Ok, I have to admit that I am absolutely fascinated with the fantastic knife designs produced by Bark River Knives (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool). Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, BRK is a family owned business operated by veteran knifesmith Mike Stewart who employs a group of skilled bladesmiths to create some of the finest production knives in the market today.
The BRK Bravo II is an excellent wilderness survival knife design that features an overall length of 12 ¼” with a 7” drop point, deep sabre grind blade made from 3/16” A-2 non-stainless tool steel that has been hardened to 58 Rockwell.
This BRK model also features a full tang construction with an extremely ergonomic handle design and handle slabs made from your choice of several different handle materials ranging from several different colors of Micarta to natural materials such as bone, horn and antler. Plus, the knife is supplied with a heavy-duty leather sheath.
When I first looked at this knife, I thought it had a straight spine but, then I got to looking at it much closer and I realized that it actually has very gradual drop to the tip. Also, the way that the flat of the blade is ground almost creates a clip on the tip of the knife. Thus, I personally find the shape of the blade on the BRK Bravo II to be very appealing with its subtle lines and perfect length.
The blade’s long, straight edge combined with the perfectly shaped sweep from the belly to the tip and the choil at the back of the edge make this knife blade shape very utilitarian. In fact, with a 7” blade made from A-2 tool steel, this knife is easily capable of handling light chopping tasks and yet, it will also allow you to strip bark, sharpen stakes and carve notches with ease.
In addition, the spine of the knife just behind the plunge line is slightly raised with horizontal “jimping” in order to provide the user with greater leverage when carving with the back of the blade. In addition, the nearly flat grind to the blade gives it an extremely sharp edge which the A-2 steel will hold very well and thus, it is also an excellent hunting knife.
Furthermore, although the A-2 tool steel is not a stainless steel it is very tough. It is a hard steel that contains 0.95% – 1.05% carbon, 4.75% – 5.5% chromium, 1.0% manganese, 0.90% -1.40% molybdenum, 0.30% nickel, and 0.15% – 0.50% vanadium.
Consequently, the carbon transforms the iron into steel and the chromium produces hardness and better edge-holding qualities when combined with other alloying materials. Also, molybdenum increase hardness in tool steels and combines with chromium during the forging process to form hard double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel.
Nickel adds strength and toughness to steel and vanadium helps to produce a fine grain structure during the heat treating process and also improves the wear resistance of the steel for both good toughness and the ability to sharpen to a very keen edge. In fact, many people report that they are able to get knives using steels that contain vanadium shaper than they can non-vanadium steels such as ATS-34.
Furthermore, instead of merely being shaped, the handle slabs on the BRK Bravo II are sculpted to fit the human hand with an integral quillion to prevent your finger from inadvertently sliding forward onto the blade’s edge.
Thus, in my opinion, the BRK Bravo II like many of the others we have looked at is yet another example of an excellent wilderness survival knife design from the mind of the bladesmiths at BRK. Like their many other designs, the Bark River Bravo II is both thoughtfully designed to fill a specific purpose and meticulously crafted to withstand the rigors of an extended stay in the wilderness.