Ontario Knife Company #SP45 Golok Machete Review

Ontario Knife Company is a venerable, old, and well known knife company that was founded in Naples, New York, in 1889 by three men, William B. Ensworth, Charles Albert Brace and William Maudsley, who derived the name of the company from Ontario County where Naples lived.

Their early knives were hand-manufactured on a water-powered grindstone and sold tinker-style from a pushcart throughout the neighboring countryside.

As a result, due to their face-to-face relationship with their customers, OKC has built its considerable reputation on its heritage of uncompromising craftsmanship, quality materials and components, and a steadfast commitment to its workforce.

The OKC Spec Plus Gen II Golok Machete (model #SP45) features an overall length of 13 ¼” with an 8 ¼” straight point, flat ground, blade with a recurved edge that is made from 0.2” 5160, high carbon, tool steel hardened to 53-55 Rockwell with a black, powder coat finish to help prevent corrosion. In addition, it features full tang construction and a black, overmolded, handle with a Kraton rubber coating and a brass lanyard loop and it includes a MOLLE compatible nylon/Kydex sheath.

FYI, the Golok is a type of short Machete or broadsword originating in southeast Asia and is of Indonesian origin but, it is also used in Malaysia. Also, although blade shape, size, and weight tends to vary, Goloks tend to be heavier and shorter than Parangs, Bolos, or Machetes because they are specifically designed for the purpose of cutting woody bush, branches, and saplings. Consequently, they are normally of heavier build than a Machete and they commonly feature a thicker spine and a very shallow Saber Grind so that they are less likely to bind in green wood than a blade with a Flat Grind.

In fact, this type of knife is so effective at performing this particular type of task that it’s noted for being the pattern for British Army-issue machetes used since the early 1950s. Furthermore, Goloks are traditionally made with a springy, high carbon steel blade of a softer temper than that of other large knives which makes them easier to sharpen in the field although, the edge also requires more frequent attention. Therefore, while the OKC Golok Machete may not sport a traditional Indonesian Golok blade shape, is true to form in that it is a short, heavy, chopping tool made from a relatively soft, high carbon, tool steel as is evidenced by the use of SAE grade 5160 steel (which contains 0.56% – 0.64% Carbon, 0.70% – 0.90% Chromium, and  0.75% – 1.0% Manganese) and the Rockwell Hardness of 53 – 55. However, I am afraid that any similarities to a traditional Golok end there because the blade shape used on the SP45 Golok Machete as well as the handle material are far from traditional and yet, they are also very functional for the particular purpose for which this knife was designed.

For instance, although the blade, at 8 ¼”, is a little shorter than a traditional Golok, it would make a fairly effective dedicated chopping tool and yet, it is not so long that it becomes unwieldy. Also, the 5160 steel is an excellent choice for this type of knife due to it relatively low Carbon content and its relatively low Rockwell Hardness and yet, according to the SAE Steel Grade scale, 51 series steel is better quality steel than the 10 series (1055, 1080, 1095, ect.) due to the addition of the small amount of Chromium which the 10 series lacks. In addition, this particular steel has a relatively high Manganese content which tends to offset the effects of Carbon to make the steel tough rather than brittle so the edge will not chip and the blade will not snap.

Plus, the Flat Grind on the blade represents a compromise between a Saber Grind and a Hollow Grind in that it is sharper than a Saber Grind and tougher than a Hollow Grind and thus, it will bite deeply into green wood. Also, the recurved edge and distended belly of this design tends to enhance its chopping ability. However, it is important to note that the edge will need retouching more often than it would if it had a Saber Grind. In addition, the back of the cutting edge features a choil which allows the blade to be sharpened all of the way to the back and a minute ricasso that places the back of the edge very close to the user’s hand for greater leverage when plunge cutting and carving.

Plus, the handle features a very ergonomic and hand filling shape that is perfect for heavy duty use and Kraton rubber coating serves to both cushion the hand from shock. Furthermore, the deep, radial, grooves, combined with the integral quillions and the bird’s head grip provide the user very positive retention the grip even when it’s wet and, the lanyard hole provides yet another retention option for times when losing one’s grip on the knife would make it unrecoverable.

Consequently, in my opinion, the OKC SP45 Golok Machete would make an excellent camp knife as well as an excellent survival machete like some of these others we have reviewed. However, I feel that it is important to note that the OKC web site lists this knife as having a full tang but, that is simply not true because the shape, size, and construction of the handle force the bladesmiths at OKC to use a partial tang instead which, I have to admit is a very minor consideration. But, it disgruntles me when a knife manufactures dispenses misinformation about their products. On the other hand, this knife is well made but inexpensive, no frills, tough as nails, camp, survival, knife that would serve its user well.

