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Trail Buddy Hunting Knife Review

Bark River Knives (or simply BRK) is a family-owned business in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Mike Stewart, who is a renowned knife-smith, runs the Bark River Knives.

Over the years, Bark River Knifes have always come up with great knife designs for different applications, such as hunting, fishing, camping and even for kitchen use.

As a matter of fact, the company’s reputation has grown in stature, and has come a long way in terms of creating some of the finest knives on today’s market.

The Trail Buddy Hunting Review

On the Bark River Knives website, it seems like the company keeps on adding new, interesting and yet useful knife designs. One such example is the Trail Buddy Hunting Knife.

The Bark River Knives Trail Buddy Hunting Knife was originally designed back in 1914, by George W Brooks, who chief edited “The Outer Book.”

Although the knife is based on an ancient Marbles Woodcraft design of the early 1900s, there have been some incredible adjustments made by Mike Steward. This has in turn improved the Trail Buddy Hunting Knife, thus giving it a modern touch.

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The Trail Buddy Hunting Knife Is Small in Size

The BRK Trail Buddy features an 8” length overall, with a 4” clip-point blade. Its deep sabre grind is made from a non-stainless A-2 tool, where the steel has been hardened to 58 Rockwell.

The knife is fairly small in size and the handle perfectly fits the hand. The smaller blade ensures controllability is fully maximized. At the same time, the BRK Trail Buddy is long enough for anything you can ask of it.

Ergonomic, User Friendly Handle

The Trail Buddy also entails a tapered, ergonomic handle that comes with different handle materials and colors to choose from. The handles are majorly made of exotic hardwoods and other natural materials. A more deluxe version of the BRK Trail Buddy features metallic bolsters on its handles.

Sharpshooter Sheath System

When you purchase this knife, it comes supplied with leather, pouch-type sheath from Sharpshooter Sheath Systems. The sheath has a fascinating design.

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It is versatile and preferred by those who like carrying a crossdraw. For example, the sheath allows you to carry a gun while in the wilderness. And it enables you to automatically reach for the knife at an ease.

Once you wear the provided Sharpshooter sheath, it stays at a 45-degree angle, allowing for a quick and prompt withdrawal. The sheath also fits well with thinner belts, thus a perfect addition to its ambidextrous capability. The Sharpshooter sheath is a winning design, probably because of its vertical carrying option.

Lowered Blade Point, For Better Control

One of the distinctive features of Trail Buddy is its lowered Point, which places it more in line with the center of the blade. The blade’s line of center imparts a slightly positive, forward angle to the edges. This is advantageous since it leverages a better blade control, especially when removing hide from harvested game after hunting.

BRK TrailbuddyIt’s An Excellent Slicer

The knife is an excellent slicer as well, particularly during meal prep – and when it comes to splitting a pelvis or sternum. This is all possible because of the last two-and-half inches of the belly blade, which comes down far enough from the thick spine.

Because of Mike Stewart’s adjustments, the stacked and stick tang leather model of the handle has been replaced by a full tang handle slab. The slabs are made from different natural and manmade materials.

Metallic Contents

Generally, the new improvements have made the Trail Buddy Hunting Knife much, much stronger, with a more ergonomic design. This doesn’t stop there; the knife is a non stainless (A-2) steel, which contains:

  • Carbon (0.95 – 1.05%)
  • Chromium (4.75 – 5.5%)
  • Manganese (1.0%)
  • Molybdenum (0.9 – 1.4%)
  • Nickel (0.3%)
  • Vanadium (0.15 – 0.5%)

This means that the knife needs more care to keep it corrosion-free, unlike a stainless steel blade.

Hard Steel

The best thing about the products of Bark River Knives is their durability and sturdiness. The same thing goes for the Trail Buddy Hunting Knife, which features a Rockwell Hardness of 58. This enables the knife to hold a honed edge through extensive use.

Bark River Knives Trail Buddy KnifeImproved Abrasion Resistant

The carbon content makes the BRK Trail Buddy Hunting Knife an equally hard steel. The integration of Molybdenum and Chromium forms a hard double carbide bond – which improves corrosion and abrasion resistance, thus covering up for the non-stainless design.

In addition, both nickel and manganese increase strength and toughness, while the Vanadium is meant to refine the grain structure, thus the blade can be honed to an exceptionally sharp edge.

Deep Sabre Grind

The blade’s sabre grind is very deep, which qualifies the knife as a flat grind. More yet, the knife’s clipped, sharp point (with a false edge) makes the Trail Buddy a perfect knife for piercing hides.

The choil enables the edge of the knife to be easily sharpened all the way to the back. When combined with the ricasso, the choil forms what is passed for a small quillion.

Although I am not sure why its tapered handle slabs feature two lanyard loops, its full tang construction is user-friendly.

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Upheld Original Design

In some respects, while the basic features of the original early 1990s design have faithfully been maintained, the additions made on this BRK Trail Buddy have provided a much-needed overhaul.

Despite the additional features, the modern rendition of the classic knife (Marble Woodcraft) upholds the original purpose – a lightweight, fast-handling knife for general hunting usage.

The BRK Trail Buddy Hunting Knife still reflects the original design by George W. Brooks.

Perfect Bushcraft, Hunting and Game Knife

Even though there might be better options for pure survival and bushcraft knives, the Trail Buddy is light and versatile enough to carry, and plausibly act as a seamless alternative.

For less that $200, the Bark River Trail Buddy, a discount survival knife really, is worth buying. From the many online reviews, the aforementioned upsides are echoed by what most of people say about this knife, though (very) few downsides are mentioned too.

Overall, the BRK Trail Buddy Hunting Knife is a winner as an emergency bushcraft knife, and as a game processing knife. Therefore, if you are looking for a hunting knife, then the Trail Buddy is a great option.

Quick Review Summary


Kenneth Blackburn

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Reviewed Item

Bark River Knives | Trail Buddy Hunting Knife

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