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Barkriver Bravo 1.5


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Bravo 1.5

Bark River Knife and Tool (BRKT) is a well-known US knife manufacturing company, based in Escanaba, Michigan.
The main man behind the company is Mike Stewart. He is an “old piece of furniture” in the knife industry. He has worked with other old and well-known companies, such as Pacific, Marbles and Blackjack.

This company has a wide range of excellent hunting/outdoor/bushcraft/survival knives in their lineup. These knives are very successful combination of traditional and modern designs and materials. BRKT offers a Lifetime Warranty to their customers (including re-sharpening and refurbishing).

Specifications:

Steel: A2 tool-steel @ HRC 59
Overall length: 271mm
Blade length: 149mm
Blade width: 30mm
Blade thickness: 5mm
Weight: 225g (plus another 110g for the sheath)

About the steel:

AISI A2 is an air hardening tool-steel alloy. Its main characteristics are good machinability and harden-ability, high stability after hardening, high compressive strength and good wear resistance. It has good toughness and excellent resistance to chipping. Since it has some chromium in the composite, it will stand up just a bit better to corrosion than plain carbon steels. But it is still not stainless, so it needs some maintenance and care. Keep it dry and use some oil or rust inhibitor periodically.

Components of the A2 tool-steel:

Carbon: 0.95 – 1.05
Chromium: 4.75 – 5.50
Molybdenum: 0.9 – 1.40
Vanadium: 0.20 – 0.25
Nickel: 0.30
Manganese: 0.6 – 1.0
Silicon: 0.30 – 0.50
Copper: 0.25
Phosphorous: 0.03
Sulfur: 0.03

Overall impressions:

This model is a ramp-less version. The knife looks beautiful and has a definite custom made feel to it. The fit and finish is excellent. Everything is nice and even, there are no grind marks, gaps or anything like that. Very nice workmanship. The matte black canvas micarta handle has a palm swell and superb ergonomics.

On this particular model the handle panels are fastened with stainless steel rivets (or Corby bolts). There is a lanyard hole and an integrated finger-guard. This nicely shaped handle feels very comfortable and it provides a safe and secure grip wet or dry. Here are a few “in hand” shots with and without gloves.

The blade shape is simple, almost utilitarian and a somewhat Nordic design. The spine of the knife has a not readily visible, slight drop close to the tip. Which brings down the point of the blade just a touch, still leaving plenty of belly. It is a robust, heavy duty knife with a blade heavy balance. This midsized knife has a full broad tang construction and a full convex/saber grind which is not very common, especially in factory knives. (Fällkniven comes to mind with similar grind...)

The Bravo 1.5 comes in a high quality, heavy duty layered or “sandwich” style leather sheath with a fire-steel loop in natural colour. It has very strong double stitching reinforced with rivets and eyelets. These grommets are useful for different mounting options or attaching something (for instance, a pouch) to the sheath. The belt-loop is capable of taking belts up to 3 inches wide.

There is a retaining strap with snap closure to solidly secure the knife. Talking about the strap... There is a small but very smart design detail, which I think is quite useful. We can prop the retaining strap behind the belt-loop in order to keep it open and out of the way. This helps to prevent accidental cutting and damage when the blade is drawn or inserted.

Practical use:

I have this knife for well over a month now and I have been using and testing it in different areas and applications.
I like to group my observations and experiences in categories by field of use, rather than in a chronological order.

Woodwork and field use:

Perhaps this is the most important domain for an outdoor/survival/camp knife, such as the Bravo 1.5. I took the knife along for day trips to the woods quite a few times. So, let's start here. I have easily made a lot of feather-sticks and shavings from different type of wood. Including soft, hard, seasoned, dead, green and fatwood. The sharp convex edge did a great job separating thin and curly shavings in all of them. Here are some sample pictures of the performance.

This knife did very well for batoning. Which confirms my own experience that everything else is being equal, the saber/convex grind is the best blade geometry for splitting/batoning. I took some pictures of this assignment as well.

This particular one is some real hard and knotty seasoned wood...

...and this other one is some old, sun-dried piece of stump.

Here are some fire preparation pictures of split wood...

...and shavings.

