Bushcraft is all about knowing how to live in the wilderness long-term. This means that the best bushcraft knife you choose for bushcraft purposes is not exactly going to be the same knife that you keep in your bug-out bag or survival kit.
That’s because your bushcraft knife has to be used for hunting, tactical use, shelter building, and camping all at once, and it also has to be built to last for a long time.
If you’re looking for the best bushcraft knife, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to cover the top five best bushcraft knives on the market today, all under $200, and I’ll show you the qualities that you need to look for in a bushcraft knife.
Our Best Bushcraft Knives under 200
- KA-BAR Becker BK2
- Benchmade Bushcrafter 162
- Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Camp Knife
- Schrade SCHF36 Frontier
- Morakniv Companion Knife
How do you know what the best bushcraft knife is?
Bushcraft is about more than just building a fire and shelter. I can tell you from experience, it’s really a way of life where you go out and learn to live in harmony with the wilderness, with limited resources at your disposal.
I can also tell you from experience that bushcraft is made much easier with the aid of a high quality and versatile knife. However, not all knives are created equally, and not all are suitable for bushcraft purposes.
So, what do you need to look for in a bushcraft knife? Let’s find out:
Full Tang All the Way
First and foremost, you need to make sure that your knife has a full tang, meaning that the steel runs the entire length of the knife and doesn’t stop at the grip.
The reason a full tang is so important is because it will be far more durable than a non-full tang blade. For any situations where you need to apply leverage, if the force applied to your blade is not distributed down the entire handle, the blade is going to break.
This means that virtually any kind of knife that has a hollowed out handle to store survival items, such as the one commonly featured in the Rambo movies, is not suitable for bushcraft use because it simply won’t last as long.
Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better
The next thing you need to look for is blade length. Believe it or not but bigger does not exactly mean better. In fact, a knife with an exceptionally big blade like you’ve seen in Rambo or Crocodile Dundee may look cool but it’s a poor choice for bushcraft use because it will not be useful for finer tasks, such as cleaning small game.
All the same, a blade that’s too small will not be useful for more heavy-duty purposes, such as splitting fire wood. A golden rule of thumb is for your blade to have a length of between three to six inches; if the blade is any shorter or longer than that, it simply won’t be versatile enough.
Spear Point or Drop Point
The best blade designs for a bushcraft knife will be blades with either a drop point or spear point. Both of these kinds of blades will be excellent for everything from gutting and skinning game to carving wood, splitting firewood, digging into the earth, making push cuts, and so on.
The best bushcraft knife blade will be long and flat, and is centered to the width of the handle. The top should not be exceedingly narrow, nor should it be blunt. Such a blade will be suitable for both intricate and heavy duty work.
Not All Steel is Good
You may think that, as long as the manufacturer of your bushcraft knife claims the blade is made out of either stainless steel or carbon steel, it must be good to go, right?
There are a countless number of steel options available today but not all of them are suitable. Stainless steel knives, for instance, are very rust and corrosion resistant but also softer due to having high chromium levels.
Carbon blades are essentially the direct opposite: they are incredibly prone to rust and pitting when exposed to moisture, but also have greater durability and longevity.
I’ve found that the following blade types offer the best combination between durability and corrosion resistance, to deliver you the best overall use for bushcraft:
- CPM Stainless
- 440c Stainless
- VG10 Stainless
- 1095 Carbon Alloy
- 1085 Carbon Alloy
- A2 Carbon Alloy
- D2 Carbon Alloy
- 5190 Carbon Alloy
Get a Grip
Finally, the type of grip on your knife is also incredibly important. For one thing, if you don’t like actually holding onto your knife, you’re not going to enjoy using it (and probably won’t use it).
For another thing, a poor grip can result in a disaster in wet or slippery conditions, and can result in serious injury to your hand or fingers if the blade slips from your fingers.
Easily the most classic option for a bushcraft knife handle is wood. Wood has been used in knives for literally thousands of years, and offers surprisingly decent traction. The only real downside to wood is that it is vulnerable to moisture.
Aside from wood, I also really like G10 or Micarta. Neither of these will crack or rot under extreme conditions, and they also offer you excellent traction in slippery situations when you grip onto them.
I would avoid the use of any knife that uses bone or antler in its grip. Sure, it looks cool, but it’s also going to crack very easily under duress and will also be excessively slippery.
Top 5 Best Bushcraft Knives
Now that we’ve gone through the qualities to look for in a bushcraft knife, I’m going to walk you through my recommendations for the top bushcraft knives under $200.
KA-BAR as a company is most well known for their USMC Mark 2 Combat Knife, but a smaller offering of theirs that would be better suited for bushcraft use is the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade knife.
This is a heavy-duty knife with a full tang that was specifically intended by KA-BAR to be used for camping and survival purposes.
