Thursday, 8 June 2017

TOPS C.U.B Knife

I am working on a second edition of a my book on friction fire lighting and am dedicating a section of it to looking at knives which have a rather interesting feature. It has become popular to include on some bushcraft/survival knives handle divots which allow you to use the handle as a bearing block for your friction fire lighting. I have always thought of these as a gimmick but wanted to test some out for the new book. The TOPS C.U.B knife is one of the knives I chose to test this feature and is described by the manufacturer as follows;

"The C.U.B. (Compact Utility Blade) was designed to be a compact, lightweight sidekick to a machete/bolo/parang in the jungle or a tomahawk/axe in North America, capable of performing all the important utility duties of camp craft and food preparation, while leaving the heavy work for the chopping tools. With an emphasis on compact, keeping the total blade length under 4" makes it legal to enter most countries internationally without attracting too much attention. The C.U.B. was designed with two of Reuben Bolieu's favorite styles of knives in mind, a Finish Puukko (with a Scandinavian grind) and Kephart style knife. Put them in a blender and you have the TOPS C.U.B. - rugged simplicity!"
  • Natural tan Micarta scales with divot for bow drill.
  • A TOPS modified Scandinavian grind.
  • Thin 1/8" stock for optimal slicing and weight reduction
  • Chicago screws for easy field removal (for cord wrapping or pounding on the butt without damaging the scales) with a flat head screwdriver or small washer
  • Wide blade gives more surface area to pound on, allowing the blade to sink in deeper while cross-grain battoning into green wood
  • Thumb notch cut into the scales for a secure, comfortable chest lever grip. 
  • Sheath is the simple Nylon

  • Overall Length: 8"
  • Blade Length: 3-3/4"
  • Cutting Edge: 3-1/2"
  • Thickness: 1/8"
  • Steel: 1095 High Carbon Steel, 56-58HRC
  • Sheath: Tan Ballistic Nylon
  • Handle: Natural Tan Micarta
  • Blade Color: Stonewashed
  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Designed by Reuben Bolieu
  • Made in the USA
TOPS C.U.B and it' accompanying survival kit

Although the addition of a survival kit is nice it seems a bit of an afterthought, the firesteel, and Fresnel lens and whistle are by far the highest quality parts of the survival kit but every TOPS knife comes with a whistle and the knife is really the main event. It's sheath which supposedly could contain the survival kit as well is a bit of a disappointment. It is made of fairly poor quality nylon and the knife is only retained in the sheath thanks to the bulky top flap which secures relatively loosely over the from with a buckle. This flap can be removed and the knife secured with a velcro tab around the handle but this doesn't seem secure at all to me. The fit of the sheath to the knife provides no retention at all and you are entirely reliant on the Velcro and buckle to hold the knife in place. This also means that the knife is impossible to use as a bow drill divot while it is still in the sheath which means that you have to hold a naked blade while you bear down on it with a great deal of force and move a bow drill vigorously back and forth inches from that exposed blade as you light your fire, not really as safe as I'd like. The sheath really was a disappointment and really devalues a knife that retails for almost £150, there is no excuse for a sheath that bad at such a high price, the molded plastic sheaths of budget knives are better. 

The handle of the C.U.B with it's built in bow drill divot is no worse a bearing block than anything else, but it's no better either, it's not magically frictionless, there is an inherent danger it having a naked blade waving around as you work up a coal with your bow drill especially as you will be bearing down on it with considerable force. Also if you have found enough material to make your bow, drill and hearth presumably you have access to another piece of wood which would make a perfectly adequate bearing block as well?

While the divot wasn't really as functional as it was hyped to be the handle it'self was fine, the tan micarta provided plenty of grip and while it does look a little angular was actually very comfortable for all tasks. 

 The C.U.B also includes a survival kit;

  • Razor blade
  • 3 barrel fire starter
  • P-38 can opener
  • Steel snap link
  • Fresnel lens
  • Heavy duty rubber band
  • Sail needle
  • Safety pins
  • Fishing line (25 feet)
  • 2 fish hooks
  • Liquid filled button compass
  • Orange marking tape (12 feet)
  • Acrylic signal mirror
A combination fire steel including magnesium rods as well as ferrocium. 

A button compass.

