KA-BAR Knives, Inc. is a well-known and highly respected American knife manufacturer, whose roots actually lie in Sheffield, England which was, at one time, one of the most well-known knife manufacturing centers in the world. However, due to the demand for quality cutlery in America at the time of KA-BAR’s formation, a group of 38 English knifemakers decided to leave their guilds and immigrate to America where they settled in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and there formed a limited partnership which they named the Tridioute Cutlery Company with the intention of manufacturing and selling high-quality cutlery on the American market and, this limited partnership is widely considered to be the origins of the present-day KA-BAR Knives, Inc. Therefore, KA-BAR is one of the oldest American knife manufactures still in business today and they presently manufacture more than 100 high-quality cutlery products and accessories which are sold through various distributors to many different independent retailers and mail order catalogs as well as through their online store.

Consequently, the KA-BAR/Becker Companion knife, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility knife and, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife are all popular models among avid outdoorsmen and wilderness survivalists due to their superior designs, quality materials, and meticulous craftsmanship. However, although all three knives are very popular models, they do differ somewhat from each other in blade design and blade length.

For instance, the KA-BAR/Becker Knife & Tool Companion knife (which is also known as the BK2) is a modern-day field utility knife that was designed by Ethan Becker of Becker Knife & Tool and manufactured under license by KA-BAR. Thus, the KA-BAR/Becker Companion is a fixed blade knife that features an overall length of 10.5 inches with a 5.25-inch drop point blade design and a 0.25-inch spine made from 1095 Chrome/Vanadium plain tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC. In addition, the blade of the BK2 features a flat saber grind to provide superior edge geometry combined with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent corrosion of the non-stainless blade steel. Plus, the BK2 also features full tang construction combined with Ethan Becker’s trademark, ergonomic, handle design which is made from Ultramid (a high strength, impact and abrasion resistant, thermoplastic polyamide manufactured by BASF) and which leaves a small section of the tang exposed on the pommel that is commonly referred to as a “glass breaker” but which can serve several different purposes. Plus, the KA-BAR/Becker Companion knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, molded, Kydex sheath which is MOLLE compatible.

On the other hand, the KA-BAR/Becker Knife & Tool Combat Utility knife (which is also known as the BK7), which was also designed by Ethan Becker of Becker Knife & Tool and which is also manufactured under license by KA-BAR, is an updated version of KA-BAR’s iconic USMC Combat Utility Knife and has a similar intended purpose in that it was meant to serve as both fighting knife and a utility knife. Thus, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility knife is also a fixed blade knife that features an overall length of 12.75 inches with a 7-inch drop point blade design and a 0.188-inch spine made from 1095 Chrome/Vanadium plain tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC. In addition, the blade of the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility knife features a flat saber grind to provide superior edge geometry combined with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent corrosion of the non-stainless blade steel. Plus, like the BK2, the BK7 also features full tang construction combined with Ethan Becker’s trademark, ergonomic, handle design which is made from Ultramid (a high strength, impact, and abrasion-resistant, thermoplastic polyamide manufactured by BASF) and which leaves a small section of the tang exposed on the pommel that is commonly referred to as a “glass breaker” but which can serve several different purposes. Plus, like the BK2, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility Knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, molded, Kydex sheath which is MOLLE compatible.

Of course, as you have guessed by now, the KA-BAR/Becker Knife & Tool Combat Bowie knife (which is also known as the BK9) was also designed by Ethan Becker of Becker Knife & Tool and is manufactured under license by KA-BAR. But, rather than being meant to serve as a general-purpose utility knife like the BK2 or as a combat/utility knife like the BK7, the main purpose of the BK9 is to provide users with a relatively large and very tough dedicated fighting knife. Thus, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife is also a fixed blade knife that features an overall length of 14.75 inches with a 9.25-inch clip point blade design and a 0.188-inch spine made from 1095 Chrome/Vanadium plain tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC. In addition, the blade of the BK9 features a flat saber grind combined with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent corrosion of the plain tool steel blade steel. Plus, like its cousins, the BK9 also features full tang construction combined with Ethan Becker’s trademark, ergonomic, handle design which is made from Ultramid and which leaves a small section of the tang exposed on the pommel. Plus, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, molded, Kydex sheath which is MOLLE compatible. Last, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife has an MSRP of $148.60.

Blade Design

As mentioned in the previous section above, while the KA-BAR/Becker Companion utility knife features an overall length of 10.5 inches and has a 5.25-inch drop point blade design with a 0.25-inch spine and, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility knife features an overall length of 12.75 inches and has a 7-inch clip point blade design with a 0.188-inch spine while the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife features an overall length of 14.75 inches and has a 9.25-inch drop point blade design with a 0.188-inch spine. Thus, although the blade on the BK2 is significantly shorter than that of either the Combat Utility knife or the Combat Bowie knife, it is also considerably stouter due to its significantly thicker spine. In addition, although the KA-BAR website states that all three knives have a flat grind, they actually have a flat saber grind which is a compromise between the strength of a saber grind and the superior sharpness of a flat grind and thus, all three blades will accept a very fine edge hone but will also withstand a significant amount of abuse. Also, while the 5.25-inch drop point blade featured on the KA-BAR/Becker Companion is an excellent choice for a general-purpose utility knife, it is a bit on the short side for some wilderness survival tasks and thus, some users may prefer the longer blade of either the Combat Utility knife or the Combat Bowie knife. In fact, while drop point blade designs are often favored by avid hunters and wilderness survivalists over all other blade designs because the drop point puts the tip of the blade more in line with the center of the blade, the clip point design featured on both the BK7 and the BK9 is actually a better choice for piercing tough materials. Thus, it would actually be an excellent idea for a person to combine the KA-BAR/Becker Companion with either the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility knife or the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie knife so that they would then have a complete knife system to handle any wilderness survival task that they may have a need for.

