Daniel Xu 12.05.13
This is probably one of my most anticipated knives of the year. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on one of Morakniv’s signature knives for a while now, and the fault is entirely my own for waiting so long. For the last few years, Morakniv of Sweden has been enjoying a steady climb in popularity across the Atlantic. The reason is simple enough: they make good knives at very affordable prices. In fact, a personalized license plate in most states probably costs more than a knife by Mora, but the latter won’t show the world your love for the Green Bay Packers. It will, however, cut just about anything you throw at it.
In a way, I have been dreading this review. Many of my fellow reviewers hold Mora knives in a very high regard. More than once, the Swedish company’s cutlery has been referred to as the absolute last knife you’ll ever need in its price range—but I wasn’t ready to make this my last knife review. So I approached the Bushcraft like Sir Galahad tiptoeing within sight of the Holy Grail, yet not ready for the journey to be over.
This won’t be my last review, but the Bushcraft has met nearly all the lofty expectations I have for it. For a knife that retails for about $50, that speaks volumes.
- Blade Thickness: 0.126 inches
- Blade Length: 4.3 inches
- Total Length: 9.1 inches
- Net Weight: 5.4 ounces
- Steel: Sandvik stainless tteel
- Handle: high-friction rubber
- Sheath: plastic
The Mora Bushcraft is constructed out of Sandvik 12c27, which is a Swedish steel used commonly in fixed utility blades. The Bushcraft Black in particular (the one reviewed here) comes with a thick anti-corrosive coating, which is unique in that it came to me fully coated—even the edge. At first I was under the impression that Mora has somehow mistakenly sent me some kind of ceramic prototype, but a few licks on my sharpening stone revealed the steel underneath. Performance-wise, Sandvik 12c27 is comparable to 440 stainless steels and has excellent toughness as well as edge-retention capability. Sandvik 12c27 is by no means a wonder steel, in fact it is often considered a high-caliber “cheap” steel. With the right heat treatment, however, 12c27 is a very respectable choice for knifemakers. Additionally, the no-nonsense geometry of the Bushcraft is made to combat dulling.
The blade comes sharp straight out of the box, but I still gave it light sharpening if only to see if there was actually steel underneath. With a blade just over four inches in length, the Bushcraft is ideally suited for campsite chores. An upgraded model even comes with a firestarter and sheath-mounted sharpener, presumably to take advantage of the fact that you can strike a firestarter with the knife’s spine. I opted for the cheaper $50 model without these extras, and that suits me just fine. The fit and finish of the knife is impeccable.
One criticism I have with the Mora is the fact that the knife is not in fact full tang. As in the picture above, the Bushcraft has a hidden tang running down the majority of the rubber handle. At $50, it is not a major quibble, but full-tang knives are always preferred due to their increased stability and ruggedness. The Mora’s shortened tang is a bit like finding out that Rembrandt’s 1658 Self Portrait was actually painted with crayons and cooking grease. By an orangutan.
When I say the words “high-friction rubber grip,” there are only so many possibilities that come to mind. The Bushcraft’s black rubber handle is utilitarian, durable, and as about as interesting as a dull nail. That said, I would have to admit that it is one of the best grips I have ever laid a hand on. The Mora’s grip wouldn’t look too out of place on a set of industrial tools, and why would they? It is suitably grippy and supremely comfortable. The rubber yields just enough so that repeated hammering with the knife is not tiresome, but hard enough to feel solid. It’s like like a pair of loafers for your hand.
The rubber also has another advantage over wood, Micarta, G10, and other popular handle materials, and that is its inherent resistance to water. Unlike other materials, the high-friction rubber needs no additional texturing for it to be grippy when wet. It rained a lot during my review of this knife and most of my time with it was spent doing things in the rain. While it may not prevent hypothermia, the knife did stay firmly seated in my hand.
I was a bit annoyed by the Bushcraft’s retention sheath when I first got it. The reason for this is that the sheath free-swings from a plastic belt loop. It didn’t take long for this little pet peeve to soon become a favorite feature, however. I found that the adjustable swivel allowed the knife to be drawn smoothly from a number of angles. The lack of straps or buttons means that unholstering the Bushcraft is as easy as grab and pull.
The sheath has also mastered the delicate balance between being too tight or too loose. Sheaths and holsters that apply too much pressure make drawing difficult, while those that are too loose run the chance of tipping a knife onto your foot whenever you bend over. The Bushcraft remains easy to draw from the hip, and short of flinging it, will not fall out.
Of all the (admittedly dubious) knife throwing techniques I have seen, none have involved throwing a blade with sheath still attached.
The Bushcraft instantly caught the eye of one of my friends, who is a professional MMA fighter and is trained in half a dozen martial arts. Despite this, he doesn’t know much about knives or their practical uses. He immediately began wielding it like a KA-BAR and said to me, “this is a fighting knife.”
At the time I disagreed. For me, the Bushcraft is preeminently well-designed for exactly what its name implies—fine cutting of wood, batonning, and other chores that require a delicate yet robust blade. In all these tasks, the knife performed admirably. Yet looking back, I could see where my friend had a point. Except for length, the Bushcraft has all the attributes of a good tactical knife. My penetration tests also revealed that the Mora has a wickedly strong tip. If it was just a little bit longer—and full-tang, of course—the Bushcraft could give its “fighting knife” competitors a run for their money.
The Mora did not blow me away, but it did leave me very, very impressed. Perhaps this is a case of over-anticipation, much like the return of Hostess Twinkies (especially after I gorge on a pack of 10), but I will be continuing to do knife reviews.
As a knife, the Bushcraft is nearly impossible to criticize in any regard. This is also taking into consideration its $50 price tag, which is actually considered high among Mora knives.
Its quality and affordability make it an excellent product. These are the knives that keep us interested in pursuing new products and driving the industry forward. Good job Mora. Give yourselves a pat on the back.
And possibly a banana to that long-laboring orangutan.