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Thread: Bark River Huntsman - Review
03-06-05, 08:15 AM #1
Bark River Huntsman - Review
The following is a preliminary review of the Huntsman - the final indepth review will be posted on our website in due course.
"This is the first Bark River knife I have reviewed and for those who don’t know about my review policy I’ll restate it here: “ In our view they should be seen for what they are a review of the knife and the claims of the manufacturer - we do not seek to test the knife beyond its limits but to provide our customers with an unbiased review of the product for the use for which it was intended. All knives reviewed are purchased by us - we do not seek nor do we accept samples for review by the manufacturer or the distributor.” Out of the box I was amazed by the thickness of the blade. I had read the specifications previously but seeing in the light of day is something different. The blade on this small knife is 5/32” thick and 3/4” at its widest with a cutting edge of 2-3/4” and 3-1/4” overall. The knife has a full tang and my model had antique bone stag handles, mosaic pins and a thong hole with leather thong provided. The handle measures 4” from the nickel silver guard and the knife is 7-1/4” in OAL.
The blade starts to taper at about an inch from the point and is convex ground with a slight secondary edge. Made out of A-2 Tool Steel @ 58-60HRC this should prove to be one tough blade.
Out of the box this knife was sharp and easily sliced through 3/8” manila rope, 3/16” saddlery leather (although as expected with a blade with this profile it was harder to cut the leather strip 6” in), it brought to a point a ½” hardwood dowel quicker than any knife I have tested. In the kitchen for a blade with its profile it did remarkably well on carrots only starting to split after going ¾ through and not splitting when cutting 1/8” slices. It worked well on deboning a chicken leg and thigh and easily cut up the meat for a stew.
Moving on to the edge retention tests I gave the blade a few strops on my leather strop charged with Jewelers rouge and started on the 3/8” manila rope. After 40 clean slices I stopped (NB for testing I have set the limit of 40 cuts on the rope test – for me that is sufficient to gauge edge retention and also saves my injured shoulder and my supply of rope). This knife cut better than the Spyderco ParaMilitary which up until now had been the best production or semi-production knife I had tested on the rope. It was the same on the leather and after having stropped the edge it cut better 6” in but the wedgy profile of the knife still worked against it then again not many knives do well on this test as you need a really find profile. This knife came into its own when bringing hardwood dowel to a point – I reduced the 12” piece to 2” in no time and the edge was still shaving sharp.
Into the field for a few tests: Firstly, I trimmed and removed the bark from a 6’ eucalyptus sapling that had been knocked down in the paddock to make a walking staff; secondly, a bit of whittling. The Huntsman reminded me of a Roselli Carpenter I used to have which was one of the better whittling knives, or wood carving knives, I have used. It was able to remove small or large slivers of wood easily and I had no trouble using the point making holes; and finally, I used it to skin a small ‘roo that was a fresh roadkill from the night before, the slight drop point worked well in opening up and there was sufficient belly to assist in removing the skin from the carcass. For me, this knife fits the bill as a small “Bushcraft” knife, the type preferred by our English and Scandinavian friends it only falls down in the area of food preparation a task more akin to what we call a “Bushman’s” knife some similar to a 6” Green River Dadley. The Huntsman will do in the camp kitchen in a pinch; it worked well peeling an apple and sliced through a small salami okay.
In relation to the ergonomics of the knife I had few misgivings. Firstly, I would have like a larger choil – if you can’t use a choil why have one in the first place; secondly, it worked well in most knife holds although I had a problem with “thrust” hold although I must say I do with other knives due to my smaller than average hands; and lastly I did develop a “hot spot” in some holds with continued use, inc., sharpening, with the sharpish ridge at the bottom of the butt. My antique bone stag model provided a good grip even in slippery conditions. The knife’s fit and finish is good although the top of the drop point had not quite been finished off, leaving a blunt point, but this was easily rectified on the belt sander. The sheath is nothing fancy being of good thick cowhide in the pouch fashion, mine was in the natural finish, once I had wet molded it to the shape of the knife and applied a finish it will suffice – the only concern I have is that the belt loop is riveted to the sheath and this could come away with heavy use. The sheath rode well on the hip and I was able to extract and return the knife without any problems. I kept the blade clean and dry and there was no sign of rusting or staining but given the steel is A-2 this is a higher maintenance blade then say one of stainless steel.
All in all, this is a fine knife that in Australian conditions will make an excellent small game hunter inc., hares and foxes or a “Bushcraft” knife. I would be reluctant to take it fishing given it is A-2 but then again I have plenty of knives for that past time. The Huntsman is what I call a “Cutter” not a “Slicer” i.e. it is at its best when making shallow cuts esp., long sweeping shallow cuts or making “push” cuts when cutting or carving wood etc. For this reason I find that this knife is best with a polished edge Vs an aggressive edge I would put on a knife such as the Spyderco Moran. One thing I would like to see is Bark River to put a brochure about looking after A-2 and how to sharpen a convex blade in with the knife in the box – not everyone is as “knife minded” as those who frequent forums nor do they have a knowledge of convex sharpening also there still are knife buyers who do not have internet access.
This is the first knife of the Bark River Knife & Tool range I have a chance to review. I have also the Bark River “Woodsman” in our inventory which is another knife that would be at home as a “Bushcraft” knife and with its wider blade the Woodsman would probably make a better slicer. The next Bark River I intend to purchase is the “North Star” described by BRK&T as an outdoors/survival knife. To me it seems it will make a good large “Bushcraft” knife and in fact could take the place of a small knife like the Huntsman and a “Bushman’s” knife like the Green River Dadley but we will have to wait and see."
03-06-05, 10:08 AM #2
Re: Bark River Huntsman - Review
Great review, just one teensy weensy critiscm.........
WHERE'S THE PICTURES!!??
07-06-05, 04:25 AM #3
Re: Bark River Huntsman - Review
The Pic's will be coming - as I said at the beginning this is the preliminary review and it has been my practice in the past not to put pictures in at this time but wait until I upload the full review to my WebSite. I'll post the link when I upload but I'm a bit behind at the moment so it may be a couple of weeks.
07-06-05, 10:16 AM #4
Re: Bark River Huntsman - ReviewOriginally Posted by Jdee
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