There are two things that are odd about my willingness to write a review on this knife. The first is pretty easy. I think that a knife is a fairly simple tool, and overcomplicating it with a whole bunch of fancy features tends to make it lack function in its original intent. Well, this knife already has some fancy new grind on the tip, and a removable butt cap with a firesteel. Fancy features, for me.
Secondly, I told myself I was done writing knife reviews. As someone who makes knives, I cannot help looking at small details that I KNOW others just simply don’t look at, and don’t care about. Meaning that I think I am overly picky. I then find it hard to write an honest review. If I note things that are not positive, I am afraid people will think I am being negative because it is not one of mine. If it is not one of mine, put it down, right? Truth is, I have niche tastes, and I like NOT having to make a knife too, as long as it does what I want. On the other hand, if I just grit my teeth, and write nothing but glowing “puppies and ice cream” review, because of my previous fear, then I feel like I am not being honest with people who might want to potentially buy what I am reviewing.
Instead of putting myself in that spot again, I just agreed “no more knife reviews!” Yet, here I am with the latest gadget knife from Mora, and willingly took on the assignment. I went camping with Ben, owner of Ben’s Backwoods a few weeks ago, and he was using this exact knife. So, I have some previous experience with this knife, and enough to know that I am more than happy to do an honest review on it.
First, the nuts and bolts. I have to admit to liking certain Mora knives, but cannot even come close to knowing all the models. Whether it is a ¼ tang, ½ tang or ¾ tang, what shape is what model, etc. I just look at them and can tell by the handle, thickness and grind if it is one that suits my tastes. The handle shape on this one is my favorite among the Mora’s. The size and shape are great. One of the biggest underrated features in knife handle comfort, in my opinion, is the swell on the back that fills up your hand; it keeps your hand comfortable when you really push it. This one has it, and I like it a lot. The fact that the butt cap removes in no way impacts the shape and feel of my favorite Mora handle. That’s a big plus here.
What else about the handle? This is the cool part. The butt cap is removable, and holds a ferrocerium rod. It has a very positive feeling, twist lock engagement. It is even a hair on the tight side leaving an even greater sense of security. What is even better is that the ferrocerium rod hidden in the handle, and molded to the butt cap is made by Light My Fire. I have used enough of these things to know that not all of them are created equal, and the Light My Fire is my own personal favorite.
How about the sheath? Mora’s plastic sheath is both great and not so great, depending on how it works for you. It is great because it is so simple. The wide open plastic mouth doesn’t require you to be real accurate when re-sheathing. It also snaps into place very securely. This one has the added bonus of having the Light My Fire flame on it. Extra cool. My one complaint regarding using the plastic sheath is how it personally works for me. I am a pretty thin guy, but for whatever reason, when worn on my belt, the sheath tends to pull the butt of the knife into my side and point the tip away from me. It makes sheath and re-sheathing much more difficult than if it were held vertical. But, the retention allows me to wear it around the next, on a baldric, or some other way of retention during cold weather camping. So, I am glad I have the plastic sheath.
Luckily, mine also came with a black JRE Industries square bottom leather sheath, specially made for this knife. I am no stranger to JRE sheaths as I am sure many others are. There is not a lot of point in reviewing the JRE sheath as I know how well they work and how well they are constructed. So, the most I can say is that it of course fits this Mora like a glove, and I am glad I have to it to fill the belt wearing void that the plastic sheath doesn’t do well for me. Did I mention it looks great and matches the knife?
Next, is the steel. This particular one is Mora’s stainless steel. I have purchased all my own Mora’s in carbon steel, so this is my first experience with their stainless. I am more than happy to give something new a try and at the price point of this knife, I’m quite sure the performance will be more than satisfactory. All positive things. With that in mind, I still do have one valid, although improbable, reason to prefer carbon to stainless. All the stuff that I carry, I would like to be as multi-use as possible. Even if you don’t have the most prime flint in your location, it is generally not that difficult to locate a rock that will produce a spark. But, in order to do that you need a good, hard piece of carbon steel. Not to be confused with ferrocerium, like the rod in the handle, which only requires a good sharp angle to strike. I am talking about a rock hard enough that will pull shavings of metal off the knife spine to create a small spark. Again, this need is not likely. But once my logic kicks that I can gain even a small advantage without any additional space, weight, or decrease in performance, then it becomes hard to talk me out of it. Being that this knife has a ferrocerium rod in the handle, and has a good positive twist lock engagement, this need is even further lessened I think. Still, through my use, the stainless performed better than I had hoped for, and I wouldn’t have any issues buying it instead of a carbon blade.
