• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Review | Fire Creek Forge Bushcraft knife is solid user knife

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Sometimes the best cutlery reviewers are people who have a lukewarm interest in knives. Forget design, steel, handle material etc. – for these folks the bottom line is simple: Does the knife work?
This Fire Creek Forge Bushcraft knife works quite well.
by Leon Pantenburg
Disclaimer: Fire Creek Forge supplied the product for this review. At the time of publication, there was no sponsorship relationship between Fire Creek Forge and Survivalcommonsense.com. Nobody had any input into this post. All I ever promise is a fair shake.

My wife, Debbie, who is essentially indifferent to knife testing, and merely tolerates my cutlery obsession, snagged this handmade knife by Elijah Williams as soon as it arrived in the mail. The Bushcraft immediately became a kitchen knife, which means its main employment area will be inside, with brief, supervised sojourns into the outdoors.

“Not everybody wants a knife that can gut a deer, skin a hog or split an elk’s ribcage,” Debbie commented. She noticed my incredulous expression. “This knife fits my hand, slices well, and holds an edge. It stays in the knife drawer.”

The Fire Creek Bushcraft knife looks good and handles well.

Here are the Bushcraft specs:

– 1/8-inch thick O1 Tool Steel
– 4-inch blade
– 8.75 ” overall length
-Flat grind, differential temper
-Edge RC hardness 58-60
-Olive Drab Canvas Micarta handle scales
-Stainless handle bolts
-Hand-stitched leather sheath
Fire Creek Forge is a small business located in Potlatch, Idaho, owned and operated by Elijah and Sarah Williams. In addition to heirloom quality knives, they make unique and useful forged items the blacksmith shop. Everything they sell is hand forged or hand made by Elijah or Sarah.

Elijah is a “Forged in Fire” champion (Season 6 Episode 8) on the History Channel’s hit show.

The blade design, with the drop point, flat grind with micro bevel and thin blade make this a good skinning and hunting knife. The Bushcraft went along on a deer hunt, where it was used for several deer hunting tasks. The Bushcraft was used for skinning around the shoulders and neck, and it proved to be quite nimble in my hand.

I didn’t try splitting the whitetail’s ribcage with it, since I was also field testing another knife. But I’m guessing the Bushcraft could do the job.

The knife was also used to whittle some feather sticks and other bushcraft knife tasks, and it was my EDC knife for several weeks.

The good stuff:
Steel: O1 Tool Steel is the original oil-hardening, “non-shrinking” tool steel that can be hardened to the Rockwell C 65 range from a low austenitizing temperature, according to the Hudson Steel Corporation. O1 is a general-purpose tool steel that is typically used in applications where alloy steels cannot provide sufficient hardness, strength, and wear resistance.
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One of my favorite EDC knives is the Battle Horse Knives Feather Stick. The Mora-style knife has an O1 blade, and it gets used hard for everything from opening fertilizer sacks to cutting twine or anything else a utility knife gets used for.
The blade holds an edge very well, and it is easily stropped back to a razor edge when it eventually dulls. O1 can stain, but a quick wipe with an alcohol swab to remove blood or other acidic substances keeps the blade from developing a patina. If patina is not desirable, go with a stainless steel.
Point: The drop point is one of the most useful configurations imaginable. I prefer a clip point over any configuration, and a drop point is a clip’s first cousin.
Handle: Since the handle fits my wife’s hand so well, that means it will be a trifle small for me. I wear large gloves, and have the same size hands as Donavon Phillips, the burly, six-foot-six-inch knife maker who owns Big D Custom Knives. The handle is long enough for me, but the diameter is a little slender for my tastes. Wrapping the handle with tennis racket tape could quickly solve that problem.
This slender handle kept me from using the knife inside the abdominal cavity while I was gutting a deer. The knife would have gotten drenched in blood and other fluids, and a slender handle could slip in my hand. Someone with smaller hands could have used the Bushcrafter safely. One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to knife handles.
This is not a deal breaker. Since all the knives are handmade, just contact the company and specify what you want.

The Bushcraft worked well for skinning and felt very nimble in the hand.

Grind: Choosing the right grind has a lot to do with how well a knife will work for you.  My favorite grind for overall use is convex, but a flat grind with micro bevel is another favorite. (Check out my grind field test.) The flat grind is a good configuration for slicing and overall use. Eventually, if the blade is stropped enough, the micro bevel will end up with a convex edge.
Phillips re-worked my Feather Stick from a scandi to a convex grind, and I noticed a definite improvement. A scandi works well for wood working and bushcrafting tasks, but no better than a convex. And a convex has it over a scandi or flat grind when it comes to skinning or field dressing big game animals. Knife grinds all come down to personal preferences. (This video series shows how to strop a convex edge.)
Blade thickness: I’m noticing a movement away from the blades that go much thicker than 1/8-inch. I think this is a good trend, and  with today’s incredible tool and super steels, a thick blade is not necessary.
This blade thickness is one reason my wife appropriated the Bushcraft. It slices and handles very well, and that’s what you need in a user knife.

The thin blade makes the Bushcraft a great slicer.

Sheath: The knife comes with an attractive, sturdy, hand-sewn leather sheath.
Made in USA: Fire Creek Forge Knives are hand made in Potlatch, Idaho by Elijah Williams. They are works of art that can be used hard. Fire Creek pays local, state and federal taxes, and the company contributes to the local economy. Buy local, buy American!
Do you need a Fire Creek Bushcraft knife?
Well, Debbie thinks she does! Looks, blade configuration, steel hardness and handle material don’t matter much with her. The bottom line is: Will the knife work for what she needs it to?
Debbie thinks it does, and you probably will too!
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