The Entrek Batanga Camp Knife Review

Ray Ennis made his first knife by cold forging it and then filling it to shape from a barn spike. Then, in 1973, he officially became a professional knifesmith when he made his first custom knife from the leaf spring of a vehicle and sold for $10.00.

Today, he has an extensive line of custom quality knives that are produced by his company Entrek USA.

The Entrek Batanga is a dedicated chopping tool that measures 14 1/2” overall and has a 8 7/8”, blade with a Saber Grind made from bead blasted, 1/4” thick, 440C, stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 57-58 and handle scales made from black canvas Micarta which are fastened to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets. Plus, it includes a black, Kydex, sheath.

The Batanga is a brand new knife design just recently introduced by Entrek that was specifically designed to be a light to medium duty chopping tool. Consequently, it makes an excellent camp knife for clearing a trail through dense foliage as well as clearing a campsite. In addition, the blade features a Saber Grind with a reasonably high Primary Bevel Line which allows the knife to be honed to a keen cutting edge and yet, not bind in the cut when it is used for chopping.

In addition, although 440 C stainless steel is considered a vintage (if not antique) blade steel compared to modern steels such as VG10 and CPM S30V, at one time it was THE blade steel of choice among custom knifesmiths until it was displaced by 154CM and its Japanese equivalent, ATS34 because it is both reasonably tough, holds an edge well, and is highly corrosion resistant due to its chemical composition which consist of 0.95% – 1.2% Carbon, 16% to 18% Chromium, 1% Manganese, and 0.75% Molybdenum. Also, with a spine thickness of 1/4″ and its full tang construction, this knife is fully capable of withstanding the shock generated when using a baton to split saplings to make an Atlatl or Self Bow for hunting as well as making lathes for weaving baskets for use as fish and bird traps.

Furthermore, canvas Micarta is one of my favorite handle materials for wilderness survival knives and camp knives because it is an extremely tough handle material that is made from multiple layers of canvas linen that has been impregnated with an epoxy resin which is then heated and subjected to extreme pressure to create a finished material that is impervious to water absorption as well as to chipping, cracking, or splitting. Plus, the shape of the handle on the Entrek Batanga is very ergonomic and it incorporates an integral quillion to prevent the user’s finger from accidently slipping onto the edge of the blade.

Also, the handle features a lanyard loop for positive retention when using the knife in situations where losing one’s grip on the knife would result in making it unretrievable. Furthermore, the Kydex sheath material is every bit as tough as the Micarta handle scales that is highly abrasion resistant and impervious to the abortion of moisture. Therefore, I have a strong preference for Kydex over nylon and especially over leather as a sheath material for other blades like the ones we have featured in our other reviews.

Consequently, the Entrek Batanga is a useful new addition to the Entrek line of knives and is an excellent compromise to the Entrek Destroyer which is specifically designed to be a heavy duty chopping tool.

The KA-BAR Kraton Big Brother Review

The story of KA-BAR Knives began when a when a group of English bladeesmiths from Sheffield (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) gathered together, defied the rules of their guild, and migrated to the American north east where they set up shop and began producing far higher quality cutlery than the average American was used at the time.

Consequently, their products were in such high demand that 38 members of the group decided to form a Limited Partnership called the Tridioute Cutlery Company and this Limited Partnership is widely considered to be the official start of KA-BAR Knives, Inc.

The KA-BAR Kraton Handled Big Brother Bowie features the same quality craftsmanship today as those original, handmade knives and has an overall length of 14 3/8” with a 9 3/8” Clip Point blade made from 3/16” thick, 1095 Cro-Van, high carbon, tool steel hardened to 56-58 Rockwell.

Also, the blade features a serrated spine and a plain cutting edge with a Saber Grind and a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless steel from corroding.

In addition, the handle features partial tang construction with a highly ergonomic, overmolded, oval, handle with a Kraton rubber coating and powder coated steel quillions and pommel. Last, the knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, leather, sheath.

For those of you who have a need for a BIG, tough, Bowie knife, this is the knife for you!

As we have mentioned in previous articles we happen to have a distinct preference for the classic Bowie pattern for wilderness preparedness knives because it excels as both a general purpose blade shape and as a dedicated chopping tool.

In fact, with a massive 9 3/8″ blade made from 0.165″ thick 1095 Cro-Van (which contains 0.90% – 1.10% Carbon and 0.30% – 0.50%, 0.40% – 0.60% Chromium, 0.60% Molybdenum, 0.161% Vanadium, 0.30% – 0.50% Manganese, and 0.25% Nickel), the KA-BAR Big Brother Bowie is not only very well designed but is also superbly constructed for heavy duty use.