A whistle

A Fresnel lens (magnifying glass)
A miniature fishing kit, razor blade and can opener. 
The blade came absolutely razor sharp and although I personally can't understand the need for the additional edge bevel to 'strengthen' the scandi grind of the knife it does still perform superbly in wood carving and whittling. 

The knife is tastefully marked with the TOPS logo and is finished in a nice stone wash, no coatings to ruin the performance of the edge. It is carbon steel though so the blade will of course need care and attention if you are going to avoid rust. But any knife would.  The one complaint I have about the bale is the excessively large finger guard which is uncomfortable and unnecessary in a blade of this size and style. I'm constantly surprised by peoples concern over having a sizable finger guard on their knives, for general woods use and bushcraft finger guards only get in the way of fluid and efficient wood carving as you need to use a variety of grips on the knife. Perhaps it's the youtube trend for doing ridiculous things with knives that inspires manufacturers to include overbuilt finger guards on their knives but I have never needed to stab through a car bonnet or do a so called 'hammer stab' that the keyboard bushcrafters of youtube all think are necessary and reasonable. Finger guards do one of two things, protect you finger from slipping onto the blade or prevent something else sliding up your blade onto your fingers or hand. Neither of which is going to happen while you are bushcrafting. I eventually ground the finger guard off completely so it became more comfortable to use and so it fit better in the kydex sheath I made to replace the very poor nylon original. 

The knife was kindly provided by Hennie Haynes  based in Cardiff South Wales and who are the best in business when it comes to fixed and folding knives.  

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Real Steel Bushcraft Knife

The word 'bushcraft' attached to any product seems to drastically increase it's price but unfortunately often not it's value. That's not to say that more expensive equipment isn't good, sometimes it's very good but at other times the gulf between the prices of kit, most particularly knives, is not always as vast as the quality and performance.

The Real Steel Bushcraft knife may not be as low cost as the ubiquitous Mora Companion but it is full tang, has a thicker blade (at 3.5mm instead of 2.5mm) than a Mora and a micarta handle. It certainly looks the part of a bushcraft knife with a Scandinavian grind and in this case coyote micarta handle slabs. At less then £60 the D2 steel is a bargain and will hold it's edge well, I have had mine for well over a year and use it regularly and have only needed to give it the most basic of care and sharpening.  

The Scandinavian grind enables this knife to excel in in wood processing tasks, from making feather sticks for fire lighting to carving and whittling duties. While some might criticize it as having no chopping power the same could be said of any bushcraft knife of ideal size. Between four and five inches is a good size for general craft chores, food processing and gentle batoning; all the tasks required of a general purpose outdoors knife. 


The kydex sheath with drain hole might not be quite as rustic as a more traditional leather sheath but does mean that the blade is better protected from the elements than in a leather sheath that gets damp and holds water. 

All in all this knife is hard to beat on price or performance as a general bushcraft knife.  


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Browning X-Bolt .223

The Browning X-bolt is already a tried and trusted hunting firearm, which I already own and use in its 6.5 x 55 form so when I needed a lighter calibre, another X-bolt was an obvious contender to include in my research. It looks almost identical to my other synthetic stalker and straight from the box it points nicely, is light and beautifully balanced. 

Un-boxing the new rifle
It seems a shame to spoil that balance with a sound moderator and I’m sure there will be times when I don’t burden myself or the rifle with that extra weight right up the front. However, for this very brief preliminary test, I did use a moderator and an old and simple fixed 6 power scope, which has been adequate for my hunting needs and has helped me put a lot of meat in the freezer.

Looking down range at Riddy Wood

The new feature on this rifle is the ‘Super Feather’ trigger, which I found to be superb! I’m looking forward to having much longer to get acquainted with this lovely rifle in the coming weeks and months and to preparing a more detailed test report.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Retirement of an Old Friend; Karrimor Trig 30 Airspace

I bought this rucksack many years ago when I first moved away from home to attend college, it has served me well all over the globe from short expeditions here in the UK to New Zealand, North America and Scandinavia. At the time of purchase rigid air space rucksacks were becoming popular and having returned from many a hike drenched in sweat under my rucksac straps and on my back I thought it was time to try one of these new-fangled packs. 

I had been concerned that the rigid plastic which maintained the gap between my back and the rucksac would limit the carrying capacity of the rucksac and it did to an extent, and Bulkier objects if forced into the pack would also bend the plastic which maintained the gap between my back and the pack it'self. If packed sensibly though these things were never any more of an issue than they would be in any other type of pack.

