THESE TIMELESS BUSHCRAFT KNIVES HAVE BEEN UPDATED AND ARE BETTER THAN EVER
Truly classic designs can be as much of a force in the present as they have been in the past. A Morakniv is always made in Mora, Sweden, in the village of Östnor, where the company has been located for centuries.
Firmly anchored in a long tradition of craftsmanship, its first factory was founded on the outskirts of Mora in 1891. It successfully combined the benefits of hand-forged blades and industrial manufacturing.
The result was a knife with a grip friendly handle and a very sharp, robust blade. Today, the knives from Morakniv are known for their high quality and consistency, and they’re recognized as a national symbol of Sweden.
Morakniv has been granted a Royal warrant of appointment by His Majesty the King of Sweden. It is an honor awarded to companies as proof that the company’s products are appreciated by a member of the Royal Family.
The Morakniv Classics are made of carbon steel and are easily identified by their characteristic barrel-shaped, red-stained birch handles. They were first introduced around 100 years ago with the ambition to portray an exclusive mahogany knife.
The new polymer sheath has an elegant, polished look donning the Swedish Coat of Arms. This is complemented with a belt strap made of Swedish vegetable tanned leather, designed to stand the test of time for generations to come.
The edge angles and blade shapes are basically the same, but now have rat-tail tangs.
In 2007, I purchased the Morakniv Classic No. 2, the first Scandinavian knife I ever owned of its kind. It had an uncoated carbon steel blade, Scandinavian grind, and wood handle without a guard.
I felt it was a huge leap of faith for me and quite the diversion from the knives I had been using.
Three things immediately stood out to me as pluses: the weight, comfort, and sharpness. Up until this point I don’t remember using a knife that hit these three points like the Morakniv Classic No. 2. The only knife that came close was my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife.
The company recently released a new collection of Morakniv Classic knives, including a new Morakniv Classic No. 2, and so I had to compare it to my original. When I opened the box, I noticed no real size difference as I did a cosmetic facelift. It still had a blade length just a hair over 4 inches (105 mm).
The sheath was obviously more rigid and shiny, polished more so than any other Morakniv I can remember.
Also, the leather belt attachment was an obvious change for the better. However, I was on the team of people who never had a problem with the old Classic sheaths.
The most noticeable upgrade to the knife was the new stained birchwood handle, rather than the red painted previous versions, which have also changed in color and texture throughout the decades.
This new feature really gives each Morakniv Classic individuality. Every handle will have different grain that will be accented by the stain, as do all three of my new Morakniv Classics.
A closer look will reveal the top of the blade spine is now smooth and “finished,” opposed to the unfinished appearance of most Morakniv Classic knives. I say most because the Classic carving series knives have smooth spines for comfort while performing thumb assisted push cuts.
A big change to most may be the blade tang that now goes through the handle length and can be seen on the butt end of the wood.
This is a full rat-tailed tang, not a complete full tang, as the steel is not visible to the eye or hand, sandwiched between scales.
I wasted no time getting to work on a few woods projects. I had an idea to make a sharpening log out of a carborundum stone for my tools.
Also, I used a bowsaw to cut the log and split it with a hatchet. Laying the log flat, I measured and scored the length of the stone with a few cuts of the saw, the depth of the stone.
“Morakniv knives place function before style, yet the Classics have their own Scandinavian rustic charm…”
The Morakniv No. 2 had the job of wedging out the slab of wood to fit the stone. I gave it a few whacks with a light baton on the butt of the handle and got it in the wood just enough to stick a wedge in the crack.
I repeated the process on the other side, and then I carved a hardwood wedge to baton in the cracks made from the Classic No. 2.
This is my idea of Bushcraft: using tools to make other tools and working with what you have. The baton split in half, which presented another opportunity.
I used the maple baton half and cleaned up the flat (split) part before thinning out the other rounded side of the baton.
It took some doing and a comfortable handle to fashion it into a serviceable spatula. Carving thick chunks of wood and making fine-tip adjustments is what a Morakniv Classic was made for.
I had been using the same Burtonsville Cooking Rig arm for the last four years in my semi-permanent camp. It had seen some hard winters, scorching summers, and everything in between. However, it was time for a new one and the Morakniv No. 2 was perfect for the job.
With a Swiss Army Knife saw, a broomstick-thick, green piece of witch-hazel was procured for the project. A stout baton was used to cross-grain baton the blade to section the parts I needed. It sheered right through, as expected.
After measuring out where I wanted my cuts, I began making four bird’s-beak notches that started out with an X stop-cut batoned into the wood. The blade was slightly angled into the top V of the cut. This creates a natural overhang and makes it easier to carve out the notch.
Carving from the bottom of the X up to the top will leave a pointed beak hanging down that will rest on the support pole, which was already made. Job done.
In the camp kitchen the Morakniv No. 2 did its share of slicing and dicing peppers, onions, and tomatoes for an omelet along with general camp chores.
The Morakniv Classic No. 2 (and No. 1) have been referred to as the blueprint of almost every so called “Bushcraft knife” today.
Having spent a considerable amount of time using knives from many other makers, I have to agree.
After feeling the Morakniv Classic No. 1/0 in my hand, it was all clear. The model number may have changed, but it was in fact the old Morakniv Classic No. 2/0.
It was renamed and upgraded just as the other Classics for 2020, but with a slight difference in handle width and blade thickness.
“The Morakniv Classics are made of carbon steel and are easily identified by their characteristic barrel-shaped, red-stained birch handles.”
