wanting a Ka Bar....advise?


October 6, 2010, 01:54 PM
i want to get a ka bar survival knife (classic 7" blade) for multi purpose stuff...like quartering deer and splitting wood ect. i am leaning toward the next generation ka bar w/ the stainless steel blade (i live in a wet environment):confused:. is there any reason i should get the regular "black" steel blade? i thought about getting the D2 blade but i heard that those can be brittle. also is there any reason i should get serrated or non-serrated blade?

thanks...i am a newbie at this.

If you enjoyed reading about "wanting a Ka Bar....advise?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
October 6, 2010, 02:31 PM
Let's be sure that we're talking about the same thing.

Is this what you're asking about?

BTW, there's nothing brittle about D2.

October 6, 2010, 05:16 PM
I have a number of Ka-Bar's and have found all of them to be extraordinarily strong and reliable as a survival tool. They are not brittle and will withstand an amazing amount of abuse.

I offer for your consideration a new Ka-Bar - Becker Campanion as a survival tool.

The Campanion sports a 5 inch blade and a full 1/4" tang which for the activities the OP mentioned is just about perfect.

October 6, 2010, 05:19 PM
I agree with dairycreek, the BKT Campanion is a much better product for your stated purpose.

October 6, 2010, 05:23 PM
From 1967 to 1991 there was always a KaBar close by,..if not on my load bearing rig. In addition,..I have used a KaBar for many many back country treks, and for around the camp chores for over 50 years combined. There are newer designs,..and maybe even some better,..but the old KaBar is one of,.. if not the best all around tool you can find. Go for it,...and be happy.

October 6, 2010, 06:04 PM
yes that is the knife i am considering....and i heard that d2 steel will chip if you hit a rock with it unlike the softer steels.

dairycreek....the "becker companion".....would that be a better knife because of the smaller blade? i'd like to hear the pros and cons of the different ka bar styles. like is said, i am a newbie at this.

thanks for the replies!

October 6, 2010, 08:00 PM
If you read posts here on camp use you'll find an overwhelming number of people advise staying in the 4-5 inch blade range to handle the majority of tasks a pocket knife is too small for and an axe/kukri/machete is too big for. A double guard serves no purpose except to interfere with using the knife as a tool and was intended to protect the thumb/hand from an attacker's blade. The clip interferes with the use of the knife as a draw knife in skinning bark. On and on.

Many people have made the USMC Fighting/Utility work for them, but it wasn't designed from the start to be a camp knife so why try to make it into one?

If you have your heart set on that style get the 5".

October 6, 2010, 08:37 PM
and i heard that d2 steel will chip if you hit a rock with it unlike the softer steels.

How hard or soft a knife steel winds up is a result of heat treat and tempering. If it is HT'd and tempered correctly it will not be brittle.

October 6, 2010, 08:43 PM
I agree with the moderator that you might be better served with the 5" version. It is a bit more practical and it will likely see a lot more use rather than the inside of your closet. That said, Ka-Bar makes a great knife. The only Ka-Bar that I have owned that I did not like was a pocket folder that had the knob too far back to be practical. It would not "flip" open, you had to walk it open. Making it useless for self defense. All the fixed blade Ka-Bar's I've used were great.

Being a former Air Force guy, I tend to stick to my roots and rely on my Ontario USAF Pilot Survival Knfe as my primary do-it-all fixed blade knife. The Ka-Bars see use, but the Pilot's Knife is the one in the go-bag in my trunk. So it sees the most use.

October 6, 2010, 08:55 PM
K-Bars are great knives. I'd stick with the Carbon steel and seriously consider the shorter knife. I have both sizes just to have as collectables. The 5" knife actually gets used more. Consider these as well.http://www.eseeknives.com/rc-4.htm They are only a little more expensive than K-Bars and are great no nonsense knives.

