Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hyken Knives Bushcrafter Review

Hyken Knives Bushcrafter

Call me a latecomer to the Bushcraft knife crowd.  I've never been enticed to spend a couple hundred dollars on a knife that's designed to do what twenty dollar knives have been doing for generations.  That changed when I was privy to the shop drawings of Hyken Knives new Bushcrafter.  On seeing those drawings, I knew that this was one knife I had to have.  

A short time later, the Postman cometh, bringing forth great treasure in the form of steel, micarta and leather - my Bushcrafter had arrived.  Here's the Hyken Bushcrafter's specs and features:

Overall Length:     Approx. 8.25"
Blade Length:        Approx. 4"
Blade steel:            CPM-154 Stainless at 60-61RC hardness
Blade thickness:    .156"
Blade grind:           Scandinavian grind with a convexed edge (Scandivex)
Handle thickness:  .85"
Handle:                  Black canvas micarta (many other options are available)
Weight:                  6.3oz
Included in the box was a very unique, high quality "Maduro" colored leather sheath and a USGI type P-38 multi-purpose tool on a matching leather key fob - more on that later. 
Here's the knife in hand -

What drew my eye to the original design drawings was the handle.  It is somewhat of a teardrop shape with one forward finger groove.  It's look is appealing.  In practical application, it works and works well.  The forward finger groove causes the knife to index perfectly in hand.  The handle shape melts into the hand, making it feel like a natural extension. It is very easy to manipulate and control effectively, regardless of task being performed.  I have a rather large mitt and the Bushcrafter is comfy in the hand whether I'm bare-handed or wearing gloves - the size and shape is just right.

I used the Bushcrafter around the house doing mundane chores for nearly a month before I was finally able to get it into the field for a real workout. Tasks performed around the house included trimming some pesky vines growing on our back fence, some kitchen work, some cutting cardboard and cable ties, and a whole heckuva lot of whittling fuzz sticks and try sticks while itching to get to camp.  The Bushcrafter's scandivex edge held up exceptionally well.  The CPM-154 steel is very resistant to wear and the convexed edge ensures that there is ample steel supporting the cutting carbides.  All that was required before I went to camp was about a minute's worth of stropping on leather charged with Bark River's black stropping compound to make sure the edge still hair popping sharp. 

At camp, the knife performed typical woodworking / bushcrafting tasks flawlessly  - the guys who gathered around to test the Bushcrafter were able to get decent shavings off the rock hard piece of wood I'd selected.

The Bushcrafter batoned nicely, even through wood nearly as thick as the blade is long.  The Bushcrafter brushed off the experience with no damage and barely a trace of evidence - again, a tribute to the wear resistance and toughness of the CPM-154 steel selected for the build. 

After a good cleaning, the Bushcrafter also got pressed into service for camp kitchen work, here I am using the Hyken Bushcrafter to prepare a pre-lunch pass around snack - 

A word of warning - cutting hard cheese is NOT the Bushcrafter's forte.  I had to cut the cheeses on the wide axis as the .156" thick blade caused the cheese to break rather than cut on the narrow axis - a small price to pay when you're doing the "one knife" routine. [Author's note: The few pieces of torn sausage you'll see in the pic above were done by hand - some of the sausage had to be sent to the Lab for testing.]

Both the Bushcrafter and the snack were well received.

The Bushcrafter's sheath has to be mentioned in detail.  It is a stoutly made deep pouch design with some rather unique features.  It is a double stitched, rich reddish brown leather that Hyken calls "Maduro" colored.  The look is clean and eye pleasing. At the sheath's mouth, there is a reinforcing rivet.  At the bottom, there is a lanyard hole and a drainage hole.

Knife retention is achieved by both friction and the addition of a rare earth magnet in the back of the sheath. The magnet also helps guide the knife back into the sheath without any accidental cuts.  The belt loop will accommodate belts up to 2.25" wide and will also accommodate an optional drop down "dangler" attachment.  Also on the back of the sheath there is a very unique fire steel holder which can be stretched to accept up to a 3/8" diameter fire steel.  It is shown in the pic below with a 1/4" custom made firesteel by my friend Travis Kuhn.  If you don't use the slot for a firesteel, it could also be a handy place to conveniently tuck away a small folder or flashlight with a spring steel belt clip.

I've known Reid Hyken for over a decade. With Reid's background of knife and sheath design and experience, I knew his Bushcrafter would have the promise of performance - and perform it does, admirably. Add to that the fact that the Hyken Bushcrafter was being built by Bark River Knives and comes with BRK's no-nonsense lifetime warranty - you have a real winning combination.  The Hyken Knives Bushcrafter is an heirloom quality, hard using knife.  

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