Bob Humelbaugh and Survival Sheath Systems: Good, Better, Best

I’ve been purchasing custom rigs from Bob Humelbaugh of Survival Sheath Systems for more years than I’d like to admit. Bob has made me everything from a dual shoulder harness rig for a Gryphon M10 and an American Tomahawk (back when I was thin and had hair) to a free-floating back sheath for an Ontario SP10 Raider Bowie (that I sling across my back “Crocodile Dundee” style). He’s friendly, he understands the “tactical” industry, and his work is absolutely superb. I can say without hesitation that I’ve never been disappointed by a piece of work that he has sent me.

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Recently, I was complaining about THIS affront to good taste. It’s a “Camillus” knife in name only. The once-great Camillus company is now simply a brand owned by Acme United, which purchased the rights when Camillus went bankrupt in 2007. Acme United relaunched Camillus in 2009, and today the knives are Chinese-made Wal-Mart fare. Here you see it right out of the package:

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This particular knife caught my eye while I was in the camping section of Wal-Mart. Camillus says the blade is made of “Carbonitride Titanium™ cutlery-grade steel,” a throbbing ladel of marketing-grade BS if ever I’ve heard one. If this particular knife is on their website, I can’t find it; I’m not even sure of the model name. Still, it was cheap, and when I freed it from its blister packaging, I was impressed. It has a great blade shape, it’s a good size, it has excellent handle ergonomics (even though it’s too light in the handle for my taste), and the fit and finish are adequate.

What bothered me, though, was the reprehensible blade cover Acme United considers a “sheath.” This is one of the cheapest pieces of Nylon I’ve ever seen. In all my years reviewing knives, in fact, I’ve only seen one Nylon blade cover that I thought was an even more useless piece of garbage. Decent, inexpensive knives with terrible sheaths is a big problem in the knife industry. No matter how “tactical” or useful a knife might be, you’re not going to carry it, and you’re not going to take it out into the field if you the sheath is going to wear out, rip, or break almost immediately. That’s the only fate I can see in store for something this cheaply made.

I complained about this online and Bob Humelbaugh came to the rescue. He asked me to send him the knife, so I did. What I got back was this incredibly nice coyote-brown Boltaron sheath, which matches the knife’s handle.

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Boltaron is a thermoplastic similar to Kydex. It is said to offer a more even texture than Kydex, not to mention better retention and a smoother draw. (I was not aware until recently that there was a difference between the two.)

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Fit and finish of Bob’s sheath, like all his work, is excellent. The belt clip he’s included is likewise quite sturdy. It can be repositioned as desired so I can orient the knife in my waistband for whatever draw I like, and of course I could attach other hardware to the grommet holes if I wanted to do that.

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The knife is retained by the Boltaron sufficiently that I could even rig a paracord shoulder harness and sling this upside down under my arm if I wanted.

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Bob Humelbaugh’s Survival Sheath Systems is proof that a bad sheath does NOT have to mean that an otherwise good knife will sit useless in a drawer. Thanks to Bob, I have a very viable carry blade that can be used for self-defense or bushcraft. The sheath will last longer than the knife will, in all probability. As for the original Camillus sheath, I put that where it belongs — in the garbage.

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