KA-BAR is well known for making some of the very best fixed blade knives on the market. Their KA-BAR USMC 1942 knife, for instance, has seen extensive service throughout global military conflicts and is held in exceptionally high regard.
But today, we’re going to talk about a lesser known type of KA-BAR knife, known as the Becker knife, or perhaps more appropriately, knives. You see, the Becker is not just one knife but several, designed by renowned knife designer Ethan Becker. KA-BAR began producing Becker’s knife designs beginning in 2008 when his existing contracts with other companies ran out.
Today we will take a look at several KA-BAR Becker knives, and I’ll also reveal my favorite of them all.
KA-BAR Becker knives Review
- KA-BAR BK22 Becker Companion Fixed Blade Knife
- KA-BAR Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife
- KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
- KA-BAR BK10 Becker Crewman Fixed Blade Survival Knife
- KA-BAR Becker BK16 Drop Point Knife
What to Look for in a KA-BAR Becker Knife
There are a wide variety of different Becker knife designs, each of which has been designed by Ethan Becker and is now built in the United States.
Most Becker knives are built for more heavy duty and utilitarian purposes. The blades tend to be larger and thicker than other kinds of bushcraft knives, and are therefore not the best blades to use for more precise work such as carving wood. We recently compared the Becker BK2 up against 4 other top-quality bushcraft knives, see how it performed in ‘The Best Bushcraft Knife under $200‘.
The KA-BAR Story
This is an incredible video, not just about KA-BAR but also American history. Well worth a watch!
Choosing the Right Blade
That being said, different Becker knives are still designed for different basic purposes, and choosing the blade you want needs to be dependent on what your purpose is. Remember that a Becker knife is not a specific style of knife or blade; rather, it’s simply a series of different kinds of knives that were all designed by one man (Ethan Becker).
For example, the Campanion Becker knife (yes, ‘Campanion’ and not ‘Companion’, although the BK22 is a ‘Companion’, and the BK2 is a ‘Campanion’, a little confusing!) is designed as a general purpose knife and for skinning game.
The Tac Tool Becker knife (left) is designed to be more of a machete/pry bar type-weapon for the heaviest of heavy duty tasks, such as for chopping wood or for hacking your way through brush. You get the idea.
So, before you buy a Becker knife you really need to ask yourself what the purpose of the knife will be, and then buy the appropriate blade designed for that task. It really is that simple. Each of the specific models of KA-BAR Becker knives that we will outline and discuss is designed for different tasks.
Quality of Becker Knives
The good news is that when you’re shopping for a Becker knife, you know that you’re getting a high quality blade. That’s because Becker knives are well designed, and well-built.
Most Becker knives use 1095 carbon steel, which is the same kind of steel that KA-BAR knives have traditionally used as well. 1095 carbon steel is very durable and high quality. It’s designed to last for a lifetime and can take a lot of abuse before it begins to even show any signs of wear and tear, such as small nicks or chips in the blade.
KA-BAR Knock-Offs – Make Sure You’re Buying a Real KA-BAR
Make sure you’re buying a true KA-BAR and not a knock-off, inferior in quality. Here’s a great video on counterfeit awareness, and what to look for in a read KA-BAR knife.
Becker Knives Top 5
The KA-BAR BK-22 Becker Companion Fixed Blade Knife is instantly notable for the fact that it is currently issued to all five branches of the United States military, and is also extensively used by law enforcement units all over the world. What else can speak for the quality of a knife?
In terms of technical details, the Campanion has an overall length of 10 1/2 inches with a blade length of 5 1/4 inches. It ships with a decent polyester front pouch sheath, although, as is the case with most knives from KA-BAR, the sheath is outsourced and you would probably be better served by purchasing a higher quality aftermarket sheath.
Ethan Becker designed the BK22 knife to be a camping knife, or the one camping knife to have if you could only have one. It can be used for splitting wood into smaller pieces for kindling or for preparing food before putting it over the campfire. The blade is rather thick, so it’s not the best option for more precise work such as carving wood, but this is true for most of the Becker knives.
On the negative side, the finish over the blade is not the nicest by any means. It’s a gritty black powder finish that is a little bit on the crude side when it comes to looks.
- Used by military and law enforcement units all over the world
- Fulfills many different roles for camping
- Good for heavier duty tasks, such as batoning wood
- Durable 1095 Cro-Van steel blade
5 1/2″ blade is practical for most purposes
- Sheath is not the highest quality
- Finish is rather crude
The Becker BK9 Combat Bowie knife is exactly what the name suggests: it’s essentially a more modernized version of the world famous Bowie knife, which has been in continuous use since the early 1800s. To be more specific, this knife combines a very ergonomic grip designed by Ethan Becker with the blade that was designed by Jim Bowie.
The blade to this knife is built out of modernized 1095 Cro-Van steel, which is durable and keeps its edge over the long term, even after extensive use. This kind of steel is also very easy to sharpen. The blade has a twenty degree angle.