1095 Cro-Van is a very tough, high carbon, tool steel but, due to the addition of Chromium and Molybdenum, it is significantly harder than 1095 and the addition of both Chromium and Nickel make the steel both stronger and more corrosion resistant than other high carbon tool steels.

Plus, the addition of Vanadium serves to refine the grain structure of the steel which enables it to take and hold a fine edge like stainless steels but without the brittleness that some stainless steel exhibit.

Thus, the KA-BAR Big Brother Bowie is definitely well suited for the specific purpose of wilderness survival but, it would also make an excellent camp and trail knife.

In addition, the Clip Point blade shape places the tip of the blade closer to the center line of the knife for greater control when using the tip of the knife to perform precision cutting tasks and, the classic Clip Point Bowie design provides plenty of straight cutting edge for carving, plunge cutting, and slicing, while the clip tends to lighten the tip of the knife for better control and the moderate belly on the sweep is perfect for chopping while the Saber Grind prevents it from binding in green wood.

Also, the spine of the blade features a relatively long, serrated, section that appears as if it could serve as a saw in a pinch but would certainly be effective at cutting cord, rope, or nylon tape.

Furthermore, the 3/16″ spine combined with a medium Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 enables it to easily withstand the shock generated by chopping and/or using a baton to split saplings for use in making an Atlatl or a Self Bow for hunting as well as the lateral forces generated by splitting lathes for weaving baskets to use as fish or bird traps.

Plus, the handle features powder coated, double, steel quillions to prevent the users hand from accidentally sliding forward onto the blade and a highly ergonomic, oval, overmolded, handle with a Kraton rubber coating and deeply radiused grooves make the knife very comfortable to use and also provide a very positive grip while alleviating some of the shock generated by chopping wood while the metal pommel could be used as a makeshift hammer in a pinch.

Consequently, not only is the KA-BAR Kraton Handled Big Brother Bowie an aesthetically pleasing knife with its massive, traditionally shaped, Clip Point Bowie blade, it is also a very tough knife that will stand up to most any task the user might ask of it in an outdoor survival situation.

 

RTAK II Survival Knife Review

Ontario Knife Company is a venerable, old, and well known knife company that was founded in Naples, New York, in 1889 by three men, William B. Ensworth, Charles Albert Brace and William Maudsley, who derived the name of the company from Ontario County where Naples lived.

Their early knives were hand-manufactured on a water-powered grindstone and sold tinker-style from a pushcart throughout the neighboring countryside and consequently, due to their face-to-face relationship with their customers, OKC has built its considerable reputation on its heritage of uncompromising craftsmanship, quality materials and components, and a steadfast commitment to its workforce.

The OKC RTAK II survival knife features an overall length of 17″ with an 10 1/2″ Drop Point, flat ground, blade made from 0.2” thick, 5160, high carbon tool steel hardened to 54-56 Rockwell with a “foliage green” powder coat finish to help prevent corrosion. In addition, it features full tang construction and tan, canvas Micarta, handle scales with an exposed “glass breaker” tang at the pommel and it includes a black, MOLLE compatible, nylon/Kydex sheath.

Randall’s Adventure Training (RAT), formed by Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin, is a professional, survival training, expedition guiding, and outdoor gear research team based in Alabama with operations in Latin America and is considered to be a leading authority in the research, testing, and design of remote adventure and survival gear. Therefore, in 2002, the Ontario Knife Company entered into an exclusive agreement with Randall’s Adventure Training to produce both the RAT and TAK series of knives for hard-core adventurers, civilians, and professional soldiers around the world and thus, RAT Knives (now known as ESSE Knives) have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and many non-publicized conflicts around the globe.

However, while the Ontario RTAK II appears to be very similar to the “Junglass” knife produced by ESSE, one significant difference is that Ontario’s RTAK II is made from SAE grade 5160 high carbon tool steel which contains 0.56% – 0.64% Carbon, 0.70% – 0.90% Chromium, and  0.75% – 1.0% Manganese whereas the ESSE Junglass is made from SAE grade 1095 which contains 0.90% – 1.03% Carbon and 0.30% – 0.50% Manganese. Also, according to the SAE Steel Grade scale, 51 series steel is better quality steel than the 10 series (1055, 1080, 1095, ect.) due to the addition of the small amount of Chromium which the 10 series lacks but, 5160’s lower Carbon content makes it softer than 1095 and its higher Manganese content makes it tougher than 1095 and thus, 5160 is not likely to hold an edge as well as 1095 but, it will have greater impact resistance so the edge is less likely to chip and the blade is less likely to snap. In addition, the OCK RTAK II knife is a half an inch longer and has a slightly thicker spine than the ESSE Junglass and it has a foliage green powder coat instead of the black powder coat featured on the ESSE Junglass.

