Monday, January 17, 2011

The Becker BK2 Review

The Becker BK2 (aka - "Campanion") is part of a knife line designed by Ethan Becker (Becker Knife & Tool) and originally produced by Camillus Cutlery. When Camillus closed its doors for good in 2007, Ethan Becker searched for another company to produce his knives and finally hooked up with KA-BAR in Olean, New York. You will sometimes see the BK2 incorrectly referred to as the "Companion" in various reviews.

Becker BK2 "Campanion"

The knife has an overall length of 10.5", a blade length of 5.5" made from 1095 Cro Van steel, Grivory handles, and it weighs in at one pound. The BK2 has a drop point and an extended tang (the extended tang is on second generation knives). The blade itself is a full quarter inch thick all the way through. 

The BK2 is intended for camp, bush craft, and survival use. It's built like a tank! One survival instructor referred to it as "the Becker train wrecker". I've had my BK2 since early last fall and have thoroughly enjoyed using it! It stays in my B.O.B. (Bug Out Bag) normally and in my hunting pack when I'm in the woods. 

I have found the Grivory handles to be very comfortable. There are after market Micarta scales made specifically for the BK2 and many folks use those. The width of the blade combined with the full belly and overall weight of the knife make chores like chopping rather easy. The BK2 can also be used to baton wood for fires. When performing tasks like chopping, I would recommend using a lanyard. A lanyard will keep the knife from flying out of your hand should you lose your grip and will also allow you to move your hand farther back on the handle giving you greater leverage for chopping.

The drop point of the blade allows for finer knife work and would also work for field dressing game. Would I use this knife to field dress my deer under normal circumstances? No. I have knives specifically designed for that purpose. However, in a true survival situation, the BK2 could handle that chore if necessary.

Second generation BK2's have an extended tang which can be used for a couple of things. First, if you needed to drive the knife point into something, the extended tang gives you a striking surface so you aren't hitting the handle ends. Second, the extended tang could be used as a hammer or glass breaker itself. 

You can see the width of the blade here - 1/4 inch...about the length of a fly.

The knife is made of carbon steel which means it will eventually rust if it's not properly maintained. The BK2 does have a black epoxy coating on the steel which helps to protect it. I take care of my gear regardless of what it's made of so the whole thing is a moot point to me. Carbon steel is well liked and popular in the knife community for outdoor blades because it is easy to sharpen in the field and retains a good edge. Knives are made from many different steels and it's important when selecting a knife to be familiar with the advantages and limitations of the various steels so you can make the correct choice. Don't assume just because a blade says "stainless" that it's the right knife for the job.

Extended tang on the BK2

I've used my BK2 for chopping down small trees, clearing limbs, and hacking on larger logs. It is very comfortable in the hand and feels well balanced. Even though it weighs in at a full 16 ounces, it doesn't feel that heavy. When I pick this knife up, I just get the urge to destroy something! The BK2 is built for work and begs to be used! It's a good thing, too, because it wouldn't win any beauty contests, although its simple design is appealing to me.

Let's be honest about something for a second. The majority of us will never find ourselves in a real life or death survival situation. That stuff is all over TV with the various survival shows, but the odds of that being a reality for most people are pretty low. Do I prepare for a situation like that? Yes. I have certain items on hand at all times and I've had a lifetime of training that keeps me in that mindset, but realistically I'll probably never find myself alone with just my knife in a do-or-die situation.

I said that to say this...while the BK2 is part of my preparedness gear, I don't just leave it in a bag waiting for the day when I'll need it to survive. I take that sucker out and play around with it! One day at the cabin between hunts, I sat next to the fire pit and carved out a hiking stick. I didn't need a hiking stick, but I enjoyed using the knife and working with my hands. My gear gets far more use just for fun than it will for real survival. The majority of people who buy "survival" gear will never need it for survival. That doesn't mean you can't use it, anyway. And the BK2 is not just a survival knife. It makes a great camp blade or work knife on the ranch or farm. As I've said, it's built for that stuff.

Is the knife perfect? No. If you're looking for the one knife that will do everything well, keep looking. You're not going to find it. Knives are built with specific tasks in mind (at least the good ones are) and there are too many variables for one knife to excel at everything.

