Best Bushcraft Knife Under $50

Plenty of people say that an ordinary EDC folding knife is a convenient tool to carry around even when you’re indoors most of the time. But if you’re spending a significant time out in the wild, then you’ll need the best bushcraft knife you can get. That means a fixed blade with a full tang design, a razor-sharp steel blade you can rely on, and a proper handle that offers a firm grip.

What Is a Bushcraft Knife?

There are quite a few different definitions of what a bushcraft knife really is. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that it’s a knife that will help you survive and even thrive in the wilderness.

In most cases, that means being able to do tasks that are associated with both hunting and camping. The knife should be able to skin game, or even help you hunt if possible. Then it also has to help with various tasks that you’d normally do around the camp. That means being able to cut rope and even small pieces of wood for your fire.

There are some people who even insist that the bushcraft knife should also work for self-defense. After all, there may be dangerous animals around in the bush that may harm you—not to mention dangerous people!

Schrade-SCHF36-Frontier-knife

This offers a 5-inch blade length with a 10-inch overall length. It uses 1095 steel, with the handle made from tough thermoplastic elastomer. The signature ring texture on the handle offers a secure grip that minimizes slipping when in use. With the finger choil and jimping, you’re always confident in your grip.

This comes with the full-tang construction, which is always a good thing. The weight balance is terrific, and the knife itself is quite durable as a result. There’s a lanyard hole, too, in case you want to use a lanyard with this.

It also comes with a polyester belt sheath for convenience. In some cases, your purchase also comes with a sharpener and a fire-starting kit.

This is basically a no-nonsense knife that you can rely on to do just about everything you want a knife to do when you’re camping. It’s extremely durable, which makes your under-$50 expense a rather wise investment. This will serve you well for a long while.

Morakniv-Companion-Sandvik-Stainless-knife

Just about every expert with their own list of the best bushcraft knives under $50 will most likely include the Morakniv Companion. In fact, a lot of them will consider this the best in this price range. It may be an entry-level option, but it has earned a reputation for capable yet comfortable use with excellent toughness.

This particular version uses the 12C27 Stainless Steel, and it’s well-suited for outdoor work. It surely does well against corrosion, and it maintains its sharpness longer than its carbon steel counterpart. It works for carving fresh tinder, chopping small tree limbs, and food preparation (including filleting and skinning).

The rubber handle offers a very secure grip, while the rounded blade spine is a good spot to place your thumb when using this. The blade is 4.1 inches long, which is a good length for most outdoor tasks.

Perhaps the main gripe against this knife, though, is that it uses a partial tang instead of a full-tang design. That means it may not as long as a full-tang knife, but for occasional users this isn’t really something to worry about.

It’s available in several colors (displayed on both ends of the handle), and with the sheath. The sheath itself is tough, and it rides low so it’s unobtrusive. With the thumb ramp, drawing the knife is quick and easy.

Schrade-SCHF30-Stainless-Steel-Knife

This time the blade uses the high carbon 8Cr13MoV steel. That means it’s highly resistant to corrosion, with a high carbon content for cutting effectiveness and edge retention. It’s still tough, and easy to sharpen as well. The blade slices through paper easily, and the design offers a convenient spot for your thumb.

The blade length here is 4.9 inches, with an overall length of 9.7 inches. For plenty of people, the size is “Goldilocks-perfect”, meaning it’s not too small and not too big. The full-tang construction makes it a more durable knife, and also gives you a nice weight balance.

The sheath is nice enough, although it grips the blade a bit too tightly. Of course, over time this may loosen up, though in the meantime you’d have to be careful. You need a hard pull to draw the knife free. All in all, it’s a terrific camping knife.

Morakniv-Bushcraft-M-10791-Carbon-knife

This time, you have high carbon steel for the blade. It’s coated with tungsten DLC anti-corrosive black coating, to make sure that it does well in the outdoors even when things get wet. You do need to oi; the blade after each time you use it, to maintain its corrosion-resistance. The blade is 4.3 inches long, while the overall length is 9.1 inches.

This doesn’t come with a fire starter, but then you can always get your own. At least the spine of the blade is ground specifically for use with the fire starter. It does come with a sheath, which also has a drainage hole that helps when you sheath a wet blade. You don’t have the thumb tab, however, so you may want to practice drawing your knife from the sheath.

The handle has a nice, ergonomic design that fits the hand nicely, along with a high-friction rubber grip that keeps your hand from sliding from the handle. You get a nice grip even when things get wet.

This works for batoning, as the ⅛-inch-thick blade can split wood into smaller pieces for your kindling. You can use this for carving wood as well.

