Good all-around fixed blade for Alaska


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SKILCZ
January 20, 2011, 08:22 PM
I have folders, but I'm looking for a utilitarian, tough fixed blade that can handle camping/hiking/etc. in Alaska and other remote areas. I'd like something that's also strong enough that if (God forbid) I had to use it as a last ditch animal defense it would hold up to the task. Don't need a 12" Rambo knife.

I don't know much about the various pros/cons of the various steels. Any suggestions would help.

I'm considering a Becker BK2. Thoughts? Alternate suggestions?

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GURU1911
January 20, 2011, 10:51 PM
Personal recommendation: A cold steel "master hunter" on your belt & a cold steel 18" "kukri machete" for utility use around the campsite. Check out their fixed blades at cold steel special projects.

Yo Mama
January 20, 2011, 11:09 PM
If it's just for a last ditch weapon to fend off an animal, I'd sharpen a large stick to a nice point. Really that's what would keep distance between you and the animal, and have the best ability to cause damage quickly.

Now, for camp tasks, and if you're in Alaska, maybe these guys?:

http://www.knivesofalaska.com/

deacon8
January 21, 2011, 10:07 AM
Personally, I am a big fan of good, custom knives. However, I have a fixed blade Buck that I like to carry around while doing things like camping. Also, I'll carry it around with me if I'm outdoors, but not hunting (not using it for skinning, gutting, etc). Buck knives seem to have a great combination of strength and good steel, which is important to getting a knife sharp and keeping it sharp. They are built very solid. However, the price is good enough that I don't worry about a small amount of damage. A $300 custom knife is something I don't want to "knick" on a rock.

And in regards to a previous poster--I am not a big fan of Cold Steel. They are "OK." They are pretty strong, but let's face it--they are kind of "clunky." They just aren't great quality knives. They would probably be alright for camping purposes though.

Glock Doctor
January 21, 2011, 10:13 AM
Here's my favorite field and utility knife -

http://www.amazon.com/Ka-Bar-Becker-BK2-Campanion-Fixed/dp/B001N1DPDE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295622766&sr=8-1

ArfinGreebly
January 21, 2011, 10:19 AM
For folks up in the north latitudes, like between 60 and 64 degrees north, there are other folks up in the north latitudes that make knives suitable for use . . . up in the north latitudes.

My personally preferred catalog is here: Ragnar's Forge (http://www.ragweedforge.com).

Among the very serviceable pieces to be found there, a sampling includes (from their Mora Swedish page (http://www.ragweedforge.com/SwedishKnifeCatalog.html))

The Bushcraft Forest ($34.50)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/bushcraft-forest.jpg

which is a variation on the Mora 2000 ($30)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/2000.jpg


The TriFlex Bushcraft ($20.00)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/bushcraft-triflex.jpg

Their #345 hunting knife ($120)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/345.jpg

Also the Lapp-90 ($125.00)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/lapp-90.jpg

For bigger stuff, the C-223 ($35)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/c-223.jpg



Also take the time to visit the EKA catalog page (http://www.ragweedforge.com/eka-catalog.html).

EKA makes a fine hunter, the W11 ($109)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/w11.jpg

Also the H8 ($99)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/h8.jpg

Or the A-10 ($85)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/a10.jpg


I would be happy to have any of these with me out in the north woods. In fact, I do have a version of the #345 as well as multiples of the Mora 2000 and others on that page.

I don't have the H8, but I do have the folding version, the Nordic T8.


Oh, and as long as we're up around 60 degrees north, why don't we pop over to Finland and have a look what the Laplanders use (http://www.ragweedforge.com/FinnishKnifeCatalog.html)?

I have this set, but in stainless (I see they've gone up in price: $129)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/5629.jpg

There are some nice pieces to be found there.

(And I have a soft spot for Finnish cutlery.)


Hopefully these suggestions have given you some food for thought.

If you just "have to" spend a few more dollars to feel good about the knife, you can always look at the Norwegian offerings (http://www.ragweedforge.com/HelleCatalog.html).

