UPDATE: Here’s my 4 year use video review. Continue scrolling down for the 3 year review…
3 YEAR REVIEW
Obviously, this review has been a long time coming. It’s been three years since I purchased my BK5 on Amazon and it has been used every single day since then. I’ve done everything with it from make PB & J’s to clear over 1000 feet of trails on a seriously overgrown mountainside to pound nails and then pick my nails. It’s time to give this knife and the designers, Ethan Becker, a genius designer and entrepreneur in knife design, and Jerry Fisk, a Master Smith recognized by the American Bladesmith Society and a Bladesmith Hall of Famer, the credit that they all deserve.
When I first purchased the Magnum Camp, I wasn’t sold on the design and I didn’t even know to what extent I’d be using it over the next few years. All my wife and I knew were that we were heading out in to the woods of Oregon to homestead on a very remote and untouched property that we had just purchased. Honestly, I wanted a Becker BK2 instead, thinking it would better suit my needs out there in the woods. My wife decided that she wanted the BK2 and so I was the gentleman and picked something else. Why have two of the same knife? At worst, I figured that we could demote the BK5 to kitchen knife duty if it failed to be useful in the field. What I discovered about the BK5 in those woods has completely changed the way I think about knives.
When the BK5 arrived from Amazon and before we’d left for the woods, I used it around the kitchen pretty much daily. It
also joined the other contents of my bug out bag. Still not sold on the design and even more impressed by the design of the BK2 that arrived at the same time, I just kind of kept it around and kept using it because hey, the BK2 belonged to my wife and she just isn’t that good at sharing. In addition to kitchen chores, I used it to process firewood. Although not recommended by Kabar, yes, I batoned with it. I actually batoned some decently hard and very well seasoned wood with it. While doing this, there was A LOT of deflection in the blade. It actually worried me that I had ruined the knife the first time it happened. Once removing it from the log, the blade snapped back to true. Needless to say, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea to be batoning thick, hardwood rounds with the knife. This just solidified in my mind that this knife wasn’t exactly what I wanted or needed.
Everything soon changed…
Once we hit the woods, I began wearing the BK5 on my hip EVERY SINGLE DAY. I did this for 9 months without a single day off. When I did have a day off, it was one day. The first thing I did when I got out of bed in the morning was put on my pants, shirt, boots, BK5, and sometimes my sidearm. I did everything with it. Made sandwiches, cleared brush, dug for camas roots, pounded nails, cleaned game, tightened screws, used it as a draw knife, and even used it as a pry bar in situations that didn’t warrant really heavy duty prying. I’ve used it too many ways to list.
About half of the property we were homesteading on was covered in brush. Brush higher than a man and thick. Lots of willow and some other brush that I don’t know the name of was growing nut-to-butt all over the place. The Magnum Camp EXCELLED at clearing this brush to a degree that I’m not going to be able to put into words in this review. Once familiar with the blade it could be drawn, used to clear a few branches, and sheathed again in a very short time. Pruning shears are not as effective and I mean that because we had a pair given to us and I used them for a very short while. I literally had days where I used the BK5 for 8
hours out of my 16 hour day clearing brush for trails and a home site. I usually paired it up with a 20″ lance toothed cross cutting saw or my Cold Steel Pipe Hawk and the combination would do some serious work. I could have done all of the work with the BK5 to be honest but was more interested in being efficient that I was in using a knife for the sake of using a knife. I can literally shear a 1 1/2″ limb with one swipe if I do my part and cut at the right angle. Just unreal.
Once you get the technique of using the BK5 down, it can crosscut very effectively and acts like a knife of a larger size. It’s never going to compete with a kukri or tomahawk but the damn thing can do some serious work. I was very surprised by how effective this design was given the weight and design. Once, my wife and I made a quick trip to cut some poles. I brought my Husqvarna 350, the hawk, and the BK5. What I didn’t bring was my ratchet set and having not noticed my chain was getting loose, it jumped the bar and left us in the woods with the hawk and BK5 to do the work. My wife used the hawk and I used the BK5. It felled trees 8 to 9 inches in diameter with no problem. Like I said
earlier, I’m more interested in being efficient than using a knife for the sake of using a knife. It’s not that I wanted to cut down those trees with a knife but it would have taken me longer to go back for my ratchet set so walla, the BK5 and hawk had to do the job. I was stunned at how well it performed. Don’t get me wrong. There are bigger and better tools for the job but like I said, I was very surprised at the performance at this task. I don’t believe it was designed to fell trees but hey, now you know it can get the job done if you find yourself in a pinch.
In regards to batonning, I’ve got to be fair here and state right off of the bat that Mr. Becker did not design this knife to be a
heavy duty batoning machine. If you need that, get a BK9. If the whole top of the blade wasn’t swedged, it would surely be better at the task. A thicker spine would add the rigidity that a knife needs to baton well. At the same time, it would be heavier and find itself in a different category and one I don’t think it was designed for. When it comes to batoning for a camp fire, the BK5 can get the job done if you aren’t batoning through large and hard rounds. It can process smaller stuff without a problem.
In regards to the stock sheath, a lot of people that have this knife are going to think I’m giving it far too much credit. When the knife first arrived, I thought the sheath just plain sucked. It rode too low on the belt in my opinion and just didn’t seem like it was made to last. I can say that after three years of getting beat to crap in that sheath, the sheath is still holding it’s own and honestly, aside from the appearance of it, it’s no worse for the wear and the knife has never fallen out of it. That says a lot. That IS the whole point of a sheath. I copied iwouldhurtafly’s example on Bladeforums.com and used gutted 550 cord to tie the belt loop back down alongside the sheath.
This rose the knife on my hip to a point where it was doable for me and even though it still gets in the way when I sit down, the belt loop is large enough that I can move the sheath out of the way. After doing this every day, I don’t even think about it anymore.
The BK5 is not a knife that was designed to do it all. No knife is. I’m not Ethan Becker or Jerry Fisk and didn’t design the thing but after having used it daily for three years, I believe the Magnum Camp was designed to excel at all of the common camp chores. It’s not a knife that was designed to pry the door of a wrecked car open. It wasn’t designed to process a cord of firewood a day. There are other knives that would fill those roles better but those other knives also suck at the many of the tasks that the BK5 excels at. The BK5 excels and processing small rounds for a fire, clearing an area to camp, processing large game, descaling fish, and preparing your meal. It’s light enough to not be a burden while wearing it all day and after a week of getting accustomed to it, you won’t know it’s there. The knife is all belly and with the right technique, it’s extremely slicy. Did I mention it spreads peanut butter like a beast?
There’s a ton of other things I could go over about this knife but I’m trying to keep it simple. Yes, you can choke up on it pretty well for more fine tasks. Feather sticks? No problemo. You can even hold the blade along the spine about half way towards the point and get into even smaller spots when skinning. Gripes? None. I would very easily and enthusiastically recommend the BK5 Magnum Camp to anyone that, well, needs a larger sized camp knife. I’m not talking KOA camping, obviously. I’m talking back woods, brush beating it, and carving out a camp in a place you’ve never been to before. For some seriously hardcore outdoor adventures, the BK5 paired with a tomahawk and a small caping knife is the ultimate combination. At any rate, you just can’t go wrong with the Magnum Camp when it comes to camping and any tasks associated with camping. It is the MAGNUM CAMP after all.