The handle is built out of a glass-filled nylon material called Grivory, and is actually made in Switzerland.
One positive and also yet negative feature of this knife is the fact that the blade is exceptionally big at 9″. This will be great for heavy duty tasks, but for precise work you’ll be much better served by having a pocket knife. But that’s really what this knife is designed for anyway: to hack away and hope for the best results.
- Based off of the proven Bowie knife design
- Grip is very ergonomic
- 1095 Cro-Van Steel construction is very durable
- Blade keeps its age well
- Swiss made Grivory handle filled with glass filled nylon
- Excellent for heavy duty tasks
- Nylon sheath is not the best
- Poor choice for more precise work
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 knife is a full tang heavy duty knife that is essentially a slightly more inexpensive version than the BK22 we took a look at before. As with the BK22, the BK2 Campanion is designed to be used primarily for camping purposes, such as splitting wood into kindling, preparing food, and so on.
The nylon sheath that ships with the BK2 is outsourced to another company, and isn’t the highest quality on the market, so you could do better with a higher quality aftermarket sheath.
That being said, one neat feature about the sheath is the fact that the blade will lock into place when inserted, and to release it you will have to apply pressure using your thumb. Some users aren’t aware of this when they buy the knife, and when they are unable to withdraw the blade from the sheath they wonder if there is a defect with their knife.
The blade is built out of a highly durable and sharp 1095 Cro-Van steel, which is the same for most Becker knives made by KA-BAR. It also features a drop point shape with a twenty degree blade angle. The blade length is 5 1/2″ long, so it will overall be more practical than the Bowie knife that we just looked at.
On the poor side, the coating to this knife is rather crude, as is the case with the BK22 knife as well. It’s a black material that is designed to be rust resistant, but that also detracts from the look of the knife as a whole.
A big reason why the BK2 is less money than the BK22 is because it ships from the factory needing to be sharpened before it can be used for most purposes. Hopefully, you’ll have a knife sharpener at home ready to use.
We compared the BK2 against 4 other great bushcraft knives, see the knife review here.
- Slightly cheaper version of the BK22
- Good for heavy duty use
- Versatile and good for most camping purposes
- Durable 1095 Cro-Van steel blade
- Nylon sheath is not the best
- Finishing is crude
- Doesn’t ship sharp from the factory
This means that the BK10 will be a better knife overall if you favor having a blade that is better for more precise work rather than heavy duty tasks. For example, if you need to split wood and whack the back of the blade with a club repeatedly, the BK22 and BK2 will be better choices. But if you need to carve into woods to make more precise cuts, the BK10 will be superior.
The actual blade length of the BK10 is the same as the BK2 and BK22 at 5 1/2″, but as was noted before, the blade width is much thinner. The BK10 also ships with a sheath that, as is the case with most other KA-BAR sheaths, is actually outsourced to a third party manufacturer and is not the best overall. This sheath is still serviceable, however, being built out of polyester and having a front pocket for you to store an additional item or two such as a magnesium flint striker.
- Zytel handle (Zytel is owned by DuPont and used for its high strength, abrasion and impact resistance.)
- Durable and sharp 1095 Cro-Van steel blade construction
- 5 1/2″ blade length is fully practical for most purposes
- Sheath is not the best
- Not the best choice for heavier duty tasks, such as splitting wood
If you’re looking for an even more inexpensive Becker knife, the KA-BAR Becker BK16 Drop Point Knife could be the option you’re looking for. As the name suggests, the blade to this knife has a drop point design, with a flat ground to ensure proper edge retention over time. Drop-point knives have the spine of the blade (the thickest part, also the strongest part) continue to the tip of the blade, making it a strong knife. Drop points are a common knife for hunting.
The upper edge of the blade sports a thumb serration area, which will be very beneficial for when you need to apply pressure while cutting. As with other KA-BAR Becker knives, the blade is built out of 1095 Cro-Van steel material.
The sheath is made by a third-party and is not the best by a long shot. Sure, it works, but you may want to get another one from the aftermarket. In addition, the plastic handle for the grip of this knife does not offer as good a traction as other KA-BAR Becker knives, but this is one of the sacrifices you will make for paying less money.
- Flat-ground drop-point blade design ensures sharp retention over time
- Blade has thumb serration area so you can put pressure on
- 1095 Cro-Van Steel Blade construction
- Sheath is not the highest quality
- Plastic handle does not offer the most traction
If I could only have one of the above KA-BAR Becker knives, my choice would be the BK-22 knife. Yes, the blade is rather thick, but it’s also the best choice for most heavy duty tasks that you’ll encounter when you’re out in the wild. From skinning game to splitting wood, to preparing food to preparing shelter, the BK22 is the blade that I would want to have just for its sheer durability, and also because the 5 1/2″ blade length is not so obnoxiously large.