(I only own one Norwegian knife, but when I can afford it I will have more.)

The Scandinavians have had generations of hunting and skinning caribou and the other denizens of the north, under conditions that could be considered not entirely unlike those found in Alaska.

It seems to me their work deserves consideration.

Enjoy!

DM~
January 21, 2011, 10:23 AM
In 25 years of extensive hunting all over Alaska, here's the three knives i used most,

http://fototime.com/FCA975C8E35DDEE/orig.jpg

MOST of the time i used the bottom two, carrying the short knife, and useing the longer one for camp duties. I did sometimes carry the longer one when hunting moose, but they BOTH always went to camp with me. Those old Gerbers sure are good knives, holding an edge VERY good.

Carry a stone in your pack too, just to keep the blade touched up...

DM

pappy19
January 21, 2011, 10:33 AM
For an Alaska adventure I'd definately go with a Randall Model #19 Bushmaster with stainless blade, compass and wrist thong. The handle material is up to you but I like stag with finger grips. The Randall Model #23 is also a great choice as is their Model #3. Here is a picture of my #19.

GENTLEMAN OF THE CHARCOAL
January 21, 2011, 10:41 AM
I lived in bush Alaska during most of the 1980's. I said BUSH Alaska. I didn't say anything about being in town. Plus being back and forth up there several times. My son and his wife and their new borned daughter live way back in there now....Sir, I don't mean any disrespect here, please understand that from jump street here, but the question you asked and some of the answers you got are just plain absolutely stupid sounding. A knife back in there is no damn different than a knife on the outside. (lower 48)..A good CaseXX, Kabar, Hen and Rooster, Buck, and a thousand more out there will do you just fine. A good Leatherman on your belt will come in mighty handy now and then. Just make sure you carry more than one knife with you at all times and have a good way to sharpen it. You better make sure you have plenty of good fire starting equipment and that you are armed good. If you get crossways with one of those big grizzlies like I have before, I can guarantee you that won't be raindrops running down your leg....

Vermonter
January 21, 2011, 11:04 AM
Lots of bang for the buck here http://www.eseeknives.com/knives.htm

JShirley
January 21, 2011, 11:10 AM
If you check out my Ontario thread in the SHOT 2011 forum, the Blackbird SK-5 (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=7018464&postcount=2) looks to be a terrific all-around outdoors knife. If you can't spend nearly $200, Condor has some very useful knives for considerably less. Just be prepared to sharpen them more frequently. :)

ESEE knives are indeed terrific.


John

lemaymiami
January 21, 2011, 01:50 PM
I'll have to ask my brother about that since he lives up there (and he and his family have lived a subsistence life style for many years...). Since his idea of a rifle is a 375 H&H I can only imagine what he'll say. Should be interesting.

zignal_zero
January 21, 2011, 01:51 PM
Lots of bang for the buck here http://www.eseeknives.com/knives.htm

what he said!

i was raised in AK. i didn't carry an ESEE, back then (there was no such thing in those days) but i don't remember anything about the place that would make me want something other than my ESEE. well.... that and a LARGE caliber firearm. those Griz get serious, sometimes :(

Cosmoline
January 21, 2011, 01:59 PM
I really like the Finnish style puukkos. They have nice big stocks for easy manipulation with gloves and small, razor sharp blades great for skinning and other chores. No guard though so you have to be disciplined about not letting your hand slip over the blade.

Based on my experience with most things around here, don't spend too much money. In fact my main working knifes for this state have been dirt-cheap Opinels. They'll take a very good edge but if you lose one over the side of the deck or in the underbrush, it's no great loss. Everything seems to break here or get dinged up.

Also, fwiw, my little Gransfors-bruks camp axe is in some ways more useful than a knife.

Forget about having one for bear defense. A brown bear has ten 4" knives attached to arms that can bench press a tree. That's not even counting the teeth. There was only one guy who managed to get the better of a sow with a knife. And he properly credits divine intervention on that one.

