores, or even camping :)

Blade

 - CT features 7.5 inches long blade. In its widest part blade measures 1.77". Thickness - 1/4" which is pretty much standard there days for heavy duty knives. Personally I think CT would do just fine even with 3/16" thick blade, but anyway, it is very tough. SR-101 steel as stated on SRKW site is very well knows 52100 ball bearing steel with added Kryptonite. In plain English that means 52100 is treated using proprietary Busse heat treatment process plus deep cryo quenching. On top of all that, CT (as well as other large SRKW blades) is differentially tampered. The edge few HRC points harder than the spine. Differential tampering is somewhat controversial topic, it has its own pros and cons. Though when properly done for the right blade type it is definitely a pro. I am not sure if I will ever use my CT hard enough so that differential tampering comes in play, but as it is, it's not gonna hurt cutting performance. And if it ever comes to extreme lateral loads, chopping, heavy impacts, etc then it's there to rescue the knife ;)
    As for the rest, currently I have only done few cutting chores with my CT and one sharpening session. 52100 is known and prized for its wear resistance, and initially that was my main interest. Although, since I have already used SRKW Howling Rat, I already knew what to expect from the steel. Simply because CT is a thicker knife and has a thicker edge the cutting performance would differ, obviously blade geometry is also very important. For the reference CT measured ~36.4° included and HR 30. NIB edge was shaving sharp, as I already wrote above.

Initial cutting tests

 - Those included the eternal cardboard, where CT scored surprisingly well, for the knife 1/4 inch thick. Perhaps very comfortable handle was an important factor here. Wear resistance of SR-101 is very good. After over 100 inches of cardboard I couldn't notice any edge degradation. For next 2 days I've used CT in the kitchen. This included cutting vegetables, bread, various meats, etc. Obviously it's not going to out-slice thin kitchen knives, but overall the tasks were manageable. Where CT really shone was when I had to chop pork ribs. Clearly, those ribs were no match to hefty CT. As a side effect, or collateral damage, the cutting board suffered considerable abuse as well. Bones in general are not very knife friendly, but CT's relatively thick edge, (though not all that thick to be honest, I've had folders with thicker edges) and good steel handled the job with flying colors. Edge post examination (both, visual and using the loupe) revealed no damage to it.
    For sharpening I've used mousepad and sandpaper method. Since the knife was still very sharp and coudl shave/slice through hanging paper I've used fine sandpaper to refine the edge. I've started with 1000 gtrit, then moved to 2000 and ended with CrO compound loaded strop. Which gave nicely polished edge that could shave in both directions with practically no effort. Though higher edge bevel still remains relatively rough compred to the edge tip, which should improve slicing.
    Respirene C handle worked out very well, and I haven't had any problems with grip security, even when my hands were wet or oily, which is quite frequent during kitchen operations. Ok, so far that's all and I have planned few other tests as well. Will update this page upon completion.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 190.50mm(7.5")
  • Thickness - 6.35mm
  • OAL - 317.50mm(12.5")
  • Steel - SR101 steel at 58-60HRC
  • Handle - Respirene C
  • Acquired - 02/2003 Price - 300.00$
  • Warranty - Unconditional Lifetime;

Last updated - 09/01/11