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6 Of The Best Bushcraft Knives (2020 Edition)


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Last Updated: October 12, 2020

Bushcraft knives prioritize function over flashy looks. Their design may seem deceptively simple, but if you find yourself in the wild when the SHTF, a bushcraft knife is the one blade you want to have by your side.

The good news is, there are plenty of great bushcraft knives available at every price point. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of the knives we’ve reviewed in this article, but to help you decide which knife to buy, we’ve summarized the pros and cons of each.

Our detailed guide to what to look for will also help you find the best bushcraft knife for you.

Our Top Pick

Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162

High-quality steel and a robust design set this premium knife apart from the rest.Check On Amazon

Our Top Pick

Morakniv Companion

A great all-around bushcraft knife at an amazing price.Check On Amazon

Best Bushcraft Knife Reviews

Best All-Around Bushcraft Knife: Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

Blade length: 4.4 in | Total length:  9.2 in | Blade material: CPM-S30V | Weight: 7.7 oz

The Bushcrafter 162 embodies everything you want in a bushcraft knife: high-quality steel, a drop-point blade and a comfortable handle. It’s a knife that will survive anything you put it through.

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The 4.4-inch blade is small enough for whittling and food prep, and the full-tang design means you can baton wood for the fire without worrying about damaging the knife.

The main thing that sets the Bushcrafter 162 apart from other knives (and justifies its price tag) is the S30V steel used for the blade. Sometimes quoted as the “ultimate EDV steel”, it’s easy to sharpen, has excellent edge retention and is resistant to corrosion.

Great for people who just want a knife to get jobs done day after day after day.

In fact, it’s so robust, that Benchmade offers a lifetime repair and sharpening service. That’s manufacturer confidence for you.

As you might expect, this kind of quality comes at a price. The Bushcrafter 162 is not a cheap knife. But if you’re looking for a knife that will last you a lifetime and won’t let you down, it’s a worthy investment.

Pros

  • High-quality steel
  • Simple, effective design
  • Built to last forever
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Sheath could be better

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Best Budget Bushcraft Knife: Morakniv Companion

Blade length: 4 in | Total length:  8.6 in | Blade material: Sandvik 12C27 | Weight: 4.1 oz

A quality knife at this price? No, it’s not a joke. Made in Sweden, the Morakniv Companion is one of the most highly rated outdoor knives on the market.

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It’s a light knife, weighing in at just over 4 ounces, with a 4-inch blade that is equally capable of cutting small tree limbs as finely filleting a fish. As it’s not a full tang knife, you may be cautious when using it for heavy-duty tasks, but you’ll be surprised at how well it stands up to rough use.

The blade is made from hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. This is a popular budget steel that’s easy to sharpen.

The knife comes with a plastic sheath, which does the job but is nothing to shout about. Then again, at this price, you wouldn’t expect a top-quality sheath.

Although we’ve rated this as the best budget knife, even at twice the price, it would be considered one of the best bushcraft knives you could buy.

Pros

  • Very sharp out of the box
  • Incredible value for money
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not full tang
  • Budget steel

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Best Heavy-Duty Knife: Ka-Bar Becker Campanion BK2

Blade length: 5.3 in | Total length:  10.8 in | Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van | Weight: 16 oz

The Ka-Bar BK2 toes the line between a bushcraft and survival knife with a longer than average 5.3-inch blade. It weighs in at a hefty pound with a thick blade that’s virtually indestructible.

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For heavy-duty camp tasks such as shelter-building and chopping kindling, the BK2 comes into its own. It’s also a great hunting and general food preparation knife. Due to the weight, it wouldn’t be your first choice for a fighting knife (unless you have a really slow opponent) and you may find it a bit too heavy and unwieldy for delicate woodwork tasks.

1095 Cro-Van steel is a mid-range high-carbon steel that’s tough and easy to sharpen. The black plastic handle is tough, but it can be slippery when wet. If you’re concerned, then you can replace the handles with micarta handles to improve the grip, though this does add to the cost.

If you want a knife that’s a bit more robust than smaller bushcraft knives and don’t mind the extra weight, the Ka-Bar BK2 is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Excels at heavy-duty tasks
  • Versatile
  • Easy to sharpen

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Poor grip when wet

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Best Value: Morakniv Carbon Bushcraft

Blade length: 4.3 in | Total length:  9.3 in | Blade material: high carbon steel | Weight: 5.7 oz

The next step up from the Companion, the Morakniv Bushcraft knife is just as versatile. It has a slightly longer blade which is also thicker, making it more suitable for tougher tasks such as batoning.

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The blade is made from high carbon steel (similar to 1095 steel, though Morakniv is coy about the actual makeup), making it more durable than the stainless steel used in the Companion. It has a black coating to protect the blade from corrosion, though this is likely to wear over time, so you’ll need to use a knife oil to prevent rusting.

Another improvement is that the spine has been ground to a 90-degree angle so you can easily use it with a firestarter. If you’re willing to shell out some extra bucks, you can buy an upgraded sheath that has a fire starter attached as well as an integrated sharpener.

The handle is very comfortable, with excellent grip and better ergonomics than the Companion. If you’re looking for a great value mid range bushcraft knife, this is the knife to get.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Comfortable, ergonomic handle
  • Durable blade
  • Compatible with a firestarter

Cons

  • zcon Blade susceptible to corrosion if coating wears off
  • Not full tang

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Best for Fire Building: Tops Knives Brothers of Bushcraft Fieldcraft Knife

Blade length: 4.75 in | Total length:  10 in | Blade material: 1095 Steel | Weight: 9.6 oz

The Tops BOB Fieldcraft Knife is a great all-around bushcraft knife, but it has a couple of additional features that make it particularly useful for fire building.