TX expat
January 21, 2011, 02:07 PM
Another +1 for ESEE knives.

SKILCZ
January 21, 2011, 07:04 PM
Thanks for all the replies. No, I'm not planning on attacking animals with a knife. Mainly for an all-around tool capable of chopping, etc. more than a small, really sharp folder I have for more fine work, but not so large as a hatchet or machete so that I don't mind carrying it around all day.

The ESEE site says their knives will rust. Does all 1095 steel rust? Can anyone point out the differences in some of the common steels? A friend bought a 440A USMC-type Ka-Bar. How does that compare to the BK2 or ESEE knives (other than being larger/longer)?

I'm gonna look into those Moras, too, though they seem smaller and more like a great folder I have that already fills tasks for a smaller knife.

GENTLEMAN OF THE CHARCOAL
January 21, 2011, 07:31 PM
A real genuine USMC Kabar and a real genuine USMC CaseXX is made out of 1095 high carbon steel and with halfway reasonable care will last longer than you will. A lot longer...Lot's of good knives out there man, made by lot's of good people... Like one of the other people came close to saying to you, try and make sure you pack a good axe along with you also. If my canoe ever turned over you can bet I'm grabbing that axe before I try and grab a rifle or anything else. Why? Because I want to stay alive....PS--The USMC Kabar and CaseXX (and several other models) have blackened blades that will resist rust and corrosion to a degree. Anyway, don't you think you could spare 3 minutes a day to wipe down a couple of knives?....

TX expat
January 21, 2011, 08:07 PM
Yes, all 1095 steel will rust, but it's excellent for knives because it is very durable and it's easy to sharpen; both of those are very important in a 'survival' type of knife because you can do just about anything to it and get it reconditioned easily. Also, it doesn't take much in the way of care to keep it from rusting, so it really shouldn't be an issue.

fundercj
January 21, 2011, 08:44 PM
Though I don't have personal experience with this knife, I've heard nothing but good things from around the internet regarding it's suitability as a bush knife.

Fallkniven F1

http://www.fallkniven.com/en/shop/details/370/24/fixed-blades/survival-knives/f1

I've been researching this knife for awhile now, and am close to purchasing it. The only downside I see to it is that the sharpening methods may be a bit more "advanced" than other carbon-steel blade knives. It's also a bit more pricey than what it sounds like you're looking for. But hey, something to keep in mind. :)

Wolfeye
January 21, 2011, 08:54 PM
I grew up in Alaska. Which part are you planning on camping in? A knife that makes sense where I lived (in the SE) might make no sense in the central area, or way up north. The climates & needs are completely different. If you go to the SE, you will be spending a lot of time in a boat or on the beach, and it will rain most of the time. For there, I'd say marine-grade steel with a rubber grip makes the most sense. I'd look for a blade long enough to clean fish but not so long it's awkward to skin a deer with.

I've never used a knife to chop wood with. I'm a wood carver; that's what saws are for. A lightweight knife on the belt and either a wire saw or folding saw in the pack, and you're good. I find that wire saws are slower but they're so cheap & light that there's no excuse to not take one or two.

zignal_zero
January 21, 2011, 09:32 PM
yes, 1095 will rust due to it's low chromium content. this is also what makes it tougher and less likely to crack or chip. you never get sumthin for nuthin. the good news is - ESEE's coating is superb. it does NOT come off easy and it protects every portion of the knife with the exception of the cutting edge and laser engraving both of which just need a wipe of oil every now and then. your edge will discolor, from time to time, but resharpening the knife will repolish the edge. don't let rust factor push you away from ESEE, unless you plan on removing the coating and giving the blade a satin finish which would be seriously cool on an ESEE 6 clip point with some custom black micarta scales :D but that's a different subject all together.

SKILCZ
January 21, 2011, 11:23 PM
Great advice, all. Thanks for the tips. I'm looking at getting a 1095 steel blade now that I'm more informed. I wish I could handle an ESEE 5 or BK2 but can't find one locally.

