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Real Steel Bushcraft Plus Survival Knife

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Today I want to discuss the Real Steel Bushcraft Plus Survival knife.  While the name seems to be a bit of a contradiction - "bushcraft" and "survival" are typically considered two different things - the knife itself makes more sense when you get it in your hands.  Before talking about how it performs let me give you some spec's...

* Steel: Sandvik 14C28N
* Total length: 9.5"
* Weight: 6.5 ounces
* Blade length: 4.5"
* Blade thickness: 4.5mm
* Handle length: 5.0"
* Handle material: G10, black
* Cost: $119 (I paid $95 for mine)When I take a knife into the woods for a field evaluation I always choose several skills challenges that require I use the blade to do different things.  Ultimately my day got cut short because I hurt my left thumb but I did get about 5 hours in before I had to head out.  At this time of year I generally don't get much more then that anyway because of a black bear that sometimes take a liking to me.  This seems to be his area and every so often he decides to make his presence known.  Since I don't carry a firearm I make my exit before sundown, just in case.  About the only thing I didn't get to do that day was create a few try sticks, but despite that I did spend a bunch of time with the Bushcraft Plus Survival (which I will refer to as BPS from here on out because it's so much easier to type).

The BPS is the quintessential size for a bushcraft knife, something that falls in the 4"-4.5" range.  For me it's on the small side to be considered a legitimate survival knife, as I think those should start around 6" in length, so my guess is the target audience isn't the survival community.  So does that make it suitable for bushcrafters only then?  If you get the scandi version it probably would but I opted for the full flat grind instead because I'm not a huge scandi fan (I do more than wood processing with a knife).  In my opinion an FFG opens a lot more possibilities as it now becomes more of a general purpose blade, and for me that is where the BPS shines.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's start this evaluation with the handle, a part of a knife I don't think gets enough ink during most reviews.  I don't care how perfect the blade is, if the handle is crap the knife is useless.  Thankfully the BPS did not disappoint.  It's made from G10, by far my favorite material.  Real Steel added a slight texture, just enough so you know it's there but not so much as to be annoying.  The handle is shaped and contoured brilliantly so no matter what grip I used it fit my hand, not something assured for me; I wear XL gloves so handles can be a problem, but no such issue here.  All edges were rounded so no hot spots either.  When battoning there was zero shock transmitted...

In the butt end was a hidden lanyard hole that doesn't protrude past the scales at all.  The front screw did loosen by the end of the day so I snugged it down when I got home (it's similar to a Corby bolt).  If that continues to happen I'll add some Loctite.  The rear stayed secured for the entire day.

The blade is made from Sandvik 14C28N, a good stainless steel.  It features a drop point and nice belly toward the tip.  The grind has a forward sweep at the rear of the blade as it arches up to the spine, perfectly framing the jimping.  It actually makes for a stylish appearance.  The jimping itself is very mild with all edges - front, back and both sides - smoothed over so as not to dig into your thumb when you aren't wearing gloves (something I very much appreciate because I never wear them).  Thankfully the spine is the opposite as it does have sharp edges.  Well, sharpish edges; they aren't LT Wright sharp but they do have enough bite to shave material and throw very good sparks from a ferro rod.  Where they beat LT is if you need to press your thumb against the spine and perform push cuts; it won't dig into your finger.  Real Steel made a good compromise here and created something sharp enough to do the tasks at hand, but not so sharp as to chew up your hand.

The sheath is made from ballistic nylon and has what's billed as a kydex insert but it feels rather like plastic to me.  Regardless of composition, the knife snaps into the liner pretty securely.  While about camp that's all I used for retention - and it worked quite well - but when tramping through the woods I secured the velcro strap to ensure it didn't go anywhere.  The sheath is roughly 2" longer than the knife which makes it needlessly large.  Makes me wonder if it's generic and used for several different models...