The side pockets have proven very useful, although not really deep enough or secure enough to hold a water bottle the pack is equipped with well placed straps on the sides to allow the pockets to hold the end of ice axe's or other similar gear which can then be secured with the straps. The front pocket, if stuffed full, does eat into the available space of the main compartment but I found it an excellent place to stow waterproof and gear that needed to be accessed quickly. The lid pocket houses a waterproof rain cover which can be stretched over the pack in bad weather and which is large enough to house other gear which you need easy access to; first aid kit, compass and map etc..

The 'air space' meant that your back was much cooler  during extended hikes, and the problems of sweating and overheating were much reduced compared to a pack without this space. 
The air space lived up to it's hype and has kept me dry and very comfortable for several years over hundreds of short expeditions, day walks and days of supervising groups out of doors carrying this loaded with first aid kit, emergency equipment and the other trappings of an outdoor educator. 

Looking worse for wear after thirteen years hard use. 
Eventually though all good things come to an end and the wear and tear started to show, the fabric and frame of the bag it'self is still completely sound and free of any significant damage but the, zips, buckles, straps and padded hip belt have all gradually degraded and worn away. All the buckles have now been replaced with various combinations of elastic and carabiners or have had so many changes of buckle that the straps themselves are worn out. 

A make shift closure for the pack made out of elastic and a caribiner. 

If Karrimor still made them I would highly recommend them, even after a more recent experience with a pair of disintegrating walking boots by Karrimor has put me off the brand, this particular pack was a winner and it's a shame to see it go but sometimes kit really does need to be retired.  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Volvo XC90 D5 Power Pulse Automatic

This road test was undertaken with a view to providing a typical member of BASC with an insight as to the suitability, desirability and practicality of this high spec Volvo XC.