Built in New York, it ships with a black nylon sheath that is actually imported and not the best, admittedly, so you may want to search for another sheath on the aftermarket that is a bit higher quality.
The 1095 cro-van steel blade has a drop point shape with a twenty degree blade angle, which helps make it versatile and applicable for a variety of purposes. This blade can be used for splitting wood into smaller pieces for kindling, for cleaning game, and so on. The blade itself is five and a half inches long, with an overall length of ten and a half inches.
The blade will need to be ideally sharpened out of the box to offer you the best performance, but as a whole, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 is one of the best and most practical bushcraft knives for the money on the market today.
- Durable 1095 cro-van steel blade
- Twenty-degree drop point blade angle can be used for a variety of purposes
- Designed specifically for camping and survival use
- Very practical size
- Full tang
- Sheath is not the highest quality
- Blade needs to be sharpened out of the box
The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is an American-made knife with a drop point blade and designed specifically for outdoor survival. Shipping with a Kydex sheath that has a belt loop, this knife also comes equipped with a durable G10 handle that offers excellent non-slip qualities even in slippery conditions.
The CPM-S30V steel offers superior corrosion resistance and high quality edge retention, while the drop point construction of the blade is suitable for both precision use and heavy duty applications where strength is paramount.
The only real downside to this kind of steel is that it can be difficult to sharpen, although fortunately, it will retain its edge for an extended period of time in comparison to lower quality steels.
This is an expensive knife and requires you to put down a large amount of money in comparison to other bushcraft knives, but it will be well worth it if you desire owning a bushcraft knie that will give you a lifetime of service out in the wilderness.
- Robust Design
- Non-Slip G10 Handle
- Full tang
- Quality sheath with belt loop
- Expensive and not for those on a budget
- Blade can take a long time to get sharp
The Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore Camp Knife is an excellent quality knife that will not break your bank to get. With a 4-5/16 inch blade, this El Salvador-made knife has a hardwood handle that gives it a very classic look.
The blade itself is built out of 1075 high carbon steel with a blasted satin finish to ensure proper corrosion resistance. The sheath that ships with this knife is also built out of high quality 100% imported leather, so there will be no need for you to buy a sheath separately.
Take note that since this blade has 1075 high carbon steel for the material, it is a little bit softer than other kinds of bushcraft blades. On the one hand, that means that this knife will be easy to sharpen, but on the other hand it may require you to sharpen it more often than other kinds of blades.
Overall though, this knife has very high quality workmanship put into it, and for the money the Condor Bushlore Camp Knife will be hard to beat.
- High carbon steel blade has a blasted satin finish for superior corrosion resistance
- Easy to sharpen
- Overall high quality workmanship
- Full tang
- Blade is softer and therefore may need to be sharpened more often
The Schrade SCHF36 Frontier is a full tang outdoor, drop point knife with a 5-inch stainless steel blade and 10.4 inch overall length. This knife was designed specifically by Schrade for bushcraft use, although it can also be used for camping or everyday purposes.
Schrade ships this knife with a ferro rod, lanyard hold, and sharpening stone, making it a truly all-in-one survival package. The handle is a thermoplastic elastomer that will offer you excellent grip even in slippery conditions.
The one negative to this knife is that the powder coating is not the highest quality and will chip off with extended use. The blade itself will retain an edge and the stainless steel itself will still offer you suitable corrosion resistance.
- Drop point stainless steel blade
- Designed specifically for bushcraft use
- Thermoplastic elastomer handle offers you an excellent grip
- Coating is not the highest quality
The Morakniv Companion is a very versatile fixed blade knife with a 12C27 stainless steel 4.1 inch blade that will be good for food preparation, cutting kindling, carving, cleaning game, and so on.
This blade is also razor sharp and very durable, and is not prone to rusting. The grip is patterned to be high friction and remain firm in your hand even in wet and slippery conditions. A plastic sheath is shipped with the knife which matches the color of the grip.
One thing to take note of with this knife is that the blade is a little bit thicker than other bushcraft knives at 0.1 inches, and therefore it won’t be the best blade for slicing in precision work.
- Razor sharp blade
- Corrosion resistant blade
- High friction
- Very affordable
- Not the best slicer or precision knife due to a thicker blade
Top Bushcraft Knife Conclusion
Overall, if you’re looking for the highest quality possible bushcraft knife at the best affordable price, my top recommendation to you would be the KA-BAR Becker BK2 knife.
This knife won’t break your bank as it’s under 100 dollars, comes from a very reputable company, and is designed to last you a lifetime. It comes with a durable and corrosion resistant drop point blade for extra versatility, and a nice grip that will serve you well, even when things get slippery.
The best bushcraft knife is one that is neither too big nor too small, practical in its applications, and one that can stand up to the elements and duress. Any of the knives we covered will do that, but the KA-BAR Becker BK2 is my choice out of the 5 knives above.