RealSteel Knives Bushcraft Folder – Beefy Folding Tool.

I have been dreaming about that kind of folder for quite a long time. Something heavy, strong with a rounded handle to take in the forest and built some shelter.
RealSteel Knives, a Chinese company, may have heard my prayer as they are producing a Bushcraft Folder in two versions: with and without the one hand opening option provided with two studs.
180 grams of a very well balanced 90mm blade length beefy companion.
My first experience with Real Steel was the beautiful Megalodon which has had review here. Its main flaw was the awful clip and you know what ? The Bushcraft Folder has no clip but a beautiful textured G10 handle. Also the red liners are a very nice touch bringing a real touch of class. The blade is perfectly centered; the action is smooth; the action Southpaw friendly…
So let’s have a look:

The blade is made of D2. This air hardening classical steel is not my favorite but some of my friends and co-writers like JD do have an excellent opinion about it. As a reminder let’s not forget D2 has 13% chrome steel which can stain and can be a bear to get sharp. RealSteel seems to have bought tons of D2 as their production of fixed blades is mainly using that alloy. The HRC is 58-60 which is not the hardest heat treatment for that steel but it seems appropriate for a knife destined to resharpen in the field. Oh and this is a true scandi: no secondary bevel on that baby ! You can put it flat on some stone and you should be able to keep it like a razor !


The lock is a thick Michael Walker’s liner lock and it reminds me of the one on Spyderco Gayle Bradley; thick liners locks are easy and confortable to use. Here the steel liners are heavily skeletonized to reduce weight and keep a great balance.
Don’t forget: batoning with a folder is not a good idea with the lock engaged. Let’s say it’s not a good idea, period. Some chores are better kept for the uses of thick fixed blades. But the RealSteel BF can easy drill in wood and be twisted while cutting: there is no movement, no play; everything is very well adjusted. So this is a very serious outdoor knife. The spine of the blade is sharp, certainly for striking a rod and lighting fire. I will soon round mine, as I prefer to have a confortable ramp to push with my thumb during woodworking. The handle does not have a fully open construction; there is a G10 spacer in the butt along with a lanyard hole. It looks really easy to rinse and keep clean.

The G10 has got a very nice texture: not harsh. You can notice it on the picture. Also there is no hot spot on that handle so you can hold it really tight; it’s almost like a fixed blade. The linerlock is recessed and you can not disengage it by holding tight the handle. Just be careful and always remember: regardless how strong a folder is, it will never be as strong as fixed blade. Use it with respect and care; should the lock fail, there is no choil to protect your precious fingers!

This the heaviest folding blade in a 4 inches folder I have ever owned!
You certainly can put that 3,5mm thick blade in good use. Especially as the scandi is very keen and easy to keep ultra sharp – as much as you don’t create a bevel.
Even though the studs do not get in the way when sharpening, it should be easy to remove them with a flat screwdriver if you want a pure two hands opener.

A first test on dry wood shows I have got a very serious contender; the blade cuts deep and makes as good chips as my Casstrom (Scandi type blades give you a lot of control when cutting wood). This is always such a pleasure to use them. Also the solid tip is great to drill and open crates without fear of breaking it.

The pouch which is provided with that big heavy workhorse is well made, but I will certainly carry it vertically in my front pocket against my leather wallet. I have tried that before going for a one hour walk and the knife did not move.

The knife snuggles perfectly inside the pouch you can pass in a belt.

In my opinion a nice cocoon to transport the knife in a coat pocket or in a bag, featuring its toolish function in opposition to all those fast draw tactical response tools always regarded as weapon and also marketed as “tactical” knives, conveys a comforting message.

My wonderful Wolfspyder is dwarfed by the heavy RealSteel folder which’s size is very close to any classical bushcraft fixed blade. You feel you can easily use it for light chopping, for finishing off a cut. Again, impacts are not folding knives’ best friends, but the momentum of that heavy blade could be used for light chopping in wood, like trimming branches in one whip of the wrist.

This is a mean blade perfectly centered beware parallax illusion in this photography.

And the handle is even thicker than the fixed blade.

Of course the main limitation of a folder is the blade length which cannot exceed the handle length (except for some hunting daggers).