Other than that, I can find no significant difference between the two knives other than the fact the RTAK II is much cheaper than the ESSE Junglass. Furthermore, it is important to note that non-stainless steels such as 5160 are more prone to corrosion and thus, the exposed edge of the RTAK II will require more attention to keep it corrosion free. Plus, it is important to note that the 5160 high carbon tool steel used on the Ontario RTAK II has a medium Rockwell Hardness of 54-56 and thus, it will be easier to sharpen in the field than most stainless steels but, the edge will require more frequent attention. In addition, although the Flat Grind featured on the blade represents a compromise between a Saber Grind and a Hollow Grind in that it is sharper than a Saber Grind and tougher than a Hollow Grind so that it will slice through foliage with ease and bite deeply into green wood, it is a weaker edge than a Saber Grind which will also cause the edge to need retouching more frequently.

Furthermore, the back of the cutting edge features a short ricasso that places the back of the edge very close to the user’s hand for greater leverage when plunge cutting and carving. Plus, the handle features a very ergonomic and hand filling shape that is perfect for heavy duty use and is made from tan colored canvas Micarta which is one of my favorite handle scale materials because it is an extremely tough material that is highly abrasion resistant and is impervious to cracking, spitting, or chipping and is also impervious to the absorption of moisture. Furthermore, the tang of the knife is exposed at the pommel and a slot has been milled in it so that it serves as both an attachment point for a lanyard for times when losing one’s grip on the knife would make it unrecoverable and as a “glass breaker” in the event that you find yourself trapped in a downed aircraft.

Consequently, in my opinion, the OKC Ranger Tactical Assault Knife II (RTAK II) would serve well as both a camp knife and an excellent option for survival or bushcraft since it is made from quality materials that are well chosen for the particular purpose that this knife was designed for. In addition, it is large enough to serve as a dedicated chopping tool and yet, it is not so large that it is unbalanced or unwieldy. Consequently, it would be an excellent alternative to the ESSE Junglass especially when combined with a smaller general purpose knife such as an OKC RAT-5 or an OKC RAT-7.

Review of the Entrek 18 Bravo Knife

Ray Ennis made his first knife by cold forging it and then filling it to shape from a barn spike. Then, in 1973, he officially became a professional knifesmith when he made his first custom knife from the leaf spring of a vehicle and sold for $10.00.

Today, he has an extensive line of custom quality knives that are produced by his company Entrek USA.

The Entrek 18 Bravo is a general purpose knife that measures 10 5/8” overall and has a 6”, Clip Point, blade with a Saber Grind made from bead blasted, 1/4” thick, 440C, stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 57-58 and handle scales made from black canvas Micarta which are fastened to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets. Plus, it includes a black, Kydex, sheath.

The 18 Bravo is a brand new knife design just recently introduced by Entrek and it was designed and built after a suggestion made by a former commander of the S.E.R.E. Resistance Training Laboratory at Fort Bragg. Also, it was specifically designed to be a general purpose knife that can also be employed as a tactical knife if the need arises but, in my opinion, it also makes and excellent dedicated wilderness survival knife. With a blade length of 6″, it is the perfect compromise between a knife like the Entrek Bison (which has a blade length of 9 ¼”) and the Entrek Companion (which has blade length of 4″) because it is long enough to be a fairly effective chopping tool and yet, it is not so long that it is unwieldy when dressing harvested game animals. In fact, one of my favorite custom hunting knives has a six inch blade.

In addition, the Clip Point is my favorite tip design for general purpose use because it places the tip of the knife close to the center line for greater control when performing precision cutting tasks and also serves well for puncturing and drilling. In addition, the blade features a flat Saber Grind with a reasonably high Primary Bevel Line which allows the knife to be honed to a keen cutting edge and yet, not bind in the cut when it is used for chopping. In addition, although 440 C stainless steel is considered to be a vintage (if not antique) blade steel compared to modern steels such as VG10 and CPM S30V, at one time it was THE blade steel of choice among custom knifesmiths until it was displaced by 154CM and its Japanese equivalent, ATS34 because it is both reasonably tough, holds an edge well, and is highly corrosion resistant due to its elemental alloy composition which consist of 0.95% – 1.2% Carbon and 16% to 18% Chromium with 1% Manganese and 0.75% Molybdenum as it only other alloying elements.