First Impressions.
The XC90 is a big car, with great presence and imposing lines, standing ‘head and shoulders’ above other ‘normal’ vehicles around it but of course it has to be, it will carry seven people and a significant amount of luggage. As my old flying instructor used to tell me, stand back and look at it to see if it looks right before you get up close and it does look right! The tested model arrived in shiny black and it certainly wouldn’t look out of place dropping off dignitaries at 10 Downing Street! It may however, look a little out of place in the farm yard until it has been ‘de-shined’. The big, road based tyres, low and wide didn’t look like the tyres that would take it on a serious cross country journey and I think that many BASC members, like me, would certainly want to switch these out for something a little higher profile and with a rather more rugged tread pattern. I intended to try it way off road but as we’re still in first impression mode, this vehicle appears to just lack a little ground clearance for the farm and cross country application. It was also lacking another countryside accessory, a tow hitch, which is likely to be another BASC member requirement, I would have liked to test it as a tow vehicle, I suspect it would be good and may well find favour with the caravanning fraternity, IF that 2 litre engine can deliver the power necessary and on paper is says it will, time to find out!
Getting to know the Beast.
Time to enter the parlour! A quick press on the ‘unlock’ button on the keyless fob, has the lights flashing and the neatly folded door mirrors swinging into position, the doors are illuminated for easy location and entry in any light conditions. If you’re heading towards the car loaded with shopping, opening the tail gate doesn’t require a lot of effort either, a press of the button on the key fob or even a quick kicking motion under the rear bumper has the ample tail gate swing open. A convenient button on the base of the open tail gate, now nearly 7 feet in the air, reverses the ‘open sesame’ trick and is a bit of a stretch for some of our shorter family members and perhaps a button a little lower down may be worthy of consideration, maybe near one of the rear light clusters.
It is quite a step up into the driver’s and front passenger seat, I would want to see a convenient grab handle appear in the door frame when the door is open and fold away again as the door closes, so as not to provide a protrusion to injure occupants in the event of a sudden deceleration or worse, in the event of an accident, I’m sure Volvo could come up with such a device in a 50 grand car. If the car is on any kind of side slope, the big solid and heavy front doors need quite a bit of opening and closing respectively, several times I had to push the door ‘uphill’ to get out on a slope only to have it fall back on my legs as I swung out and that is a big heavy door to have close on you.
The third row of seats, the 2 rearmost seats for children, for this is the only size of occupant who can really be accommodated here, really needs some agility to gain access. No matter how we slid and folded the middle row seats, it was still essential to provide some assistance with a huge step or gentle lift for a small person. I feel a little extra work on gaining access to the third row would be well worth the investment, perhaps an extra step or similar.
The seats are very comfortable and it is impossible to conceive that anyone could not get comfortable in these well-appointed and infinitely variable leather arm chairs, this is going to make any journey comfortable, they adjust every which way and will even warm your rear if you so desire. I could write ‘war and peace’ on the gadget list but suffice to say that I have flown aeroplanes with a lot less gadgets and one could play for hours if gadgets are your thing. Gadgets are not my thing but safety certainly is and I loved the safety features, of which more later. The gadget box contained voice activation for climate and entertainment control and a whole host of other things but for me, navigation and safety devices outweigh the value of other ‘options’ by a mile.
Unleash the horses.
The view from the driving seat creates the immediate impression that the big Volvo isn’t so daunting after all. Visibility is excellent, mirrors and driving aids all help to make it an easy drive, despite its size. With the keyless fob in the vehicle, all you need to do is turn the start / stop switch to start and the horses are awake. It is a beautifully quiet and smooth for a 4 cylinder engine, the vibration and sound deadening is of a very high order and if you didn’t know it was a 4 you could easily believe you were sitting behind a 6 cylinder engine. Very powerful and smooth power delivery through the lovely 8 speed automatic gearbox, it would have been my first choice of power and transmission combination and it didn’t disappoint in any situation, gravel, grass or tarmac. Between the beautifully weighted power steering and that gear box, travelling was not going to be a chore!
On The Road.
We covered 873 miles on every possible kind of journey that the vehicle is capable of during which the car returned an average of 41 MPG, which was well down on book value, as we have come to expect for almost every vehicle. The very efficient start stop technology was the best and most consistent I have ever used but even this didn’t pull the mpg up to where it should be. Journeys included the daily commute to work, which is mixed country lanes and A roads in to the edge of the town. We had motorway journeys from Cambridgeshire to visit family in Staffordshire including the M6 and other A roads. We took Children and Grandchildren on days out and to Church on Sunday. I also drove it to and through the farm to collect wildlife cameras and deliver essential equipment for an executive training course at the wilderness camp site and I even shot a couple of rabbits from the driver’s window!
Acceleration is rapid once it gets off the mark but there is a slight lag between pressing the go pedal and leaving the mark, I couldn’t detect if this was a gear choosing process or what but when it had decided how it was going to launch, it certainly did go! Accelerating to cruise speed or speed matching with other traffic in the blink of an eye.
I loved the safety features and all those aids that assist with situational awareness. I have encountered some of them before but never so many on a single vehicle. In order of preference, I love the blind spot warning lights in the door mirrors, they were great on the motorway and as a look over the shoulder is pretty worthless because of the width of the door pillar, I quickly got to love them!
Next the adaptive cruise control is brilliant on the motorway along with the proximity warning lights which all aid awareness of a tired driver and keep those fast moving traffic jams just far enough apart to prevent using the car in front as a brake!
Reversing Camera is also brilliant, with proximity warnings on all corners, it really does help put this big car safely into modest amounts of space, it will even park itself but I didn’t have to opportunity to test that, everything else worked beautifully so I have no doubt that this would too.
For a big, tall vehicle, it drives superbly well and is not hard work at all, there was no hint of body role despite the slightly higher centre of gravity than your average saloon. It drives like a limousine and you could certainly use it for the school run, collecting the Chief Executive from the airport or taking a spare part across the field to the combine harvester and it will do them all very well. The big Volvo just ate up the miles on a late evening motorway journey, it was comfortable, restful, navigation was a breeze, adaptive cruise control, mirrors and safety features to assist in avoiding the increasing number of drivers who have forgotten what mirrors are for or just thought they bought the road with the car! We arrived home swiftly and safely, 2 awake and 2 asleep and I didn’t feel exhausted. I did detect a constant roar from behind me which I assumed was road noise but as the seats were so comfortable, I couldn’t find any volunteers to lay on the floor to confirm or deny my suspicion. If I was right, then that is a disappointment as the sound deadening from the engine and front wheels is superb maintaining the impression of a being in a six cylinder limousine, so logic dictates that it could be done for the rear wheels too.
During the period of the test, we had barely a drop of rain and so when I took the Volvo off road, it was on rough and grassy tracks but no mud to speak of and by choosing my line carefully the road tyres and the ground clearance proved adequate but in a month or two when it’s been wet for a while, I’m not sure if it would fare quite so well.
If you have a £50k plus budget for a luxury estate which you need to do almost everything, then the XC90 could well be the one for you. It did everything I asked of it, which is probably more than many of its owners will. I know several XC90 owners of older models who fill all the seats, do the school run and longer trips on holiday but if their tyres touch grass it’s because someone spilt grass trimmings at the city recycle centre! I think of the XC90 as a gentleman’s carriage rather than a workhorse, a very capable one too. I think for many farm / shoot applications, the XC90 may just be a little too grand and to excel in that role it needs just a little more ground clearance and some more XC type tyres, the road biased tyres on the model I tested were not going to go far when the mud got serious or even if the grass was really wet. If you want to do the airport run for someone special, take 4 big adults (and the driver) for a special night out or take a picnic for 7 (so long as 2 are children) off the beaten track or a major camping adventure, the XC90 will certainly do it all and then some. Definitely test drive it, it’s a big step up for small people and definitely needs a step to assist those entering into the back row or for those lifting children in to the back row.
the big Volvo doing it's duty on the farm

