Bushcraft Knife Field Test 2015

During the last year I've executed a bushcraft knife field test comparing 15 different robust knives to each other. The results of this test are shown below and are based upon my personal opinion of each one of the 15 knives after spending time with them by the campfire, out hunting and in the workshop.

I think it's wonderful how the interest for Bushcraft (Woodcraft, Woodlore, Forest Life) are steady growing all over the world. My definition of Bushcraft is; keeping it simple during outdoor activities like; hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting or just hanging out by the camp fire. By learning how to make use of what the woods offer and reading the forest's signs I can get the most out of my time spent in the field, and all of this in a sustainable way. Bushcraft is an umbrella name for old and new knowledge how to coexist with nature. Many of these skills were the everyday tasks of our forefathers; whittling, fire, harvest, field cooking and navigating. For me Bushcraft is humble respect towards my surrounding (friends, animals and the environment). Often Survival is mentioned in the same context as Bushcraft as Bushcraft can be a part of Survival and vice versa. Hence the words Survival Knife and Bushcraft Knife.

The Bushcraft Knife
The knife has gotten an almost sacred status among us bushcraft enthusiasts. But I want to under line the fact that you can bushcraft with any knife, or no knife at all for that matter. But even if the knife isn't the most important tool when spending time in the great outdoors; the knife also has gotten to play an important role as a romantic symbol of self sufficiency and adventure. As a result of the increasing bushcraft interest most knife manufactures today offer one or several modern bushcraft knife models. Below I'm trying to summarize the special features find in these new products.
  • A 100 mm long fixed blade
  • Full tang (the blade steel runs all the way through and up the handle)
  • Extra thick knife blade (3-6 mm)
  • Blade made of carbon steel (for easy maintenance and spark throwing)
  • Sharp blade spine edges (for throwing sparks of the ferro rod)
  • Drop point blade (for a robust blade tip)
  • Scandinavian grind edge profile (single bevel V shaped edge for easy maintenance and good wood carving abilities)

To conclude: a robust mid size fixed blade capable of handling fine sloyd as well as wood chopping. The edge should be easy maintained and the spine capable of producing sparks when needed. This is how a modern bushcraft knife often looks like. However I want to point out that knives with less robust specs than this has successfully been used in woods since dawn of mankind. The absolute most important aspect of a knife is the hand and mind holding it.

The Test
When in my thoughts on how the ultimate bushcraft knife looks like I decided to look into my knife collection and pick out the knives somehow matching the above modern bushcraft knife definition. The 15 knives picked out have been my field friends for some time now; whittling, hunting and cooking to compare them to each other. I'm fully aware of that there are many other bushcraft knife models out there on the market, but these 15 was the ones I had at hand when the test started. For instance a number of interesting modern bushcraft knife models were released during my test; Buck Selkirk KnifeESEE Camp-Lore RB-3Helle TemagamiBrusletto RondaneFällkniven F1 Pro and Morakniv Garberg. These models together with older models like; Condor BushloreBen & Lois Orford Woodlander 4"Marttiini Full Tang KnifeGerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro and Staaf Knives Bushcraft Evolution I look forward testing in the future.

Inspired by my latest saw test I've chosen to publish my test results by using a number of line up pictures showing the ranking between the 15 knives looking at the features; Blade Length, Blade Thickness and Knife Weight. All measuring are made by myself therefor the numbers can differ from the manufacturer's specs. I hope these line ups can help you in your thoughts regarding these knife models. As I do a lot of whittling with my bushcraft knives I also have judged each knife on how nice I think they are when carving wood. These points together with me judging the knife's three main components; the Blade, the Handle and the Sheath sums up to a total score helping me to find my over all favorite knives among the 15. If you have questions regarding my test method you're welcome to contact me. The 15 test objects are, in alphabetical order.

Blade Length
The below picture show a blade length comparison between the 15 test knives. The shortest blade is on the left and the longest to the right.

From the left:

If you click on each knife model you can read more details about the knife and the manufacturer.

Blade Thickness
This is what it looks like when i line up the test knives according to the thickness of their blades. Thin blade to the left and thick blade to the right.

From the left:
2,8 mm, Buck 679 BuckLite MAX Large Knife

Knife Weight
Here you have the lightest test knife to the left and the heaviest to the right. The sheaths are not included when weighing.

