Bark River Knives is my new favorite knife company! Formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool, BRK is a family owned company located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. BRK is run by veteran knife smith Mike Stewart who teaches and employs a number of skilled artisans that create some of the prettiest production knives on the market today.
The BRK Wolf River Hunting Knife is yet another fine example of Mike Stewart’s familiarity with ethnic knife designs. In fact, this knife is very reminiscent of the “Buffalo Skinner” knife designed in the 1840’s by American cutlery manufacturer John Russell, who was the owner of the Green River Knife Works.
However, the BRK Wolf River features an overall length of 8 ½” with a saber ground, bull-nosed blade that measures 4 ½” in length that is made from Crucible’s new CPM-S35VN stainless steel hardened to 58-60 Rockwell. In addition, this knife features the same ergonomic, tapered handle featured on the BRK Fox River Knife and 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.
Now, those of you who have read my latest articles published on this web site are aware that I have recently been focusing on ethnic outdoor knife designs and the BRK Wolf River knife is an excellent, modern, rendition of the famous Green River Knife Works’ Buffalo Skinner knife that was so popular with nearly everyone heading west in the 1840’s.
Unlike other survival knives but similar to some hunting knives like the bowie , the Green River Knife is an ethnic American knife design and, although the Buffalo Skinner model was specifically designed for removing the hide from large game animals instead of performing camp chores like a parang or a bolo, it was plain and robustly built just like these two weapons as opposed to the fancy, lightweight, knives that were imported from Sheffield, England which was the main source for quality cutlery in America at the time.
Thus, the Green River Buffalo Skinner was in high demand by Americans who made their living as professional hunters. However, as a concession to modern ideals of what a proper skinning knife should look like, the blade on the Wolf River knife, at 4 ½”, is noticeably shorter than that featured on the original Green River “Buffalo Skinner” after which it is patterned.
However, since most modern day hunters are not used to working with 6” to 9” blades, the 4 ½” blade length on the BRK Wolf River is perfect by today’s standards. In addition, on this modern BRK rendition of this timeless, classic, knife design, the tip of the blade has been lowered a bit and the resulting to a long, curved, edge of this knife design is meant to match the natural, ergonomic, movement of the human arm in order to minimize fatigue when the knife is used for extended periods.
Also, the blade has a 1/8” wide spine and features a deep, saber grind and so it can be honed to a very sharp edge. The blade is also made from Crucible’s new CPM-S35VN stainless super steel which consists of 1.4% carbon, 14% chromium, 3% vanadium, and 2% molybdenum. Consequently, due to its extremely high Carbon content along with its high chromium content, it is a very hard and highly corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
Plus, with the addition of 2% molybdenum which forms hard, double carbide, bonds with the chromium that helps improve both the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel and the addition of 3% vanadium to produce a fine grain structure in the steel, the blade of this knife will take and hold a very keen edge even after extended use; especially with a Rockwell Hardness of 58-60!
However, due to the lack of manganese or nickel in the steel, this is hard steel rather than tough steel and thus, this knife should not be used for chopping tasks when processing large game animals like when one separates the ribs from the spine because the edge of the blade may chip. In addition, the BRK Wolf River knife features a very ergonomic, tapered, handle that is pictured with black micarta handle slabs but is available with many different handle materials so that you can customize the knife to suite you.
Consequently, if you happen to like historic American knife designs, then the Bark River Knives Wolf River Hunting Knife should hold great appeal for you. Not only is it patterned after a famous American knife design that was nearly as popular as the Bowie Knife in its time (although for a different purpose), it is a well designed and meticulously constructed hunting knife that will likely outlast several different owners.