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Finding a good quality bushcraft knife on a budget isn’t as easy as it used to be. To make the list you needed to be $35 or less!
In making this list, I revisited a lot of knives I’ve used and loved over the years, and many that cost less than $30 as little 10 years ago now retail for $60 or more.
Blame inflation, or the supply chain, or corporate greed. Blame whatever you want, but good stuff just ain’t cheap these days.
Still, there are some solid options out there. For the purposes of this roundup, we set a budget of $35 and looked around to see just how good a knife that would buy. And although we ended up testing a lot of very disappointing knives in that price range, we also uncovered some diamonds in the rough.
It’s worth noting upfront that you simply can’t get a perfect knife for $35. You pretty much always have to sacrifice something at that price point. You might end up with a razor-sharp blade that has zero corrosion resistance, or you get a knife with a great blade and a mediocre handle.
So it goes. If you really want a great knife, save up for an extra week or two and spring for something in the $50-$70 range.
But if you just want a quality starter knife for bushcraft, or you’re just curious to see what $35 will buy you, then you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by some of these budget bushcraft knives.
BPS Knives HK5
Ukrainian-made BPS knives have seen a major uptick in popularity in 2022, and the HK5 is a standout bushcraft model in their lineup. This list isn’t really intended as a best-to-worst ranking, but I have to say that the BPS Knives HK5 is one of the budget bushcraft knives that impressed us the most this year.
The HK5 has a 5.1-inch drop point blade made of 1066 carbon steel. This thing is scary sharp right out of the box. The scandi grind maintains its edge shockingly well, even after being put through a rigorous series of cutting tests. It’s not high-end steel by any means, but it does the job.
In addition to easily handling bushcraft tasks big and small, this knife also fits very well in hand thanks to finger grooves in the walnut wood handle. The sheath is made of handsome, sturdy leather.
If this knife has an Achilles’ heel, it’s moisture. The steel has little to no corrosion resistance, so it’s important to keep your blade oiled, especially if you live in a humid climate. Otherwise, it will start to rust merely from contact with the air.
BPS makes a bunch of different style knives that are essentially made of the same stuff. We also reviewed the BPS Knives Adventurer Bushcraft Knife this year, which is very similar to this one, albeit a little bigger and with a different handle. That knife would have made this list too if it was a few dollars cheaper.
Morakniv knives have an almost cult-like following, and for good reason. The Mora Garberg is an all-time classic, and this model—the Kansbol—is essentially a budget-friendly cousin to that iconic knife.
One major sacrifice is that the Kansbol is only a ¾ tang compared to the Garberg’s full tang. Ordinarily, I’d give a hard ‘no’ to any bushcraft knife that isn’t a full tang, but this one surprised me. I’ve never heard of anybody breaking one of these.
The Mora Kansbol has a fairly unique blade. A little lighter than the Garberg, it has a multi-grind edge with both a Scandinavian grind that’s great for carving and whittling, and a flat grind that’s ideal for slicing and preparing food.
That makes this a very handy and versatile outdoor knife for hunting, camping and bushcraft. The blade is made of “recycled Swedish stainless steel,” so its exact makeup is anybody’s guess, but it’s corrosion-resistant, holds an edge well, and has a ground spine that allows it to strike a surprisingly good spark with a ferro rod.
The Kansbol has a 4.3-inch blade (total length: 8.9 inches), and weighs a trim 4.7 oz. It has a hard plastic/polymer sheath and handle, and the handle also features a soft friction grip and finger guard to keep it locked into your palm while in use. You can read our full review of the Mora Companion Knife here.
Joker Arrui 10
This is a knife that really took us by surprise. For a budget bushcraft knife, this little guy can stand up against some knives that cost quite a bit more. It certainly gives BPS a run for its money, and may be even better in terms of pure cutting power. This thing is sharp.
But first let’s talk about size. A lot of people might assume that this knife is 10 inches long because it’s called the Arrui 10. Even Amazon’s listing says 10”, but in fact it’s about 8 inches in total length. The knife (which is made in Spain, where the metric system rules) has a 10 centimeter blade, hence the name.
Anyway, this is a beautiful little bushcraft knife with a razor-sharp edge. It’s adept as slicing, carving and shaving, and would make a great hunting knife for preparing game. In addition to being very sharp, it’s also plenty strong enough to baton with, though its size somewhat limits its abilities there.
The Joker Arrui 10 is made of 420 stainless steel, which has pretty good corrosion resistance and scores 52 to 54 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. The square spine makes a great spark off a ferro rod.
The handle of the Arrui 10 is made of beautiful olive wood. It’s as grippy as one could expect a wood handle to be, and there’s some thumb jimping toward the rear of the spine for extra hold. One small nitpick for me is that I’d like the knife to feel a little more secure inside the leather sheath, but overall the Joker Arrui 10 gets high marks.
Benkey Fixed Blade Hunting Knife
The Benkey Fixed Blade Hunting Knife is a really beautiful knife. If we were reviewing knives on looks alone this would be an absolute winner. Luckily, this knife has a few other things working in its favor too.
Measuring 9.25 inches with a 4.72-inch blade, the Benkey is a fairly large knife, and its 6.74 oz weight puts it somewhere near the middle of the pack in terms of heft. It’s balanced, well-crafted, and clearly made of good materials (D2 steel, natural rosewood handle).
Yet something about the way this knife performs keeps me from giving it an unblemished review. It just doesn’t seem to handle finer tasks like shaving and whittling very well. It might have something to do with the hollow grind, but I can’t make feather sticks with this knife with any degree of success.
And it’s not like it isn’t sharp. My Benkey Fixed Blade Knife passed the paper test with flying colors as soon as I got it, and continues to do so after repeated use. The D2 steel is both high-carbon and high-chromium, so it has excellent hardness and edge retention in addition to being corrosion resistant.
