The Latest Bushcraft Knives Are Beasts In The Outdoors. This Quartet Of Blades Is Durable Enough To Survive And Thrive In The Wilderness.
Bushcraft is a specialized skill set that ensures survival in the wilderness using foraging, hunting, fishing, shelter construction, and firecraft, all accomplished with minimal tools. The primary bushcraft implement is a fixed blade employed not only for food prep but the other mentioned skills, too.
As a result, such a fixed blade must be a tough tool capable of more than just standard cutting tasks, including whittling, carving, splitting wood or, in conjunction with a ferrocerium rod, starting a campfire. Following are four of the latest factory examples of the genre.
Boker Magnum Life Knife
The most affordable bushcraft model of the test bunch, the Boker Magnum Life Knife has a 3.9-inch blade of 440A stainless steel in a modified clip-point pattern. Built rugged for the outdoors, the knife comes with a sturdy Kydex sheath for safe carry.
At 7.87 inches overall, the Life Knife sports a handle of machined black G-10 in a coarse crosshatched checkering pattern for enhanced hand traction regardless of conditions. The grooves in the crosshatching work are similar to those of a radial car tire by displacing moisture. Red fiber liners under the G-10 add a nice pop of color to an otherwise dark knife.
The handle includes integral forward and rear guards to prevent your hand from sliding in either direction. The three large traction notches in the thumb rest area of the blade spine also help improve grip. The handle felt a bit skinny in my hand, so I would prefer a slightly wider one.
Conversely, the Life Knife might be a great choice for those with smaller paws. The 3.9-inch blade is a great size for belt carry. The rather compact nature allows it to carry comfortably, with the length neither too long nor too short. The short blade tip accomplishes precise cutting chores easily.
The sheath is a simple fold-over design of Kydex with a Boker Plus clip for belt carry. The sheath features quality construction, retains the knife well, and is simple yet effective.
Condor Tool & Knife Bushcraft Bliss
Composed of high-quality materials, the Bushcraft Bliss from Condor Tool & Knife boasts a 5-inch blade with a flat grind. The 1075 carbon steel can be rather easy to sharpen in the field and still retains an edge well. The modified clip point shape offers a generous belly for slicing and a defined point. A swedge gives the blade a bit of attitude, and bead-blasted flats and satin-finished bevels provide a two-tone finish that’s very eye-catching.
The ergonomic handle of red linen Micarta® is an excellent choice thanks to its being largely impervious to temperature and humidity changes. Three thong tubes fasten the scales to the full tang. Three large notches at the spine permit non-slip thumb placement so you can bear down on the blade. With its rounded edges, choil, and scale contouring, the handle felt as if it were molded to my hand.
The sheath is Condor’s hybrid molded Kydex and leather rig, an unusual material combo. The belt loop and securement strap are leather. The leather belt loop allows the sheath to move somewhat, unlike the more rigid molded clamshell fastener—which doesn’t—and makes it easier to sit down while wearing it. A thumb break molded into the top of the sheath assists in extracting the blade, which is a nice extra touch.
I found the handle to be very comfortable. A distinctive trait is the prominently elevated traction notches. They almost look like part of a gear. The feature ensures your thumb isn’t going anywhere.
The 5-inch blade makes baton work easy, as well as food prep tasks. Out of the box, the 1075 carbon steel was plenty sharp and ready for use. The Bushcraft Bliss is a consistent performer.
TOPS Knives Brakimo
Joe Flowers runs Bushcraft Global, where he instructs students on basic and advanced survival skills while in the Amazon jungle. A notable authority in the field, he also designs knives, including the Brakimo from TOPS Knives, a tool that can carve, cut, split, and perform just about any task involving outdoor survival.
The 5.25-inch blade of 1095 carbon steel is a drop-point pattern with a Scandi grind. It has a generous belly for easy slicing and a defined point for delicate work.
The green Micarta handle is ideal for bushcraft given its stability and minimal weight. It is matte-finished for a nice grip quality without being overly aggressive. The integral front and rear guards provide a measure of safety that locks the knife in the hand. The divot in the handle is for use with a bow drill for making fire.
If there is a solid all-around performer of the test bunch, it’s the Brakimo. I like how it easily handles heavy work like chopping and baton work, as well as such lighter work as whittling and food prep. You can choke up on the handle for tasks requiring more control where a slicing or rocking motion is used. Grip the handle more toward the rear and feel how the balance point shifts to a blade-heavy profile for easy, effective chopping.
The Scandi grind acts as a wedge and splits the wood in a snap, almost as if no effort were invested—very impressive performance! For one knife that does it all, the Brakimo is it. In-hand it feels substantial and capable of taking on serious work.
Spyderco FB42G Zoomer
Designed by Tony Zoomer, an outdoor enthusiast and survival skills instructor from the Netherlands comes the Spyderco FB42G Zoomer. Made of high-end materials, the knife is expertly configured and has a list of features that quite possibly makes it the most comfortable bushcraft knife you’ll use.
The 5-inch blade in a drop-point pattern is premium CPM 20CV stainless steel for enhanced edge retention. The blade has an ample belly for slicing and whittling/carving tasks and a defined point for close-up detail work. The full flat grind transitions to a convex edge, which is durable and extremely sharp.
The black G-10 scales are machined where they join the tang, so the handle is completely rounded in profile. This translates into a super comfortable grip that eliminates hot spots. An integrated rest at the blade spine permits placement of your thumb for additional pressure on cuts and for added control. The full tang extends a little beyond the end of the handle for use as a light-duty hammer.
The sheath is a custom-designed, well made leather drop-leg-style rig with a free-floating belt loop. It has an exterior storage pouch with a snap closure. The pouch can carry your choice of survival supplies, a large folding knife, a multi-tool, etc.
The free-floating belt loop allows the knife to swing freely as you move or pivot out of the way when you are seated. It also can temporarily break away in the event the sheath gets snagged by brush in the woods.
The Zoomer is a solid performer. The heavily contoured G-10 handle feels mighty good in the hand. The full flat grind allows the blade to sail through whatever you cut.
While the handle is comfortable, it felt big in my hand. Those with smaller hands might not take to it easily. While using high-performance CPM 20CV stainless steel is not typically a bushcraft thing, with some regular stropping and honing, you can prolong the edge and skip sharpening during your trip.
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