Puukko Perfection: Hot Scandi-Ground Options For Sportsmen

Puukko Perfection: Hot Scandi-Ground Options For Sportsmen
Four stellar puukko knives, from left: Reiff F4 Scandi Bushcraft, Marttiini Arctic Bush Knife, Bear Forest Knives Simple 3 and Morakniv Classic No. 1/0.

See how well four hot Scandi-ground puukkos cut and handle.

A multifunction knife, the puukko is integral to Nordic life, revered by scouts and symbolizing adulthood in Finland. The design—a palm-sized blade with a single edge and flat back—facilitates various tasks. It is ideal for carving and cleaning but lacks a guard because it’s crafted for slicing, not stabbing, with some models featuring finger grooves for wet conditions.

While men’s and women’s puukkos differ slightly in size and are ornately sheathed, both are equally esteemed. The puukko’s deep-carry sheath, easily attached to a belt or around the neck, makes it a practical tool for everyday use.

Puukko Grinds

Assorted grinds
Assorted grinds, from left: flat, convex, Scandi and hollow. (from the BLADE® files)

Scandinavian knives are renowned for the unique grind that sets them apart from other knives with flat, hollow, saber and other grinds. Most knives have primary and secondary bevels that meet at the cutting edge. However, Scandinavian or Scandi grinds feature just one bevel that starts near the blade center and tapers to the edge. The design creates an acute angle that produces a razor-sharp edge, making it incredibly easy to slice through even the most rigid materials. Additionally, sharpening Scandi knives is a breeze, as you don’t have to worry about getting the correct angle. Simply lay the blade on the stone with the edge against the honing surface, and voila!—you automatically get the perfect angle.

Marttiini Arctic Bush Knife

Fine-tuning a wooden wedge using the chest-lever grip with the Marttiini Arctic Bush Knife.
Fine-tuning a wooden wedge using the chest-lever grip with the Marttiini Arctic Bush Knife (ABK) is effortless for precise and challenging cutting tasks.

Marttiini knives are Nordic puukkos crafted in the Arctic Circle using generations of craftsmanship and modern technology. Founded in 1928 by blacksmith Janne Marttiini, the company produces high-quality utility knives made of natural materials like leather, curly birch and reindeer antlers, along with ultra-sharp blades of carbon steel. The knives are designed for use in harsh conditions.

Also known as Kiehinen in Finland, the Marttiini Arctic Bush Knife (ABK) is a beautiful, traditional stick-tang-style knife with a 3.5-inch blade. Made of stunningly grained curly birch, the handle is handsome and incredibly comfortable, a characteristic common to all top puukkos.

The ABK is an excellent choice for those who prefer a blade under 4 inches and have other tools for chopping or sawing. It is easy to use in winter conditions, even when wearing wool mittens or leather work gloves. The deep pocket carry sheath ensures the knife is easy to grip and deploy. Overall, it is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a traditional yet functional knife that offers both comfort and aesthetics.

Puukko Marttiini and Wood Jewel.
Finland is known for crafting high-quality puukkos that can withstand harsh conditions. It is the world’s largest producer of puukkos. Two of the most popular brands are Marttiini (top) and Wood Jewel (bottom).

This past winter I had to carve hardwood wedges for splitting logs in camp. While axes (page 48) are the traditional tools for the task, I decided to use the ABK instead. It features an oval, tapered grip designed to provide a secure hold during challenging cutting tasks. The Scandi edge sliced through the dry maple with ease, even when encountering knots.

I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the knife was in a chest-lever grip for fine carving. I wanted to tackle the task while the knife was still sharp before moving to more knife-suitable camp craft such as making stakes out of beech and maple. In addition to carving wedges, I usually try to turn out about six good fuzz sticks before leaving camp for the next fire—sort of an early set-up. The ABK excels at the task as much as any Scandi blade would, making it a valuable addition to my gear.

Morakniv Classic

Classic No. 1/0
The Classic No. 1/0 has a 3-inch blade designed for carving feather sticks and whittling, making it great for fire preparation.

Morakniv knives are made exclusively in Mora, Sweden, where the company has been for centuries. Combining the benefits of handforged blades with industrial manufacturing, Morakniv is known for quality, consistent, sharp knives. They are recognized as a national symbol of Sweden and have been granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment by the King*.

The Morakniv Classic knives are a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike. The blades are carbon steel and the distinct barrel-shaped handles are red-stained birch. The Classic knives have been around for nearly a century, and while some changes have been made over the years, the basic design has remained essentially unchanged.