The fit and finish on my BK2 is excellent. The only issue I've had is with the handle screws coming loose. When I first got the knife, I was able to tighten the screws and I hadn't even used it yet. After using the knife for a few months, I had to tighten the screws again. I'm not sure why they won't stay tight, but it's a fairly common issue with the Becker knives and many people use Loctite to solve the problem.

My only other issue, and it's a personal preference thing, is with the sheath. Actually, not the sheath itself, but the belt loop. The sheath is a hard plastic or Kydex type material, but the belt loop is made from webbing (see the top photo). The belt loop is secured to a flat plate which is secured to the sheath with four screws. The loop can be attached to either side of the sheath or removed completely. I don't like the webbing material because it allows the knife to flop around on my side. I prefer a hard loop made of the same material as the sheath which would keep the knife still. Again, it's personal preference thing and there are after market sheaths available. I'm looking at a Kydex sheath made for the BK2 with a hard loop and will likely replace the factory sheath.

The BK2 has been around for a long time and is well liked and respected in the knife community as is the designer, Ethan Becker. I did not perform torture tests or purposely abuse my knife for this review. I don't abuse my gear unless it's actually necessary. There are tons of reviews, both written and video, on the BK2. You can watch people doing all kinds of things from chopping to batoning and everything in between. The various knife forums and blogs are full of information. I chose the BK2 after doing a lot of research and coming to the conclusion that it was a good choice based on its track record.

Let me talk price here before I wrap this up. I've seen this knife go for over $100 on the Internet. If you pay anywhere near that much for a stock BK2, you've paid too much. Custom models are more expensive, but the standard knife goes for much less. I paid $58.99 for mine at Chestnut Ridge Knife Shop. You can get them on Amazon and other online knife retailers. Cabela's had them the last time I checked, but they were asking $90 for the knife. Shop around and check prices. I will say the BK2 is worth every penny I paid for it!

As I mentioned before, Ethan Becker has a line of knives all of which are very popular. One of those is the BK11 or "Becker Necker". It is the smallest knife in the Becker line. My good buddy, Dennis, over at Family Time, recently wrote a review on the BK11 which you can read here:

The Becker Necker

I understand that Dennis also owns a BK2 and I'm looking forward to his thoughts on the knife. Perhaps he will do his own review and offer a different perspective.

Well, that's it, my two cents worth on the Becker BK2. It really is a nice blade and I would not recommend it if I thought it wouldn't stand up to some heavy use. If this is the kind of knife you are in the market for, it is definitely worth being on your short list.


texwisgirl said...

Yeah, yeah. You just like it because it has your initials on it... :)

Nancy said...

Most people don't know this, but I'm somewhat of a knife-nut and I thoroughly enjoyed your review.

I'm not a big fan of knives with man-made handles, preferring natural bone over anything else. But I do like the 1/4 width of the blade. Very impressive. :)

Dennis said...

Outstand review Brian, and right along with my first impressions of the BK2.

I'm working on a 10 piece kit for some courses I'm going to be taking and as one component I wanted a knife that would be dependable under tough conditions, and be a serious knife while at the same time not be over sized. It looked to me like the BK2 would be a great knife for the task at hand, while being able to stay with-in a family man's budget. I'm very happy to read you like yours as much as you do.

You're also doing folks a favor by telling them to shop around because I found exactly the same price fluctuation vendor to vendor while shopping for mine.

And thanks again for another mention bud, I wear my BK11 everywhere.

PS...I got a chuckle out of texwisgirl's comment.

heyBJK said...

Wow. Did texwisgirl bring some sass up in here? I see how it is. LOL

Nothin' wrong with being a knife-nut, Nancy! That's fit right in! Bone is nice for sure. Haven't seen any bone scales for the BK2. It would take a lot to cover it.

I hope your knife works out for you, Dennis! You'll know for certain after going through those courses. Between the BK11 and BK2 you should be able to cover many tasks. Let me know how that turns out.

Albert Quackenbush said...

Great review, Brian. I have a nice collection of knives and love reading every review I can. Looks like a very worthy knife. On the subject of the sheath, I have used other knives that have a similar issue. Way to share your ideas fully and openly. Thanks for the review! (You should go post this on for a chance at a new Axiom archery sight.)

Joe said...

Good review Brian. Looks like a good knife.