Also, with a spine thickness of ¼” combined with the full tang construction, this knife is fully capable of withstanding the shock generate by using it in conjunction with a baton to split saplings to make an Atlatl or Self Bow for hunting as well as making lathes for weaving baskets for use as fish and bird traps. Furthermore, I like the fact that the handle scales are made from canvas Micarta because it is an extremely tough handle material that is made from multiple layers of canvas linen that has been impregnated with an epoxy resin which is then heated and subjected to extreme pressure to create a finished material that is impervious to water absorption as well as to chipping, cracking, or splitting.

Plus, the shape of the handle on the Entrek 18 Bravo is very ergonomic and it incorporates an integral quillion to prevent the user’s finger from accidently slipping onto the edge of the blade. Also, the handle features a lanyard loop for positive retention when using the knife in situations where losing one’s grip on the knife would result in making it unretrievable.

However, one thing that I do not like about this design is that I feel like the ricasso is too long which places the back of the blade too far from the users hand and consequently, reduces the amount of leverage that can be applied when carving, sharpen stakes, and plunge cutting to make trigger mechanisms for spring traps and deadfalls. Thus, I would prefer for it to have a much shorter ricasso. On the other hand, I do like the use of Kydex for the sheath material because, like the linen the canvas Micarta handle scales, Kydex is an extremely tough material that is highly abrasion resistant and impervious to the abortion of moisture.

Therefore, I have a strong preference for Kydex over nylon and especially over leather as a sheath material for wilderness survival knives.

So, in my opinion, the Entrek 18 Bravo is a fine example of a dedicated wilderness survival knife that is both highly functional and very tough; as are all of the knives in the Entrek line.  Our only complaint is that they don’t fit in your pocket, but fortunately there are several high-quality models that do.

The TOPS .170 Machete Review

First and foremost, Tops Knives are designed to be TOOLS and are built using the extensive knowledge and REAL LIFE experiences of 12 Operators with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor professions and the martial arts. Consequently, TOPS knives are specifically designed to be mission critical tools for extreme assignments.

Therefore, the Tops MACHETE .170 is designed to be a scaled down version of the Tops MACHETE .230. The .170 has an over-all length of 17 ¼ inches and it features a Bolo style blade that measures 10” made from 1/8” thick, 1095 high carbon non-stainless steel that has a Rockwell of 56-58.

Before we move on in more detail, we recommend taking a look at the YouTube video below.  While this video was not done by us, it represents a great breakdown of the features we will dive into in more depth below.

In addition to the features mentioned above, it also features an Ash Grey finish linen Micarta handle slabs and a ballistic nylon sheath.

Yet, for hundreds of years people living in various tropical countries have developed and used various types of distinctive, regional-style, Machetes designed specifically for the particular type of vegetation found in their environs.

In addition, these multi-use tools have long been considered a necessary everyday tool for the native people living there. Thus, they are often considered prize possessions by their owners. The machete, for example, is such a versatile multi-use tool that can be used to cut through rain forest and undergrowth, build shelters and houses, harvest crops and it doubles as a camp knife for many household chores.

Consequently, due to numerous requests from clients to produce a light, fast and practical, general use blade in conjunction with an enlarged, comfortable, working handle, well-known designer, outdoorsman, and writer, Joe “Shangoman” Flowers, collaborated with TOPS shop manager, Leo “The Lion” Espinoza to design a new machete to meet their customer’s requests.

Thus, after much deliberation, they finally came to an agreement on both design and practical field ability. And the  was born.

Now, by very popular request, they have created the MACHETE .170which is a smaller version of the .230 with virtually the same capabilities and the same handle but, with a 10” inch blade instead. Vigorous testing in a wide variety of terrains has proven the TOPS MACHETE .170’s superior field performance.

Also, TOPS has designed a custom-built, ballistic nylon sheath with a separate (flap and buckle closure) accessory pocket designed to hold an array of small tools such as whetstone, a firestick, a compass, etc.

Therefore, regardless of whether you are an outdoor survivalist, a camper or an avid explorer, the MACHETE .170 will be a powerful and useful companion for you. In addition, 1095 is an excellent choice of blade steels for a knife of this type because it contains 0.90%-1.03% carbon and 0.30%-0.50% manganese only and thus it is a very tough steel.

However, it does require a coating of some sort to prevent corrosion. Also, it features a very ergonomic, hand-filling, handle made from black linen Micarta which is every bit as tough as the 1095 blade steel. Last, the choice to make the sheath out of ballistic nylon means that it will not absorb or hold moisture and, if the sheath is immersed in water, it will dry VERY quickly and will not rot.

The Tops .170 is an excellent lightweight version of a full-sized machete. And in fact, it reminds me of my Blackjack Panga which is a modern rendition of an African Bushman’s knife and was originally described by Blackjack as being “a high-speed razor” due to its thin cross section and medium length blade.

