I first became enamored of hollow-handled fighting and survival knives as a result of some contract work I was doing. I was training Third World—oops, better make that “developing countries” for political correctness—counterinsurgency forces and didn’t fully trust those with whom I was working.

Nkonka is tough outdoorsman’s knife whether screwdriver kit is in place or not.

As a result, I carried an unobtrusive “bug out” kit on my person all the time. The kit incorporated some basic medical and survival equipment, a couple of compasses, some Escape and Evasion maps, a Browning Hi-Power with two spare magazines, a Swiss Army knife, a Leatherman Tool, and a hollow-handled survival/fighting knife packed with additional useful items including waterproof matches and fire starting kit. Everything was worn on the belt in pouches or in the handle of the knife.

I’ve retained my interest in hollow-handled knives and especially like those from Chris Reeve because they are fabricated from one piece of steel, which gives them great strength. Since the handle is integral rather than attached, this also gives greater storage room in the hollow handle. Reeve uses A2 tool steel at a hardness of 55-57 Rockwell C—a good compromise between edge retention and toughness without being brittle.

Nkonka with butt cap containing screwdriver kit removed.

The Nkonka is a Reeve hollow-handled design but with an interesting addition. Inside the hollow handle is an innovative screwdriver kit that incorporates a 3.5-inch aluminum shaft, an aluminum bit holder/coupler, a plastic injection-molded bit storage carrier, a removable Titanium tommy bar which may be pushed through the butt cap and locked with a set screw for more torque, and six bits. The kit uses standard 1/4” x 1” bits so the kit can be customized to fit individual needs. The kit is particularly applicable for those who ride trail bikes, ATVs or off-road motorcycles and would like a compact tool kit available.

Butt cap set up with aluminum driver shaft and tommy bar.

The knife itself is a serious fighting/utility knife with a 7.5-inch blade. Mine has a saber-type blade, but a spear-point blade is available as well. I would note that if someone were riding off road somewhere that prohibited them having a firearm, the Nkonka would still give them the ability to defend themselves. Hollow-handled knives theoretically lend themselves well to use as spears by pushing the hollow portion of the handle down over the shaft. I’ve never had the need to try this, but in a survival situation, I would assume it could be useful. Probably more useful if one ends up having to spend an unexpected night or two in the wild is the Nkonka’s heavy blade, which makes it an effective chopper for gathering wood. The blade is thick enough for prying as well, though care should always be taken not to snap the point.

Nkonka’s sheath does good job of retaining and protecting knife no matter what type of physical activity its user undertakes.

The Nkonka is not as lively in the hand as a pure fighting knife, but it would certainly make an acceptable close-combat weapon. The quillioned crossguard keeps the hand from sliding forward and offers a thumb rest when performing certain tasks with the blade. Chris Reeve Knives are renowned for coming with a very sharp edge and holding an edge well, so cutting ability with the Nkonka is a given. The Nkonka is coated with KG Gun-Kote that allows it to stand up to weather and water. Speaking of water, the Nkonka would make a good blade for the backwoods pilot or boatman as well.

For those who might sometimes like the availability of the screwdriver kit, but at other times might like to use their Nkonka as a hollow-handled survival knife, a standard butt cap can be ordered from Chris Reeve to replace the Nkonka screwdriver cap. One may also just use the cap for the Nkonka without the screwdriver assembly affixed to the butt cap; however, with a standard butt cap, one does gain a bit more storage space in the handle.

The Nkonka’s leather sheath is soaked in polyurethane to seal the leather and give it a great deal of moisture resistance. The Nkonka’s sheath covers the knife to about halfway up the handle and gives excellent retention without any snaps or straps. The knife may still be removed quickly if needed.

I like the Nkonka a lot, partially because I think it’s a clever idea, but mostly because Chris Reeve makes such high quality knives. I have ordered the spare butt cap for mine to give it maximum storage space when not using the screwdriver assembly. Current price for the Nkonka is $360, which I think is a bargain for a blade of this quality.


Chris Reeve Knives
Dept. S.W.A.T.
11624 W. President Drive, #B
Boise, ID 83713
(208) 375-0367

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