I recently had the opportunity to attend a bushcraft course taught by Jason Hunt of Campcraft Outdoors. It was an awesome experience and one that taught me a lot.
In getting ready for this course, I purchased a Morakniv Kansbol knife which, for the money, was pretty good. However, I knew I’d need a more serious survival/bushcraft knife down the road. So, after much research I purchased the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162.
While somewhat expensive, it’s worth the money. The feel of the knife is extremely rugged and the craftsmanship is near perfect. In examining the lines where differing materials came together, no errors could be found. Every inch of the knife and handle was mated perfectly together.
For the steel, it’s stainless S30V which is very durable and rugged. Yes, some in the bushcraft world shy away from stainless for two reasons: 1) it’s harder to sharpen in the field; and 2) you can’t strike a piece of flint to get a spark.
To counter these criticisms, it could be said that if you’re in a position where you have to strike something against the knife to start a fire, you probably didn’t bring enough fire starting equipment in the first place. As far as sharpening is concerned, yes, stainless is a little harder to sharpen but it does hold its edge longer than carbon steel.
One great thing about stainless is the minimum amount of maintenance you have to do to it. Carbon steel is going to rust and will require ongoing maintenance to prevent this from occurring. With all the things we have to maintain in this world, it’s nice to have things that are low maintenance.
Another plus about the S30V is its strength. You can baton all day long and not worry about breaking the knife. It is very, very strong.
In battoning, we tested it on four different species of wood – oak, ash, cedar and pine. All four posed no problems for the knife.
The spine of the knife is amazing primarily because of its ultra precise 90 degree edge. This makes scrapping and shaving a breeze. Striking a ferro rod was also simple and efficient. Another great thing about the spine is it’s width. At .164 inches, there’s more surface area for your thumb during carving work. The width also provides additional splitting force when battoning.
The blade edge produces a good cut. Making feather sticks and carving were not a problem. The edge isn’t as sharp as something that a scandi design would produce but every blade shape has its pluses and minuses. For this knife, the design of the edge will make it easier to sharpen compared to a scandi grind; and it will also allow the knife to experience more abuse before it needs sharpening.
The handle of the Bushcrafter 162 was a winner, too. To be fair, one may look at the handle and come to the conclusion it might be somewhat uncomfortable. The opposite it true, however. The handle is curved in just the right places yielding a very comfortable grip. It also has a few holes to make it easier to secure to a stick or apply a lanyard. The grip goes from narrower to thicker and is .92 inches wide at its widest point which is closest to the blade. I would prefer something just a little thicker but that’s only personal preference. At the end of the day, don’t take other people’s advice when it comes to comfort because what works for someone else might not work for you.
Now, let’s talk sheaths.
Whoever at Benchmade designed this leather sheath should be denied any Christmas bonus for at least the next five years.
Seriously, what a bad design.
First, it’s leather which is less advantageous because it can draw moisture to whatever you put in it. Although the Bushcrafter 162 is stainless and will have far more corrosion protection over a carbon steel blade, having a leather sheath still doesn’t help. The design of the leather sheath is also cumbersome. My sheath has already been sliced by trying to get the blade in there.
In almost every instance when putting the knife in the sheath, it gets caught on a cheap piece of plastic. This flimsy plastic serves as some kind of internal support in an attempt to provide rigidity. Not only does the knife get caught on this internal support but in some instances the plastic came out with the knife. Nuts.
Another deficiency with the sheath is that, although it has a ring for a drop-down carry option, it doesn’t include the needed dangler to secure it to your belt.
I could be wrong but maybe Benchmade intentionally designed a sub-par sheath so people would focus more on the actual knife. Either way, I’m really glad they put more effort into building an exceptional knife.
In contacting Benchmade about the sheath, their outstanding customer support team immediately rectified the problem without any hassle. It was truly a blessing dealing with Benchmade. There was no ridiculous forms to fill out, no interrogation from the customer service rep and I wasn’t placed on hold. Dealing with companies like this always makes one confident of the brand they purchased.
In conclusion, the main reason this knife was chosen was because of the name recognition. Although Benchmade is mainstream, they are truly one of the best knife makers in the United States with an outstanding reputation (just ask any veteran). This will give you the confidence that any problems you might encounter will be taken care of. Benchmade also offers free sharpening services which is another incentive to purchase one of their fine products.
Despite the sheath, I would again purchase this knife any day of the week. In fact, I’ll only be purchasing Benchmade knives in the future – they’re that good.
Bushcrafter 162 SPECS:
-Blade steel: CMP-S30V.
-Blade length: 4.40 inches.
-Thickness: .164 inches.
-Handle thickness: .92 inches.
-Weight: 7.72 ounces.
-Overall length: 9.15 inches.
-Cost: about $200.
-Extremely high quality.
-S30V stainless is great for strength and low maintenance.
-Cuts, batons and carves great.
-The leather sheath is terrible.
-A little expensive.