It did take me by surprise with one little party trick, as I hit a particularly large pothole on the undulating fen roads, the seat belt pre tensioner activated and took all the slack out of my seat belt and then about an extra two trouser sizes! Wow! That got may attention but it was reassuring to know that if I hit something, the seatbelts would be tight!


Loved the Big Volvo, smooth, powerful, quiet in the front and drives like a limo, love the seating position, the visibility and driving and safety aids.
Tyre choice wouldn’t have been mine and a little more ground clearance would be a boon when the going gets tough, it’s a little bit thirsty considering the motorway miles we covered and I would have loved to tow a trailer for a few hundred miles to test that particular capability.
Would I own one, yes absolutely!
Martin R Guy

Friday, 28 April 2017

Choose Your Weapon; Bushcraft Knives

Although bushcraft is a modern word to describe a collection of very old skills one thing which is common throughout the practice of the skills we call bushcraft is the need for a cutting tool. That tool might be used for skinning game, carving components for traps, whittling campfire cooking utensils or decorative items, or preparing natural fibers to make into string.

Eight thousand years ago that cutting tool might have been a piece of flint

Copper Axe Head. Early Bronze Age. (FindID 154837).jpg
Five thousand years ago it may have been made of copper or bronze; picture by The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0Link

Nowadays it will certainly be made of steel, but there are so many modern bushcraft knives to choose from how do you pick just one that will be an all-round tool.

If we are going to talk about different knives, their pro's and con's and the features and qualities that will inform our decision on which to choose we need to understand a knifes anatomy;

A Saker Bushcraft Knife by Columbia River Knife and Tool
It’s fairly easy to set criteria for what a knife for a specific task needs to be, for example a knife for skinning and gutting must have a stainless steel blade, a non-absorbent handle, rubberised or textured handle (as in the picture to the left) to avoid slips when the knife is wet and a hard non-absorbent sheath for safety and hygiene. When it comes to picking an all-rounder though there are a few more things to consider so think about the following three major characteristics of your knife.  


Carbon steels are often promoted as the material for bushcraft knife blades because of the notion that they strike better sparks from a firesteel and the fact that some carbon steels are easier to sharpen in 
the field than some stainless steels. In truth though you can strike a spark from a fire steel with a shard of broken glass, so the notion that carbon is better than stainless for creating sparks is nonsense and regarding sharpening: This is bushcraft not surviving the zombie apocalypse, you have deliberately put yourself in a situation where you are relying on your outdoor skills and basic equipment so if you have a knife there is no reason to not have a proper sharpening stone. 

The advantages that stainless steel gives is some additional protection from rust and corrosion, although the word stainless steel is a bit of an exaggeration, it’s not really ‘stainless’, it does stain less but it’s not stain free and you will still need to care for your stainless steel knife by cleaning it properly and oiling it occasionally. What makes the stainless steels ‘stainless’ is the fact that it contains chromium, normally at least ten percent although it will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Ultimately if the steel is high quality whether it’s carbon steel or stainless it will be fine. Keep and eye on future blog posts for an in depth review of knife steels. 

