• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Review: Gunny Hunter LT sets new standard for user knives

bark river knives, Gunny Hunter LT, Elmax
600 300 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Just when you think something can’t be improved upon, it happens.

That is the case with the new Bark River Gunny LT.  About all I can add is “WOW”!

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: Knivesshipfree.com and DLT Trading are Survivalcommonsense.com affiliates. I don’t work for Bark River Knives, did not get a free knife, and was not paid to do this review. Nobody had any input on the contents of this post, and everything in it is my opinion. 

When you find a knife (or any piece of equipment for that matter)  that you really, really like, buy two, because they will probably be discontinued.

gunny hunter LT, bark river knives, elmax

The Gunny Hunter LT is a user-sized knife that can handle just about anything.

That has happened three times now with the Bark River Gunny, twice with the Bravo and twice with the Tundra. I also had a Bravo 1 LT reground to a Gunny pattern. I use knives to test them, and IMHO, these are some of the most useful knives a person can own.

I first heard about the Gunny at the Dallas airport. A Texas deer camp guide was in a waiting area, and I was headed to Mississippi on a deer hunt. Naturally, we found each other and the discussion turned to knives.

The guide swore by his Gunny, and said he used his for field dressing several deer every day. Some of other guides got Gunnys after seeing his in action. I’d never heard of Bark River, and was quite happy with the Cold Steel SRK I’d carried for several years. That info was filed away and didn’t think much about it.

Then I discovered Bark River Knives several years later, and that’s all she wrote.

So I didn’t need a fourth Gunny (for that matter, a second or third). But I wanted it.

Bark River Knives: Gunny Hunter LT – Elmax

Specifications (Courtesy of Knivesshipfree.com)

 Overall Length:  8.25″
 Blade Length:  3.775″
 Cutting Edge:  3.55″
 Blade Height:  .93″
 Blade Steel:  Elmax
 Blade Hardness:  60HRC
 Blade Thickness:  .125″
 Weight:  4.625oz.


The Gunny is one of Bark River’s most popular knives. It is the smaller, down-sized version of the wildly-popular Bravo series. This Gunny Hunter LT  is like the others in the Gunny series with the exception of a thinner blade and different steel.

Probably the best descriptive word that could be used for this knife is “balanced.” It is just about the perfect size to do just about anything. Many Gunny owners use them as hunting knives, and they work really well.

The good stuff

Steel: I’ve had a Gunnys in A2 and CPM 3V steel, and they worked fine for me. I can’t really tell the difference in edge-holding, truth be told. Like many knife enthusiasts, I’m OCD about sharpening and maintaining knife edges.

I have not personally had a lot of experience with Elmax, but Pat Simning, one of my hunting partners, has. His pet hunting knife is a BR Snowy River with an Elmax blade. Pat used his Snowy River to help skin and gut two bull elk,  a deer, two hogs and a cow elk without ever sharpening it! The blade was far from dull when I got hold of it, and it could easily have processed another big game animal.

Pat’s knife looked brand new, and there was no evidence of use.

At 60 HRC, Elmax is a hard steel, but I didn’t notice any chipping on Pat’s blade. A quick touch up with a strop loaded with Bark River black compound restored the razor edge.  A followup with a plain leather strop took the edge to wicked, scary sharp.

bark river knives, gunny hunter LT, elmax

The .125-inch blade thickness is one of the strong points of the Gunny LT.

A quick note to older, more experienced outdoorspeople: One way to get invited along on hunts and to fishing and hunting camps is to have useful skills. Knife sharpening and sighting in rifles are excellent things to be good at!

Grind: All Bark River knives are convex ground. I have proven to my satisfaction that convex is the best overall grind choice for a knife that might be called upon to do hunting, bushcraft and hunting tasks.

Blade thickness: The .125 blade thickness is what convinced me to get yet another Gunny. I don’t like thick blades – anything much past 1/8- inch – and think the extra steel in not necessary in a working blade. A thicker blade doesn’t slice as well, and IMHO, doesn’t make as good a hunting knife. (Here is why.) I don’t do knife fighting, and I have never broken a blade in the field.

The original Gunny blades were .154-inches. I thought that gave the knives a chunky feel, and detracted from the handling characteristics. This LT is going to get a lot of converts to the thin-is-in blade contingent.

Handle: I like the Gunny handle a lot. It is long enough for us guys with big, working man hands. I would prefer it be larger in diameter, but I understand Bark River has to make a knife that works for a wide range of users.

Point: A drop point is a good choice for a hunting/bushcraft/EDC knife. The point is one of those aspects of a knife that gets down to personal preference. Bark River will modify the point of a BR knife if you send it back to the factory. Cost = $15. I’ve had several BRs points modified. The turnaround is quick, and the result can take a really good knife to a grail.

Sheath: The Gunny comes with a sturdy leather sheath that works well and protects the edge and the user.

Made in the USA: All Bark River Knives are made in Escanoba, Michigan, by skilled Americans. These folks, and the company, pay local, state and federal taxes and contribute to their community. Buy local!

So do you need a Gunny LT?

Well, why not?

I like mine very much, and I look forward to checking out the thinner blade and super steel.

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