I need a knife that is sized- right for camp chores, cleaning deer and fish, and is also large enough to provide personal protection.
After a year of use, the Bravo 2 has proven itself.
(Editor’s note: I do the knife reviews on this site, because there are very few people I would trust to do a thorough, unbiased field testing. Bob Patterson is one of those people I depend upon to know gear. Bob bought this knife, and neither Bark River Knives, Survivalcommonsense, Knivesshipfree or DLT Trading had any input. Check out Bob’s credentials below.)
by Robert A Patterson
A while back Leon, at survivalcommonsense.com, sent me a Bark River Tracker Companion knife to use and evaluate. It is a great little utility knife. I was so impressed with the craftsmanship of the knife, I wanted a Bark River for my “go to” knife for hunting and camping.
After pondering all the Bark River models, I decided the Bravo 2 would best meet my needs. I mostly hunt and camp in northern Minnesota deep woods. That is usually in survival mode, as everything I have is just what is on my back, or in the canoe.
My first impression when I took the Bravo 2 out of the box was, “What a tank!” When I showed it to several friends, their reaction was very similar. This knife is hefty and really strong. It will easily split kindling and muscle its way through a big elk leg joint.
My second impression was – “This is the sharpest out-of-the-box blade I have ever seen.” And it’s sharp right out to the tip. Many blades will thinly slice a sheet of typing paper when drawn through it, using the entire length of the blade.
The Bravo 2 passed the “push test”. It thinly sliced the paper just by pushing the blade straight down the edge of the paper. Quite impressive for such a sturdy blade to do that with a factory edge!
Here are the specs, courtesy of Knivesshipfree.com.
Overall Length: 12.260”
Blade Length: 7”
Blade Steel: A-2 @ 58RC
Blade Thickness: .215”
Here are some impressions:
The blade is a little thicker than most knives and has full tang construction. This gives the overall design its impressive strength. The grind is convex and lends itself well to stropping to easily maintain the edge. The corners on the spine are very crisp, making them sharp enough to be very effective with a ferrocerium rod.
The shape of the blade is a slight drop point, which is my personal preference, with a straight edge that is sharp all the way to a very small choil. I find the straight edge on the main part of the blade is more efficient when fileting fish than one with a lot of belly, like a skinning knife. There is enough of a belly sweep in the tip for use in skinning.
Here’s where the craftsmanship really shows. To the touch, the interface between the handle scales and metal parts is mostly imperceptible. The shape of the handle is bellied both vertically and laterally, which gives the grip a feel you have to experience to appreciate – it really fits. The serrated thumb ramp on the spine and finger guard underneath complete the rock-solid feel of the grip.
The butt of the handle has a hole for a lanyard and an extended pommel with a slot big enough for a strap. Both of those, along with the finger guard, thumb ramp, and small choil, will allow the user to securely lash it to a stick with paracord if you feel the need to play Rambo.
The handle scales come in several materials. The scales on my knife are natural wood. Bark River offers a wide variety of woods and grains to choose from, and they are all absolutely gorgeous. It was hard to choose just one.
The Bark River quality doesn’t end with their knives, it extends right on to their sheaths too. The Bravo 2 sheath is made of medium weight saddle leather and is just as rock-solid as the knife. It’s double stitched and riveted with hollow rivets. The hollow rivets and holes in the belt loop allow the user to lash it to pack straps or frame.
On the side of the sheath is a loop for a ferrocerium stick. I found that looping the striker cord between the stick and the sheath provided a snug trustworthy fit. Now it’s always handy and not lost in the depths of my pack.
The knife is held in place with a snapped retention strap. It’s an absolute solid fit – no jiggle at all. The fit of the sheath on your hip is also snug. It hangs straight down, doesn’t move much, and doesn’t catch on your environment. The sheath will pivot enough to facilitate sitting in tighter chairs. You’ll forget you’re wearing it.
For years I carried a larger knife on my hip for protection and larger chores, and a smaller one in my pack for basic hunting and camping chores. I’ve found the perfect combination to do both in the Bravo 2.
The handle has a beautiful, very smooth finish. I’ve used it for butchering, but haven’t had a chance to use it for field dressing yet, and have some reservations about the grip on the handle when it is majorly slimy. So far, it’s been good – time will tell. (Editor’s note: Bob, you won’t have any problems with a slippery handle!)
The Bravo 2 is built to take the abuse. It’s the perfect larger do-all camping and hunting knife, especially if you only have one. It does some things better than others. You won’t be carving a whistle with it, but it’s a breeze for quartering a large animal, splitting kindling, and starting a fire. It’s a beautiful knife and sheath, and gets noticed in the field. It really looks kind of sexy on your hip!
Bob Patterson of Mankato, MN is my old Iowa State University roommate, and is on my short list of people to go into the wilderness with. Bob is a skilled outdoorsman, an avid fisherman and deer and elk hunter. For two decades, he did an annual solo, two-week canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
His career choices make Bob a great guy to review gear. A retired firefighter and first responder, Bob was also an EMT, and his job required he be out in all sorts of nasty, cold Minnesota weather. (He knows his foul weather gear!) Bob is also a retired member of the National Ski Patrol, and a certified rope rescue instructor. He’s my go-to guy when I have questions about winter camping, rain gear or other survival clothing.
Back in college we’d go camping at the drop of a hat. Our specialty was winter camping during below zero temperatures and during blizzards. On weekends during the warmer months, we frequently canoed local rivers. Every fall, we went north to canoe the Upper Iowa River to see the fall leaves’ colors.
Living proof that some people don’t grow wiser with age, we continued adventuring after college, and have been on many, many hunting, fishing, canoe and backpacking trips. We hunted elk together in Idaho in 2010, and a southern hog hunt is in the works.