Thus, the Tops MACHETE .170would make an excellent companion to a smaller, dedicated, outdoor survival knife or a large hunting knife.

Bark River Knives Bravo II: An Excellent Tool

Ok, I have to admit that I am absolutely fascinated with the fantastic knife designs produced by Bark River Knives (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool). Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, BRK is a family owned business operated by veteran knifesmith Mike Stewart who employs a group of skilled bladesmiths to create some of the finest production knives in the market today.

The BRK Bravo II is an excellent wilderness survival knife design that features an overall length of 12 ¼” with a 7” drop point, deep sabre grind blade made from 3/16” A-2 non-stainless tool steel that has been hardened to 58 Rockwell.

This BRK model also features a full tang construction with an extremely ergonomic handle design and handle slabs made from your choice of several different handle materials ranging from several different colors of Micarta to natural materials such as bone, horn and antler. Plus, the knife is supplied with a heavy-duty leather sheath.

When I first looked at this knife, I thought it had a straight spine but, then I got to looking at it much closer and I realized that it actually has very gradual drop to the tip. Also, the way that the flat of the blade is ground almost creates a clip on the tip of the knife. Thus, I personally find the shape of the blade on the BRK Bravo II to be very appealing with its subtle lines and perfect length.

The blade’s long, straight edge combined with the perfectly shaped sweep from the belly to the tip and the choil at the back of the edge make this knife blade shape very utilitarian. In fact, with a 7” blade made from A-2 tool steel, this knife is easily capable of handling light chopping tasks and yet, it will also allow you to strip bark, sharpen stakes and carve notches with ease.

In addition, the spine of the knife just behind the plunge line is slightly raised with horizontal “jimping” in order to provide the user with greater leverage when carving with the back of the blade. In addition, the nearly flat grind to the blade gives it an extremely sharp edge which the A-2 steel will hold very well and thus, it is also an excellent hunting knife.

Furthermore, although the A-2 tool steel is not a stainless steel it is very tough. It is a hard steel that contains 0.95% – 1.05% carbon, 4.75% – 5.5% chromium, 1.0% manganese, 0.90% -1.40% molybdenum, 0.30% nickel, and 0.15% – 0.50% vanadium.

Consequently, the carbon transforms the iron into steel and the chromium produces hardness and better edge-holding qualities when combined with other alloying materials. Also, molybdenum increase hardness in tool steels and combines with chromium during the forging process to form hard double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel.

Nickel adds strength and toughness to steel and vanadium helps to produce a fine grain structure during the heat treating process and also improves the wear resistance of the steel for both good toughness and the ability to sharpen to a very keen edge. In fact, many people report that they are able to get knives using steels that contain vanadium shaper than they can non-vanadium steels such as ATS-34.

Furthermore, instead of merely being shaped, the handle slabs on the BRK Bravo II are sculpted to fit the human hand with an integral quillion to prevent your finger from inadvertently sliding forward onto the blade’s edge.

Thus, in my opinion, the BRK Bravo II like many of the others we have looked at is yet another example of an excellent wilderness survival knife design from the mind of the bladesmiths at BRK. Like their many other designs, the Bark River Bravo II is both thoughtfully designed to fill a specific purpose and meticulously crafted to withstand the rigors of an extended stay in the wilderness.

 

 

Bark River Knives Golok Review

It seems like every time I look at the Bark River Knives website (formerly known as Bark River Knife & Tool), I discover yet another of the best designs I have ever seen!

BRK is a family-owned business located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Mike Stewart, a veteran knifesmith employs, trains and leads a group of skilled knifesmiths to manufacture some of today’s topnotch knives.

The next blade we are going to cover is the extremely useful Golok blade.  This machete type design is a modern adaptation of a Malaysian and Indonesian knife designs that are traditionally both shorter, slimmer and heavier, but otherwise similar to a machete which is why we throw this more into our survival gear section of our site.

The Bark River Golok features an overall length of 16 ¾ inches and it has a 11 ¼ inch long, 0.187 inch thick, 57 Rockwell, A2 non-stainless steel blade.

This model is available in your choice of blade point. So you can choose to have for it a standard point, a drop point, a clip point, a trailing point, or a seax point.

Also, BRK allows you to choose from their wide range of handle slab materials. So you can chose from different colors of Micarta to burl woods, to exotic hard woods and so many more.

Going back to the machete’s build, the Golok features a straight edge with a slight positive forward angle, a flat ground bevel, a short ricasso and full-tang construction with a very ergonomic handle that incorporates an integral quillon on the front and a moderate hook on the back to help the user retain a grip on the blade while chopping.

