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December 13, 2008 Comments (0) Blades & Tools

Ka-Bar’s New BK2

Becker BK2 just out of the box.

Since the demise of Camillus Knives, Ka-Bar has thankfully picked up and re-released several of Ethan Becker’s designs.  One of these models is the BK2 Campanion.  I received one in the mail a few days ago, and my first impressions couldn’t be better.  At .25 inches thick, with a blade that’s 5.25 inches long, and at 10.5 inches overall, this is a very stout knife.  The grinds are very nice, and the edge came almost shaving sharp.  It’s made from 1095 CRO-VAN steel, which is a proven performer, and the blade is coated with one of the smoothest coatings I have ever felt.  The Grivory scales are surprisingly comfortable.  The sheath on this knife is kydex, it is ambidextrous, and retains the knife very solidly. 

I do not see the knife coming out and being lost, except under extraordinary circumstances.  The sheath has many attachment points, so it should work well with Molle fasteners, or by piggy-backing another knife.  As I hold this knife, I have the undeniable urge to cut, chop and destroy something.  This knife screams to be used.  So, what better way to put a knife to the test than to hit the woods and spend some time running it through its paces.  You can look at it all day long, but it’s not until you’re on the trail that you can get a good measure of a tool like this that really counts for anything.

The BK2 short blade still makes a pretty good chopper.

The first thing I wanted to do with this weighty little beast was chop something.  The weight of the knife lends itself very well to this activity.  With it’s teeth bared, the BK2 chops like a small hatchet. I love the extended grip that can be taken, and I chopped through a 4” log in under 1.5 minutes.  The handle was very comfortable during the chopping, and I experienced no hot spots.  The extended grip that can be taken adds considerable power when chopping.  I was amazed at the size of the chunks that I carved from the log.  And to think, this is only a 5.25 inch blade.  What would the 7 inch model or the 9 inch one do?  I can only imagine at this point, but I have a very strong feeling that this entire set is going to end up in my collection.  After I got done chopping through the log, it was time for some batoning.  Once again, the knife excelled at this.  The stock thickness and the strength of the blade make it unstoppable through 4-5” logs.   In a short time I reduced the log to kindling.  Of course, you can’t stop with just one.  So, I proceeded with the same process for several logs to make sure that it held up to repeated us in this fashion.  All told, I wasn’t disappointed at all with the performance of the BK2, even with a blade only 5.25 inches long.  Knives aren’t the usual tool for doing these kinds of chores, but there are times when you have to press them into hard-use action.  It’s good to know that you can rely a tool like the BK2 when you have to step outside of the normal range of use it for something more often reserved for an axe.

Batoning with the BK2 proved to be no problem.

The ease with which the knife split this wood, required that I find a more difficult opponent.  That in mind, I headed for some seasoned hard wood. I took the blade directly through the middle of a large knot.  There was no blade flex at all, and no chipping or rolling of the edge. This log’s fate was the same as the last–kindling.  With all this nice kindling on hand, I thought a small fire was in order. I did a quick fuzz stick for fun, and then pulled some dry leaves and small sticks together for a tinder bundle.  Next, I pulled some lint off my sock and put that in the center of the bundle.  Several hard strikes of the fire steel and I had a nice flame.  I wanted to test the strength of the blade laterally, so I found an old log from which to harvest some fatwood.  You can usually find some in the center of older pine logs.  I started by pounding around the center in a circle.  After that, I went from the inner part out, to release a chunk.  I could see some decent fatwood, so I started prying. I pounded the knife straight in with strikes to the end of the tang, then pried chunks off until I had exposed the inner core.  During this exercis, I make sure to give the steel a good workout, wresting it from side to side while prying the wood apart.  I wanted to make sure that it held up under the most extreme conditions.  Just like the previous tests I’d already conducted, it sailed through the work with no problems whatsoever.  I could not get the knife to flex before it broke the wood.  Once the inner core was exposed, and after some quick batoning, the fatwood was mine. I had to try it out.

Testing the strength of the BK2 blade.

The BK2 functioned well as a striker to start a fire.

So, I took a large chunk of the bark and scraped the dry inner side, for tinder. Once I had that tinder, I shaved a small pile of the fatwood.  Once again, a couple hard strikes with the Firesteel and the fatwood burst to flame.  The end of the tang showed no signs of damage, and the Grivory grip scales were fine. I thought the edge might show some dulling from the lateral scraping of the bark, but that was not the case.  The last test I performed was to measure BK2’s bushcrafting abilities. During the night it snowed, which just added to the fun.  I set out to notch and build a little figure four deadfall trap.  This type of deadfall is often called a Paiute deadfall.  I found a rock to use, and then headed for the sticks.  With a bend of the branch and a quick push cut, the wood was mine.  I then notched and shaved the pieces necessary.  The weight of the knife, and the absence of a choil, aided in the ease with which this task was done. I tested the deadfall, made a few fine tuning cuts, and it held perfectly.

The versatile BK2 helped with construction of this trap.

The knife was very easy to use.  Having the blade run right up to the handle, adds great comfort and control.  I never sharpened the knife during the test, and it still shaved paper at the end.  It really was very close to the “out of the box edge”.  I feel this knife represents a very well thought out design.  The shape of the tang end allows for many grip options, which are all comfortable.  The total weight of the knife and sheath is just under 20 ounces. That is well within what I am willing to carry for such a capable tool.  Combined with the BK11, the Becker Necker, and a small multi tool, I think all bases would be nicely covered. This is a fantastic knife for an unbelievable price.  I would, highly, recommend anyone looking for this type of tool, to take a close look at the Becker BK2 from Ka-Bar. It Rocks!!  Way to go Ka-Bar, and thanks to Ethan Becker, for such a great design!  It’s just as pretty now as before the test! I like a used knife. No safe queens here!

If you’d like to see more pictures, you can visit the BK2 Field Test Gallery.

Visit:  www.kabar.com

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