RonDeer10mm
January 21, 2011, 11:30 PM
I just bought a nice BLACK KA-BAR FIGHTER its my first knife. I like it looks like a :D "Rambo Knife" I haven't "field tested" it but it doesn't look like it will ever disappoint.:rolleyes:

ArfinGreebly
January 22, 2011, 03:31 AM
I'm gonna look into those Moras, too, though they seem smaller and more like a great folder I have that already fills tasks for a smaller knife.

What kind of length did you have in mind?

I know that in my own hands, anything over six inches is a bit awkward. I have medium (well, medium-small) hands.

For general tasks, I prefer something in the four-inch range, with five inches at the upper end. For in-close work, I find three to four inches about right.


Early in my search for what works well in my hands, I picked up a number of larger blades (bowies, combat knives, things with seven, eight, nine inch blades). I found them nearly unusable for routine work and especially for in-close work.

After I put aside the idea that I could just grab a butcher knife sized blade and "git 'er done" across the full range of knife tasks, it didn't take too long to to figure out what seasoned knife users had known for ages, and I found that right around four inches works well across a decent spectrum of applications. At least in my hands.


So, forgive my curiosity, but I'm wondering what blade length works well for you?

SKILCZ
January 22, 2011, 08:15 AM
What kind of length did you have in mind?

I know that in my own hands, anything over six inches is a bit awkward. I have medium (well, medium-small) hands.

For general tasks, I prefer something in the four-inch range, with five inches at the upper end. For in-close work, I find three to four inches about right.


Early in my search for what works well in my hands, I picked up a number of larger blades (bowies, combat knives, things with seven, eight, nine inch blades). I found them nearly unusable for routine work and especially for in-close work.

After I put aside the idea that I could just grab a butcher knife sized blade and "git 'er done" across the full range of knife tasks, it didn't take too long to to figure out what seasoned knife users had known for ages, and I found that right around four inches works well across a decent spectrum of applications. At least in my hands.


So, forgive my curiosity, but I'm wondering what blade length works well for you?
I was thinking of maybe a 5" for all around heavier tasks, though I'd consider a 4". I have 2 1/4" to 3 1/2" folders that work well for smaller tasks. I'm certainly a fixed blade novice, but I wasn't under the impression that I'd use a 12" Rambo knife to be tacticool.

Trouble is, I don't know of any knife shops in my area who carry any of the above to see what feels good or wieldly. I do know one that carries the USMC-type 7" Ka-Bar, which looks really cool and seems to be the 1911 of knives, but is probably a bit large, as you were mentioning.

SKILCZ
January 22, 2011, 11:07 AM
What are the pros/cons of VG10 steel over 1095?

So I'm taking a hard look at the Moras due to the great reviews & amazing price point. I like the Bushcraft series, but then I saw this (http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/store_detail.html?s=FT840MG):
http://images.knifecenter.com/knifecenter/frostswed/images/FT840MG.jpg
for $11 with great reviews and basically a 4" (3 7/8") blade. Hard to imagine a better bang for buck if it's really as good as people say.

I can't find much about the Mora steel grades and how they compare to the SAE steel grades. I'm sure they must be good given the reviews. I like the 4.5" length of the Bushcraft series, but then they get up around $30-40 and I can get a BK2 for $50ish. Looks like I have some deciding to do. Nobody around me carries any of these AFAIK, so I'll have to just buy one & try it out.

TX expat
January 22, 2011, 12:07 PM
Great advice, all. Thanks for the tips. I'm looking at getting a 1095 steel blade now that I'm more informed. I wish I could handle an ESEE 5 or BK2 but can't find one locally.
I forgot to mention that you should be sure to check out the ESEE warranty. If you could find a way to damage the knife, they'll cover it, for life.

RatDrall
January 22, 2011, 02:57 PM
I'll backup the Mora recommendation, they are priced way low for the utility they offer.

I'll also throw in a vote for something from ESEE.

