It's US made and in that category, at this price point, the blade steels are often less desirable than the tried and true 1095 carbon steel found in the Mk1. In fact, finishing your own knife from blade blanks is about the only route I can think of to get into better steel at this price.
The blade is full flat ground and relatively thin stock. Going back to the blade blank comment, my Enzo Trapper was O1 at about $50 but I sold it because I just don't like the Scandi grind. And, Enzo offers an FFG version which I would probably still own if I had gone that route instead. Other classic military style knives from Ka-Bar and Ontario can be had for the same or less money, but they typically use a somewhat low saber grind. It makes for a strong blade and is certainly functional. A full flat grind is not an upgrade from any other grind, it's just different and if your knife spends as much or more time skinning deer as it does processing wood then it's a design that might interest you. I know I get the appeal of thick knives that you can smash with a club to fell giant redwoods and go straight caveman with. They're big and heavy and awesome. They will also do anything you want them to as long as they are sharp and pointy. In the end, it's a matter of personal preference and often driven by the tasks you most need the knife to perform. However, it seems that if you are in fact looking for a FFG blade, the field gets just that much narrower.
Another angle the Mk1 has going, classic or traditional styling. There might be some modern styled blades out there which might functionally compete, but if you're looking for something with classic personality a stacked leather handle immediately comes to mind with other natural materials like antler or bone or wood.
What would I do differently? Maybe some minor appearance tweaks, but truthfully, I think the Ka-bar Mk1 is done right. I understand the little swedge but it's something I always talk about - it's uncomfortable for thumb press cutting and this is one of the most common ways a knife is used. I like the way it looks, I'm not sure it has a real world function. I might blend the handle into the cross guard a little more rather than leaving a step, only because it's just another edge (or ledge) that can abrade your skin, though only in certain holds. The pommel is kind of huge, but it's neither good nor bad, I just think it would look better if it were a little smaller or maybe less circular. You know, the bottom line is, I like it. In fact, I would like to pose the question to anyone reading; what knife really competes with this one? Apples to apples. When you consider the steel, the grind, the size, the place of manufacture and the price, what else is there? Post your ideas in the comments.
Well, you may say, there are historical examples of full tang knives. As near as I can tell they were often kitchen or utility knives, consumable at a time when everyone lived by their tools, and therefore quickest and easiest to produce. I think what it boils down to though, is decoration. As I mentioned, a stick tang provides a medium for decoration. The maker can stack up all manner of materials and fasten ornate pommels for an attractive piece of art and weaponry. And, if the pommel was a popular device for bludgeoning people with, and I think it was, then it makes sense to use a stick tang.
How did Ka-Bar do with this knife though? Well, heavy whittling sessions to dull the edge show the kind of edge retention one would expect from 1095 and sharpening meets expectations as well. I know that everyone seems to like watching knives baton wood but seriously, what a knife will do well is immediately apparent in its design and geometry. A knife is not an axe, a small knife is not a big knife, a thin knife is not a thick knife - you get the idea. Cutting mediums like wood and cardboard create baseline performance results for edge retention and through sharpening the metaphorical picture usually becomes clear. Fit and finish is spot on as you can clearly tell in the images. The bottom line? US made 1095, with classic design at $60.00. What else compares? Put your choice for a similar alternative in the comments. Thanks for reading.
|My own homemade kydex sheath for front side horizontal carry. Though I admit, a leather sheath is just right for this blade.|