So what have we got in the end ? An heavy, solid, easy to keep sharp bushcraft tool.
OK. But for what price ? Mine was bought for less than 60 euros ! This is great for a knife destined to be used a lot and not kept in a safe.
In my opinion, this is a very solid bargain for a very serious wood companion.
“Made in China” tools are getting better and better in terms of quality, prices are competitive and don’t forget…. your Iphone X are also made in China. Here you have got a Chinese Viking Folding Knife, which is great !!
More to come soon !

last edited by Pascal Jaffré on 17 jan 2018.

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Casstrom No.10 Swedish Forest knife — My Woodlore Alternative.

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The title could have been the “Poor Man Woodlore” but it would have not reflect the quality of this N°10 SFK Bushcraft knife. For twenty years now I have follow with interest the long walk of Ray Mears in the wood. Producing an elegant fixed blade to make some magic of barks, sticks and leaves. First time I have seen him using his knife, I thought to myslef: “Who is this guy who walks in the countryside with a fixed blade in his pocket…” This is where my interest for the man and the tool has started.
I was already using a Hello Scandi grind knife back on those days with cladded carbon steel.

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Bushcraft is a childhoold adventure dream. It mixes Tarzan, Rambo and all those scouts and indian stories. You can go playing in the woods with your favorite new sharp toys, creating things like bows, arrows, huts, shelters… I was doing bushcraft with my uncle Guy back in the 70’s. He was using a sturdy slipjoint german knife we called a “Canif” (k-nife) and soon I was allowed to bring my own fixed blade knife. Later, when I was 11, I was really into it after investing all my money in a Glock Feldmesser 78 which was a game changer for me: I was able to chop wood !! Any way, a fixed blade was always my best friend in the wood and I have often asked for a sheath I could pocket easily. Don’t laugh but I still got my Rambo II knife… perhaps the subject of another article. Anyway here a picture:
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Ok back to the topic:  Casström No.10 Swedish Forest Knife.
Casström is a manufacturer and distributor of top quality knives and outdoor equipment. They got all a collection of knives and some beauties for bushcrafter. They are famous for having a survival knife developed with survival expert Lars Fält an old friend of Ray Mears. But I was not interested in that collaboration. Why ? because I was looking for a smaller knife. My attention turned to the N°10 with its 10cm long blade compared to the Lars Fält with it 11,5 cm blade.

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I add noticed they were selling Second Knives in their site. It sounds great to me since I got a great experience with Second knives in the UKBushcrafter sale some years ago.
So I have contacted them explain to them that an handle or cosmetic was not an issue as far as the blade was perfect for the review. Gently they have decided to send me a perfect knife instead of a second and that for the initial price. Very nice gesture.

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From their site we can learn that it was designed a multipurpose knife for hunting, bushcraft and general use in the great outdoors. The blade is 10cm long and made using 3.8mm thick Austrian made O2 high carbon tool steel (Böhler K720) and heat treated to achieve a hardness of 58-60 HRC. The knife is ground with a shaving sharp flat Scandinavian grind and have a satin finish… and it’s true, it was shaving sharp right out of the box.

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What I had noticed on the pictures of N°10 knife was the handle: it’s not straight.
Immediately after holding it for the first time, it was love at first palm ! The handle is so well thought after, it literally makes love with your hand. It’s like Ed Schempp or Paul Alexander knives designs, straight lines are not our friends, curves are our friends.

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You see where you pinky can wrapped itself ? It is so confortable !
You can also see the black liners between the handle scales and steel to enhance durability over time. The site explains also that the wood has been treated with a traditional Scandinavian linseed oil based varnish.

The knife comes with a sturdy welted sheath made from cognac brown 3mm vegetable tanned full-grain leather. The sheath features an extra wide belt loop, a fluid draining hole and a lanyard hole. All based have been covered. The sheath looks sturdy but I was happy to apply some bee wax and jojoba in it to smooth it a little.
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About the steel: Böhler Tool Steel K720 is a very tough and strong oil hardened high carbon tool steel also known as O2 : C. 0.9%, Si. 0.25%, Mn. 2.0%, Cr. 0.35% V. 0.1% (HRC 58-60)
Compared to
O1 Tool Steel. C 0,85%  Si 0.50%Mn 1.00% Cr 0.60% Ni 0.30% W 0.40% V 0.30% Cu 0.25% P 0.03% S 0.03%
They are brothers in the tool steel department as “Bushcrafters generally don’t seek the characteristics of stainless over the performance of high-carbon edge retention, and is why traditional Bushcraft knives are produced using tool steel for their blades.Spyderco Catalog.

