BARK RIVER KNIVES

Bravo 1


When I was a kid, my dad would take me fishing at my grand parents' lake. He had a knife, not unlike the Bravo 1, which he used for cutting fish heads and cleaning his pipe. I am sure my interest in this particular knife was spawned by boyhood memories, from before 'bushcrafting' was a thing.

I fell in love with this model because it seemed like a perfect  grown-up, civilized, functional cutting instrument for real-world situations while still having a survival-style wild edge to its overall design.

When you receive this in the mail, it is immediately clear that the Bravo 1 won't be gathering dust in your gun safe, it is a definite user knife if there ever was one. As you lift it out of its unassuming cardboard box, you'll notice how heavy it is - the very thick, full tang, convex ground blade really adds heft.

I was going through my everything-shall-be-green-micarta phase at the time, so I picked the matte green canvas micarta option for the scales. You have plenty of handle options to choose from; Bark River offer the most mind blowing array of options you'd ever dream off... I would probably go for a nice wooden alternative if I was ordering it now, or even some grippier G10, but more on that later.

If you are into lanyards, this particular model, with the extra protruding butt (-of-the-handle) hole, will give you pleasant dreams and enough options to secure your knife to your wrist. You might need it. Again, I will elaborate later.

As you see below, these knives come with a beautifully crafted leather sheaths; mine was a perfect natural tan color. This is the nicest factory leather sheath I have seen, apart from the LionSteel M3 (the old version). It has a loop for attaching a fire steel (I just always wonder why you'd carry fire steel and not a lighter or two instead. It's like "look, while you are chopping away on your fire steel for hours I made us a cozy fire using this BIC lighter. You should give it a try".)

This has become my go-to knife of choice for any work in the yard etc. The problem I have run into is that I end up using it for tasks like chopping branches that should probably be performed by a much larger blade. For everyday cutting I find the convex edge to be way too thick for slicing and other smaller tasks, while the weight and feel of it invites chopping and hacking. This causes a few issues which I will get into after this commercial break...

 

 Read more about Bark River Knives

Read more about Bark River Knives

Bark River Knives is a family-owned business whose goal is to produce the finest semi-production cutting tools available on the market. These products are aimed for use by the outdoors-men and others who need real performance in the field.
— barkriverknives.com
 Some elk barking by a river.

Some elk barking by a river.

1965_knife_ad.jpg
 Example of the Bravo 1 (in A2 steel) without the thumb ramp, this one with desert ironwood scales. See the stunning variety of  scale options  from Bark River Knives. Photo ©barkriverknives.com

Example of the Bravo 1 (in A2 steel) without the thumb ramp, this one with desert ironwood scales. See the stunning variety of scale options from Bark River Knives. Photo ©barkriverknives.com

 

AESTHETICS

★★★½

The simplicity in the classic design is very pleasing to me - there is a nice balance of wild and tame. The micarta option is decent looking, though I had thought the effect of the micarta finish would be more that of the built-by-grime look you get with the ESEE's.

Among Bravo 1 feinschmeckers, there is much debate whether one prefers the optional thumb ramp or not. I find it to be useful, but since it is all the rage to have it removed, I could be tempted - as it adds an even cleaner, streamlined look.

 

ERGONOMICS

★★½

The downfall of this otherwise marvelous piece are the ergonomics. Firstly the knife is too beefy and shaped to feel uncomfortable in my midsized hand. The smooth micarta is not very grippy, and while I am sure this knife is not really meant as an axe-substitute, I feel the butt of the knife could be shaped to provide a bit more slippage retention think Viper Carnera for example. Compared to many other knives, this one scores the lowest in terms of feel and firm-grippyness. I always make good use of a lanyard in case it might end up flying through the window.

 

FIT & FINISH

★★★★½

Simply beautiful and very, very well made. As BRK calls it; "semi-custom" is the word I'd use. No misalignments, no rough edges, no fucking around. Everything is superb quality and comes sharp as a razor. Amazing sheath, too.

 

RUGGEDNESS

★★★★

The photos above are taken after many hours of brutal use. I chopped down every branch of our Christmas tree when I mistakenly thought it would be easier than having to drag the tree down 4 floors and into the street. I ended up with a lot of firewood all over the apartment, a few blisters and a chipped blade (which you don't see in the photos). The knife otherwise seems to look nicer the more you use it, and my only sadness is the chipping, large enough for me to consider sending it back for a look-see.

 

USEFULNESS

★★★★

4.25" is a a great, versatile blade length, which means it carries well in the beautiful, non-threatening sheath that makes you want to bring it along on trips, camping, gardening. It is a little heavy and not a great slicer, but it is hellishly sharp and easy to maintain an edge on. More useful for heavy duty, gloved work rather than slicing and dicing.

After hacking away with the Bravo, I realized I am not a big fan of convex grinds - it just seems too bulky and unwieldy, crude. It adds to the heft, yes, but I'd prefer a flatter, less "meaty" grind.

 

FONDLE FACTOR

★★★

Great quality, awesome finish. Nice to caress, but not as much fun, obviously, as a good quality folder.

You might like sniffing the leather sheath, though. I do. An extra star for the fresh leather odor.

 


PIVOT SCORE

★★★★

Great knife, wildly broad selection of scale and grind options. The company and their knife designs are a bit "old-world feeling", but that adds to the charm and makes it a great choice for manly events such as camping, glamping or just a casual, civilized stroll in the woods.

Compared to other, more modern and slick designs out there, this knife has the air of "Pappa's Knife" - and so does the entire lineup from Bark River - all very traditionally inspired. Very matter of fact designs, classic blade shapes, no frills. I like that about them, and I am still eyeing a few other models of theirs; namely the Fox River Recurve or the Mini Fox River.

I can highly recommend this knife, but definitely try handling one before committing. You might have a better and more natural, firm grip on yours, but the ergos on this knife shaves off half a star from my total PIVOT score.

You can buy it at knivesshipfree.com

At a glance:

  • Overall Length: 9.065"
  • Blade Length: 4.25"
  • Blade Thickness: 0.22"
  • Steel: CPM S35VN
  • Hardness: 58 RC
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Grind: Convex
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Edge Type: Plain
  • Handle Length: 4.82"
  • Weight: 7.38 oz.
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Price: $270.00


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 Review by Sir Zinfandel Kaiser

Review by Sir Zinfandel Kaiser


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