Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment and the acquisition of skills to do so. The skills include tracking, hunting, fire craft, fishing, shelter building, navigation, forging, water sourcing, and carving wood among others.
You would think that adventures in the wild would require something bulky and a large tool but you’d be surprised to know that the handiest tool is the tiny but mighty bushcraft knife.
Not only can they cut and carve wood, but they can also help light a fire, process meat, baton wood and making feather sticks among other things. With so many options in the market today, it can be rather confusing to decide on the right knife for your needs.
Here is my guide that will you choose the best bushcraft knife and our review of the top 5 choices:
#1 Schrade SCHF59 8.4in High Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife.
The SCHF 59 can handle the pressures of heavy bushcraft activities. Weighing just over 6 ounces, the SCHF59 is pretty lightweight.
The 4-inch long-drop blade is sharp and just enough to handle tasks without adding unnecessary weight to the knife.
At two and a half inch topside, the false edge makes penetrating quite a breeze which is great if you’re piercing or tapping wood.
Textured handle slabs give the bushcraft knife a slim profile and allow for a comfortable full grip regardless of weather conditions.
The spine of the blade features a thumb rest to enhance grip while promoting all-day blister free usage. An ergonomic finger guard keeps fingers well behind the blade.
The SCHF59 arrives sharp in a black thermoplastic belt sheath featuring an oversized belt loop that attaches to any size belt and includes a quality Ferro rod guaranteeing that you’ll have a campfire wherever your adventures may take you.
The only pain point is the maintenance required with the Carbon Steel as it can rust even with the PTFE coating on the knife. We would recommend that you keep it dry and oil it ever so often.
- Affordably Priced.
- Universal Sheath.
- Lightweight at 6.2 oz.
- Some found the sheath to be too stiff.
- Slight maintenance required.
#2 Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade.
The blade is quite thick for a Morakniv knife which seems to be this more stable. The Scandinavian grind is very typical for more knives but is quite steep.
The thickness of the 3.2 mm and seems to be very robust. Overall the blade lives up to the expectations but it could have been a little longer.
It is 10.9 cm long which is too short for a survival knife but great for a bushcraft knife. The blade is made of stainless steel and is tough and can hold the edge very well.
The black is made from a special kind of plastic called polyamide that is rust resistant and has exceptional mechanical properties.
There is a rhombus pattern on the handle you can see which gives a little bit more grip so when your hands are wet or full of dirt. There is also a lanyard hole at the bottom.
The handle is symmetrical so you can hold it in forward or reverse grip. The finger coil could be better and work harder to prevent the fingers slipping over the blade. It is almost a tradition in Scandinavian knives to have have a robust finger which is not an issue with professionals but amateurs might require something better.
The sheath is completely different than the most other sheaths from Morakniv as it has an added security strap here so that the knife doesn’t fall out by itself and better quality plastic. It also comes with a belt loop which you can take off or slide on.
The reason you can take off the belt loop is that they also offer a multi-mount so you can attach the knife to anything that is Mora compatible. It has two very big drainage holes at the bottom to drain out water quickly.
The knife is a full tang as the blade goes through the handle to the rear end. The tang also sticks out a little that can come handy in different projects, for example, crushing nuts.
- Anti-slip handle that works well in all weather conditions.
- The scandi-grind blade is thin enough for carving yet robust for batoning.
- The steel blade is anti-corrosive, sharp and tough.
- The stiffer handle provides less of a ‘locked-in’ feeling.
#3 Hogue Exf01 5.5In Fixed Drop A2 Blk Coco Bolo.
Designed by former Marine Recon and renowned knife maker Allen Elishewitz’, this knife is made in the USA by Hogue.
Available in a 5.5 or 7-inch blade, the full tang construction is made from a2 tool steel and comes in a heavy duty drop point with a flat grind.
This steel holds the middle ground between toughness and shock resistance. The grind is hand sharpened and heat treated for good cutting performance.
The blade has a thickness of 0.25 inches which widens at the tip for batoning. The knife has a black Nitride coating on it.
You can see 4 holes in the frame of the knife to loop in a paracord or be attached to a stick to make a spear. The handle is made of g10, is very ergonomic and features a palm swell in the middle.
The knife features a shaped pommel which can be used as a weapon or for breaking things. It has a jumping on the backside to allow for a thumb hole and a finger detent on the opposite side to create a nice grip.
The sheath features webbing on the front and back allowing to allow for easy mounting on the belt. It also has a useful feature that prevents the sheath from rotating around the waist during activity.
Made from ballistic nylon with a polymer insert it is built to last. It has dual retention snaps which are great for people who do not like velcro.
An interesting fact is that they are reversible and can be adjusted to suit left-handed folks. You can see an onboard wrench which can be tugged out and can be used to take the screws out to reveal a storage compartment.
- Aesthetically pleasing and is razor sharp right out of the box.
- High-quality sheath.
- Jimping provides a nice balance.
- Higher priced.
#4 Condor Tool & Knife 60005 Blasted Satin Blade with Micarta Handle Bushlore Camp Knife and Leather Sheath.
The blade is a spear point style with a bead blasted and satin finish combo and a flat grind. Although it is a large knife, it fits the hand comfortably.
This blade features no jimping anywhere which some people might miss. The spine has a 90-degree angle perfect for striking a Ferro rod for the traditionalists who do not prefer matches and lighters.
