• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Video: Best beginner knife? Consider the Mora Scout 39

600 348 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Q: What is a good knife for my child to learn knife handling skills with?

A: Consider this Mora – safety is paramount while the youngster is learning knife handling skills.

by Leon Pantenburg 

The first consideration when buying a knife for a beginner is pretty basic: do you want a folder or rigid blade? Each category has  strong points. But for a youngster’s first cutting implement, my vote goes for a rigid blade knife. The most common reason for knife cuts, according to an informal poll I did years ago among a group of scoutmasters, was that the blade folded on a finger.

The Mora Scout Model 39 is an excellent choice for a youngster’s first knife.

This search for that first knife can further be refined, IMO, to the Mora Companion. The Companion is a superb choice for beginners and experienced users. It is the entry level knife for Big River Wild Adventures, and one of the loaners for students who want to try out different blades. What are some of the things to look for when buying a knife?

Once the folder/rigid blade decision is reached, look for ergonomics. This is a highly personal aspect, and it will vary. Generally speaking, though, a child’s knife needs to be smaller, for easier handling and the handle will need to be smaller and slimmer for smaller hands. So let’s take a look at the Mora Scout 39.

Here are the Mora Scout 39 specs:

  • Total Length: 7.1 inches 
  • Blade Length: 3.4 inches 
  • Blade Thickness: 0.08 inches 
  • Net weight: 2.6oz 
  • Fixed Blade with double finger protection and sharp tip
  • Swedish Stainless steel blade
  • Handle made out of Scandinavian Birch wood. Leather sheath in natural color
  • Limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty

How it plays out:

I am a long-time fan of Mora knives. One has been at hand for some 20+ years, and a Mora 840 Companion is still a really good choice for a first knife. When I was a volunteer with BSA Troop 18 in Bend, Oregon, the troop bought some 90+ Companions for the kids to use. The knives were reliable, safe, and really useful. Some 20 years later, some of those knives from the original batches are still in use. A Mora is also a good choice for a potentially disposable knife. (Think canoe trip with potential upsets!)

The Model 39 Scout, top, is next to a Companion model 840. A Marttiini utility knife is on the bottom.

 Here is the good stuff about the Mora Scout 39: 

Size and weight: At 7.1 inches long, the knife is neither too big nor too small. It will ride comfortably and safely on a belt. Because it is so lightweight, the user won’t know it’s there, and that’s the key to making sure the knife is available when needed.

Steel: All Mora steel is excellent. The stainless finish is a bonus for a knife that has the potential to be neglected.

Handle: The handle doesn’t work for my large, adult hands. It’s not designed to. But the Scout’s small, slender handle diameter could be perfect for some with small hands. No knife is ergonomic for everyone. The wooden handle won’t transmit heat or cold, so the material is a good choice for a knife that might be used in extreme weather.

The model 39’s handle is too small for my large hands. The knife is designed for smaller users.

Finger protection: The Scout has a quillion, which is the crossguard that helps to keep your hand or fingers from moving off of the grip and on to the blade. Personally, I have never had my hand slide onto a blade, even though I have used straight-handled knives that were slippery with blood, fish slime and the goo associated with field dressing a deer or elk.

Once a user develops the skills, a quillon is not necessary. But never underestimate a youngster’s ability to use a tool unsafely – the quillion can bring more peace of mind to parents!

Blade thickness: This knife will be used for whittling, slicing food and possibly cleaning fish or small game. For most applications, IMHO a thin blade is the best choice.

Sheath: The leather sheath does a good job of protecting the edge and point and user. It is easy to manipulate.

All in all, the Mora 39 is a good choice for that youngster’s first knife. It will work very well for smaller hands and  has some of the best safety features on the market. It’s a winner, and a keeper for long term use.

Thanks for sharing!

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