October 6, 2010, 09:30 PM
Just got mu BK2 Campanion in tonight. This is one serious pig sticker...the moment it was in hand, I knew I was holding quality. Cant wait to use it. :D


October 6, 2010, 10:06 PM
I have had a pair of Ka-Bar knives for the past few years... one is the 7" serrated fighting knife with 1095 carbon blade, the other is the Khukhuri machete that is 1o85 I believe. The serrated blade makes quick work of rope and twine. Both have been very useful and durable. I would not trade them with a stainless blade for the purpose of a tool knife. The carbon steel blades sharpen easy and stay sharp.

October 6, 2010, 10:31 PM
I love and adore my USMC Kabar. It has come camping/hiking with me, and is a great companion in the field.
the size and heft of the full sized blade makes it great for larger duty jobs (hacking/chopping) stuff. But realistically, that's not what a knife like that is for anyway.

Were I to do it all over again, I'd get the short Kabar, with the black handle, and hard plastic sheath. The 1258 model. By the way, if you look around, you can get them for ~$50 delivered.

The Ontario Rat-4 which would be another great contender can't come close in price. Nor can the ESEE models. Even the Becker is a good chunk of change more. The short Kabar is a really great value. The only other knives that i think can compete with that are the Ontario Spec Plus series.

Of course, all that being said, I'd still be inclined to believe that the Rat-4/ESEE/Gerber LMF II/Becker could probably put up with a bit more heavy use/abuse than the Kabr or spec-plus knives.
But for my purposes at least, nothing beats the Kabar.

October 6, 2010, 10:50 PM

I hate to date myself but, I've had this one since 1967, it served with me in Vietnam.

For general field use and combat. This is what you want.

October 7, 2010, 01:00 AM
thanks for all the replies guys....im going to really look into that Becker Ka Bar.....nice looking knife! looks like it has a good thickness. so all you owner of carbon steel blades....do you lube your blade with something to keep it from rusting? i live in a damp environment and anything metal will rust after a few good rains.

October 7, 2010, 02:11 AM
A very light coat of gun oil should protect your blade. If it is in long term storage, don't keep it in a leather sheath. The chemicals in the leather will react with the blade.

October 7, 2010, 04:12 AM
anyone have an opinion of the BK2 vs the RAT 5?

October 7, 2010, 07:33 AM
It's going to almost be a question of how you like the feel in your hand. Both are going to be good performers.

October 7, 2010, 08:51 AM
As hso hinted, you'll do better with at least two knives, a small and larger, or small knife and hatchet/kukri/machete/large "bowie"...

This is the approach the Nepalese have traditionally used, and it works well. Check out the Ka-Bar Pot Belly. Even if you don't care for it, consider adding a small knife like the Piggyback to whatever large bruiser you pick.


October 7, 2010, 08:56 AM
though i have a ka bar that i have used, and owned for about 10years, and have even carried in the sandbox, i love them i do. They are durable, reliable, and they have a lot of history and they have that "look". With that said though there are better knives out there for what you are looking for.

I am personally a fan of Grayman Knives.

October 7, 2010, 02:54 PM
dairycreek....the "becker companion".....would that be a better knife because of the smaller blade? i'd like to hear the pros and cons of the different ka bar styles. like is said, i am a newbie at this.

thanks for the replies

For general, day-to-day camp use I prefer the 5" blade as well as for skinning out a deer or elk. The greater "belly" on this blade makes it much more effective in skinning game.What I really like about the
Campanion (note spelling) is the 1/4" inch tang which makes it pretty much a sharpened pry bar. This is a knife with great strength built into great utility. So, for tasks which require "brute strength" such as batonning, et. the Campanion is, for me, a much better tool.

October 8, 2010, 12:16 PM
thanks for the replies and help guys. i really like that 5" becker. i am really liking the looks of the RAT RC-5 and RC-6 ESEE knives. they are double the price but i really like the design. anyone have any opinions on the Ontario RAT vs. the Randall ESSE RAT? man, i really love the look of the handle!

