KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie Knife: An In-Depth Look

The history of KA-BAR knives actually began in England when a when a group of knife smiths from Sheffield, England (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) banned together and migrated to New England.

Upon moving, they promptly set up shop and began producing much higher quality cutlery than the average American was used to since most American knives at that time were made by local Blacksmiths.

Following this, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 38 men made the decision from a Limited Partnership named the Tridioute Cutlery Company with the intention of manufacturing and selling high quality cutlery to form the beginnings of KA-BAR Knives, Inc.

However, the name KA-BAR actually came about as a tribute to a testimonial written in the 1900’s by a fur trapper who wrote to thank KA-BAR for saving his life.

In his letter, he wrote that his rifle hand jammed; leaving him with only his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. He wanted to thank KA-BAR for making the quality knife that enabled him to kill the bear that was trying to kill him but, all that was legible was “K a bar”.

In honor of this testimony, the company adopted the name KA-BAR as their trademark.  Today, KA-BAR offers more than 100 quality cutlery products and accessories sold through independent retailers, distributors, mail order catalogs and their online knife store.  The KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie carries on that tradition of producing quality cutlery.

This 14 ¾” knife features a a 9” clip point blade made from 3/16” thick, 1095 Chrome/Vanadium steel that has a Rockwell hardness of 56-58. The blade also features a flat grind with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless 1095 from corroding. Plus, it features a synthesis of Becker’s trademark, ergonomic, handle design made from Zytel combined with a traditionally profiled American Bowie style blade.

The KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie  is supplied with a heavy-duty polyester sheath that also accommodates a small, skeleton-handled, knife called a Remora (also made by KA-BAR).

Folks, as dedicated outdoor preparedness blades go, the Becker Combat Bowie is one tough knife!

Although I am not, and never will be, a fan of non-stainless steel knives, 1095 Cro-Van steel is a very hard and very tough steel with a very complex composition. In fact, it contains 0.95%-1.1% Carbon, 0.40%-0.60% Chromium, 0.30%-0.50% Manganese (increases toughness and hardenability in steel,) 0.06% Molybdenum (during forging, Mo and Cr forms hard, double carbide, bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel). 0.25% Nickel (adds strength and toughness to steel) and 0.161% Vanadium (helps to produce a fine grain during heat treat which also improves wear resistance and refines the gain for both good toughness and the ability to sharpen to a very keen edge).

So although it is not a stainless steel, it is an EXCELLENT steel for use on a dedicated survival knife.

In fact, the 9” clip point blade is long enough to perform light to medium chopping tasks with and the long, straight, edge combined with the almost non-existent Ricasso make it well suited for carving, slicing, chopping and splitting. More than that, the belly of the sweep is very well designed for removing the hide from harvested game animals.

Furthermore, the Zytel handle slabs are almost as tough as the blade steel and they are very ergonomically shaped and are designed in such a way that they provide the user with a very secure grip.

Consequently, not only do I find the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie to be an aesthetically pleasing knife, I also find it to be imminently well suited to the purpose of outdoor survival. Plus, if you add the smaller Remora, fixed-blade, knife that fits in the same sheath as the combat bowie, then you have a serious survival knife system that is capable of taking on any task that you would need to use if for in an outdoor survival situation.

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