From the left:

The Price
The variation in price among these 15 test knives stretches between 199 SEK and up to 3500 SEK (purchase price in Sweden). Even if I try to ignore the price tags while testing the capability, comfort and design of the knives I can mention the tree most expensive and the tree cheapest. The three highest priced knives among the 15 are; the Spyderco Bushcraft, the Benchmade Bushcrafter and the Karesuandokniven Willow Gouse. The three low priced are; the Morakniv Bushcraft, the Morakniv Companion and the Kayoba Knife 770180. You can find more price info by clicking on each knife model link in the text.

The Summary
It's almost an impossible task picking out just one ultimate bushcraft knife as it all depends on what task I'm doing with the tool (fine carving, chopping, hunting, fishing, cooking). Adding to this also all the peronal preferences of each and one of us happy bushcraft junkies. Personally I almoust never batoon with my knife. Instead I let my axe do the chopping. Therefore I often find myself bringing smaller thin bladed knives not using full tang into the woods. Some nice exampels of "weaker " knife models that also manage most bushcraft tasks are; the Classic 2/0, the Classic Original1, the Craftline HighQ, the Basic 511, the Giron and the Pendleton Lite Hunter. I really liked all these 15 test knives. None of them disappointed me so much I wouldn't take them back out there again. But when I summarize all of my testing the final and total ranking looks like this, with the test winner to the left.

From the left:
By clicking on each knife model you can read all my motivations as well as more details about the knife and the manufacturer. I deeply recommend you to read about all the knives to get the most out of this tests analysis.

Top 5
Here you have some shorts comments about the knives placed among the top five.

  1. Karesuandokniven Willow Grouse 3524
  2. Karesuandokniven Survival Knife 3586
  3. Casström No.10 Swedish Forest Knife
  4. Morakniv Companion HD
  5. Fällkniven F1

The Willow Grouse 3524 gets the highest total score when looking at best blade, best handle, and best sheath. Also the whittling capability of this knife is very good. And as a bonus the down to earth and warm design of this knife makes my bushcraft heart beat lively.

Survival Knife 3586 share many of the highlights of the Willow Grouse 3524. But the somewhat wider blade and the not so cylindrical handle brings down the total score a bit.

Casström No.10 has one of the most typical modern bushcraft knife design. t's a really sturdy knife offering an interesting handle and sheath design (see the Dangler). However the thickness of the blade is a bit too much for my taste, therefore a No.10 ends up in a strong 3rd place.

The Companion HD has an amazing blade for whittling. However personally I think the HD's thicker handle belly is a bit too fat. But this strong light weight low prized knife is fantastic bushcraft knife. To be honest I thought the Companion HD would end up on top in my test but in the end the waist measure together with the plastic sheath brought down the total score.

The F1:an's impressive balance and premium grip manage to charm the scandi grind lover inside of me. The F1's convex grind edge deliver an outstanding sharpness and endurance. Adding to this; Fällkniven's nice leather work, result in a strong 5th place.

As the smoke lightens and the test is over I get the nice surprice of seeing that the top five contenders are all Swedish products. I'd like to see this as an indication that we Swedes should be very proud of our nordic way of living, especially in this bushcraft boom era. The fact that all the test knives using a scandi grind edge placed themselves in the top is a good indication of my love for this practical edge profile when it comes to bushcrafting. However I have to say that none of the 15 knives made me so disappointed I'd never will use it again. And even if the test's real fat boy; the Schrade Frontier SCHF36 didn't get the test's highest score I want to lift my hat of to the SCHF36's unexpected pleasant balance. Another surprise was the high score of the low price knife Kayoba Knife 770180.

It's been a pleasure and an adventure comparing all these knives in the same field test. Of course I've learned a lot about each knife, but what I cherish most is the fact that I've gotten a bit further in my philosophical thoughts about what I want in a knife. I hope you have found these test results and knife posts interesting and inspiring. Please let me know if you have any feedback or if you just want to talk about your favorite bushcraft knife. I hope seeing you at the Bushcraftfestivalen 2016 August 12th-14th in Gottröra Sweden. Then we also can sit down by the camp fire and discuss our beloved edge tools.

Welcome to Jonas Vildmark Bushcraftcenter, we offer classes in Bushcraft and Survival,