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Review: How good is the Boker Magnum Nordic knife?

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I use Scandinavian style rigid blade knives for most of my outdoors activities. So I was very interested in the Boker Nordic. Here is what I found out about it.

By Leon Pantenburg

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There is a difference between cheap and inexpensive. “Cheap,” when it refers to an object, means it is worth very little, according to the Urban dictionary.  “Inexpensive” means something doesn’t cost much, and generally doesn’t refer to a compromise in quality. In other words, you get a good product for less money.

In survival gear, I recommend you go with inexpensive when possible and within reason. Don’t let a celebrity endorsement be the deciding factor in equipment choices.

Subsequently, my nomination for the best all-around knife for the average person is an inexpensive rigid blade Mora-style knife. Mora is a brand name. Generally speaking, I define a Mora as a knife with a  rigid, three-to-four-inch blade, a Scandinavian grind and overall length of about eight inches. The handle typically doesn’t have a guard, and the knife is intended to be an all-purpose, general-use cutting tool.

In this case, I decided to compare the Boker Magnum Nordic with the Mora model 86o. I’ve carried my particular 860 for several years, and it has seen hard use. My Mora is used for cleaning fish, small game processing, utility purposes and anything I need a knife for. My 860 rides in my briefcase and goes to the office, where it is used for opening mail and packages, slicing bagels and, as needed, spreading peanut butter and cream cheese.

As far as I’m concerned, the 860 sets the standard for inexpensive, over-all utility knives.

Here are some physical comparisons:

Boker nordicBoker Magnum NordicWEB-Firestarter(1)

  • Overall length: 9 1/8″
  • Blade length: 4 1/2″
  • Weight: 3.7 oz.
  • Handle material: Rubber
  • Made in China
My Mora 860 has an extensively-modified sheath.

My Mora 860 has an extensively-modified sheath.

Mora

  • 8 3/4″ Overall Length
  • 4″ Stainless Steel Blade
  • Black Rubber Handle with Composition Trim
  • Molded Sheath with Belt Clip and Drain Hole
  • Made in Sweden

Steel: The Boker blade is 440A  steel, a relatively low cost, high corrosion resistant stainless steel. The material is about mid-range when it comes to knife steel quality, and is what the entire Magnum series is made of.

The Mora is made of 12C27 stainless steel, a grade with high hardness and good wear resistance. It takes a keen edge and has excellent edge holding ability. One of my hunting buddies uses his 860 almost exclusively on big game because of the knife’s ability to hold an edge.

Both knives came out of the box with a shaving-sharp edge.

Testing started in the kitchen, as I used the Nordic for everything I would use a kitchen knife for. The handle proved to be ergonomically comfortable for long cutting jobs. The handle didn’t get slippery when wet. The Nordic is OK for vegetables, but the blade is too stiff and rigid to effectively fillet fish. It is adequate, but not the best choice, for a slicing knife. Inevitably, the knife got dull, but a few swipes with my butcher’s steel restored the razor edge.

I don’t baton firewood as part of the testing process. (Click here to see why.) I am concerned about how easily a knife carries, and how convenient it is to take along, so the Nordic rode in my brief case for several days and was included in a daypack on a short hike. I also whittled sticks, cut rope, and split up some pitchwood. For a final dulling test, I cut up some cardboard until the edge was really dull. Restoring the edge was easy.

So here is what I don’t like about the Nordic:

The sheath sucks. An inexpensive knife can’t offer all the bells and whistles of a more spendy knife, but the sheath should be safe. The Boker’s  is not. The knife falls easily out of the sheath when inverted. The knife could be lost, leaving you without a vital survival tool, or, could possibly cause a serious injury. The Mora sheath was better than the Nordic’s, but both need extensive improvements

The blade is too wide: The Boker design might be a better hunting knife than my Mora, because the wider blade and more rounded tip design makes it better for skinning large game animals. You decide which feature you want. This blade design wouldn’t be my favorite for an all-around knife.

I like:

The handle: Ergonomically, it fits my average-sized hand better than the Mora’s, and the smushy texture is not slippery. It won’t get slippery and dangerous, even if it’s being used for cleaning fish or dressing game animals. This is an important feature – you don’t want to use a dangerous cutting tool.

The price: A Boker Magnum Nordic knife costs in the neighborhood of $20, which is about what you can plan on spending on a Mora 860. Either knife is a good deal.

When I want a second opinion on survival equipment, I contact Karla Pantenburg Moore, an avid do-it-yourselfer, soaper, homesteader (and my kid sister).  Karla got her Boker as canning season was getting underway, and it was used extensively on a variety of vegetables.

Karla agreed with me on my assessment: She likes the Nordic for meat cutting and processing. But the Boker isn’t a very good choice for vegetables, she said, because the blade is too thick for easy slicing and peeling. As a small game processing knife, the Nordic’s blade is a little large.

So which is the better knife?

It depends on what you’re looking for.

  • Both knives will need sheath modifications. I recommend drilling a hole in handle of both knives so a lanyard can be attached and the knife secured to a sheath.
  • I think the Mora steel is better, but the Nordic’s blade is entirely adequate for most tasks.
  • Some people will like the Nordic’s handle better. It is wider, has a more pronounced guard and may fit your hand better.
  • I think the Nordic is a better design for a hunting knife, but the Mora is a better choice for an all-around utility knife.

My vote goes to the Mora over the Nordic. But both are very good, quality knives for not a lot of money.

As in all survival gear, pick out what will work for you. Either of these knives will serve you well.

2 comments
  • Leon

    It won’t stay in some cases. I lost a Mora from one of those sheaths when I dumped a canoe in some rapids. The thought of a razor-sharp knife, tumbling around with me in the whitewater, was enough to make me come up with a better way of securing it! Obviously, I love my Moras!

  • Rusty

    Thanks for your review. I like Moras but have found the Nordic is a nice knife for the price ($10.99) I am unsure why you feel the Nordic falls out if you press it into the sheath it will click and friction will hold it. Perhaps you were not placing the knife far enough in with a very little amount of pressure. Give it a try. I have my Nordic as part of a back up survival kit in a car and feel it will do the job I need it to. Regards!

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