I have always liked this size blade, which hovers around 3 inches long. The specs for the original Classic No. 2/0 have it at 2.9 inches long (74 mm) and 2.5 mm thick.
The Classic 1/0 is listed at 3 inches long (77 mm) with a 2 mm thick blade. I really like this thickness for the smaller blade.
It seems to be a hair longer, at 3 inches long exactly. It is indeed a different blade, obviously thinner, and like the original Classic No. 2/0, it has a full rat-tail tang.
Besides a new, attractive look to the birch handle, it is wider. It’s noticeable in the hand and even more so swapping sheaths to see how each fit. I enjoy this difference and consider it an upgrade.
I carried this bite-sized knife on a small carabiner hooked to my belt loop. I used it on dry poplar, hickory, and maple to make kindling for the fire in the form of feather sticks.
It performed exactly as a Morakniv Classic should, slicing and curling wood with every stroke.
Sitting by the fire, whittling and filling up my tinder/kindling coffee can with shavings was my nighttime routine with the Morakniv Classic No. 1/0.
Slicing peppers, onions, and mushrooms for camp kabobs or morning omelets was a regular task for this small, very able cutter. The blade slices food exceptionally well for a Scandinavian grind due to the kitchen knife-like thinness.
Morakniv Classic No. 1/0 looks and feels like a comfortable pair of shoes. It’s an old reliable tool that is dependable and consistent, just like a familiar friend.
I originally purchased the Morakniv Classic No. 3, with a 6 inch long, carbon steel blade about 12 years ago. It was a lot of blade, and I eventually traded it.
Now, many years later I find myself using another Classic No. 3, with a twist. The new Morakniv Classic No. 3 has all the upgrades of the Classic No. 2 and No. 1/0 but had about 0.75 inch cut from the original blade, literally.
It sits at 10 inches overall, with a 5.35-inch-long blade (135 mm), yet still manages the low weight of 4.4 ounces (125 g).
The Morakniv Classic No. 3 is the largest of the Classics. The handle is just under 5 inches long. People with larger hands will appreciate this one, while others with smaller hands may find it on the large, bulky side.
A knife this size can still cut and slice with such eloquence, due to the 2.5 mm thickness, which is the same as the Classic No. 2. When using the Morakniv Classic No. 3 prepping food on a cutting board indoors, it performed well, slightly under a regular kitchen knife.
It wasn’t as thin or as long as a kitchen knife and wasn’t designed with knuckle clearance in mind. When holding the knife in a pinch-grip, I should’ve been able to make a full downward stroke without the knuckles coming into contact with the cutting board.
The Morakniv Classics are very straight lined, but the length of the Classic No. 3 gives more space and slightly more belly to still pull off food cutting chores, especially in camp.
I had to adjust my grip to a more modified pinch-grip with my fingers more curled, gripping higher up the handle width. It gives a less secure grip, but it works for the small amount of food prepping needed in a camping situation.
The Classic No. 3 had a long enough blade to use as a drawknife. After some heavy rain it was time to do some fire prepping.
CLASSIC NO. 1/0, CLASSIC NO. 2, and CLASSIC NO. 3
Handle: Red-stained birch
Sheath: Black polymer with leather belt strap
Blade Material: Carbon steel
CLASSIC NO. 1/0
Total Length: 6.7 inches (170 mm)
Blade Length: 3.0 inches (77 mm)
Thickness: 2.0 mm
Product Weight: 1.9 ounces (55 g)
CLASSIC NO. 2
Total Length: 8.25 inches (210 mm)
Blade Length: 4.13 inches (105 mm)
Thickness: 2.5 mm
Product Weight: 3.2 ounces (90 g)
CLASSIC NO. 3
Total Length: 10 inches (254 mm)
Blade Length: 5.35 inches (135 mm)
Thickness: 2.5 mm
Product Weight: 4.4 ounces (125 g)
I used a green piece of witch-hazel, thick enough to baton the knife through and not split it completely. I put the knife in, tip first and whacked the butt into the green wood. It was enough to use as a handle and make long shavings for kindling.
The Classic No. 3 blade bit deep and shaved quickly down to the dry area. It responded well to light batoning; however, I had a thicker tool meant for that.
The new Morakniv Classic No. 3 did an outstanding job bridging the gap between food and bushcrafting chores.
Although larger than most bushcraft knives and all the Classics, it still carved like any other Morakniv, with added handle thickness and blade length.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of the new Morakniv Classics, especially if you are a fan already. Simplicity of functionality has a beauty all its own.
Morakniv knives place function before style, yet the Classics have their own Scandinavian rustic charm, which is a style to me.
Morakniv Classics have grown into some of the most beloved lifestyle knives in the world—a timeless Morakniv in its purest form.
RAT-TAILED TANG VS. GLUED
The previous Morakniv Classic No. 1 and No. 2 had a glued tang, because Morakniv used the same blade for the models: 510, 511, and the HighQ collection, which were all the same blade as Classic No. 1. As for the models: 521, 711, 911, and Companion, they had the same blade as the Classic No. 2.
The new Morakniv Classic knives have a full rat-tail tang that runs through the handle completely and is riveted at the back end. Now, the blades are made exclusively for the Classics making the new Morakniv Classic blades truly unique.
The Red Color
The typical red handle over time has become something of a sign for the knives from Östnor, Mora. From the beginning, curly birch was the obvious material for the more expensive knives, but when there was a shortage, ordinary birch was stained with a red color before being varnished.
As production increased, the stains were abandoned and the handles were painted with a dark red color instead, which eventually appeared in many different shades through the years.
The new Morakniv Classic handles are once again stained, each becoming one of a kind.