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It has a full tang blade made from strong 1095 steel that is exposed at the pommel so there’s no risk of damaging the handle if you hit the pommel when splitting wood. The pommel also features a scraper for striking Ferro rods (there’s an attachment point for one on the sheath), and there’s a bow drill divot on the handle for more primitive fire starting.

The blade is slightly longer and thicker than on other knives. This makes it great for chopping wood, but it’s not unwieldy and can be used for more delicate tasks. Bear in mind that 1095 steel is more prone to rusting, so you’ll need to make sure you oil and take care of the blade.

The micarta handle is very comfortable and grippy and the knife comes with a plastic sheath that is functional, but nothing to shout about.

Pros

  • Full tang, durable blade
  • Comfortable, grippy handle
  • Scraper and bow drill divot for fire starting
  • Good for splitting wood

Cons

  • Blade susceptible to corrosion
  • Heavier than other knives

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Best Craftsmanship: Fallkniven F1

Blade length: 3.8 in | Total length:  8.3 in | Blade material: VG-10 Steel | Weight: 6.4 oz

Designed as a survival tool for the Swedish armed forces, this is another bushcraft knife with something of a cult following. Price-wise, it sits between the Bushcrafter 162 and Morakniv’s offerings. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a slightly shorter knife or have small hands.

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The blade is made from laminated VG-10 steel – this makes it both strong and resistant to corrosion. The convex grind might take a little getting used to if you want a knife for fine carving but is perfect for general bushcraft tasks.

As you might expect from a Swedish knife, the handle is designed for cold weather use. Thermorun is a grippy rubber-thermoplastic combination that insulates your hand from the steel. The handle is on the thin side, so if you have huge hands, you may find it too small, particularly with gloves on, but for those with small or medium-sized hands, it’s perfect.

Perhaps most importantly when it comes to survival, this knife is tough and reliable.

Pros

  • Razor sharp
  • Tough and reliable
  • Great for small-medium hands
  • Compact, lightweight knife

Cons

  • Handle a bit small for large hands
  • Pricey
  • Cheap sheath

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What Do You Use a Bushcraft Knife For?

The easy answer to this is a bit of everything. From whittling wood to cutting small branches for shelter-building, gutting fish and game to food preparation, or making fires, if you only have one knife to survive in the wild, you want it to be this one.

Of course, no knife does it all (or at least not well) so the bushcraft knife does have a few limitations. It’s not designed specifically as a self-defense tool (see here if you want the best self defense knife) and in most cases, it’ll be too small for clearing large brush or branches. If you see bigger as being better, then you may want to look at getting a survival knife instead.

The beauty of the bushcraft knife is that it hits the sweet spot between being small enough to carry easily and large enough to perform well across a range of tasks. They are also sturdy and well made – a prime consideration in a survival situation.

What to Look for in a Bushcraft Knife

It may be a jack-of-all-trades but your criteria when shopping for a bushcraft knife is actually quite specific.

Knife Style and Durability

A bushcraft knife is a workhorse. Unlike a boot knife, for example, which is unlikely to get frequent use, when you’re in the wild, you’ll be using your bushcraft knife day in, day out. This makes durability a prime consideration.

For this reason, most bushcraft knives are full tang fixed-blade knives. This is the strongest knife design as the steel runs the full length of the handle.

It’s also worth considering the thickness of the blade. Cheaper, less durable blades are typically thinner. This makes them lighter but more prone to breakage.

Finally, look at the quality and durability of the handle. You want something that won’t be easily damaged or affected by water. The size of handle you go for comes down to personal preference and will depend on the size of your hands.

Blade Length

One of the big differences between a bushcraft knife and a survival knife is the blade length. Whereas survival knives are designed to be a big, blunt-force tool, bushcraft knives are designed for more delicate work.

The ideal blade length for a bushcraft knife is around four inches. Small enough for whittling, but large enough to prepare firewood.

Blade Shape

The most common blade shape for a bushcraft knife is a drop point. The convex curve from the spine to the tip of the blade makes it durable and versatile, and the large, curved belly is perfect for slicing and whittling.

Bushcraft knives are not typically serrated, as the portion of the blade nearest the handle is the section you’re most likely to need for delicate tasks.

Blade Steel

It goes without saying that the steel used is a big determiner of knife quality. While your budget will play a part in your decision, if there’s one knife you’re going to splash out on, a bushcraft knife should be top of your list. Think of it as the knife you want to pass down to your grandkids.

Sharpness is important, but for this knife, ease of sharpening should also be a high priority. It’s going to get a lot of use and the easier it is to keep a razor edge, the more likely you are to keep it sharp.

If you’re not sure check out our guide to the best knife sharpener.

High carbon steel is a popular choice due to its ability to hold an edge, but it is less resistant to corrosion than stainless steel. For this reason, most high carbon steel knives have a special coating to add corrosion resistance.

Knife Handle

LMF Handle

Traditionally (in the days before modern factory production), bushcraft knives had wooden handles, and many manufacturers continue this trend today. Wood feels warm against your skin and when properly treated, should be as hygienic and water-resistant as plastic.

Plastic or rubber handles tend to offer a better grip than wood. If you’re less experienced using a knife, you may find these an easier and safer option. Cheap plastic handles can be brittle or less durable, but those from reputable manufacturers use high-quality materials.

Sheath

You may not consider the sheath when buying a knife, but it’s not something to overlook. A good sheath will be durable, hold your knife securely (but not make it impossible to remove) and have different options for securing it to you or your bag.

If you’re not happy with the sheath your knife comes with then you can replace it with a custom-made one or make your own. Ideally, though, the sheath should be part of your decision making when choosing a knife.

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