It seems like every time I look at the Bark River Knives web site (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool), I discover yet another interesting and useful knife design. 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 on the market today.
Like the Bark River Wolf River the BRK Trail Buddy is another American knife design that was originally conceived by Gorge W. Brooks (who was the chief editor of “The Outer Book”) in 1914 and was produced by Webster Marble as his Woodcraft model.
The BRK Trailbuddy features an overall length of 8” with a 4 ¼” clip point blade with a deep sabre grind made from non-stainless A-2 tool steel hardened to 58 Rockwell. This knife also features an ergonomic, tapered handle which is available with your choice of handle materials ranging from several different colors of Micarta, to exotic hardwoods, to natural materials and the deluxe version features metal bolsters. Last, this knife is supplied with heavy-duty, leather, pouch-type sheath from Sharpshooter Sheath Systems.
Like some other pocket knives, this knife is based on the Marble’s “Woodcraft” design of the early 1900’s, the adjustments made to the design by Mike Stewart have greatly improved upfacon the original design in my opinion.
For instance, the point has been lowered to place it more in line with the center line of the blade which imparts a slight positive forward angle to the edge and lowers the belly of the blade for better leverage and control when removing the hide from harvested game animals.
In addition, the stick tang and stacked leather handle of the “Woodcraft” model have been replaced with a full tang and handle slabs made from your choice of numerous different man-made and natural materials. Thus, the is a much stronger and far more ergonomic design than the Marbles Woodcraft knife is.
However, it is made from non-stainless A-2 tool steel which 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 and thus, the blade does require more care to keep it corrosion free than a blade made from a stainless steel.
The high carbon content, however, makes this a hard steel and the chromium and molybdenum combine to form hard double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel. Also, the addition of both manganese and nickel increase both the strength and toughness of the steel and the addition of vanadium refines the grain structure so the blade can be honed to an extremely sharp edge.
Plus, with a Rockwell Hardness of 58, it will hold that edge through extensive use. In addition, the sabre grind on the blade of this knife differs from other knives and is so deep that it almost qualifies as a flat grind and the clipped point with the false edge gives this knife a very sharp point for piercing hides.
Furthermore, the choil allows the edge to be sharpened all of the way to the back and, when combined with the short ricasso, they form what passes for a small quillion. Furthermore, the full tang construction with the tapered handle slabs is a very ergonomic design; although I am not certain why if features two lanyard loops.
Thus, while the basic lines of the original Marble’s Woodcraft knife have been faithfully preserved in the BRK Trail Buddy, the BRK design has provided this classic knife design with a much needed overhaul. Consequently, the modern rendition of this popular classic is a compact, lightweight, fast handling, general purpose hunter/skinner that clearly reflects the purpose of the original design by G.W. Brooks.