Although the spine of the blade is not optimized for scraping, it is sharp and square enough to work nicely with a Ferro cerium rod. By the way, those marks from the sparks on the blade, clean right off, no problem.

Making a quick “brew” on the campfire, courtesy of the Zebra Billy pot and the Bravo 1.5.

To test the point of the blade I did a little digging and prying in some big, dead logs. No problem, whatsoever to break out sizable wood chunks.
Those surface scratches on the tip came from the sand that was all over this particular log...

Another log and getting deeper in a few stabs...

Also tried and succeeded drilling a hole in this, about 3/4” thick piece of wood.

Despite of the thick blade I was able to make some fairly deep power cuts in this greenwood stick.

For whittling, I made some different notches and such.

Separating some very thin and even slices here...

...various notches and a point on a stick.

Literally, some see-through thin shavings on this picture.

The Bravo 1.5 performed very well in this arena and it was surprisingly nimble for its size and thickness. Even for whittling and finer work it proved to be very respectable. The blade is capable of some chopping as well if it is necessary. But since it is a midsized knife, it lacks sufficient length and weight to be a real chopper. For this purpose, it is a better choice to use a baton to aid the Bravo 1.5 in sectioning larger diameter wood. Also, I have no doubts about the strength of the blade or its point. One would have to work real hard in order to do any serious damage to this knife.

Cutting, slicing:

This group of tests is all about the cutting and slicing abilities of the blade. In order to find out the most about these properties I have used as many different kind of materials as I could get. These included “rubbery” materials, like reinforced pneumatic air hose...

...bicycle inner tube...

...old car tire.

Some “plastic” stuff, such as PVC tube...

...plumbing pipe..

...another, more rigid, thick walled and hard plumbing conduit. This kind was really hard to slice and I had to apply heavy push-cuts.

Then, different fibrous materials in the form of some nylon webbing...

...and a thicker, wider polypropylene version.

Also, I used an assortment of various ropes. Like softer nylon...

...kernmantle type...

...tough, hard polypropylene...

...and some wrist-thick, braided rope used for tying off big ships to shore. This particular piece was full of sand and took some time and effort to cut it through. It did dull the shaving sharpness of the blade, but still left a usable working edge. (Later that day I restored the shaving sharpness on a charged leather strop.)

I did not leave out the paper products from the battery of tests either.

Sliced up some newsprint...

...and this large cardboard box...

got shredded to this... by the Bravo 1.5. That substance on the edge is smeared glue from the box (not scratches) and it cleaned off easily.

The knife presented a good show in these tryouts as well.

Food preparation:

The Bravo 1.5 was pressed into service in the kitchen and it did handle it fairly well. Because of the thickness and geometry of the blade the knife was splitting, rather than slicing the harder vegetables. Nothing new here, this was expected.

But the knife definitely did better in softer food and vegetables.

Fruit juices help to develop a patina, which has some corrosion resisting qualities.

The length of the blade was an advantage in food preparation.

All in all, this knife gave a decent performance in this field and it would be suitable as a general camp knife, as well.

Conclusions:

After all these tasks the Bravo 1.5 had no damages at all, except some surface scratches on the blade and some very minor patina. Both of which is normal and comes with the territory. It will happen, sooner or later if the knife is being used... During this time I had sharpened it once to get the shaving sharpness back. This knife looks beautiful and feels good in the hand. It has one of the most comfortable handles I had the opportunity to work with. No hot spots anywhere, even after longer work sessions. It comes with a very nice, heavy duty sheath. The blade steel takes a keen edge and have very decent edge retention. It can handle some abuse, no problem. The knife performed pretty well in every field I have tried it in. It is an excellent choice for a main, all-purpose/survival knife and it is well worth the consideration if you are in the market for such a knife. It has a good warranty, as well.

Let me mention, that Bark River Knife and Tool offers different versions of the Bravo family.

Which are: Pocket Bravo, Bravo Necker, Necker II., Bravo1, 1.5 and 2. These are all different in size. Also, now there are ramped, ramp-less, swedged, spear-point and field models in A2, CPM3V or S35VN steel. Plus a host of available handle material variations. Everybody can pick a suitable combination for his or her taste.

Finally, let us see a couple of comparison shots of the original Bravo1 and its bigger 1.5 brother.

Thanks for reading!
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