With the face of an axe and the heart of a cleaver, it’s a hell of a concept, that Concept 22 … And that, my friends, is the last Joseph Heller joke you’ll find in this review. (Frankly, I’m only a few chapters into his seminal novel, Catch-22.)
Designed by Geoff Blauvelt of TuffKnives, the Concept 22 is just under 10 inches of wedges, edges, and angles, somewhere between a tomahawk and a cleaver. It manages to be both large in the hand and smaller than one would expect from the photos, and I found the review process a similarly baffling experience. Read on to see how the Concept 22 managed to chop its way into my good graces after an initial failure to launch.
In short: The Civivi Concept 22 is a well-made, super-fun fixed blade with a somewhat narrow use case. While it struggles with detail work and slicing, its cleaver-like blade is perfect for splitting logs, roasted chickens, and other middle-tough mediums. The handle slabs are a bit thin and the lanyard may not be for everyone, but sometimes it’s better to be fun than thoroughly practical.
Civivi Concept 22 Fixed-Blade Knife Review
When looking at a new piece of gear, I tend to ask myself two questions: Why was this made, and how well was it made?
In the case of the Concept 22, the second question is easier. Buyers generally know what to expect from Civivi — its material choices are spot-on, and it offers some of the most dialed-in manufacturing you’ll see on the budget end of the hobby.
With its D2 blade, G10 handle slabs, and black Kydex sheath, the Concept 22 is as solidly put together as a competent BLT sandwich; a small number of quality ingredients, all perfectly in their place.
But the “why” is far more interesting. At first glance, this knife simultaneously presents as both a futuristic battle tool and a gas station art object. Let’s dive into the testing to see if we can sort this question out.
‘Axe’ Me No Questions
Let’s start with the knife’s final tests. I carried these out in the woods, among sticks, branches, and half-frozen logs. And in this setting, the Concept 22 makes perfect sense.
Its tall, axe-shaped head proved to be an absolute beast for batoning, and I was genuinely shocked at how well it managed as a chopping tool. After all, the knife itself weighs just over 7 ounces, which doesn’t seem like enough mass for the job.
But if you choke down and use the lanyard to add some leverage to your swing, the D2 edge bites deep. Just be sure your body is positioned so as to avoid any danger from glancing blows.
What about carving? Well, it’ll get the job done, but I found that the Concept 22 was generally happier as a notcher and scraper.
Its tanto shape provides multiple angles of attack, allowing you to shed bark and smooth wood with easy efficiency. In short, this is a knife that feels like a hatchet. It’s a solid, sturdy, and (thanks to its reconfigurable sheath) easy-carrying option for general yard work and brush clearing.
Before going to the woods, however, my thoughts were a bit less positive. The first thing I noticed when handling the Concept 22 was the narrowness of its G10 scales. This makes for a less hand-filling experience, which wore on me a bit during precision tasks.
Take dinner prep, for example. I expected that the blade’s tallness would help offset its 0.16-inch thickness, allowing for decent slicing performance. Well, kind of.
It works better than most dedicated bruisers (like this trio I tested years ago). But see that angle where the two main edges meet? That’s exactly the point at which something like, say, an onion would fall under a normal cutting stroke, so you wind up almost spiking the produce rather than parting it.
The cleaver-like bent of its handle helps a bit, keeping your knuckles somewhat in line with the edge. Overall, it’s a serviceable tool for supper work, if you’re preparing something like sandwiches or a stew.
Also, here’s the obligatory note about fire steels: This knife won’t scrape one, thanks to its oxide coating. Honestly, I think I’m going to start leaving this out of tests, unless a knife makes a specific claim as an “all-around survival tool.”
Lastly, I wouldn’t recommend this knife as a general package opener. It’s a bit too large for this task, and the forward finger choil (while useful for sharpening purposes) will be a little too cramped for any hand big enough to wield this blade.
Conclusion: Civivi Concept 22 Fixed-Blade Knife Review
In the end, my experience with the Concept 22 mirrors several books I’ve read. Things start out strange, unwieldy, and a little narrow until the narrative finds its proper context.
By the time I left the woods, I was having a full-blown, log-chopping adventure with a knife that weighs just a little more than two hefty paperbacks. And for this alone, the Concept 22 won me over.
English major nonsense aside, should you spend your cash on one of these knives? If you like angular-looking choppers with a vaguely tacticool sense, then sure! I wouldn’t recommend it as your one-and-only wilderness fixed blade, but as a generally fun object to tool around with in the yard or back 40, there’s a lot of well-made, affordable fun to be had here.
And that’s really Civivi’s thing, isn’t it? Intriguing designs, solid construction, and affordable pricing — in many ways, the Concept 22 seems to embody the traits that have gained the brand its following.