Best Bushcraft Knife 2017 (updated June 2017)
Over several years, I have tested many candidates and found a lot of incredible qualities even in cheaper production knives and have had the fortune to own and use many high quality customs as well. I love my Beckers, Moras, and Condors (there’s plenty of those reviews in this site), but narrowing it down to the absolute best meant excluding certain things that just can’t be ignored.
This includes grind quality, sharpness out of the box, presentation (as in – gift giving), and sheath quality. I get it — you may not care about the same things, and you certainly can’t go wrong with many of these cheaper models, but we’re seeking the BEST.
I do not accept any knives from manufacturers. I have used my own money to purchase these knives and test them for quality and what I believe to be the beset qualities of a bushcraft knife.
Favorite Knife Brands:
Discovering the Best Bushcraft Knife: a buyer’s guide.
What is bushcraft? It’s the art of thriving with limited resources.
In other words, “the more you know, the less you carry” is a true statement, but the foundation of that knowledge and skill is a well-constructed master tool: a knife.
When you consider that nearly ever process that makes your life possible now has something to do with cutting, it’s easy to see the fundamental enthusiasm and appreciation that people have for a quality knife. Have you noticed a certain basic affinity for things like campfire? I believe it’s the same sort of base-level experience that people have with well crafted knives.
We just sort of fundamentally attracted to the power that a solid knife in the hand can wield. It’s because we evolved with these tools.
BenchmadeBest of the BEST
Bark RiverSuper Steel
TOPS BoBBest Value
FallknivenF1 with Leather Sheath
The Most Important Technology… Ever
The edged tool is the most important technology ever discovered. Up to 164,000 years ago, humans were advancing beyond flaked stone and actually heat treating in order to harden certain types of tools. These really were essentially the first ever produced knives, and there is no coincidence that the inception of these blades coincides with the emergence of language, jewelry, and art.
Knives have undeniably framed human evolution. This is the reason even a child can hold any knife and understand what to do with it.
Even before that, 2.6 million years ago a species of hominid that precedes modern humans was flaking and shaping edges to be used for hunting and processing. These were not necessarily carried around, but were essentially discarded as they dulled. Obviously, the history of knife manufacturing has evolved right alongside the evolution of people.
However, even an ancient human would fundamentally understand how to use any modern bushcraft knife.
Pros & Cons of Bushcraft Knives
Before deciding which type of bushcraft knife is right for you, it’s important to first ask if a bushcraft knife is even the right option. There are both pros and cons, which must be carefully weighed before buying anything.
These knives are designed to not let you down. Typical bushcraft knives are simple tools made for max utility without fancy grinds or delicate materials. A good bushcraft knife is easy to maintain and ready for just about any task.
Bushcraft Knives tend to be heavier, bulkier, and more difficult to manage than many other fixed blade knives.
Mora Bushcraft Black
The Good: Mora has been making quality knives for over a hundred years. They’re affordable, comfortable, and extremely capable. The Bushcraft Black comes sharp with a decent sheath.
The Bad: If you don’t like the feel of plastic, take a pass. The blade is not a full tang, but molded around the end of the knife in such a way that it would have to be cut free…. it’s not coming out.
Conclusion: I personally love Mora knives. I haven’t encountered a single one that wasn’t good.
ESEE-5P Black Plain Edge
The Good: Incredibly tough, thick slab of a knife. The ESEE-5P is almost like a pry bar in your hands, and is obviously built for abuse and longevity.
The Bad: Very similar dimensions to the Kabar BK-2 but more than twice the price. That said, I like the sheath, handle material (micarta), and overall feel of the knife more than the Kabar. But, you’ll pay for it.
Conclusion: Awesome knife, but for the price I’d probably lean toward the TOPS BoB unless you’ve got to have the horsepower and weight of this type of knife.
The Good: This just feels like a precision instrument even though the steel (laminated VG10) is tough as it gets. It’s lightweight and performs well for its price point.
The Bad: It’s a matter of personal taste, but I’m not a fan of the grip. That said, other reviewers point to the grippy, rubbery handle (Thermorun) as a definite positive.
Conclusion: This is a great entry option into the world of Fallkniven. These knives can get very expensive from here.
The Good: Hefty knife that is well built, and CHEAP for its size.
The Bad: Has a decidedly “baseball bat” feel to it, and I pretty much hate the plastic handle. Plus, it’s not a full tang knife.
Conclusion: Honestly, skip this knife and head for the Condor Bushlore. That’s a quality knife for about $30.
Becker BK2 Companion
The Good: In terms of sales volume, price, and enthusiasm, this is the undisputed champ of bushcraft knives. Obsessed enthusiasts actually have a name for themselves: beckerheads. There’s a lot to love about this steely slab — heft, weight, ability to absorb punishment, rugged good looks (wait – that’s me!). I have two of these Bad Larrys (one customized), and they’re awesome.
The Bad: It’s a bit much. Good luck gutting anything smaller than a sabre toothed tiger with this thing. I hate the sheath so much I had a leather sheath made for me.
