What IS a bushcraft knife?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by grizzgreen258, May 19, 2011.

  1. grizzgreen258


    Apr 7, 2011
    Hey all. This is my first post on the forums so bare with me. I've been wanting to get into bushcraft and wilderness survival so I've been looking around for a good "bushcraft" knife..which brings me to my question..What makes a bushcraft knife a bushcraft knife? Is it any different from a fixed blade hunting knife? If so, how?
  2. drillsgt71


    Dec 1, 2010
    Your going to get different opinions on this from everyone. My opinion is a "bushcraft" knife is any fixed thicker bladed knife that has a 3 to 6 inch blade with a full tang. In other words, a strong, sharp blade that's not going to break with heavy use. It's a general idea of any knife that will do the job for your methods. Most hunting knives are designed to be used for gutting and skinning, not for building/starting fires or building shelters. There are hundreds of knives out there to do this type of work, try looking at survivalist threads for different knife revues.
  3. Cosmic Superchunk

    Cosmic Superchunk

    Jan 28, 2001
    A "bushcraft" knife is one that would excel at woodworking, carving, etc. Not so much a hunting, tactical or survival knife, rather more of a bush tool.. A bush tool in the same manner of a camp ax or hatchet. Most modern bushcraft knives are inspired by working knives from Scandinavia: Swedish Mora knives, Finnish puukkos, Sami leukus, and Norwegian tolleknivs. These knives have scandi grind blades which are well suited for carving and general woodwork and you will see this type of grind on many modern bushcraft knives, although flat ground blades are also preferred by many. Also, modern bushcraft knives tend to have thicker blades and full tang handles which can handle batoning better than their traditional Scandinavian counterparts.

    That said, what works for one person may not work for another, so like drillsgt71 stated, one person's idea of an ideal bushcraft knife will differ from another's. For some, a simple $10 Mora will do everything one could ever need out of a bushcraft knife while others may want something more robust. Some people like scandi grind blades, some do not. Some can get by with a sub 4-inch blade, some may want something larger. It all depends. In effect a bushcraft knife can be anything and everything from a traditional puukko to a modern camp knife that will aid you in handcarving, preparing kindling, foraging, etc..

    To get a good idea of what "bushcraft" knives are like take a look at a few knives like the Spyderco Bushcraft, Mike Lummio's BCNW-O1, Ray Mears' Woodlore, the BHK Bushcrafter, the Condor Bushlore, the Helle Eggen, the Helle Tamegami, the Mora Classic, the Mora Clipper, etc..
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  4. scouter27


    May 27, 2000
    A knife you use to craft bushes, obviously... o.0
  5. VictGerbSogCamill


    Feb 19, 2010
    Welcome to Blade Forums!!!

    I found this on the internet, it's good info

    An Affordable Bushcraft Knife

    By Mike Lummio

    The term bushcraft is sometimes used synonymously with survival skills, but this definition does not encompass the full meaning of the word. Although there is considerable crossover, the idea of bushcraft is not just to survive but to live well, even thrive, in the wilderness through the use of traditional techniques from around the world. The modern world with all of its trappings is obviously a new condition and does offer us many comforts. However, the belief that our ancestors lived on the brink of starvation as they huddled in caves is a fallacy quickly dispelled with a little research. Anthropologists tell us of hunter gatherer cultures who lived comfortably, created beautiful artwork, and actually had much more leisure time than we do. Despite the rampant industrialization around the globe, many of these cultures still exist today. It is in this spirit that bushcraft practitioners view our relationship with the natural world. It shapes the attitudes and skills to be learned for use in the backcountry. Bushcraft also marries well with the new trend in ultralight backpacking since the more you carry in your head, the less you carry on your back.

    One of the main tools used in bushcraft is a good knife. Now, a “good knife” means different things to different people, so let’s be more specific. A knife suitable for bushcraft must be sturdy, well made, and be designed with an emphasis on wood carving (both in handle and blade configuration). Ideally, the knife will also be of full tang construction. Scandinavian style knives with a single edge bevel and large, comfortable handles have become the standard. The single edge bevel, or Scandi-grind, is ideally suited for carving and performs beautifully for any other cutting job as well. In addition, this edge is incredibly easy to sharpen both at home and in the field. With no secondary bevel, the entire blade edge is laid flat on the stone to restore a shaving edge.
  6. Joben


    May 22, 2009
    Careful purusal of this thread should answer most of your questions, showing you the range of differences, and the many similarities between 'bushcraft' knives from about 20 different custom makers.


    You might want to pay particular attention to the entries by (in no particular order) Ray Laconico, Ban Tang, Rick Marchand and Bruce Culberson, which were ranked higest overall by a panel of 3 judges.
  7. Rat Finkenstein

    Rat Finkenstein Gold Member Gold Member

    May 18, 2005
    A knife used for bushcraft.
  8. Mrbladedude


    Aug 2, 2010
    These two come to mind.


  9. CWL


    Sep 15, 2002
    Bushcraft is a skillset.

    A knife used for bushcraft is optimized for your level of skills. This includes quite a bit of woodworking and toolmaking, which necessitates a thinner blade, not thicker. A good length for the blade would be the width of your palm.

    BTW, the more bushcraft skills one has, the less he/she has to ever baton wood.
  10. KeithAM


    Dec 15, 2003
    For many outdoor survival enthusiasts, the main purpose of a knife is to baton wood.

