Best Bushcraft Knives of 2017: Reviews

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If you’ve been around knives for a while, then you know the old saying is typically true: “The best type of knife you can own is the one you will have on you when you need it.”  

Having a knife on you is far more important than the type of knife you have.  With that being said, if you are adding to your collection, there are definitely different uses for each type of knife.

Below are some of our favorite knives that fall into the bushcraft category.  All of them are adept in fieldcraft and can be utilized for any number of outdoor tasks.  Before we get into our favorites, we look at what makes a Bushcraft knife slightly different from other types of knives.

What sets a Bushcraft Knife apart from the rest?

Bushcraft knives differ from survival knives and pocket knives.  They each have different uses which we will cover a little bit in detail below.

Survival Knives: Survival knives typically have a fixed blade and are good all around options that you can use for “anything.”  These are jack of all trade knives that are used for breaking glass, prying open doors, cutting into thick materials and have a set criteria.

Pocket Knives:  Pocket Knives are typically folding knives that you can carry on you daily that’s smaller in nature and can be used for a variety of different everyday tasks.

Bushcraft Knives: A Bushcraft knife, which we cover here should be considered as primarily a wood cutting tool and can be used effectively for notches, feathering and creating points on wooden objects.  It typically will not resemble a tactical knife looks wise and should have a blade that’s 3 to 6 inches in length and be extremely sharp.  Anything longer would probably fall into the machete category.

The shorter edge allows the bushcraft knife to be more maneuverable than longer survival knife blades.  It can also be extremely effective in skinning game and other basic bushcrafting tasks.  Bushcraft knives should be full-tang, fixed blade knives.  They should also have a flat grind and have a drop point blade, like many of their survival knife cousins.  While they can serve adaquately as a tool for cutting fish like crappie after a fresh catch, it’s typically recommended you stick with a fileting knife for that task.

Similar to survival knives, they will typically have handles that vary in material.  Handle materials may include wood, micarta, and dense rubber or a firm plastic.

When choosing a bushcraft knife you should avoid blades longer than 6 inches, and start considering a machete or hatchet for heavy duty chopping and brush clearing.

Types of Knife Steel:

Similar to steels available for the other types of knives, the primary types of steel you will be dealing with for a bushcraft knife will be High Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel.

For a more in-depth look at knife steel, you can check out our breakdowns and the benefits of each by looking at this article here.  Here’s a basic summary for both:

High Carbon:  HC steel will hold an edge longer, but will rust faster.  It’s also softer which makes it easier to sharpen.  Oil the blade frequently to keep it rust free if you live in a wet climate.  Recommended High Carbon Steels are: 1000 Series (1045, 1095, etc.), 5160, O1, O6, W2

Stainless Steel:  SS will require more sharpening but will hardly ever rust. It’s a harder steel which makes it more of a pain to sharpen.  It will typically require less maintenance but also not hold as sharp of an edge.  Recommended Stainless Steels are : 400 Series (420, 440A/B/C), AUS Series (AUS-6/8/10), BG42, Bohler, S30V, VG10

Which Steel is Best for a Bushcraft knife?

Which steel is best for a Bushcraft knife?  While this is a loaded question, we will answer it as directly as we can.  If you are a collector, and have several knives, either type of knife steel is fine.

If this is your only knife, go with Stainless as it will allow you to have more versatility with the knife and less maintenance.  It may not hold an edge as well but it will take more abuse between care.

High Carbon is great but if you are looking for “one” knife that does it all, Stainless Steel is a better choice.  We’d still recommend a multi-knife approach (look at them as tools for specific jobs) when it comes to bushcraft, brush clearing, survival and knives you may pocket carry daily.

If you employ that approach, a High Carbon knife may make more sense.

Nine of the Best Bushcraft Knives for the Money:

Bushcraft knives are a great addition to any collection when preparing for a survival situation in advance.  Below we break down our top 10 favorites in more detail.


1. Benchmade Bushcrafter Knife:

 

Benchmade is notorious for quality.  They produce some of the highest quality outdoor/survival knives on the market today and the Bushcrafter is no different.

Here are the Specs for the Benchmade Bushcrafter:

  • Overall Length: 9.2 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.43 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: S30V Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: 58-60 HRC
  • Handle Material: G-10 Plastic
  • Weight: 7.72 oz.

The Bushcrafter features a Stainless Steel Blade made from S30V stainless steel which contains 1.45% carbon and is one of the better steels for knives.

It’s also made in the USA which is important to some consumers and should be noted that the production is not shipped overseas.  Unfortunately that means that it comes with a higher price tag, but the quality is worth the cost.


2. Condor Knife & Tool Bushlore 4.375 Inch Blade:

Condor Knife & Tool produces some quality knives for people on a budget.  This knife is an import so that’s something to consider, but that’s also what makes it much easier on your wallet.