October 8, 2010, 12:34 PM
Ontario - No

ESSE - Yes

October 8, 2010, 12:47 PM
any opinions on the RAT RC-5 vs. RC-6? the 6 seems lighter because of the thinner blade. i will be using the knife for gutting deer mostly.

Black Toe Knives
October 8, 2010, 12:48 PM
I second the RAT ESSE

October 8, 2010, 01:49 PM
Get a small dedicated skinner, and another knife for your other tasks.

Big Bill
October 9, 2010, 01:10 AM
I vote ESEE 5 or ESEE 6 (Formerly RAT Knives)...


I own 3 of them. I can't say enough good about them.

(Disclamer - I'm a proud RAT Pack member!)

October 9, 2010, 01:43 AM
I like the ESEE knives a bunch, but my roommate owns a Campanion, and I have to tell you that it is one heck of a knife. For me personally, I lean towards the ESEE almost entirely because I like the way they do business. Thats not to say that Kabar is a bad company though! In fact, I kind of flip flop in my head which one I would actually choose. Anyway, they are both very good knives and I genuinely feel you can't go wrong with either.

With that being said, take the advice of carrying two knives into the field with you. I would say that even something like your basic SAK is useful in the field for any number of tasks that are possible, but more awkward, with a bigger knife. I personally have a Kit Carson designed CRKT bird and trout knife (that is no longer made) that has been a companion with me in the field for a long time now, and it has paid for itself many, many times over.

October 9, 2010, 03:21 AM
just an update....all of your advise had got me thinking and looking at different knives. i think i have finally decided to go with the RAT RC-4 (ESEE 4) (will try and get a rc-4 since they changed the name). the bk2 and RC-5 looked like "the knife" i needed at first but they seemed a tad too thick and more like mini "large" survival blades rather than small blades. i still may consider the RAT RC-6 ......i like the weight and look of it, but might opt for a heavier duty knife if im going to commit to carring a blade 6 or more inches.

thanks again guys for broadening my horizons on viewing knives. the Ka Bar was my first choice because i didnt know anything else. not taking anything away from the ka bar, but that RAT RC-4 is the knife for me.....i can feel it!

October 11, 2010, 02:01 PM
I think you will really like the ESSE. I use the ESSE 3 for a hunting knife. The blade is just under 4" long and is thinner. Seems like it would be easier to keep sharp. I liked it so much I later bought one of the ESSE 4's. This blade is just under 5" and a little thicker. Haven't used it yet. If I need anything longer than that I still have the 7" K-Bar. But it is almost never used.

October 11, 2010, 02:16 PM
so do you think the esee 3 is a little more handy and practical for hunting than the esee 4? i have a sog trident folder for the skinning but also wanted something w/ some heft.

October 12, 2010, 05:14 PM
For me yes, When I bought the ESSE 3 I debated long and hard in the store between the 3 and 4. Either would work I think. The 5 or 6 are just too big for a hunting Knife, better as a survival knife.

The actual blade length on the 3 is 3 7/8". The blade it is 1/8" thick. I figured it was big enough for a big game hunting knife. The actual blade length on the ESSE 4 is only 1/2" longer at 4 5/8" and is 3/16" thick. I think either would work. If you can actually handle one instead of ordering sight unseen it would help.

I bought the ESSE 3 from a knife shop first. Several months later I found a table selling them at a gunshow for a lot less than I paid for the 1st one and decided what the heck, I'd just get them both.

October 12, 2010, 11:23 PM
jmr40.....you got the plain edge on your knives yes? or do any of your RATs have a combo edge? i would assume that for hunting you only need a plain edge. i wonder if it helps to have a combo edge to bust through the breast plate....

October 13, 2010, 04:08 PM
Yes, both are plain edge with the black finish and green handles. The 3 came with a brown sheath, the 4 with black. I guess the serrated edge combo blades have a place, I just prefer the plain edges.

If you enjoyed reading about "wanting a Ka Bar....advise?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!