Pros: Blade Material, Weight, Blade Sharpness, None
Cons: Handle Material, Sheath/Scabbard, Finish
Versatile Cutting Knife
This knife is a sublime example of compromises (which is not a bad thing). It uses a 20 degree flat grind, combined with a well treated carbon steel. This gives it acceptable edge holding, but exceptional edge-taking, and a strong but sharp edge. With little effort and a fine whetstone you can have a hair-popping edge with excellent bite which should not chip. The blade is not exceptionally hard (about HRC: 57) but enough to cut well and bend before it snaps (also keeps the price down). As the blade is carbon steel and not stainless, it is not especially rust resistant, and requires oil and care. Handle material is comfortable, and the nut holes are hex-cut so you do not need to counter-hold them when removing or attaching the handle (nice attention to detail). The knife is full tang, and the end of the tang has some of the steel exposed for hammering on stuff in a pinch. Provided sheath is not the best quality, but gets the job done. As with all blades, the real quality of the item comes from the heat treatment. A good treatment is everything, and history has shown that Ka-Bar knows what they're doing in that arena. The BK-5 is an excellent, versatile, jack-of-all-trades cutting knife at a reasonable price. I very much enjoy using it for cutting everything from french bread and cucumbers to wood and rope, it does a fabulous job.Update: Having put quite a lot of heavy use on this knife now, it has held up well. The black coating at the tip has chipped off about a centimeter. I keep the blade oiled and hone it from time to time, it continues to easily take an edge and has not rusted (despite some dips in salt water and put away dirty days). Sometimes the handle must be removed and the bores and bolts cleaned as dirt finds its way in there. An appropriate allen wrench should be added to your mobile toolkit if you take this outdoors. The knife cuts anything I throw at it, and I have used it to dig, chop, and hammer to good effect. Continues to be a five star product, especially at the price. It just requires a little bit of upkeep, as all equipment does.Update 2, 1.5 years:- The core of the knife, that is the steel blade/tang itself, continues to be excellent. Sharpens up a treat, retains edge well, hacks, chops, slices, hammers, and is reasonably well weighted. Excellent, would buy again.- I've purchased a nicer sharpening system, and this blade takes a wicked edge. Continues to cut through almost anything efficiently.- The coating is clearly just a paint or possibly a powercoat layer. After some more daunting and ill-advised tasks (opening a can, prying against metal) it has been scoured off in many places. I would advise Ka-Bar to use a proper industrial grade hard-coat of some sort. However, at the price this knife goes for, I am not surprised or disappointed in the coating used. Clearly a more premium coating would also increase the price.- I've had to replace the factory black coated handle fasteners with identical thread pitch/size stainless ones I bought at a hardware store. The factory fasteners were rusting constantly.- Handle can be a bit slippery when wet. I may think about crafting some aluminum replacements with knurling.- Sheath continues to be average.