Honestly, the more time I spend in the outdoors the less I realize that I need a heavy duty knife. 99% of the time a Spyderco Delica does fine. If I were going that far North I'd have an ESEE-5 strapped to my pack for heavier duty stuff. I'd also keep a Mora stashed in my pack in case something happened to the other cutlery...

ArfinGreebly
January 22, 2011, 10:33 PM
I have, in a toolbox in the garage, an old Mora knife.

In 1973, at Christmas, I sailed as part of a skeleton crew on an old steam powered ship from Stockholm (where the ship had basically been mothballed) to Copenhagen. When we arrived in Copenhagen, I drew engine room duty for the next month or so. While working in the ER, I found a well used (somewhat abused, actually) birch-handled Mora knife, in carbon steel.

Nobody else wanted it (hey, it was a three-dollar knife), so it became part of my kit, where it has been for the ensuing 37 years.

I should probably put a new handle on it, or at least sand down the old one and refinish it.

Over the years I've let it rattle around in the toolbox, using it occasionally to handle boxes, rope, sheets of plastic, or whatever was at hand. Every time I've picked it up, it's just as sharp as I left it. I've worked the edge over the years to smooth out the nicks in the edge from its former life, but it's always been sharp, and never failed under hard use.

Today's Mora knifes are basically that same steel, except they now also use Sandvik stainless (12c27 and the like). It's a fine steel, takes a good edge, holds an edge well in use, resists the elements well.

Mora also uses something called "Triflex," which is a tougher, hard use steel.


Now, while Eskilstuna isn't Mora, the knives made there by EKA uphold the same traditions.

If you like a good, solid 4+ inch knife, the ones I mentioned earlier (the EKA W11 at 4 3/8 in, A-10 at 4+ in, along with the Mora #345 at 5 in) would be good candidates. The two EKA pieces mentioned above are full-tang and quite robust while being sharp as the dickens.

You know, you can actually call Ragnar (phone number is on his site) and talk to him about them. He's a good guy, and well regarded in the knife community.


Among my Finnish knives, I have a few
Leuku knives (for example, like this,
the Leuku being the larger of the two)

134703 I mentioned earlier having "this set" in stainless;
this is that set.
I have them in both carbon steel and
stainless, and in lengths from four inches
to seven. 134702 At least two of mine are convex ground, and absurdly
sharp. I'm not sure whether they're all ground convex
though. With practice, it's easy enough to maintain that
edge out in the field.

A Leuku in a length of five or six inches would be a serious utility knife. My only hesitation in recommending it is the lack of any guard on the traditional handle. The Scandinavians don't have a problem with this, as it is well understood that it's to be used with a pull or drawing stroke (well, that and chopping), and that it's not suited to pushing or stabbing. The absence of a guard is a plus in my book. It lets you get right down on the work without this little stub protruding into things. However, you'll notice that some of the newer offerings have the handle shaped to help keep the pinkies from becoming reddies.

Or, you know, you could get the two-knife set (they share a scabbard), and then you'd have lengths that cover the whole range.


I know what you mean about buying a knife you haven't had a chance to hold and fondle. I have that same pattern.

One of the reasons I have so darned many knives (or at least many more than I meant to have) is that I'd go on eBay, find a candidate at a good price, buy it (or maybe two), and then try it out over days or weeks. I've got some that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I'm pretty sure I'll never actually put them into service.

I can't promise that what feels good in my hand will work in yours.

However, if you buy a Mora below forty bucks, and you decide you don't like it, I'll buy it from you. I have used and tested enough of them that I'm not the least bit worried that it won't work for me.

SKILCZ
January 23, 2011, 11:04 AM
Wow, thanks again for the tips. There are so many choices of Moras, EKAs, and Finnish knives, it's hard to know what to pick. The price point is pushing me toward a Mora. Now I'm just trying to decide which one (or more since they're so inexpensive).

snow
January 26, 2011, 07:05 PM
For a good carbon blade that would fit your needs
Esee 4 or 6
Becker BK2 or BK7
Mora clipper carbon
And for stainless
Fallkniven F1
Mora high Q allaround
SOG seal pup elite
SOG Gov Tac

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