Compared to the UKbushcrafter in G10 they also brother in the same department.

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The main difference between them is the weight; 68 grams lighter for the N°10. G10 is heavier and more dense than oak. I do prefer also the wood handle which feels less slippery than G10 when my hands are wet.

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The sheath also is less bulky that on the UK Buscrafter which feels like a bigger knife all in all.
But compared to the original Woodlore we are in the same game: same length , same weight, same kind of steel, same grind… Which makes a great alternative with a very clever handle at a fraction of the price.
Really, Casström people are entering the bushcraft game with great products at a very nice price. The N°10 made in Sweden (*) can be found around 120 euros with international shipping and you can compare to the 460 euros of the last Ray Mears design made in the UK. Alternatives are good.
Time to test the knife  now. More to come soon.

* “The knives are manufactured predominantly in Spain, but with design, material selection, final finish and quality control here in Sweden. The finish is very high in relation to the price and materials used as you can see. The wooden handles we make are close to custom grade.” David Cassini Bäckström — Casström AB

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Bushcrafters and Whittling: when the true Scandi grinds stand their ground.

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As I have found, a Scandi grind blade is not the easiest to be honed to your desire especially with modern powder metallurgy steels but once obtained it is a pleasure for the whittler. With that in mind I have bought two Mora Knives: a Morakniv Pro-C and a Bushcraft Survival Knife both in Carbon Steel and rubber handle. My idea was to get easily razor sharp scandi edges like I was able to obtain on the BuscraftUK from Spyderco.

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On the picture above only 3 of the knives are true scandis with no micro bevels.

I have been able to compared how Scandi behave with plastic bottles and also on wood . In fact, in my own experience, Scandi edge bites with some kind of hunger the cellulose fibers and soon also acts as a wedge which makes all the cuts strong and controlled. It doesn’t go as deep as a thin convexed full flat ground blade but the wooden chips produced are thicks. It’s a pleasure to use a Scandi ground knife on wood, there is precision in the cuts which can be shallow or radical (with the wedge effect).

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The “Zero Ground” Nilakka being an exception as it combines the strong cuts of the Scandi with the deep push cuts of the full flat ground blades. Which makes it voracious on wood and explain the 5mm stock of the Nilakka blade.

On the two Mora Kniv, the cheaper was the sharper. The Pro-C bites immediately when the Mora BSK was dull. I have put that on the fact there is some kind of coating and no secondary edge. So, my first move has been to remove that coating.

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The secondary edge put flat on a stone, the coating was removed steadily and the edge was quick able to shave hairs then the Mora BSK was able to bite in wood and was a pleasure to hold and work with.
Both Mora are much lighter than my Spyderco Bushcrafters as they are not full tang. as i don’t plan to do any batoning with them, it is not an issue. Both Mora are true Scandis like my Spyderco Wolfspyder and Buscrafters.
It’s not always the case, even in Norway.

Normally Norwegian knives looks like that:
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Scandi knives are a pleasure to cut and drill with as the thickness of the blade runs to almost the point of the blade, making a very strong tip.

But now you can also buy a Korean Puukko from Hyundai.

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It will cost you around 40 Krons, which is around 4 Euros, 5 dollars…
But here you can see. It’s not a scandi but a thick saber grind with a visible micro bevel.

It means that even Scandinavian countries are not protected against pure cutlery heresy. It also means that Viking don’t mind to buy crappy tools for half the price of a Mora.

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Why ? Because true scandi means a good steel and a good heat treatment to stand the thin geometry. It’s a century old design adapted to people building everything from wood: home, tools, furnitures… A true scandi edge angle is acute enough to be reliable and sharp.
Quoting “Patriot Dan” on the blade forums:
“There isn’t one angle really but 22 degree inclusive (11 per side) is a typical swedish midway edge angle for a scandi grind. The angle can be anything from 15 – 25 depending on use. (This is with the steels and the heat treat typical for those knives, some steels may not be optimal for such acute edge angles).The swedish and Norwegian grinds/edges are more obtuse than their Finnish counterparts. I believe the english bushcraft (woodlore being the most famous) knives that sport a scandi grind are based on swedish grinds but that’s just because they’re very similar.”