Here are the specs for the Bushlore 4.375 Inch Blade:

  • Condor Knife Tool Bushlore Bushcraft KnifeOverall Length: 9.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.375
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1075 Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Weight: 12 oz.

The CKT Bushlore is a great all around option for a Bushcraft knife and it’s simplistic design make it one of the more popular knives out there if you are looking for something budget friendly.

You can generally score this knife for under $50.00 making it a top wallet friendly pick.  This knife is great for chopping as well.  Grabbing the knife by the end can make this a very effective yet maneuverable tool for chopping wood and creating points.  They also make a smaller version with a 3 inch blade as well.


3. Buck Knives Selkirk:

No comparison list would be complete without Buck having a knife making the list.  The Selkirk makes a great bushcraft knife at an affordable price point.

Here are the Selkirk Specifications:

  • Overall Length: 9.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.625 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 420HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 7.6 oz.

While most of Buck’s knives are American made, this one is made overseas which is what helps keep the price point lower than the top tier knives.  Even though it’s not made in the US, the warranty is still the same and Buck has one of the best lifetime warranties in the knife business.

Price wise this knife can usually be had for under $50.00 making it a great option for anyone looking in that price range that is trying to expand their knife collection.  This wouldn’t be the single knife we’d choose if you were looking for a “one-size fits all” type of knife, but it’s a worth addition to an established collection.  The knife handle is made of flat steel at the end, making it usable as a hammer in a pinch.


4. Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft Knife:

It’s tough not to like everything about the Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft Knife.  We’ve shown on some of our other review articles that we are Spyderco fans.  The G-10 Bushcraft is no different.

Here are the G-10 Bushcraft Specs:

  • Spyderco G-10 Bushcraft KnifeOverall Length: 8.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 4 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: O-1
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: G-10 Plastic
  • Weight: 7.75 oz.

The Bushcraft Knife by Spyderco is a collaboration between Tactical Buchrafter CHris Claycombe, BushcraftUK.com and Spyderco.  They set out to make a blade that would rival some of their fixed blade competitors in both quality and use.

The Bushcraft handles chopping, slicing, whittling and processing game without any issues whatsoever.  It’s our first non-stainless blade in our series and the O-1 High Carbon is easy to sharpen.  It also holds an edge extremely well.  The knife also comes standard with a fitted sheath making it easy to carry right out of the box.  The blade is fully tanged which is different than most of Spyderco’s most popular offerings that are more modern styled pocket knives.  Overall, it’s hard not to like what Spyderco does with most of their knives and the Bushcraft is no exception to that.


5. Tops Brothers of Bushcraft:

Tops knocks it out of the park with their Bushcraft knife, but like the Benchmade, the price tag reflects it.  This knife has some extra features that we will dive into a little deeper, but first let’s look at the specs.

Here are the specs of the Tops BOB Knife:

  • TOPS Brothers of Bushcraft Field KnifeOverall Length: 10 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.5 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1095 HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 RC
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 9.6 oz.

The only thing we don’t love about the TOPS BOB is the price tag.  With that being said, it’s worth considering this knife if you are already looking at our top choice in the quality region which is the Benchmade Bushcrafter.  The extra weight behind the BOB Fieldcraft knife is excellent and helps make it a highly effective chopping tool.  While the knife already has some decent out of the box features, let’s look at what’s been added to make the BOB stand out.

The handle has a bow drill divot which was specifically designed for starting fires.  The pommel of the blade is the tang, simply wrapped in the knife grips making it excellent for Batoning.  The thumb area on the hilt of the blade is also formed to provide a better grip when doing other tasks outside of basic bushwork, like skinning game or helping setup snare traps.  Overall the BOB is a great choice that you won’t go wrong with if you can afford the point of entry from a cost perspective.


6. Schrade Full Frontier Drop Point:

Schrade’s bushcraft knife is the cheapest on our list.  The quality is pretty solid for the price which is consistent among other Schrade knives on the market today. Let’s look at the specs.

Schrade Full Frontier Drop Point Specs:

  • Schrade Full FrontierOverall Length: 10.4 inches
  • Blade Length: 5.05 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1095 HC
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: TPE Handle
  • Weight: 16 oz.

Schrade does a good job of combining an extremely low price point with decent quality.  There have been some issues with people not being completely thrilled with the powder coating the blade comes with on top of the 1095 high carbon steel, but that can be removed manually or eventually through wear and tear.

If you are looking to pickup a serviceable field knife on a budget, the Schrade Full Frontier will make an excellent choice as a stop gap until you can afford a top tier quality knife.


7. Morakniv Carbon Black Tactical Bushcraft Knife:

Moakniv is a budget knife maker and while we normally don’t focus too much on sub $50.00 knives as some of our favorites, the Black Tactical Bushcraft knife makes our list.