Blade Shape;

Blade tips from a (clockwise from bottom left) Böker Rockey Ridge Hunter (drop point), Eickhorn Nordic Bushcraft (clip point), Exagon Tactical Knives FX-1666 TK by Fox Knives (simple/normal point), Cold Steel Tanto lite (tanto), EKA Nordic W12 (drop point).
Blades can take many shapes and forms and some are more suited to bushcraft tasks than others, One key feature that must be present in a knife that would be suitable for bushcraft is a sharp point, that sounds obvious but there are actually quite a few knives that don’t have this feature. A sharp point is important as it can be used for prying, scoring and drilling, and not the sort of nonsense you see on 
youtube with people insisting that knives have a 3/16 inch thick blade so that they can use them as prybars or stab them into trees to use as a step, quite what they are trying to reach I don’t know. By prying I mean lifting small slivers of wood, perhaps to produce a hole like this; 

Some blade designs which might not have this feature include the tanto blade or ones with the type of blade often refered to as a 'nessmuk' by Bushcrafters;

This Cammillus Bushcrafter has a blade style which might be popular on skinning knives or 
butchers knives but might not be as good for more general bushcraft tasks. This style of blade was taken from the pen name of the nineteenth century American outdoorsman George Washington Sears who used and wrote about a knife of a similar design. In actual fact you will all recognise it as being more or less the same shape as a kitchen carving knife. The deep 'belly' and humped back of this knife gives it a fairly blunt point making finer carving difficult or impossible and in fact Nessmuk himself never intended this knife for that use, this would have been exclusively for skinning and preparing game and his 'craft' knife of choice was a pocket knife. The word 'bushcraft' in the name of this knife, as with most other knifes, is a marketing ploy rather than an indication of it's best use.  
Drop point or spear point designs are most common among ‘bushcraft knives', although knives with a slight clip point are equally effective, like the one on the Eickhorn Nordic Bushcraft knife pictured below;


From top to bottom; Cold Steel Outdoorsman lite (Sabre grind), Fällkniven F1 3G (Convex grind), Hand made Bushcraft Knife from the UK (Scandinavian grind), Eickhorn Nordic Bushcraft (Flat grind).
The ‘grind’ of a knife is the shape of the knifes edge, not the shape of the blade but the way the blade tapers to the sharp edge. There are four types you will normally encounter in knives suitable for 
bushcraft; Scandinavian grind where the bevel (that is the part of the blade which tapers to the edge) is a single angle from some distance up the blade all the way to the cutting edge. A full flat grind where the blade has no flat portion at all and tapers all the way from the spine to the edge with a fine second angle (or bevel) just before the edge for strength, a sabre grind which features a slightly higher grind than a scandinavian grind but with the addition of a secondary bevel like on a flat ground knife. Finally the convex grind which features no angles whatsoever but a gradual symetrical curve from spine to edge. Well executed convex edges like the ones on the Fällkniven range are fantastic and hard to beat in terms of performance for bushcraft and survival tasks but it is unfortunately very easy to find manufacturers who produce very poor convex edges which are terrible to use, reviews of some of these will be posted on the blog shortly. There are others such as hollow grind and chisel grind but these are less common and have significant drawbacks; hollow grinds tend to be very fragile and prone to chipping, and chisel grinds are, in my opinion, for chisels and side axes. 

Scandinavian grinds are often favoured for bushcraft knives for their superior wood working performance, not to mention the fact that it has been popularized by well known celebrity bushcrafters like Ray Mears and are featured on all the Mora range of knives which set the standard for basic bushcraft knives. Ultimately any of the grinds shown above will perform adequately for bushcraft tasks though.  


Clockwise from top right; Handmade UK Bushcraft knife (full tang bone handle), Viper Tank (full tang canvas micarta handle),  Fällkniven F1 3G (protruding broad tang, plastic (thermorun) handle), Eickhorn Nordic Bushcraft (full tang aluminium handle), EKA Nordic W12 (full tang, G10 handle). 

Handles are the simplest of these three things to address, above all other considerations they should be comfortable. A few other suggestions are that the handle is non-porous so it is less likely to swell 
in damp conditions and is more hygienic when used to process game. For comfort a handle which fully encloses the tang (the tang of the knife is the metal of the blade which extends into the handle) can be recommended although a full tang, that is one which extends the full length and width of the handle will be stronger but as with the question of which steel to choose in your knife a good quality knife will do a fine job whether it has a full tang or not.

Once you have selected your knife, the sky is the limit for what you will go on to make, but remember to be careful with it.