So true Scandi are NOT saber grind on disguise and NOT convexed. You need to put the bevel on the stone to keep them “true” hence my work of patience on the Nilakka, restoring her edge to zero grind after some convexing.

I haven’t made that kind of mistake on my Wolfspyder and S30V have proven to be reliable with zero chipping making that little folder a pure joy to use on wood.

More to come soon as the tests will take some time.

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Bark River Knives – Canadian Special CPM3V – Lord of the Forest

This a first glimpse at a new acquisition: the Canadian Special has been designed by Mike Stewart owner of Bark River Knives and it is his favorite knife of this size.
It’s his own version of the famous Canadian skinner D.H. Russell Canadian Belt Knife made by Grohmaan since 1957.

This is not my first BRKT knife. I already got a Bravo 1 in CPM3V and an Essential in CPM-M4.
Again my Canadian Special came razor sharp. (Ordered at The Knife Connection, it was in France in 4 days BTW.) I was already amazed by CPM3V on the convexed ground blade of my Bravo 1 but I wanted a thinner edge. The same edge I got on the RWL34 blade of “Urbain II” my state of art hunting knife made by Pekka Tuominen.

One of my favorite all terrain outdoors knife is the famous Spyderco Bushcrafter. But as far as I love his ergos, I wanted the same kind of tool with a thin convexed CPM3V blade. That was my first goal when I had purchased the Bravo 1. It was evident other BRKT knives got better slicing performance without sacrifice to much strength e.g. the Canadian Special with its full flat convexed grind blade.

Also I really loved the curves on the Canadian Special. This atypical shape was also really attractive to me. A thin handle for a wider and pointy blade. This design looks ancestral for me.
Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I really love the light recurved edge, the leaf shaped blade, the almost full flat grind …
My Canadian Special is foremost destined to be used hard in the wood: batoning, light chopping, wood digging. CPM3V on such a thin edge platform should perform great. So far, I was not able to ruin a CPM3V edge either from Spyderco (The Tuff) or BRKT (I still waiting for a CPM3V Cold Steel Design which does not look like a Ninja’s dream…)

The handle was a little to square to my like but everything was easily adjust with some sandpaper (they are two pictures here after, the first was the first stage and the second another 15 minutes more) .
And without to void the guarantee which is really nice from BRKT: having the possibility to adjust a knife to your own like is a real plus. Now the handle suits me much better. I have also filled the back of the blade for the confort of my thumb.

My Canadian Special is easy to strop on leather and right now I can shave with it. Some push cuts in bambu were deep and with zero damage on the edge. I was was surprise by the size of the chips the knife was able to produce: thin edge and great geometry.

So here are some pictures of this new hard chore user, before more tests in the kitchen and in the woods:

BRKT CANADIAN SPECIAL CPM3V

BRKT CANADIAN SPECIAL CPM3V

BRKT CANADIAN SPECIAL CPM3V

BRKT CANADIAN SPECIAL CPM3V

BRKT CANADIAN SPECIAL CPM3V

Some words from Mike Stewart (Knife forums the 12th May 2012)
“I took My time with this design because I am not an overthinker. I wanted a hunter and a bushy built into one package. I kind of thought that If i did all the ovrthinking on the front end of this one I could use it and not look back – I was right for me on the CS.

I love the Arched Back of the Canadian Blades for Scraping an mashing stuff while keeping the point out of the way.

I wanted part of the edge straight for Bush work and wood work and enough Curve to do hunting and meat work.

I wanted great Geometry with a good thickness edge spine and I still wanted the grind not to come up to the very top so that I had a parting shoulder at the top of the Blade to help in batoning and splitting.

The handle is deceiving – it looks like that finger grooves are limiting – in actuality they are not and when you open your hand the knife rights itself because the area under the grooves is actually almost totally flat.

The knife is Comfortable for me in every way I grip a knife in use.

I have no illusions about how people feel about the Woodlore style handles and how they have been taught it is superior – I love the Aurora and the Bushcrafter but the CS fits me better and more securely.”