In addition to designs like the Indonesian and Malaysian parang and the bolo knives which feature wide, heavy, weight-forward blades that are specifically designed to handle medium to heavy chopping tasks by people who live in areas where the vegetation is very fibrous and/or woody, the Golok has a rather different design. It features a long and slim blade that allows its user to tend to several tasks.

This type of blade design resembles a miniature machete with a slimmer profile and a lighter tip that is meant for slicing and light chopping tasks rather than medium and heavy chopping tasks and thus, it is best described as a “high-speed straight razor” as opposed to a “hatchet-knife”.

Consequently, the BRK Golok is a modern rendition this extremely useful bush blade type that can be used for a multitude of camp or wilderness survival tasks such as cutting saplings to build a shelter, carving notches in sticks for trap triggers, splitting saplings for lathes and, it can even be used as a draw-knife for creating flat surfaces on saplings or logs.

In fact, it can be used for just about anything a machete can be used for but in a smaller, lighter, easier to handle size.

Therefore, when the BRK Golok is combined with a smaller general purpose, knife such as those in the BRK Fox River series you have a wilderness survival knife system that can handle any job.

In addition to the very useful 11 1/4” blade with your choice of several different point profiles, the blade is made from high carbon A2 non-stainless steel which is a very tough, high quality, steel with a carbon content of 0.95% – 1.05%, a chromium content of 4.75% – 5.5% , a manganese content of 1.0%, a molybdenum content of 0.90% – 1.4%, a nickel content of 0.30%, and a vanadium content of 0.15% – 0.50%.

Thus, A2 is a high-carbon steel that is fairly corrosion resistant for a non-stainless blade steel.

With the addition of molybdenum to combine with the chromium during forging to form hard, double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel.

The addition of manganese increases the steel’s toughness and hardenability and nickel adds strength while Vanadium helps produce a fine grain during heat treat.

Furthermore, the BRK Golok features full-tang construction with a very ergonomic handle shape that features an integral quillion and a moderate hook on the back to help the user retain their grip on the blade when their hands are wet and a lanyard hole with a stainless steel liner for those times when you think that you might need additional retention abilities.

Last, although I did search the BRK website, I could find no mention of what type of sheath the Golok is supplied with and thus, I assume that it is supplied with a heavy-duty leather sheath like their other knives.

Consequently, since I tend to think of wilderness survival knives as a system consisting of two or even three knives, it would be very difficult for me to have to choose between one of the BRK Fox River models as my general purpose knife and the BRK Tail Buddy III, the Bark River Grasso Bolo Il or the BRK Golok as my large knife because each of them is designed for a different purpose and each of them excels at that particular purpose.

The Fox Knives USA Parang XL Review

Fox Cutlery in Maniago, Italy was founded in 1977 by Oreste Frati and has long been known as a manufacturer of quality cutlery products for civilian, military, law enforcement, rescue and other special forces.

However, desiring an American brand for their cutlery, Fox Knives USA was founded in the U.S. to stratify that desire. And as such, they are a new company dedicated to designing, manufacturing and distributing high quality cutlery.

To that end, they use only the highest grade stainless blade steels, along with other high quality handle and sheath materials to create knives that Americans will feel that they can depend on.

The Fox Knives Parang XL (which was designed by Alfredo Doricchi) is built using top quality materials. It features an overall length of 17” with a bull nosed blade that measures 10 1/4” and is made of 1/8” 440C stainless steel with a 56 Rockwell. In addition, it features a highly ergonomic ABS Plastic handle slabs and a heavy duty nylon sheath.

Two classes of knives I have not yet covered in my articles on this web site are the Indonesian/Malaysian “Parangs” and the various types of regional Survival Machetes.

The Parang is a very useful knife design when combined with a smaller, general purpose or hunting knife. In this country, we would call such a knife a “camp knife” but the design of the Parang differs so much from what most Americans think of as a “camp knife.” It might be hard for some of you to imagine such a knife in that form to belong in that category.

However, the Parang evolved in the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia where the vegetation is very woody (unlike the much softer vegetation found in the Amazon) as a smaller version of the machete.  Thus, the parang is perfect for light, medium and even heavy chopping tasks since the entire design of the knife is focused on delivering the most efficient cut possible with the least amount of effort.

In addition to that, the bull nosed, weight-forward blade with its positive forward angle is specifically designed to increase the speed of impact and to deliver extra leverage when driving through the cut. The negative rearward angle of the tang matches that of the human hand so that the maximum amount of energy is transmitted to the blade when chopping with the knife. The blade also  features a deep hollow grind which further increases its cutting ability.