In 2020, Morakniv updated the Classic series. The edge angles and blade shapes remain the same but all the knives have rattail tangs. The new polymer sheath is sleek and polished and features the Swedish Coat of Arms. The belt strap is Swedish vegetable-tanned leather designed to last generations.

The Morakniv Classic No. 1/0 has been renamed and upgraded from the Classic No. 2/0, with slight differences in handle width and blade thickness. The blade is .078 inch at the thickest. I like the trim blade. It is a hair longer than the 2/0 at 3 inches.

The Morakniv Classic No. 1/0 has a thin .078-inch blade useful for slicing onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.
The Morakniv Classic No. 1/0 has a thin .078-inch blade useful for slicing onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.

I carried the bite-sized knife on a small carabiner hooked to my belt loop. I used it on dry poplar, hickory and maple to make feather sticks. It performed precisely as a Morakniv Classic should, slicing and curling wood with every stroke. Sitting by the fire, whittling and filling up my tinder/kindling coffee can with shavings was my nighttime routine with the 1/0.

The small, very able cutter regularly sliced peppers, onions and mushrooms for camp kabobs or morning omelets. Due to its kitchen knife-like thinness, the blade sliced food exceptionally well for a Scandi grind.

Bear Forest Knives Simple 3

Bear Forest Knives Simple 3
The author used the Bear Forest Knives Simple 3 to carve a seven-notch try stick from semi-dry wood. The sharp zero grind excels on green and dry wood.

Based in the USA, Bear Forest Knives is keeping the puukko knife alive and thriving. The company recently released its latest addition to the Simple series, the Simple 3.

The full-tang Finnish puukko-style knife packs a compact and convenient 3-inch blade of 8670 carbon steel. Its straight-back 90-degree spine and zero Scandi grind ensure remarkable control and precision, making it ideal for intricate tasks. The Simple 3 features an exposed pommel perfect for light hammering tasks, which wasn’t an option on previous knives in the series. The 8670 is typically found in large circular saw blades, much like old-timey puukkos made in Scandinavia. The Simple 3’s compact size makes it highly versatile for various woods tasks.

Simple 3 Puukko
The Simple 3 is a versatile puukko for camping, bushcrafting or hunting. The 3-inch 8670 carbon steel blade has a straight back, 90-degree spine and zero Scandi grind for control and precision.

Using the knife, I created a mini try stick and enjoyed some woodcarving. The handle was comfortable and filling, while the zero Scandi was perfect for removing a lot of material. I used semi-dry wood, which the Scandi grind works better on than a flat or saber grind. I continued crafting tent stakes and making fuzz sticks, which a puukko excels at most. Additionally, the super sharp spine was exceptionally helpful, as it helped me to ignite the nicely feathered shavings for fire using my ferro rod.

Reiff Knives F4 Scandi Bushcraft

Reiff F4 Scandi Bushcraft
The Reiff F4 Scandi Bushcraft made feathering wood a breeze. The large handle helped ease the blade through hard oak to make thin, curly feathers.

The F4 Scandi Bushcraft is the latest homage to the puukko from Reiff Knives. The company keeps the contemporary rendition of the famed knife alive with modern craftsmanship and materials in a full-tang construction.

A knife with a Scandi-ground blade is a must-have for bushcraft enthusiasts. The F4 blade is CPM 3V carbon steel 5/32 inch thick at the thickest with a steep grind angle of 12.5 degrees per side. Its ability to effortlessly slice through wood, animal hides and food is remarkable. The textured canvas Micarta® scales are available in four colors.

F4 Scandi
The F4 Scandi is a new breed of knife that, thanks to the tough CPM 3V carbon blade steel, had no problem batonning through frozen wood in the winter.

The robust F4 Scandi helped split several chunks of maple, oak and poplar with a baton for my winter cookouts. It also kept an Uberleben wood stove and one cold hiker well-fed. The Scandi edge was not damaged when used on frozen wood in freezing weather. After heavy splitting—not usually recommended for a Scandi blade—it was time for tinder shavings. I made several fuzz sticks and marveled at how comfortably the 5-inch handle navigated the edge, elegantly feathering the wood. Reiff has it going on!

*Royal warrants of appointment have been issued for centuries by royal families of assorted European countries to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The royal warrant enables the suppliers to advertise the fact that they supply to the issuer of the royal warrant, thus lending prestige to the suppliers.

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