But hey, sometimes you can’t have it all for $35! Ultimately, I’d say this is a better hunting knife than an overall bushcraft knife, and if that’s the primary way you intend to use your blade, then this is definitely one worth considering.
iFIELD Survival Knife
Alright, this one is kind of a sleeper. I must say, iFIELD was not a brand I had ever heard of, and I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered their Survival Knife, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised.
The iFIELD Survival Knife measures 8 inches total, with a 3.9-inch blade. The handle is a beautiful black Micarta, which is contoured nicely to fit an average-sized hand, though some reviewers have noted that it feels a little small.
These knives are made in Spain with MOVA-58 stainless steel. This is a pretty cool grade of Spanish steel that clocks an impressive 58 (hence the name) on the Rockwell Hardness scale. The edge retention on this knife is quite impressive.
It’s a great slicer and feels good in hand, but much like the Benkey there’s something about the grind that makes this knife less than ideal for what I consider to be essential bushcraft tasks. It’s sharp as the dickens, and handles soft materials and food prep like a champ, but it tends to get stuck a lot when attempting to cut harder stuff.
At the end of the day, the iFIELD Survival Knife is a great value in a budget survival knife. It’s lightweight, and comes with a basic (but perfectly adequate) leather sheath.
NedFoss Fixed Blade
This is a great knife for the price. The NedFoss brand has made a name for itself in recent years by making solid, budget-friendly bushcraft and pocket knives, as well as throwing knives and axes. The NedFoss Fixed Blade is a nice entry into the bushcraft realm.
The knife measures 8.5 inches, with a 3.5-inch drop-point blade. It has a full flat grind, allowing it to melt through materials with great ease. From cutting and slicing to shaving tinder and even batoning, the blade handles a wide range of tasks assuredly.
The blade is made of 440 stainless steel, which has excellent hardness and decent edge retention. It’s fair to say you’ll have to sharpen it a bit more often than some other knives. It’s decently corrosion resistant, but a little less so than some stainless steels, so a bit of care is warranted there.
I really like the handle as well. It’s contoured to give you great control in various hand positions, and the rugged G2 material (made of resin-soaked fiberglass) is durable, impervious to moisture, anti-slip and I must say, easy on the eyes.
The NedFoss Fixed Blade also has a thick spine for extra strength, with some good jimping toward the rear. It comes in a very nice Kydex sheath that allows for either vertical or horizontal carry.
The Schrade SCHF59 Fixed Blade isn’t designed specifically as a bushcraft knife in the strictest sense. But it’s a great, versatile belt knife that serves a lot of different purposes. And at this price point, it would be hard to argue that it isn’t a great value for the money.
I’ve bought a few Schrade knives over the years that are very similar to this one, albeit slightly different styles, and have always been happy with their performance. This particular model features a 3.8-inch drop point blade, and measures 8.4 inches in overall length.
It weighs 6.2 ounces, so it’s got some solid heft to it, but is plenty light enough for comfortable belt carry. It comes with a nice thermoplastic cheetah with a ferro rod that slips into its own little holster on the side.
The steel is 65mn, which is a pretty decent Chinese carbon steel. Mine came just shy of shaving-sharp, but the steel sharpens easily. It has no real corrosion resistance, but the blade has a black powder coat that protects all but the cutting edge.
The handle of this knife is a bit of an acquired taste. The molded G10 is moisture-resistant and grippy as all get out, but it does have some harsh edges to it, and the scales don’t really line up with the tang. That can result in some sore hands after repeated use. That said, the scales are easy to remove and replace if you’re inclined to make an upgrade.
Elk Ridge ER-555BK
With its 5.5-inch drop-point blade and 10.5-inch overall length, the ER-555BK Bushcraft Knife from Elk Ridge is the longest knife that made our list. It’s also pushing the Bushcraft limit and is almost more of a survival knife. Sheath included, it weighs about a pound, making it one of the heftier entries as well.
We actually tested two versions of this knife, the wood handle above and the polymer that is also available. The wood handle leaves a lot to be desired and has a ton of hot spots. Skip the wood and get the ploy handle, it was a night and day difference.
The Elk Ridge comes shaving-sharp right out of the box, and its heavy-duty blade holds up well to some of the more demanding bushcraft tasks like batoning firewood. It has a black powder coat finish on the upper half of the blade, which doesn’t serve much purpose other than aesthetics, though I suppose it does give one’s thumb a bit of purchase on the spine.
The blade is 30Cr13, a low-end Chinese martensitic stainless steel. The steel quality is nothing to write home about, but it is corrosion resistant and holds an edge pretty well. It also creates a surprisingly good spark with a ferro rod, though doing so involves chipping off the black finish.
The handle is some sort of plastic/polymer (not a lot of specific information is available on this one) and it has a good, grippy texture to it. The sheath is a good-not-great woven black nylon model that feels like it’s more complicated than it needs to be.
A real bonus is that the knife comes with a fire starter, sharpening stone and “mini survival kit” tucked into a pouch in the sheath. That makes this a solid entry-level option if you’re looking to collect a few bushcraft essentials at a rock-bottom price.
How We Tested The Best Budget Bushcraft Knives
Our knife tests are not scientific but focus more on real-world use and durability. Before we take any knife out in the field or on a camping trip we first do a whole bunch of cutting and carving tasks, start a few fires with a ferro rod and carry the knife for a little while. It’s during actual use that the flaws and idosrycinseries of a knife really come out. Just cutting some twine on your workbench doesn’t always show the true nature of a knife. Out in the field and on a backpacking trip is where you really learn about the knife. The knives that made our final list all have been personally tested by us and have our stamp of approval.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.