The blade is made from 440C stainless steel which contains 0.95%-1.20% Carbon (makes this a very hard steel,) 16%-18% Chromium (makes this steel highly corrosion resistant,) 1.0% Manganese (increases toughness and hardenability in steel) and 0.75% Molybdenum (to increase hardness in tool steels during forging, Mo and Cr forms hard, double carbide bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel.) From all of these, you get a blade steel that is a highly corrosion resistant and is able to hold an edge very well.

Moving on, the handle features a very ergonomic shape while the use of ABS plastic handle slabs along with a nylon sheath make the entire knife system nearly impervious to wet environments.

Last, while most of you who read my articles are aware by now that I like neither ricassos nor choils, on this particular knife, I have a sneaking suspicion that the choil may actually serve a useful purpose although, for the life of me, I can’t think of what it would be at the moment. However, I always listen to my intuition because it has saved my butt too many times to ignore.

As of the present, I carry a Fox Knives USA Parang XL with me on all of my fly fishing excursions because it is perfect for chopping loose the limbs of the trees I always seem to get hung up in and yet, being made from 440C with a nylon sheath, I don’t have to worry about immersing it in the stream when I am wading. Also, the Mountain Laurel bushes we have here are tough as Ironwood and they always seem to be in the way. Thus, the Fox Parang XL fills the function of a cleaver quite nicely when I need to make a trail through these tenacious bushes.

KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie Knife: An In-Depth Look

The history of KA-BAR knives actually began in England when a when a group of knife smiths from Sheffield, England (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) banned together and migrated to New England.

Upon moving, they promptly set up shop and began producing much higher quality cutlery than the average American was used to since most American knives at that time were made by local Blacksmiths.

Following this, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 38 men made the decision from a Limited Partnership named the Tridioute Cutlery Company with the intention of manufacturing and selling high quality cutlery to form the beginnings of KA-BAR Knives, Inc.

However, the name KA-BAR actually came about as a tribute to a testimonial written in the 1900’s by a fur trapper who wrote to thank KA-BAR for saving his life.

In his letter, he wrote that his rifle hand jammed; leaving him with only his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. He wanted to thank KA-BAR for making the quality knife that enabled him to kill the bear that was trying to kill him but, all that was legible was “K a bar”.

In honor of this testimony, the company adopted the name KA-BAR as their trademark.  Today, KA-BAR offers more than 100 quality cutlery products and accessories sold through independent retailers, distributors, mail order catalogs and their online knife store.  The KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie carries on that tradition of producing quality cutlery.

This 14 ¾” knife features a a 9” clip point blade made from 3/16” thick, 1095 Chrome/Vanadium steel that has a Rockwell hardness of 56-58. The blade also features a flat grind with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless 1095 from corroding. Plus, it features a synthesis of Becker’s trademark, ergonomic, handle design made from Zytel combined with a traditionally profiled American Bowie style blade.

The KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie  is supplied with a heavy-duty polyester sheath that also accommodates a small, skeleton-handled, knife called a Remora (also made by KA-BAR).

Folks, as dedicated outdoor preparedness blades go, the Becker Combat Bowie is one tough knife!

Although I am not, and never will be, a fan of non-stainless steel knives, 1095 Cro-Van steel is a very hard and very tough steel with a very complex composition. In fact, it contains 0.95%-1.1% Carbon, 0.40%-0.60% Chromium, 0.30%-0.50% Manganese (increases toughness and hardenability in steel,) 0.06% Molybdenum (during forging, Mo and Cr forms hard, double carbide, bonds which help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel). 0.25% Nickel (adds strength and toughness to steel) and 0.161% Vanadium (helps to produce a fine grain during heat treat which also improves wear resistance and refines the gain for both good toughness and the ability to sharpen to a very keen edge).

So although it is not a stainless steel, it is an EXCELLENT steel for use on a dedicated survival knife.

In fact, the 9” clip point blade is long enough to perform light to medium chopping tasks with and the long, straight, edge combined with the almost non-existent Ricasso make it well suited for carving, slicing, chopping and splitting. More than that, the belly of the sweep is very well designed for removing the hide from harvested game animals.

Furthermore, the Zytel handle slabs are almost as tough as the blade steel and they are very ergonomically shaped and are designed in such a way that they provide the user with a very secure grip.

Consequently, not only do I find the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie to be an aesthetically pleasing knife, I also find it to be imminently well suited to the purpose of outdoor survival. Plus, if you add the smaller Remora, fixed-blade, knife that fits in the same sheath as the combat bowie, then you have a serious survival knife system that is capable of taking on any task that you would need to use if for in an outdoor survival situation.

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