Life Abroad: The 10 Best Bushcraft Knives

Aug 22, 2015

Category: Gear

Bushcraft is the art and skill of surviving in the wilderness. It differs slightly from pure survivalism in that Bushcraft is something that is done by choice. Where a survival knife and a bushcraft knife are similar, the former is made for dealing with dire situations during the short term. Bushcraft knives are used again and again for long-term existence on walkabout. They need to be sturdy for extended use, retain an edge for times when a knife sharpener isn’t available, and act as your EDC knife when it is the only tool you shall be bearing forth.

Choosing a ones of these knives can be a quandary. It must be part hunting knife, part tactical knife, and part camping knife since it will be riding your hip for the foreseeable, and often unforeseeable, future. It needs to be able to cut limbs for fires and cooking, as well as building shelters. It should be capable of cleaning and skinning an animal as well as basic self-defense. It must have a full tang since it will be put through countless hours of abuse. Considering all these facets, we searched out the 10 best bushcraft knives to be had.

Condor Tool and Knife Bushlore

Condor Tool and Knife Bushlore

Pro: 5/32 inch Scandinavian ground blade
Con: Drags during wood cutting

Bushcraft Bargain: It’s easy to expect very little from this knife given the price, but it clears a very high bar with room to spare. Crafted from 1075 high carbon steel with a blasted satin finish, this looks like a collector grade knife, but works like a fiend. Truly an unbeatable deal for anyone looking to thrive in the wild.

Purchase: $36

Schrade SCHF9

Schrade SCHF9

Pro: 1/4 inch blade
Con: Handle is not flush with the tang

Longblade: Tipping the scales at just under a pound, this is one of the largest bushcraft knives you can find. The greater heft makes it ideal for replacing a machete and operating in thickly wooded areas with dense brush that needs a firm hand and a sharp blade to be dealt with properly. It’s comprised of 1095 carbon steel sunk into a Kraton handle for high durability and an excellent edge. It can blunt quickly, so don’t go on walkabout without a whetstone.

Purchase: $38

Morakniv Classic Original 1

Morakniv Classic Original 1

Pro: 61 on the Rockwell hardness scale
Con: Small handle reduces leverage

Unforgettable: It’s a little overkill to call something both classic and original, but in this case it’s warranted. There is probably no bushcraft knife as simple and memorable. A laminated steel blade at one end and oiled birchwood at the other, this doesn’t waste time with fancy materials. High carbon steel at the core with an alloyed exterior, this can go the distance and even be used as a utility knife in a pinch.

Purchase: $45

Ontario RAT-3

Ontario RAT-3

Pro: Black powder coating holds up well over time
Con: Cannot strike a ferro rod fire starter without modification

In the Boot: The RAT-3 is the precursor to the ESEE knife line, who have made some stellar bushcraft knives over the years. It was designed by Randall’s Adventure and Training, which is where the acronym RAT comes from. At a scant 5.3 ounces of carbon steel with a 3.5 inch cutting area with a micarta handle, this is made for either quick or precise work, not hacking or slashing. If you already have a beefy fixed blade knife, then the RAT-3 is a stellar backup. It works better for refined tasks, such as stripping sticks for fire, than broad sweeps.

Purchase: $69

Morakniv Bushcraft

Morakniv Bushcraft

Pro: Ergonomic with an extremely strong tip
Con: Sheath and handle feel cheap

Straight Edge: We’d probably suggest this offering from Morakniv to just about anyone, whether they really need a bushcraft knife or not. With its flat grind, straight point for bayoneting, 1/8 inch thickness, and tungsten DLC corrosion-resistant coating, this is a knife for a person who goes outside, not just those who plan to live and die in the wilderness. The back of the Bushcraft is ground specifically to be used with a firestarter, and luckily one comes on the sheath along with a diamond sharpener.

Purchase: $70

Ka-Bar Becker BK2

Ka-Bar Becker BK2

Pro: Made by knifemaster Ethan Becker
Con: Bulky

Ooh Rah: First appearing on our radar when we looked at survival knives, this is the big dog selection from the hard-living, hard-fighting folks at Ka-Bar who always go big. No shrinking daisy, this is a huge, heavy knife that is meant to take a lot of punishment over a lifetime. With a chrome and vanadium carbide infused 1095 blade the BK2 can be used as a camp axe almost as well as a knife. The removable Grivory handle is tough as a tenpenny nail and lets you wield this black beauty with ease and facility.

Purchase: $73

ESEE-3MIL-P

ESEE-3MIL-P

Pro: Solid balance of strength and weight
Con: Sheath tends to stick

Tactical Operator: Made to specs provided by military and police personnel, this began life doing tactical work, but is better as a bushcraft knife. It’s thick enough for some prying, has 1095 high-carbon steel that holds an edge for ages, and has a belt clip with MOLLE backing for completely customizing where and how you carry it for versatility in the field. Some standard jimping and a micarta handle seal the deal.

Purchase: $113

Fallkniven F1 Survival

Fallkniven F1 Survival

Pro: Thermorun handle protects from weather and electricity
Con: Cannot apply heavy cutting force

Final Word: Before bushcrafting was even popular, there was the F1 Survival knife. The standard leather sheath and laminated VG10 blade made it the only thing a serious bushman would strap to his hip or along his leg. 8 years in development for the Swedish Air Force, it’s a strong and long-lasting survival knife that is intended for harsh conditions. Doesn’t corrode or break when put to the test, you’ll reach for this sure-grip again and again even when loaded with options.

Purchase: $126

Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter

Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter

Pro: Handle fits larger-sized hands
Con: Handle cannot be removed and creates a hotspot

A Cut Above: If you have the money to spend on a knife that will never falter or fail, you can’t go wrong with the 162 Bushcrafter. Made with S30V stainless steel with a G10 handle that is held on with titanium tubes for less heft at the pommel, there’s little you can find wrong with this drop point knife. Oh, throw the sheath away. It’s not worth it.

Purchase: $179

Spyderco Bushcraft G-10

Spyderco Bushcraft G-10

Pro: Comfortable ergonomic grip reduces fatigue
Con: Difficult to hold when wet or bloody

Specialist: Spyderco is among our favorite brands when it comes to self-defense knives, because they make some wicked pieces. The G-10 proves they can make bushcraft knives as good at keeping you alive as their others are for snuffing someone out. Made to specifications from bushman Chris Claycombe, this O-1 carbon steel blade with its unusual Scandi grind and bombproof G10 handle is sleek, slick, and useful but still deadly.

Purchase: $196

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