I won’t carry any knife that doesn’t earn its keep. I think I’ve discovered a new favorite in the Bark River Bird and Trout Knife.
by Leon Pantenburg
Editor’s note: This review was originally published in Survivalcommonsense.com in 2014.
In Central Oregon, a “Cast and Blast” float trip on the John Day River is about as much fun as a sportsperson can have. In the fall, you drift the river for smallmouth bass and steelhead salmon. When you hear or see chuckars, pheasants or quail, park the boat, uncase a shotgun and go birdhunting.
For this type of activity, you need a light, handy knife for gutting and field dressing, and that’s what the Bird and Trout Knife was designed for.
Here are the specs:
Overall Length: 8 Inches
Blade Length: 3.6 Inches
Blade Steel: CPM S35VN @ 59-60 rc
Blade Thickness: .065 Inch
Weight: 2.5 Ounces
I prefer a Mora-style knife for most of my small game hunting, so the Bird and Trout knife was an easy sell. My first impression upon opening the box was that this is a very well-made knife. Workmanship and finish is superb, and the blade comes wicked-sharp.
One of my favorite aspects of the knife is the “Made in the USA” part. The Bark River Knives company is a family-owned business located in Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Bark River emphasizes maximum product performance, according to their website, using a blend of traditional and contemporary designs and styles. Manufacturing methods are also a blend of modern and traditional.
Customer service is something else I review, and so far Bark River has been exceptional. I went from the receptionist directly to the president of the company within two phone calls. Both people were courteous, very professional, and quickly provided me with the information I needed.
But great customer support doesn’t mean anything if the product isn’t good, so I started wringing out the knife.
All my knife testing starts in the kitchen. If a knife doesn’t work well under normal cooking and food preparation conditions, you sure don’t want to take it into the woods!
I don’t abuse a knife to test it – you can break anything – and I don’t baton wood to test blade quality. The knife will be used, as closely as possible, for its intended purpose.
Here’s the good stuff:
- The design is similar that of a kitchen paring knife, according to KnivesShipFree, and as such it does a superb job. The knife is light, slim and easy to carry. I added a d-ring to the sheath, clipped it to the outside of my pack and went snowshoeing. The knife wasn’t needed for anything but spreading peanut butter, but I’m sure it would have done just fine for 95 percent of what I need a knife for.
- The steel REALLY holds an edge. After a couple weeks of almost daily use, in a variety of tasks, the knife was still razor-sharp. I used it to cut plastic bands on bundles of newspapers, clean fish, work in the kitchen and whittle. I had to deliberately dull the blade to test how hard it was to sharpen. All it took was a few swipes with a butcher’s steel to restore the edge.
- The leather sheath, made by Sharpshooters Sheath Systems, works really well. It holds the knife very securely, but still allows easy access.
The other stuff:
- There is no guard on the handle. It is possible the handle could get slippery from fish slime or blood and your hand might slip onto the blade. That has never happened to me, but it might be a concern to some people.
- The handle fits my wife’s hand perfectly, which makes it a smidgen too short for my preferences. That isn’t a problem, though, and it wouldn’t keep me from buying another knife.
- It is too good a kitchen knife. The knife will most likely get a permanent place in the knife rack, meaning I may have to get another to ride in my game vest.
The Bird and Trout Knife retails for $169.36, and all knives and axes Bark River Knives makes are guaranteed against manufacturing defects for life. If you have problems with a product, just return it and it will be repaired or replaced.
I’m a sucker for handy knives such as the Bird and Trout, and I like everything about this product. It is not a survival knife, but I foresee a long working relationship together.
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