Conclusion: You can’t call yourself a bushcraft knife collector or enthusiast without a fleet of Beckers (there are others, BTW).
The Good: Enzo makes awesome knives. Period. The trapper is a classic with micarta handle, flat grind, and O2 tool steel. Also comes with a high quality leather sheath.
The Bad: You get what you pay for… Enzo Trapper tends to be expensive, especially for a somewhat smaller blade length (4″).
Conclusion: You can’t go wrong with Enzo. I also like the curly birch handle material option, but it’s more expensive.
Tops Knives B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Knife
The Good: This is a pure winner in terms of price, quality, and features. You get a ton of capability from this knife and is great as an all around bushcraft tool. Also comes with a ferro rod.
The Bad: The sheath is kydex, which is not my favorite. TOPS makes some hardcore tactical and survival type knives, so their sheaths all follow this model.
Conclusion: In my mind, this is a “do it all” knife that is well balanced for serious chores without being overly cumbersome.
Bark River Bravo (Gunny)
The Good: Tough, thick blade designed for serious chores all the way up to combat. The balance on weight on this knife is pleasing in the hand and just feels easy to work with. This is a preferred knife of US Military personnel deployed overseas.
The Bad: I’m hard pressed to come up with something bad about this knife except that it can get expensive unless you’re going for standard issue black micarta. Any exotic or uncommon handle material, and the price typically rises quick.
Conclusion: I traded my first Bark River (blaze orange handled bushcrafter) for a pistol. I wish I still had the knife.
Benchmade Bushcrafter Sibert
The Good: It’s all good. The fit, functionality, and form of this knife is amazing. Benchmade doesn’t play games with this knife, and I consider it a masterpiece for a production knife.
The Bad: It’s coming close in price to where you could get a solid custom knife (usually around $200), but it does come with a lifetime warranty from Benchmade.
Conclusion: Try it. You might like it.
Spyderco Bushcraft G-10
The Good: It’s made by Spyderco. That means there’s no playing about with material or design, and this knife doesn’t disappoint.
The Bad: It’s expensive. Not my top choice at that price point. For just a few shekels more, you could be rocking the Sibert, or a Condor Bushlore, Mora, AND Becker (well – close).
Conclusion: True to bushcraft, it’s a scandi grind knife — nothing fancy. Blade and handle material (G-10) are both top shelf, and the sheath is higher quality than most.
***BONUS 1: Grohmann Survival Knife
The Good: A virtual friend from an online forum turned me on to Grohmann knives, so I picked up their “survival” version. The broad blade gives it strength for a relatively light knife, and the finger groove is very narrow so that it can be handled with precision.
The Bad: Sheath is leather (you’re probably figuring out this is my preference), but constructed in a way where it’s easy to carve up.
Conclusion: Don’t think I’d ever consider extreme abuse like with ESEE or Becker, but love the rosewood handle and overall look.
***BONUS 2: Ontario Blackbird SK-5
The Good: Love the simplicity of this knife. It’s got an old school appeal, and the blade is long and feels more precise than most. Awesome grip on beefy micarta scales.
The Bad: The sheath is offensively bad, but I sort of think it was made like this intentionally to make way for an amazing sheath. The same people are behind both knife and sheath.
Conclusion: This is a classic spearpoint shape that beckons back 100+ years. It’s a long, quality knife that feels great. The Ontario Blackbird is well worth the investment.
***BONUS 3: TOPS / Buck CSAR-T
The Good: I freakin’ love this knife, but I have to say this doesn’t have very much to do with bushcraft. The grind is all wrong, and it has a tanto tip. However, the grip you can get on this thing is iron fisted, and it just feels intense in the hand. It is well designed and badass.
The Bad: Yeah – more for the mountains of Afghanistan than the mountains of Montana.
Conclusion: This is just a fun knife. The sheath is total crap, so if I carried it frequently I’d have to get something else made for it. Everything about CSAR-T is a bit aggressive.
Bushcraft knives, also commonly referred to as survival knives, camp knives, or field knives, are very handy tools to have for pretty much any avid outdoorsman. Whether someone is out camping and hiking, or simply using a knife at lunchtime at the office, a bushcraft knife can be a very convenient item to have around. When buying a bushcraft knife, buyers have a great deal of options available to them which I know can almost get to be too many options!
You’ll need to decide on a variety of factors, including steel quality, manufacturer, size, handle material, blade thickness, and look and feel. Armed with a little knowledge, and through comparison and contrast, you will be able to come to a confident buying decision for a tool that will last many years. Bushcraft knives are also commonly referred to as everyday carry knives or EDC. The reason for this is obviously that it is intended as a generalist’s knife that can be used in a wide variety of situations and the the owner would go everywhere with it regardless of the activity or situation. Bushcraft knives can be categorized many ways. They can be broken apart by their construction, purpose, style, blade grind, and material to name just a few. In this guide, I’ve tried to make things as easy as possible by providing at least a brief summary of each major category type with examples that are typical of the category in order to help inform a decision. I’ve also provided links out to more specific information within BestBushcraftKnife.com.