Here are the Morakniv Specs: 

  • Morakniv Black Bushcrafter KnifeOverall Length: 9.1 inches
  • Blade Length: 4.3 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: HC/Tungsten
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Molded Rubber
  • Weight: 5.7 Oz (with sheath)

Our primary knock on the Morakniv is that it’s only 3/4 of a tang, and not a full tang like the other favorites.  That’s really the only knock on this knife outside the fact that the warranty is only one year, which pales in comparison to some of the higher end knives like Buck who warranty their knives for the lifetime of the blade.

Let’s move on to what we like about the Morakniv.  First and foremost is the cost, usually under $50.00.  Next is that the spine of the blade is ground specifically to be used with a firestarter.  You can purchase the knife both with or without an issued firestarter.  We’d recommend buying the one with it fully equipped, but you’ll be coughing up a few extra bucks to get there.  The Rubber handle is ergonomic and allows the blade to be gripped easily and the blade comes razor sharp right out of the box.  Overall this is a tough knife that will get the job done for anyone on a budget.  If it starts to wear through after a couple years, it’s not going to be all that expensive to simply replace it.


8. Ontario SK-5 Blackbird:

The Ontario SK-5 Blackbird is a solid knife with a unique design.  It’s a spear point blade that serves a bushcraft purpose not only as a knife, but as a utility tool that can be attached to a stick and then used as a spear.  It fits our criteria well and we like the features that the SK-5 offers.

Here are the Ontario RTAK II specs:

  • Overall Length: 10.0 inches
  • Blade Length: 5.0 inches
  • Blade Type: Spear Point
  • Blade Material: 154 CM Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Weight: 12 oz.

The blade itself is made out of 154 CM American made stainless steel.  While the tang is thinner than some of the other knives on the list, the steel feels very sturdy allowing this knife to perform well out in the brush.  The handle is a G10 Plastic that’s finished well and holds a grippy finish on the handle where your hands lay over the grip.

We like the blade machining that’s been done, as the knife feels like a quality knife which is what OKT is known for.  The sheath is a fabric material that’s tan, and carries a somewhat tactical look & feel to it (it’s Molle compatible).  The knife itself was designed by Paul Sheiter, looking for a simplistic knife that could be used out in the brush for a variety of purposes, without complicating the actual design.


9. Helle Utvaer:

Below is a write up from one of our readers, Tony Lugosy of Romania.  He took the time to write in to the site and give us some feedback on the Helle Utvauer, so we wanted to include it.

Here are the specs of the Helle Utvaer:

  • Helle Utvaer Bushcraft KnifeOverall Length: 11 inches
  • Blade Length:  3.93 inches
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 12C27 Stainless
  • Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Weight: 5.64 oz.

In just a few words, my hands on experience with the Helle Utvaer was and still is one of the best.

I bought the knife as soon as in was launched in 2014, mainly because I was looking for a full tang bushcraft/outdoor piece, small enough to be carried in normal day trips, but sturdy enough to sustain a 10 day full outdoor trip. I was attracted by the overall shape and classical features.

I selected the Utvaer due to the Sandvik steel used by Helle. Helle uses a patented sandwich steel, with a hat inner layer, and two softer “protection” layers on the outside – Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel.  I took into consideration that I also do some fishing, and a good stainless blade is a must. I live in Romania, and we don’t have always the best weather possible…

This knife is the creation of Jesper Voxnaes, and for the knife guys “out there” this should be enough.

The blade is the classical Scandinavian drop point, meaning that the drop in the spine of the blade is gentle, offering a good blade cross section even close to the point.

The grind is also scandi – excellent edge retention even in harsh use, easy to sharpen, cuts like a razor if you hone the blade on a 8000 grit waterstone. The spine also generates a good spark if you use it with a ferro rod. I used the knife for batoning, and, even if the blade is only 2.8 mm thick, the blade did the job.

The handle is obviously curly birch – here we have no surprises from the northsmen – good balanced, and provided with two tube rivets. The shape of the handle offers perfect handling, and the smooth satin finish insures a very good grip.

If you have large hands, the handle might seem a little bit small, but in normal circumstances the handling is perfect.

I used a lot of knifes, factory made and custom, but this one seems to stuck on me.

The sheath was a little bit disappointing, but I made a Kydex one, with a ferrocerium holder, and everything is now OK. The original one was made from genuine leather, but the knife was not firmly kept inside. The sheath allows a good room for the knife to fall if you don’t pay attention. I still have no answer from Helle regarding this matter, but, at the end of the day, I bought a knife, and not a sheath.


Wrapping Up & Parting Advice:

Finding the best bushcraft knife can be difficult because so many people have different interpretations when they are looking for a field knife.  It’s not as simple as just picking a survival knife that you think can meet every criteria in the outdoors that you may have.

Knives should be looked at as a complete system and not as a one size fits all remedy.  Any of the knives we have featured here will do their part very well as a field knife in anyone’s knife rotation.  As always, if you feel there’s one we have missed, feel free to drop us a line in the comments below.

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