What other wiz bang features? Oh yeah, the spine. Most Mora’s that I have ever seen have kind of a rounded, non-squarish spine. I won’t pretend to understand their manufacturing process, but I believe it is a result of how they stamp out the blade blanks. The user who cares about using the spine of the knife to strike a firesteel will generally take a file to it, make it square, and use it on their firesteel. I take mine to my KMG grinder and do it in seconds, but I realize not everyone has that type of equipment. Well, this would not be a “Fire Knife” if Mora hadn’t already done it for you. And, it is a superb job! Nice and square and throws awesome sparks. Way to go!
That last feature on this knife is the swedge type grind at the tip. As a lover of scandi grinds, I knew immediately why this was done to the tip, and I have to say I like it. This one in particular is really well executed. But what is the reason you say? If you have read along this far, you probably already know that one of the huge advantages of the scandi grind is the wide bevel offers a lot of control, for carving wood in particular. You don’t have to go “hunting” for the cutting edge and keeping it stable and at a consistent thickness of cut is pretty easy. Well, the downside of that is, relative to other grind styles, is the grind happens over a fairly short distance. After the grind is complete, you have reached the full stock thickness of the knife. For example, on a full flat ground knife, you don’t reach full stock thickness until the spine. But on a scandi, you have full stock thickness a relatively short distance into the blade. What that means for the user is that when you try to slice or push through something that doesn’t deform easily (like and apple, or hard cheese, etc.) the grind can work like a wedge and then require a lot of pressure to finish the cutting process. Kind of odd for such a sharp knife, but that is the way it works. Well, it looks like Mora has a solution to minimize some of this effect by removing some of the metal in the blade that causes the increase in slicing effort.
When I said it was very well executed, I say that for a few reasons. It is close enough to the cutting edge to be able to really feel the difference. This downside in performance of a scandi grind is probably most noticed for people with food. With the tip being thinner, you can do a lot of cutting with mostly the tip, or at least start with the tip to make things easier. Lots of cutting board work with this knife lets me know that I like the benefit the material removal provides. Yet, the removal is far enough back that the scandi grind is still well supported with steel from the original grind. If you do enough damage to the edge that additional steel in the area would make a difference, things must be really drastic. Also having the full bevel through the rest of the blade lets you get a good feel for the sharpening angle on a stone, and it is easy to carry that angle all the way through the tip. Enough material is removed here to do good things, but enough left to feel that bevel for sharpening, and still have some tip control for carving. I can’t say enough good things about this little added feature, and honestly, it was one of the reasons I jumped at the chance of doing another knife review, even though I told myself I wouldn’t.
Oh yeah, one final thing; the grind itself. I have already admitted to not keeping up on the Mora models, and what is done on each of them. By my own handful I can tell that they do change grind angles on their scandi grinds. Grind angles are not rocket science, but they are important. The thinner the edge, the wider the bevel, and the more apparent sharpness it has at the cost of durability. Make it a thicker bevel and the bevel will be smaller, more durable, but apparent sharpness and cutting ability will suffer. Bevel width can be a factor for carving control, and how much is enough is a question for you to answer. I am just trying to point out the facts here. With all that in mind, this grind seems to tend toward thick, rather than thin. The combination of stock thickness and grind angle tell me that Mora was thinking this knife could be intended for some heavier use, while still trying to balance it with a very sharp and useful knife. Again, I think they made the right call here and all the way around in general on this knife.
One final note on the grind is that it has a small micro bevel on it, once again enhancing durability. I have no issues on how the knife performed as is. Ideally, a thorough review would last much longer than the time I have spent with this knife. I would like to use the factory grind until performance went downhill. Then, I would sharpen and level the bevels without a micro bevel, and then use it again to see how it performed that way. But, if I did that this knife would be old news.
Other Mora models I have owned also came with a similar size micro bevel. It works fine for me as is. I have sharpened out this micro bevel on some of mine, and kept it on others. I do know that it is small enough to not hinder the performance a scandi is supposed to have, and also small enough that it does not take long to sharpen to a true zero. The decision to keep it or not to keep it will be up to you, how durable you want the final edge, and how much time you want to spend sharpening. Either way, I like it.
Mora’s are generally on the very affordable side. So much so, that I advise everyone that they should own at least one. At the typical Mora cost it just makes sense to form an opinion based on first hand use instead of going off of reviews and if you think you will like it or not. Because of the new features, this one is a little more expensive, but still nicely priced at around $30. If you have tried Mora’s before and already know that you like them, a knife like this one is well worth the $30 for the features. Because of the spine issues, I really don’t consider Mora’s “ready to go” out of the box. But, this one, and for me, even without the other stuff, it is worth the few extra dollars.
Finally, I have to give Kudo’s to Mora as a company. At the price of their knives, they could keep pumping them out and selling them all day long. But, based on only the square spine and the grind angles on this knife, it is clear to me that they are thinking about what their customers are doing, and how they are using the knives and making decisions appropriately. To me that shows a dedication to their products and customers that is great to see.
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