Consequently, all three of the KA-BAR/Becker knives listed in this review are truly excellent choices for dedicated wilderness survival tools since all three knives are made from a very good choice of blade steels, and they each feature blade designs that are well suited for the purpose.

Blade Steels

Also as noted above, all three of the KA-BAR/Becker knives listed in this review feature blades that are made 1095 Cro-Van plain tool steel which is a truly excellent choice for knives intended for wilderness survival. In fact, 1095 Chrome-Vanadium steel is a very tough, non-stainless, Plain Tool Steel which consists of 0.95% – 1.1% Carbon which converts iron to steel, 0.3% – 0.5% Manganese which increases toughness and hardenability in steel, 0.4% – 0.6% Chromium which causes steel to resist corrosion, 0.06% Molybdenum which combines with Chromium to form hard, double carbide, bonds that help improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel during forging, 0.25% Nickel which adds strength and toughness to steel and also helps it to resist corrosion and, 0.161% Vanadium which helps to produce a fine grain structure during the heat treat stage to aid in honing the edge to a very fine degree and which also improves wear resistance to aid in maintaining edge sharpness. However, because it contains significantly less than 10.5 percent Chromium, it is classified as Plain Tool Steel rather than as a Stainless Steel and thus, it is far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels are. Therefore, the blade of the KA-BAR/Becker Companion knife is coated with a matte black epoxy powder coat to aid in resisting corrosion but, even so, special attention needs to be paid to the cutting edge which remains uncoated.

So, although the blade steel used to construct the KA-BAR/Becker BK2, the BK7 and, the BK9 is a non-stainless tool steel and thus, it is prone to corrosion, it also is a very tough blade steel that does an excellent job of taking and holding an edge. Consequently, each of these knives can be depended upon to provide reliable service in a wilderness survival situation regardless of whether they are used to cut, slice, chop, pierce, dig, or pry.

Tang Design

For those of you who are not familiar with the term “tang” in relation to knives, only knives with fixed blades have extended tangs because a knife’s tang is commonly thought of as an extension of the blade to which the handle is attached. Consequently, while folding knife blades do have tangs through which the pivot pin is inserted, they are very short, and thus, the handle scales are usually attached to the knife’s liners rather than the tang. Also, there are several different types of tangs and thus, as mentioned above, the KA-BAR/Becker BK2, the BK7 and, the BK9 all feature a full tang construction which the strongest of all tang designs and which also adds a considerable amount of weight to a knife for more heft in the hand and better balance. In addition, all three knives feature an exposed section of the tang which is not covered by the handle scales, and thus, it can be used to break glass or plastic windshields in the event that a person finds themselves trapped in a downed aircraft or a disabled vehicle. Therefore, the exposed section of tang is commonly referred to as a “glass breaker.

Handle Material

Due to the full tangs featured on the KA-BAR/Becker Companion, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility and, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie, they each have a pair of handle scales made from a synthetic material called Ultramid which is a high strength, impact, and abrasion-resistant, thermoplastic polyamide manufactured by BASF which are attached to the knife’s tang via three Chicago-type screws. Therefore, the handle featured on all three knives are both very ergonomic and very tough as well as being impervious to the absorption of moisture, chipping, or cracking.

Consequently, because the handle material used on the KA-BAR/Becker BK2, the BK7 and, the BK9 is an extremely tough, synthetic, impact and abrasion-resistant material, it is every bit as tough as the blade steel and thus, it too can be depended on to survive most any task that a person may have for either knife in a wilderness survival situation.

Value for the Money

Last, when it comes to determining the value for the money, because all three of the KA-BAR/Becker knives listed in this review feature essentially the same design and all three are made from the same materials as well as being manufactured by a company with a very solid reputation for manufacturing high-quality production knives, there is really not much difference in them other than blade length and suggested retail price. Thus, because each knife features a blade design that is very well suited for its intended purpose and each knife is made from a very good choice of blade steels and handle materials, most users would agree that they are relatively inexpensive knives compared to some other brands such as TOPS and thus, they each provide the user with a good value for the money.

So, all things considered, the KA-BAR/Becker Companion, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Utility and, the KA-BAR/Becker Combat Bowie are all very good choices for dedicated wilderness survival knives since each knife is made from an excellent choice of blade steels and they all feature full tang construction combined with nearly indestructible handle materials. Therefore, a user would do well in choosing any of these knives as their most important wilderness survival tool.

About The Author

Andrew is an avid gun enthusiast and supporter of the 2nd amendment rights. When he is not writing for ArmsBearingCitizen he can be found at the range, hunting, or simply enjoying the outdoors with his family. Andrew hopes his years of experience with firearms and the outdoors can help others decide what gear is right for them and how to safely use it.