Ka-bar Becker BK17: All Around Woodsman’s Knife

BK17_DetailI rely on my gear everyday, I am not a collector, and I have a philosophy about gear: Get top quality that doesn’t cost so much you’re afraid to use it. This knife fits all my needs to the tee.

The BK17 is the perfect accompaniment for a hatchet, handling those small, tedious jobs that a beefy hatchet is not well suited for.

The BK17 is the perfect accompaniment for a hatchet, handling those small, tedious jobs that a beefy hatchet is not well suited for.

I had been debating between this knife and the SOG Seal Pup Elite.  In the end, I decided to get both.  They are not very expensive.  The BK17’s sheath found a permanent place on my hatchet belt.  The SPE found a place on my bowie belt, and I use it mainly for butchering game or wet weather woodscraft since it’s made from stainless steel.  But that’s fodder for another article . . .

It’s a smallish knife, by my standards, anyway. My main bush knife is a Cold Steel Trail Master, a substantial bowie, but a small knife is best for many finer bushcraft tasks. It’s light and easy for EDC. And the entire knife is stout, from the Zytel grips to the blade itself. The spine is about 3/16″ thick, making this knife strong. The knife’s big brother, the BK2, has been described as a tank of a knife.  Well, the BK17 is a tank of a little knife.  I wouldn’t use it to baton wood (frankly, I wouldn’t use any knife to baton wood, nor would I waste my time batonning wood) but it could if you were pressed. But far better uses for this knife are applications such as game and fish prep, carving, and odd tasks in the sticks. A fine choice where a big blade such as my Trail Master is less apt. (For my review on the Trail Master, follow this link: http://twacorbiesbushcraft.wordpress.com/product-reviews/the-trail-master-by-cold-steel/  )

The blade came razor sharp and the craftsmanship was flawless. Unlike many users, I like the coating, too. If it protects the blade from wet weather as effectively as my Ka-bar USMC knife for all the years I carried it in wet Alaska, then I am more than glad to have it on the blade. I often think a lot of knife aficionados remove it and modify their knives just to do it. I’ve tried many of their mods and don’t usually them find them better, excepting when a knife comes with a poor sheath (which the BK17 doesn’t).

The hilt is comfortable. You can choke up the blade easily and comfortably for very fine work. The small lower guard is adequate and made of steel whereas the guard of the SOG SEP (and the Cold Steel SRK, to which the BK17 is often compared) is made of flimsier polymers that I’ve heard are prone to crumble over time.

The knife comes with extra scales but I like the black just fine. They are robust, ergonomic and have a good feel to them. Slightly textured, they are adequately grippy without being so textured they are likely to wear.

The Grohmann 100A sheath, made for their S4 survival knife, fits the Ka-bar BK17 to a tee, and is a good option if you like the traditional bushcrafter look.  And it's a mere $30 Canadian.

I’ve never had a knife with a nylon sheath before, and I wasn’t sure how Id’ take to it, but having tried it, I like it. It’s very secure; I like that it has two snaps for extra security. Some persons have stated they feel the knife might cut the snaps when drawn, but honestly, that’s easily resolved. Just press the lower strap down with the index finger when drawing the knife and angle it slightly outward. Come on, learn to use your tools! Using the supplied sheath, I could carry this knife securely on a belt or upside down on a pack strap, and it’s compact enough I could tuck it, sheath and all, into my daypack or messenger bag.  I also have an extra heavy duty leather sheath for my Grohmann S4, not the standard one that comes with the S4 but improved option they offer that is deep and has a full cover (looking for like a traditional bushcrafter’s sheath) which fits it to a tee.  I think I prefer the S4 sheath–better protection and I like traditional things.

Because the steel is 1095 cro-va which can rust, and the scales are known to loosen given how they are fastened to the blade in order to be interchangeable, I would suggest just two things before you use it. Remove the scales and wipe on a very light coating of synthetic gun oil as an additional protection for the metal under the scales. (That metal is coated and should be fine, anyway, but a little extra protection never hurts). Then replace the scales and use a little Threadlocker Blue on each screw and let it sit overnight to cure. You will have no more slippage, but should you ever want to replace the scales, you will be able to undo the screws in the future.

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