Choosing a bushcraft knife can be confusing in terms of what to spend, what you need and what you are getting. This article aims to clarify some of those questions.
The classic Bushcraft Knife is made from 01 tool steel, has a full tang, and a blade with Scandinavian grind.
The back of the blade has sharp edges to more effectively double up as a fire steel (longer lasting and bigger sparks).
Lets break down the jargon.
01 tool steel – this is a high carbon steel that can be hardened in the production process to take a good edge. It’s usually hardened and tempered to a specific Rockwell number, but that’s a bit more in-depth! Carbon steel will rust, but stainless steel can rust too, so still needs a bit of TLC. Some marine stainless steel is really good but can be softer than 01. There are all sorts of fancy steels with different performance characteristics for high end knives; they’re a bit beyond this article.
Full tang – the metal of the blade goes all the way through to the tail of the knife and is often visible all the way through the handle.
Scandinavian Grind – the cutting edge of the blade is made up of two flat bevelled surfaces coming together at the edge. There is often a small secondary bevel coming to the cutting edge, making the edge tougher but slightly less chisel like.
Using as a firesteel: if you want to light tinder with a spark from your firesteel, the spark must burn for as long as possible. An abundance of quickly dying sparks doesn’t do much. Some strikers work better than others, so when you choose your firesteel look at the striker. Ideally test it in store if they have the facility (we have a box of testers and an oven tray). Striking the back of your knife can even be more effective than a firesteel striker. If it’s ground square, it will work better than a rounded edge and a sharp burr can be filed or ground for even better sparks.
So, onto some actual knives:
Morakniv of Sweden make the classic Companion Knife Range. If you’ve been on a bushcraft course, you will most likely have used one of these for your bushcraft knife. They’re available in carbon steel or stainless steel, with the handle in various colours: green, orange, pink etc. The tang only goes part way into the handle, but they are still hard to break. Although the blade is relatively thin you can still batten the back of the blade to split wood (always keep a wood wedge handy to release a stuck blade). The back of the blade is quite rounded so you will need to grind it to use with a firesteel.
For a few pounds more, you can buy the heavy duty Mora Companion with a thicker blade and a ground back edge (which again could be ground to a sharper edge to use with a firesteel).
The next step on in the MoraKniv range is the Bushcraft Black Knife, with it’s protective black coating and a really good ground edge on the back of the carbon blade, an more comfortable handle this makes a great hardworking knife for bushcraft and general cutting and carving.
A step up from this, is the Mora Garberg, with a tang long enough to reach past the end of the handle, it’s tough enough to be considered a survival knife with thick, good quality steel, and if you broke the handle you could still use the knife and perhaps replace it in the field. This has been hailed by the Dutch Bushcraft Knives Vloggers to be the best knife in this price bracket.
That covers the key products in the MoraKniv range. Our other main supplier of bushcraft knives is Casstrom, run by David Cassini Backstrom. They have a UK base and a base in the North of Sweden. They provide a range of knives. Some of them are by their own design, some in collaboration with custom knife makers and one with a famous bushcraft personality!
The basic knife in the range is the Casstrom No 10 Bushcraft knife, a classic construction and scandi grind with an innovative handle shape that works for smaller and larger hands. They’re available in both Scandi and full flat grind, with the option of carbon steel or stainless. If I needed a new bushcraft knife, this would be at the top of my list, either in a micarta handle or curly birch. All knives are beautifully finished with good detail in the construction.
For a smaller knife, more packable but less capable of bigger jobs, the Casstrom Safari knife is a great tool. It’s not so much a bushcraft knife, but works well around camp and in the camp kitchen. Designed as a hunters knife and skinner by the English knife maker Alan Wood, it is also a versatile knife.
Next, Casstrom presented us with the Woodsman Bushcraft Knife, designed by Roger Harrington. It is more of a classic bushcraft knife for those of us with small to average sized hands. Made with a Bohler 720 carbon steel, it is a classic bushcraft knife with a great pedigree, suitable for battening, carving and all round field use.
Last and largest is the Casstrom Lars Falt Bushcraft Knife. Lars Falt is Sweden’s most famous bushcrafter and he has put his name to this knife. Suitable for those with average to large hands, the full tang blade is 3.5mm thick and has an 11.5cm useful edge with a scandi grind.
To choose which bushcraft knife is the one for you, have a look at our bushcraft knives online, or pop in to our Llangollen shop to try them for real: there’s no substitute for that: All of our fixed blade knives come with sheathes. The basic knives have plastic sheathes, and the higher end knives have full grain leather sheaths.
Thank you for reading, we hope you found the article useful.
The ProAdventure team