In many ways, this is similar to the Morakniv Companion, except the Bushcraft Black is a bit longer and comes with a different handle. The Companion may be more comfortable to use, though the Bushcraft Black seems somewhat more heavy-duty.

CTK23243HC-Condor-Tool-Knife

The Condor Bushlore is 9.25 inches long overall, with the blade accounting for 4.25 inches. It uses a full-tang design, along with a 1075 high carbon steel with bead blast finish. The handle is made from walnut, and features a lanyard hole. Your purchase also comes with a leather belt sheath.

The 1075 carbon steel for the blade offers a decent level of toughness, and it’s easy enough to sharpen as well. It’s not really all that corrosion-resistant, so you’ll need to oil the blade regularly.

This is one tough knife, all in all, and it can sure take a beating out in the bush. It’s very efficient at cutting, which is surprising especially at this price range. Another pleasant surprise is that the blade holds its sharp edge nicely even with daily use. You only need a few minutes every other day to keep the blade sharp.

FT10258-Morakniv-Companion-Knife

This uses the 1095 steel, which means it’s exceptionally hard when compared to many other blades in this price range. At the same time, the toughness is surprisingly decent, meaning it won’t easily chip off. The steel makes the knife ideal for tasks such as chopping small tree limbs, carving wood to use as tools, and to carve fresh tinder.

The blade does need regular oiling, and you should dry it after each time it gets wet. However, despite your best efforts the steel will probably still develop a patina after some time.

The entire knife is 8.6 inches long, with the blade at 4.1 inches. The knife itself is quite lightweight, weighing only 3.9 ounces. Yet even though it’s not all that heavy, it’s a solid knife designed to last a long while. It even comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.

The handle also features a high-friction pattern that should give you a secure grip. It sits nicely in the hand, even when it gets wet. The knife also comes with a hard plastic sheath.

Morakniv-Craftline-Pro-FT01506

This is a relatively smaller knife, with its 8.25 overall length and 3.6-inch blade. It’s relatively lightweight at around 4 ounces. It also comes with a rubber handle.

Actually, this wasn’t meant for use out in the bush. Morakniv designed the Craftline Pro S for construction workers. This explains the raw (not grinded) spine, meaning that this isn’t meant to work with a Firestarter.

So why is this on the list of the best bushcraft knives under $50? We put this here on the list because Morakniv aimed for a knife with a sharp yet durable edge, along with a handle that offers a good grip. The rubber handle here is very comfortable to grip, and you get a nice grip even when your hands are wet.

These are the same features you’d most likely appreciate when you’re camping. It’s a good option for those who prefer shorter blades. For some people (especially newbies), longer blades may be a bit too unwieldy.

CTK2364HC-Condor-Tool-Knife

This is 8.25 inches long overall, with a blade length of 3.75 inches. The blade features 1075 steel, with the black epoxy powder coating to boost the corrosion resistance. It also comes with a walnut handle plus a leather sheath.

This may be considered a “basic” camping knife, but it sure comes with nice features. These start with the full-tang design, which offers good durability along with a comfortable weight balance. The Scandi edge also makes it easy enough to get it to razor sharpness.

At first glance, it may seem a rather large steak knife. This is actually a true workhorse, despite the small size and low price. The blade cuts well, while the handle feels good in your hand. It’s built for practicality, and it’s simply effective for outdoor use.

Schrade-SCHF51-EDC-Knife

Now this looks quite apt for any bushcraft work. It’s rather large, with an overall length of 10.9 inches and a weight of 13.5 ounces. It’s not really lightweight. The blade itself is 5.1 inches, and uses 1095 steel. It will get the job done, though you may want to oil this regularly. The blade can deal with various camping cutting tasks without any real issue, including batoning.

It feels great to use, actually. Though it’s a bit on the heavy side, the weight is reassuring. The full tang design also balances the weight nicely through the entire blade, and makes the knife even more durable and easier to use.

The handle does come with a shape that’s comfy enough to hold, with the ring texture offering a secure grip. With the jimping and the finger guard, you can be sure that your hand won’t easily slip from the handle. The handle features a lanyard hole as well.

This is quite a versatile knife that’s ideal for serious bushcraft work. your purchase even comes with a ferro rod and a fire starter kit. As long as you’re comfortable with the size, this can be your go-to knife when out in the wild.

Schrade-SCHF3N-Bushcraft-Knife

This is among the largest of the bushcraft knives on this list, with a 12-inch overall length and a blade length of 6.4 inches. This is what you get when you don’t mind a large knife, and you scoff at blade lengths less than 4 inches for bushcraft. It’s quite heavy too, at 1 pound and 6 ounces.