Spyderco Bushcraft UK – Part 3: Solid Companion

Since I had received my Bushcrafter for 2010 Xmas, the knife has been always in use.
I really enjoy small fixed blades and this particular one has turned to be another little big knife.
In the 90’s I have been reviewing with Fred (Perrin) another little big blade: the Fallkniven F1 in its first solid VG10 incarnation. This is the kind of small tool with some heft in your hand, giving a sense of security and reliability. The Fallkniven F1 is now a legend in travelling knives. Well, the BushcraftUK feels that way in my hand but better than this it is also offering some uncanny cutting performance: the zero scandi grind cuts like a laser and it is very very addictive.
But fragile. I was able to micro chip its factory edge just by being me: clumsy… Bones, stones, sand… are not thin edge friendly. But the good thing is that I was able to gently convex my edge to keep it luch more stable. Removing a chip on a zero ground edge means time consuming before to see some result, unless you don’t want to “respect” the zero grind. Also sharpening the edge on ceramic can be frustrating as you scratch the mirror polishing badly. Good thing, with some elbow grease it’s back to mirror again. O1 is not stainless. But I did not let a patina to develop but on the handle where the hand leave natural moisture and the steel is now grey.
As I was not planning to use the back of the blade to produce sparks, I have gently rounded the edges and this heresy to the Bushcraft Gods gives me a lot of thumb’s confort when I’m pushcutting into hard materials.
Really the BushcraftUK is the king of my woods.
Why ?
Because it’s compact enough to be pocketed in my coat. So I got it on me. I never had it attached to my belt. I love the leather sheath I never got any issue with it. Mine is still like new as I have been using the brown sheath from my second for a while. Perharps I will try to find a kydex sheath for it as I do transport the knife in my bag more than on myself. Now for the knives works in the wood, the size of the Bushcraft suits me. I’m able to use it for light chopping and batonning without any care. Hence the chipping…. But again, the Bushcrafter has never let me down. Better it’s my favorite in his category.
Since I had ever seen Ray Mears on television back in the 90’s I felt I was not the only one to enjoy little fixed blade for their reliability in the wood. One of my first “bushcraft” was a Glock knife back in the 80’s. Broke the handle. Glue a compass in it…
Things I did not with the Bushcraftuk is: throwing it, cutting concrete intentionally and open oysters… but I have removed nails from wood, batonned through hard plastic, use it in the rain, in the snow, on the sea shore… With a little care I was not able to have rust pits on O1.
The weight and the high sharpness do wonder in the woods. Every chores are quick jobs. And this is exactly what that blade is for: energy’s economy and confort in use.
Back home I usually check the edge and do some leather stropping to have it back to mirror polish. No oil have been used to protect the blade. I use it everyday outside or in the kitchen so I keep it sharp and clean.
I got many kitchen knives. The Bushcraft will not replace them but the scandi grind is great on hard cheese, bread and meat. I rinse it after and dry it immediately. No more no less.

Even if I enjoy the flatness of my Stretch or the squareness of my Southard, on that hard used small fixed blade the rounded ergonomic handle is simply my favorite since I have had made a bokote handle on my Cold Steel Trailmaster. The black G10 after two years of constant use looks and feels like new. G10 is an incredible tough material. But the Bushcrafter is my first “blister proof” knife. Even my beloved H.E.S.T. required the use of gloves but not the Bushcrafter. I have removed the lanyard as I was not able to find something which suited me yet. Especially when I used the knife in the mud, blood… Again lanyard are great on pictures but I don’t like them in use. I don’t like to feel moisture trapped in it.

What would I change ? Sorry Sal but I do not like the hole in the blade. For one reason: I need to clean it and oil it or it’s unhygienic and a rust magnet. I would had prefer some kind of circle, even as big as a folder hole than that. I understand it’s a signature but…I would had preferred something easier to clean.

For two years the BushcraftUK has proven to be unique in my collection. Incredibly confortable in the hand and sharp and tough and strong in the field. It’s all business. The amazing South Fork has not yet been able to kick it out of my bag. I plan to use it with the Stretch and my good old Tramontana Machette as combo. I’m not a lumberjack after all, am I ?

Nemo Bushcraft

bushcrafter Nemo

Bushcrafter

Bushcrafter