That last point is somewhat unfortunate because there is an option to carry it scout style, but the length means when oriented horizontally it does require some mid-section girth in order not to protrude from both sides of your waist.  If that's not your deal there are myriad ways to attach/wear this sheath, but there are some gaps in how they were implemented.  For example, there are two velcro straps that appear to be spaced for PALS webbing but they're only on the part of the sheath behind the blade, there's nothing across the top by the handle so it may not be fully secured (I never strapped it to a pack though so that's mostly speculation).  On the back of the sheath behind the handle is a random piece of nylon looped over and sewn in the middle.  The top and bottom portions are large enough to fit a #2 pencil perhaps, but that's about it.  I never did figure out what that could be used for.  Directly above is a 2" wide plastic D ring, but that's another attachment point I never fully understood.  It sits on the back of the belt loop, which itself is a velcro loop.  That fit my 2" belt with some room to spare.

If you aren't into nylon the kydex/plastic insert can be removed.  It has holes around the perimeter that fit a standard Tek-Lok so you could go that route instead.  If you do opt for just the insert you lose the pouch though, which is on the front of the nylon part of the sheath.  No velcro here, it uses a decent sized buckle instead.  The pouch was large enough for a 3/8"x3" ferro rod and a good sized hank of tarred bank line.

For my field use a saber grind or FFG works better because I do more than just wood processing.  One area an FFG can suffer from is a weak tip as they tend to be pretty thin.  The BPS gets past that problem by using a distal taper, taking full advantage of the fairly thick blade stock - roughly 3/16" - and having it gradually slim down to a point.  Not only does that retain strength, but it still allows for a nice tip.  I didn't try to punch through the door of a HUMVEE but I did jam it into a downed tree a few times and pried loose some wood chunks.  I'm not a big fan of doing that to begin with but I wanted to see if something bad would happen.  Nothing did.

Hogging off big chunks of wood are not typically where an FFG shines and the BPS is no exception.  While it can cleave off large portions it isn't exactly happy or efficient doing it.  As you might expect, feather sticks were a breeze.  Making thin, wispy curls was not an effort.  The fire I started that day was made mostly from curls I got while messing around.

If you use a survival knife for chopping you can forget it because the BPS doesn't have enough heft to do that.  A smallish knife never does however so I doubt you're very surprised by that revelation.  It does have enough to delimb smaller trees, or should I say debranch instead?  You aren't going to slice off any tree limbs mind you, but I did easily nip off all the twigs of a sapling I cut down.  I then used the spine to shave (sand?) the nub remnants from the twigs so I could make a nice smooth handle..

Once the sapling was deburred I proceeded to the tip and finished off my frog gig...

On the way out of the woods that day I ran into - almost literally - something I had never seen before, a Marbled Orb Weaver spider...

It was so cool to look at!  Typically anything brightly colored in nature means "steer clear, I pack a hidden punch" so I didn't get too close.  When I got home and did a little research I found that it is indeed venomous, but not enough to be dangerous to humans.  If something disgusting like a spider can be considered pretty this would be a likely candidate.

After my day in the woods I tested the edge for retention and while it could still go through phonebook paper it was gnawing more than slicing.  After a few minutes with a strop the edge was back to slicing again.  I decided to use it for dinner that evening, both food prep and eating.  In spite of the thick blade it did surprisingly well, cleaning cutting during prep and working admirably while dining.  I had Kielbasa that evening which has a skin casing that requires a sharp knife otherwise it tears instead of cuts.  The BPS went right through it, almost as good as my steak knives.  Almost; it's a bit too thick to be a steak knife but it wasn't cumbersome.

So what's the bottom line?  I like the Real Steel Bushcraft Plus Survival knife.  It's more geared toward bushcraft than survival, but as a general purpose woods/camp knife it does a really nice job.  The blade has a good profile and length for a lot of tasks, and the handle is first rate.  I would have preferred better edge retention - and the sheath left me scratching my head a few times - but for what I paid and how it performs I definitely got my moneys worth.

Marketing is using two buzz words when bushcraft and survival get in the same sentence.

This knife has a lot of company in its class and price point and G10 handle material won't hurt it. 
Thanks for the review.

Love the spider!  Great picture and it's terrific that you noticed it.

- Woodsorrel

you hang out in an area where you know black bears are,  bears that tend to be a nuisance, and you don't carry a gun?

I'd be more comfortable with one but this is Jersey where it's extremely difficult to get a license for a sidearm.


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