Mad Dog vs. Cold Steel vs. Becker (long)

The Jeep Knife

The scope of this test is to determine which knife I want to carry with me in my Jeep, hence the title. The knife will get used for trail clearing when I go off road (tread lightly!), repairs to the vehicle if necessary, self defense when in the city (right beside my G19 in the console  ), possible quartering of deer and other game, emergency tool (like extracting myself or someone else from a wrecked vehicle) and various other creative tasks. You get the point, it needs to be sharp and really tough, while being a possible makeshift fighter. I like knives in the middle-sized range for this so they can be large enough to chop, but small enough to carry easily and handle well. The contestants are:

 Becker Campanion
-This is one of the old BlackJack owned models. It has an Esta-Lock handle (?), 1095 blade and Eagle Cordura sheath. I picked this one up used after selling my first one a long time ago. The previous owner had sanded off the original gray powder coat and blackened the blade. Dimensions are: 10 ½” OA, 5” cutting edge X 1 5/8” wide X ¼” thick blade with a saber grind beginning 1 ¼” up on the blade and a weight of about 16 oz. This is a very heavy short knife.

 Cold Steel Bush Ranger
- This is a slightly longer, much lighter knife. It has a Kraton handle, Carbon V blade, black powder coat, and came with a leather sheath (I made a Kydex for it). I bought it new some time back and have enjoyed using it. It is extremely efficient in its design. Though I don’t particularly like Cold Steel, particularly Lynn Thompson (the designer of this knife), I am an unabashed huge fan of this model. Its dimensions are: 12 3/8” OA, 7 1/16” cutting edge X 1 ½” wide X 3/16” thick blade with a full flat grind and weighs about 9 oz.

 Mad Dog ATAK
- This is a long and thick blade. I bought it new a while back from a dealer and have been pleased with it. It has a composite handle, O1 blade (differential heat treat) and Kydex sheath. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Mad Dog’s policies, but he seems to be a very competent maker with very good knives. Measurements are: 11 ¾” OA, 5 7/8” cutting edge X 1 ½” wide X ¼” thick blade with a full flat grind and weighs about 12 oz.

Most of you are familiar with these knives, I am sure, but I just wanted to put the specs as I measured them down side-by-side. To me, the Mad Dog looks the best (fit and finish), followed by the Becker and Cold Steel. MD has a strait clip and generous finger choil. CS has a Sheffield clip and small choil. And BK&T has a drop point and small choil. He BK&T is a tank in the hands, being much less inclined to be a fighter and leaning toward sharpened pry bar. I normally like thin performance knives, but for some reason the Becker really appeals to me. On to the tests!


I went up into the woods and found a rich, downed pine. These things get pretty hard over time, as you might know. This one is about 5” in diameter and close to the ground, but not supported right underneath my cuts. I put the three knives down in front of the log, got on one knee, and began to alternate with each knife until I got through the log. All knives were sharpened by me before starting and would cleanly shave. It is worthy to note that from the factory, the CS was the only one I considered very sharp. Anyway, all of the knives would still shave well after the evaluation. The cutting performance of the knives was somewhat different, as I could tell when working through the log. The Mad dog was the first through the log followed by the CS and BK&T. Actually, the last two were so close it was hard to call, as I didn’t count cuts. I found the Mad Dog to have the most comfortable handle in hard use. It was less secure, however, than the other two. When the previous owner replaced the handles on the BK&T after coating he did not get them perfectly lined up. I think that if I go back and get this just right, it would more comfy than the MD. The CS had very abrasive handles with its checkered Kraton. As far as grip security, I would give the nod to the BK&T, followed by CS and MD. All of these knives have lanyards, but I did not use them for this test. Before I mentioned how the knives cut differently. The CS bit into the wood pretty well due to its thinner edge, but for some reason, I was less accurate with it. I made a few glancing blows with it and could have gotten through the wood quicker. That means I had less control of the edge and thus could have easily chipped the edge. The MD was accurate, but did not go in very deep. It sorta bounced. The BK&T was the least efficient cutter, and did not go as deep. The BK&T really made the chunks fly, though. If I can describe it with a shape, each cut looked like this:

CS: ``v’’ (due to the missed swings)
MD: V (deeper and uniform)
BK&T: U (a wallowed out shape)

I hope somebody understood that, as it seems really goofy.

I also wanted to see what the knives would do against small brush. All of the knives were sharp enough to do well. The CS was quicker due to weight and probably was slightly better than the others. I did notice with the BK&T, I swung short a few times. It is a relatively short knife, so I guess this can be understood.

As a side note, I let my Dad (fairly non-knife educated, but carries an Endura and has a spare) look at these and got his comments. He liked them all, commenting on the BK&T’s heft and all of their sharpnesses. I asked him which he thought was the most expensive and he picked the Becker. That was almost funny, since it was probably the least expensive one. I told him the MD was more than 5 times as much and he was amused.


I will judge them in two categories: fighter and tough knife. As far as a fighter I would say the CS is best due to it’s quickness in that hand and sharp edge. It will reach out a little farther, too. Next would be the MD due to its length and weight reduction. Lastly, the Becker because it is so short and heavy. Speed is life, you know (J. Keating). For toughness, I would say the Becker due to its mass and “aspect ratio”. I don’t think you could hurt this knife with good technique. The handles are also plenty tough as well as secure. The MD is next due to it’s thinner grind and sharper point. It’s handles are at least as tough as the BK&T. CS is in last place. It is just not the beast that the other two are. It has a thin edge and relatively weak and uncomfortable handle. So what do I have in my Jeep now? The Mad Dog. I felt it was the best compromise for the reasons I wanted it for. I might make a “bug out bag” for off roading for the BK&T though. I think it would be the better choice (not to mention cheaper) if I had to do something that I really shouldn’t be doing with a knife. I would have loved to test a Busse with these, but did not have one at the time. Thanks for taking the time to read my review

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
Thanks for the cross comparison, do you know if the current Companion is similar in geometry to the one you have? Roughly how many chops did it take to get through the pine? Can you describe your chopping technique, grip and swing?

Originally posted by Cliff Stamp:
Thanks for the cross comparison, do you know if the current Companion is similar in geometry to the one you have? Roughly how many chops did it take to get through the pine? Can you describe your chopping technique, grip and swing?


The new Campanion is the same shape, with a blade of .225" stock instead of .25". That minute a difference might have been due to stock availability??? It took a lot of chops. I did not count. I held the handles in the manner which they were supposed to be held (unlike a previous comparo I did you reference on your site where I was holding them "wrong"), and took good hard swings at it, but did them in rapid fashion at around 5 or 6 chops at a time with each knife. As I said, I alternated with these knives as I went.