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Highland 'Bushcraft' Knife


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Highland "Bushcraft" knife

Highland Bush Pro

Not that long ago, I got my hands on a handcrafted, Canadian knife.

This blade is manufactured by Triple X Knives in Frankville, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The company was founded by knife maker Derrick Tappin in 2001. They offer a Lifetime Guarantee and a Lifetime Sharpening service. Their first and exclusive line of knives is the Highland series, which includes the "Hunter", the "Skinner" and the "SG Skinner" models. The newest addition to this series is called "Bush-Pro" and this particular knife is sold exclusively through Paul at BushcraftCanada.com.

Specifications:

Steel: L6 carbon @ HRC 58-60
Overall length: 9 1/2"
Blade length: 4 5/8" (tip to handle panel)
Blade width: 1 1/2" (at the widest)
Blade thickness: just over 1/8"
Weight: 7.93 Oz (225 g) (the sheath is another 3.53 Oz /100g)

Let me say a few words about the blade steel for those not familiar with it. L6 is a high carbon and low alloy, tried and true steel with very good properties for a knife (or sword) blade. Maybe it is not the latest thing in steel research, but it is very tough, strong with decent edge holding and it is easy to sharpen. Also it is carbon steel not stainless and as such, it will rust if given the opportunity and it will react to fruit and food juices, acids. This reaction will create discolouration, patina on the surface of the blade. Which, in my opinion just gives character and some protection to the steel. This will not affect the performance of the knife in any way. Some people force a patina right away on a new carbon steel blade using different acids and solutions, that way the patina is more even and uniform. Also, carbon steel has a distinct smell to it, especially before the patina forms. So, carbon steel needs some love and maintenance. In order to prevent rust, make sure you put the knife away dry and apply a thin coat of oil on the blade as soon, as possible. Best to use food grade mineral oil, if the knife is to be used for food processing as well.

Overall impressions:

The knife comes wrapped in bubble sheet in a strong cardboard box with the sheath, a strip of leather for lanyard and a Certificate of Authenticity. This certificate and a little card with the specific details is a very nice and professional touch. The knife was shaving sharp right out of the box, but there was some very minor burr along a short section of the edge. A few strokes on a charged stropping leather took care of that in no time. I also noticed on this particular knife the grind was a bit higher on one side, especially around the first quarter of the blade. Other than that, the fit and finish was good. It is a well built knife with beautiful, flowing lines.

Unboxing the Highland Bush Pro

The construction of the knife is full, contoured tang with the tang extending beyond the pommel for about 3/16 of an inch at the farthest. This extended tang comes handy not only for light hammering with it, but for hammering on it (with a piece of wood...) when we want to use it as a chisel. The wide blade has a nice, sweeping belly and a straight spine. The edge is zero Scandi grind. This blade shape and grind combination is not that common. The spine of the blade is not square, so it will not work properly with a ferrocerium rod without modification. The balance point of this knife is about half an inch behind the first pin.

The handle consists of nicely polished Lamitex panels fastened by two hollow steel pins and the company logo is inserted in the middle of the panel on each side (the blade has no makers mark). This Lamitex (although they call it canvas) is like a very fine, linen micarta (with similar qualities). It is a very attractive, classy looking handle material. I really like this particular colour as well. It gives a good grip and feels good in the hand. It is smooth (so it will not give you hot spots after extended use) and still not very slippery when wet. Mind you, the shape of the handle also plays an important role here. I find it very ergonomic, easy to choke up for detail work or hang back for some light chopping if needed. Here are some "in hand" shots of various grips.

Grip 1Grip 2
Grip 3 Grip 4
Grip 5
 

The sheath is a basic, layered or "sandwich" style sheath and it is made out of very thick, strong leather. The stitching is nice and even, they used a strong thread. The company name and logo is imprinted on the back of the sheath. The belt loop is very large, capable to accept belts, up to five inches(!) wide. There is a retaining strap with a snap to secure the knife. This retaining strap is attached by two rivets. But in my opinion it would be better with only one (perhaps a bit larger) rivet. Because then the strap could rotate and conform easier to the curve of the handle. Also, I find very hard to draw and insert the knife. You have to use both hands and it is still not an easy task to do without cutting into the leather. Another thing I noticed, the welt around the blade is not sealed to prevent moisture seeping in. Overall, it does the job, but I can not say that I am a big fan of this sheath...

Sheath of the Highland Bushcraft Knife

In practical use:

Here is my experience and observations in no particular order, but rather by line of application. I gave a good workout to this knife in the woods. Which included some carving... ...(note the fine point)...

Point of the Highland Bushcraft Knife Stake
 

...a little batoning, splitting...

BatoningWood Splitting
 

... light chopping (note the clean, even surface of the cut)...

Chopping wood with the Highland Bushcraft Knife

...feather-sticks...

Feather sticks with the Highland Bushcraft Knife Feather Sticks with the Highland Bushcraft Knife
 

...pitch-wood collection...

Pitch wood

... and fire preparation.

Fire preparation with the Highland Bushcraft Knife

Also, I did a little prying and digging with the tip of the knife in a log.

Prying and digging with the Highland Bushcraft Knife

None of these tasks posed any problem for the Bush-Pro, it performed very well, without a hitch. The extended tang came handy on a few occasions during these jobs, as well. After cleaning and close inspection, I did not find any damage, chipping, rolling, whatsoever on the knife.

My next group of assignments was some cutting and slicing tests in different materials, such as leather...

Slicing leather

...nylon webbing...

Slicing nylon webbing

...rope...

Cutting rope

...plastic (or PVC) cord used for welding linoleum floors...

Cutting plastic or PVC

...pneumatic air-hose...

Cutting pneumatic air hose

...bicycle inner tube...

Cutting bicycle inner tube

...and finally newsprint.

Shredding newspaper

The sharp, zero ground Scandi edge cut and sliced cleanly and easily in all of these materials. Also, it did good for push cuts. I find the belly of the blade very useful for slicing. Next field of use is kitchen duty, food preparation. I could accomplish everything I tried with this blade fairly easily here as well. Of course a paring knife is better to peel potatoes for example... But this knife performed better than I expected in this area. The wide blade serves great as a "shovel/spatula" to get the sliced and diced ingredients into a pot or frying pan and it is also useful for spreading butter, cream cheese, etc... On the end of this session the blade started to develop some patina, which is normal and fine with me. I took a few pictures of some of the food processing as well.

Cutting sausage Cutting bacon
Slicing bread Slicing onions
Slicing tomatoes Slicing potatoes
Slicing a lemon
 

After this relatively short but busy time with the Bush-Pro, I find this knife to be very useful as an all around cutting tool. The shape of the blade lends itself to a variety of uses. It would even make a good, dedicated hunting knife. During these tests I touched up the edge once with just a few swipes in order to restore shaving sharpness. The blade never lost a good working edge, so I am satisfied with the edge retention. I also like the fact, that it is made in Canada. We don't have a lot of Canadian knife makers around.

As for perhaps improving on the knife... A square edge section along the spine of the blade for scraping and ferrocerium rod use and of course a better, updated sheath would be nice.

Thanks for reading!
Switchblade




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paul@bushcraftcanada.com
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