The hardwood handle is nice and bulbous like with a good size grip area that works well for most people. It is smooth and has a lanyard hole in the back to allow for a paracord.
We have not come across complains of hotspots yet. The sheath is a thick leather welt and riveted style designed to last as long as the knife. It has an imprint of the Condor logo on it, which is a nice touch.
The knife is held in by the tight fit of the leather. However, it may become looser as it breaks in. You can buy this knife with either a wooden handle or micarta as both provide different experiences.
The Micarta is heavier but gives a better grip which can be useful during heavier tasks. It would also work better than wood while batoning.
Overall, we can safely say that the Condor Bushlore is a good choice for a general purpose outdoor knife with a major bonus being its affordable price.
- Affordably priced.
- Micarta handle grips really well.
- A strong knife that holds an edge decently well.
- Sparks easily.
- No jimping might cause grip problems for beginners.
5 Buck Knives 863 Selkirk Fixed Blade Knife with Fire Striker and Nylon Sheath.
The blade is a full tang construction all the way through and features a solid guard up front and a pommel strike surface on the back to use as a hammer.
The blade is 420 high carbon, flat ground, and a drop-point blade. It has jimping at the handle for good control. With any fixed blade knife, a key part of how that knife is used is how it is carried. So this knife has a plastic molded sheet system that allows you to snap it into place.
Along with this sheath, one of the added features is a striker whistle component that allows you to create a spark and also to signal in case of an emergency or to gather other people in your group together. This also works with the knife to create sparks.
There is a notch on the bottom of the blade instead of the back where you would put your thumb. Buck didn’t want to encourage customers to use the edge of your blade as that would dull it for the uses that you need.
There is a little sharp notch that will create the sparks needed to light tinder and get a fire going. With this sheath, you can put the striker and whistle back in and the knife back together.
The sheath was created to be carried in lots of different positions- some people like carrying it high on their waist while others like carrying it a little bit lower.
This sheath is set up for vertical carry and has a belt loop. Since people have different size belts, there is a need to prevent the sheath from sliding up and down.
To prevent this, there is a spacer that can go in one of three positions- so if you have a very narrow belt you can use it or if you have a wide belt that you can take it out.
- Affordably priced.
- Includes a fire starter/whistle.
- Drop point minimizes accidental puncturing.
- High carbon steel is strong and good for heavier tasks.
- No jimping might cause grip problems for beginners.
Things to Look for when Buying a Bush Craft Knife [Buying Guide].
These are the most important characteristics that can help you choose one for yourself:
Thick knives can range from 1/8th of an inch to ¼ of an inch. You can also find knives with a skinnier blade, usually smaller than 1/10th of an inch.
With a thick blade, you’ll get durability and a lot of functionality. You should be able to chop things, split wood and pry things open with a thick blade.
You’ll still be able to do some carving and feather sticking but you will not be able to get fine control over it. A thinner blade has less durability but is useful for finer carving work. But this is suitable for camping as they are pretty lightweight.
A full tang means that the metal of the blade runs all the way through the length of the handle. It is more durable and better for heavier work.
You also won’t have to worry about the blade falling off your handle or the knife falling apart. In partial tangs, the metal does not go all the through the handle. This does help the knife become lighter and generally can hold up well in normal activities.
This basically means what the edge of your knife looks like. Beginners usually go for a Scandinavian kind as it is easier to sharpen.
This is because it has a single bevel forming the edge so it’s easy to find where the edge is. It is also very easy to get a very razor sharp edge on these sort of knives.
However, this knife dulls quickly and can get chips in it. Flat grids are the most common kind. It has a bevel going towards the edge and a secondary bevel forming the actual edge.
This grind can be more resilient and can maintain its sharpness. Lastly is the full-convex grind which means that there is a gradual curve from the spine to the edge.
A convex edge gives you a really strong and durable edge and is great for splitting wood, heavy duty work. The downside is that it can be harder to get a razor sharp edge.
A convex edge is easy to sharpen as all you have to do is put it on the stone or put it on sandpaper/strop and work it back and forth.
The type of steel:
Stainless: If you’re generally camping in muggier or swampy areas with lots of water, a stainless steel knife is nice to have. This is because it will not rust or oxidize easily and will dry very fast.
Stainless steel is also softer than carbon steel but is harder to sharpen. Such knives are good if you do not want to get into the hassle of maintaining it often Carbon:
Many prefer carbon steel as it is easier to sharpen and lends a hardness to the knife. While this kind of knife requires some maintenance, it is nice to be able to sharpen it quickly.
Carbon steel knives are often laminated giving you harder steel on the inside surrounded by softer steel. There’s also a notion that carbon steel throws a better spark.
This conception may be because carbon steel can be harder than stainless steel so that is still probably something to consider.
You can find really great reliable knives like Mora knives that are below $ dollars which can be really reliable.
Knives ranging in the hundred dollar range have superior quality and a lot of times they are handmade knives that can keep their sharpness for a long time even after some really robust work.
Knives that have good quality steel that won’t break so you’re getting what you pay for up to a certain extent. For your first knife, it’s generally a good idea to get more of a lower price knife so you can practice on it and learn to get good at using it.
All in all a lot of this really comes down to what you think you’re gonna be using your knife for