    For a Bushcrafter, the main purpose of a knife is to carve spoons.

    Hence, a bushcraft knife is a knife suitable for carving spoons. :p

    Seriously, it seems to be a fixed blade with a carbon blade about 4", spear point, and scandi grind.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  11. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    "Bushcraft" is simply a British term for wilderness-living skills - in America, the terms "scout" and "woodcraft" used to be more popular. A knife associated with wilderness living needs to be able to handle, with relative ease, a variety of tasks involving everything from carving wood to cleaning game and preparing food. It is a general utility knife. Differences between this and a dedicated hunting knife might be that many hunting knives have a thinner grind and wider belly or sweep that is ideal for processing game but is less than ideal for working with hard materials and carving wood - a thin grind can result in a more fragile edge that will fail under pressures from carving. This does not mean that ALL hunting knives are so designed. Indeed, most knives designed for hunting would work well as a general outdoor utility knife (woodcraft), and vice versa.

    Regarding fixed vs folding: the invention of a folding knife was a technological advancement that allowed users to carry their utility tool in a more compact form. Further advancement has allowed for single-hand opening/closing which is far easier/faster/safer than use of a sheath. Most uses of a knife, even in the American wilderness, do not require a fixed blade, especially if the folding blade has a locking mechanism of some sort. Run a Google search on "peasant knife".
    Despite the technological advancement, most people still carry a fixed blade for outdoor utility, even if a folder would serve them better. Why? Fixed blades are easier to make, easier to maintain (no pivots to gum-up or slots in the handle), easier to use, and inherently stronger allowing for heavier or unskilled use/abuse beyond mere cutting/carving, e.g. chopping and prying.

    For outdoor transitory living in wooded areas, a set of three tools is recommended for easy handling of nearly all tasks: a folding saw, a large fixed-blade or small axe for heavy use, and a small blade for general utility. In a less wooded area, the saw and axe might be replaced with a machete.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  12. cziv


    Nov 24, 2005
    These are both admittedly good bushcraft knives at opposite ends of the bushcraft spectum (short of a machete).

    I agree that batoning wood wouldn't be a big criteria for your choice. Having a bugout bag knife is one thing, but short of being an expert in survival, it would be best to plan your bushcraft knife around the adventure you're embarking on I'd think.

    I wouldn't want an F1 on a trip to the tropical rainforest as much as a light machete for e.g. Just a couple of thoughts, as I don't think there's one ideal bushcraft knife, but several. I also concur that bushcraft/survival is a skill set as posted. :)
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  13. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007
    "Bushcraft" means nothing anymore. It has as much meaning as "survival" or "tactical."

    It's become a marketing term.
  14. hiwa


    Jun 7, 2009
    I've always thought that bushcraft was a UK originated term that means the same thing as bush survival. Any knife can be used to survive in the bush. That's why it's an never-ending debate on what knife is "best".

    Every time the question of "what knife is best for bushcraft" comes up , out comes XXX answers on what knife to use. There's a million knives out there. You have to decide for yourself what's best for your intentions. This may or may not take a lot of trial , time and money to find that out.

    It depends on your intended uses , skills with a knife ( including sharpening) and budget that will help you decide. There is no "perfect" bushcraft knife until you find it ; after all , you're the one that's going to use it.;)
  15. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Yep, this.:)
    Lots of folks have "Bushcraft" knives which in actuality aren't, because they never use the damn things.
  16. KeithAM


    Dec 15, 2003
    The same is true for "survival" knives of all types. There's fad, trend and fantasy behind the popularity.
  17. CapitalizedLiving


    Dec 1, 2007
    A bushcraft knife is a survival knife. Because if you're bushcrafting for fun and/or profit and the brown stuff hits the jet engine, you know you're going to need it to perform any and all cutting tasks. So whatever it is, no matter how big or small or what steel or tang or handles or sheath you've got on you, that's what will build your shelters, gut and skin your food, and pick worms out of your feet.

    No doubt there are 100 billion people on here (roughly the same number of people McDonalds has served) who have a totally different opinion than that.
  18. HoosierQ


    Feb 9, 2010
    I would have answered this differently 6 months ago. I am afraid I would agree now that the term is largely marketing and I think there are a lot of knives termed "bushcraft" into which little thought has been placed...and many more which would excel at the task.

    I think, in general, we are talking about sturdy, simple, comfortable knives that are on the medium side (let's say 3.5 to 5 inches) that are general purpose and thus tend to have simple blade shapes (no recurves, no dramatic sweeps to the tip, no serrations, single edge). I do think the one criteria most agreed upon would be that it would be a fixed blade and not a folder. A second, perhaps more controvesial criteria would be one I am making up as I write this..."the more similar the knife is to one of the modern Mora forms, the more likely it is to be a bushcraft knife". This is probably the quinessential modern Mora form:

  19. KeithAM


    Dec 15, 2003
    As in you can now buy Bear Grylls survival knives in blister packs at Walmart.

    And McDonald's coffee is now available with a firesteel loop, in case the SHTF while you're sipping your java.
  20. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    It always seemed like a fad to me. My favorite, of all my knives, is my Vic Farmer. It does more "bushcrafty" things than any other knife I've seen. I love it!

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