This comes with a full-tang build, along with the 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel for the blade. The blade is thick as well, so this will cut hard without worrying too much about chipping off. It was razor sharp right out of the box, and it holds its sharp edge well.

This is actually considered a “medium-sized” knife for bushcraft, but it’s certainly long and heavy enough for tasks like batoning or even chopping. Paired with the Micarta handle, it works terrifically out in the wilderness. You can use this for hunting and camping without any problem whatsoever.

Reputation of Knife

One quick way of checking the quality of a particular bushcraft knife is to determine its reputation. Google the model name and find out what people (like experts and users) are saying about it. Many of the blades listed here have earned sterling reputations for bushcraft work.

Brand and Manufacturer

It’s also best if you start your search with reputable brands. The best knife brands have consistently manufactured excellent knives over the years, so it’s unlikely that they’ll produce something inherently flawed. In addition, these brands are also famous for excellent customer support.

How To Choose the Right Knife for Bushcraft

It’s not enough that you find a knife marketed as a “bushcraft knife” and then take them at their word. You ought to know if the knife can actually do what you’d expect it to do out in the bush. Therefore, you need to consider the following factors:

Blade

There are 2 considerations here. First, it has to be a fixed blade. Folding knives may be too fragile for some of the tasks you need to do out in the wild. The pivot point is a vulnerability that you simply can’t risk out in the wild.

The second consideration is that it should come with a full-tang design. That means the steel goes all the way through the handle section. The full-tang design gives you more force and leverage to work with, plus it’s more durable as well.

Steel

You need a steel for your blade that’s both hard and tough. A hard steel cuts effectively, while it holds its sharp edge for a longer time. But you also want a tough knife, meaning a blade that’s less likely to chip. Typically, the hardness of a knife is inversely proportional to the toughness, but some steels can combine both features nicely.

Since you’re also working outdoors, you want stainless steel on your knife. That way, you don’t have to worry too much if the knife gets wet—which it probably will if you use it outdoors.

Handle

There are several materials used for the handle, and you can pick according to your preference. But you should make sure you get a comfortable yet firm grip, even when your hands get wet. Durability is also more important than the handle aesthetics.

Sheath

Bushcrafting knives may (or may not) come with a sheath. If it does, make sure it secures the knife properly. But you can always replace the sheath if it doesn’t suit you.

Shape

Obviously, the bushcraft knife will have a different size and shape from an EDC knife (and from a kitchen knife, for that matter). Usually, it features a long and flat cutting edge with a tip that’s roughly to the center of the handle.

The tip shouldn’t be blunt or rounded, but it can’t be too pointy, either. Normally, you go with either a spear point or a drop point.

Bushcraft Knife Safety

A bushcraft knife can be a dangerous tool, especially if you’re careless. To protect yourself and others, you need to keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Safety first before convenience. This is the prime directive. All the other guidelines that follow basically reinforce this notion. You need to prioritize safety, even over other considerations like your convenience. To paraphrase a noted headmaster, you need to do what’s right (in terms of safety) instead of what’s easy.
  • Be aware of your personal “no-fly” zone. This is basically the area around you where your knife edge can get to. The rule of thumb is that you need to be aware of every person within reaching distance of your knife. If someone gets within this zone, you may want to be extremely careful when you’re using your knife. You may even want to stop using your knife for the moment (especially with kids around).
  • Slice, don’t push. Bushcraft knives are generally designed for slicing. Pushing, on the other hand, increases the risk that your fingers will slide onto the blade.
  • Get your body out of the way. This means you don’t use your palm or your legs as the backstop when you’re cutting into wood. Set the wood piece on a log, tree stump, or a large rock instead before you work on it with your knife.
  • Elbows on knees. This is a simple guide to make sure your legs aren’t in the way in case you drop your knife. Crouch or sit on a log, get your lower leg under you, and set your elbows on your knees when you use the bushcraft knife.
  • Don’t try to catch the knife when it falls. For some, it’s a natural instinct to try and grab something before it falls. But you have to resist this instinct if you drop your knife.
  • If you’re not using the knife, set it back in your sheath. You don’t want a sharp edge just lying there where you might brush against it.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that a bushcraft knife is an essential item to bring with you if you’re planning to go out into the wild. It’s a versatile tool that you’ll use again and again for a wide range of tasks. A bushcraft knife may just save your life when you’re out there in the bush.

But such a knife doesn’t have to be all that expensive at all. The best bushcraft knife under $50 may do the trick, especially if you’re not going out into the bush every weekend. The best affordable bushcraft knife may not be all that durable compared to its more expensive counterparts, but for the occasional wilderness tourist, it’s just about ideal.

Michael Ethan
 

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