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The Bark River Wolf River Hunting Knife Review

Recently, the Bark River Knives emerged as my new favorite knife-manufacturing company. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, it is a family owned company run by Mike and Lesley Stewart. Mike is a veteran knife smith who uses his vast experience to create knives with jaw-dropping designs.

He employs skilled artisans, many of whom he personally trained, to create some of the best knives in the market. His children Jim and Jacquelyn Stewart are also very active in managing the business. Jim, with his knowledge in steel alloys and geometry, constantly improvises the knife-making process, while Jacquelyn handles the marketing and product distribution.

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Overview of the Wolf River Hunting Knife

Wolf River Hunting Knife

Wolf River Hunting Knife

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Formerly known as Bark River Knife and Tool, the BRK is renowned for producing the finest hunting knives for outdoors-men who need true performance in the wilderness. Here, they use the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary designs and procedures to make excellent cutting tools that come with unmatched durability in the industry. The Wolf River Hunting Knife from the BRK is another excellent example which shows Mike Stewart’s skill in ethnic knife designs. This knife resembles the Buffalo Skinner Knife of the 1840s (see video below) that was designed by John Russel, an American cutlery maker who owned the Green River Knife Works.

The Wolf River’s overall length is 8 1/2 inches. It features a bull-nosed blade and a saber ground. The blade measures 4 1/2 inches in length and is made of Crucible’s CPM-S35VN stainless steel for extra hardness. Also, this knife comes with an ergonomic, tapered handle which you may also find on the Fox River Knife, another product from BRK. You have a wide range of handle materials to choose from – there are exotic hardwoods, various colors of micarta and metal bolsters (for deluxe variants). The knife is also provided with a pouch-type, leather sheath that is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and improve the aesthetic value of the implement.

If you have read my latest articles published on this site, you would already be aware that recently I have been giving a lot of attention to outdoor knife designs. The Wolf River Knife is an perfect modern rendition of the legendary Buffalo Skinner Knife that was hugely popular in the 1840s with almost everyone in the West. The latter was an ideal choice of the Americans who made a living as professional hunters. However, after incorporating some modern ideas in the traditional skinning knife design, the Wolf River knife’s blade is made significantly shorter than the blade found on “Buffalo Skinning knife made by Green River. At just 4 1/2 inches, it is just perfect for skinning animals. It can also be carrying around easily when not being used.

As per today’s standards, a 4 1/2 inches blade on the Wolf River is perfect as the modern day hunters aren’t used to working with blades spanning 6 or 9 inches. Also, the blade’s tip is lowered slightly which resulted in a curved design. The knife’s edge is designed to perfectly match the natural movement of the human arm. This reduces the strain on the arm when you use the knife for longer periods. In addition, the blade comes with a 1/8 inch spine featuring a deep saber grind that helps you hone it to a very sharp edge. 

The powerful blade is made with the highly durable CPM-S35VN stainless steel from Crucible. It comprises of 14% Chromium, 3% Vanadium, 2% Molybdenum, and 1.4% Carbon. Due to its rich Carbon and Chromium content, the stainless steel blade is highly resistant to corrosion. The 2% Molybdenum present in the blade forms double carbide bonds with Chromium; this improves the abrasion as well as corrosion resistance property of steel. The addition of Vanadium produces a fine grain structure of the steel. So, the knife’s blade can hold a keen edge even after using it continuously for a long time. It can maintain a hardness of 58 – 60 on a Rockwell Scale.

Moreover, due to the absence of Nickel or Manganese in the steel used, the blade is hard rather than tough. This means that the Wolf River knife should not be used for chopping while processing the large game animals. Using it for tasks like chopping the ribs from spine must be avoided as the edge of the blade may chip. In most pictures, the BRK Wolf River knife is seen with a tapered, ergonomic handle made of black micarta. However, it is available in a huge range of handle materials. Some of the micarta variants include black canvas, green canvas, antique ivory, red linen, green linen, maroon linen and natural canvas. Wooden handles come in Desert Ironwood, Rosewood and Maple. There are also handles carved from stag bone of Impala, sheep horn, antler and warthog tusk. You may easily customize the knife to suit your liking.

Do you love the historic American knife design? If you do, the Wolf River Hunting Knife from the Bark River Knifes will definitely appeal to you. Apart from sporting a splendid design that is inspired by the Buffalo Skinner knife whose fame equals the Bowie Knife in its prime (though both knives were used for different purposes), the Wolf River is a magnificently constructed hunting knife that will last at least a generation.

BRK offers lifetime guarantees on all its axes and knives against manufacturing defects. In case you receive a faulty product, it will be repaired or replaced with a brand new one. If any product has to be re-sharpened or refurbished, you may just send the unit along with the handling and shipping charges to BRK. The warranty covers any kind of repair. This applies even to the international customers. With an unmatched performance and a lifetime warranty, the BRK hunting knives offer perfect value for your money. Apart from the United States, the BRK knives are available in Canada, Australia and New Zealand through international dealers.

At Bark River Knives, the Stewart family puts in a lot of passion into making exemplary cutting implements and this is reflected in every product they make. Thrice in a year, they organize a program named “Grind In” through which they allow 50 amateur or seasoned knife-makers to visit their workshop and learn the art of making hunting knives. This shows the family’s dedication towards their profession.

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Kenneth Blackburn

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Bark River Wolf River Hunting Knife

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