Tuesday, November 6, 2012

REVIEW: Mora "Black Carbon" Bushcraft Knife


Mora's "Black Carbon" Bushcraft Knife follows the summer release of their new line of "heavy duty" knives, including the popular "Robust Knife". The Black Carbon is essentially a Mora Bushcraft Force knife, but with a thicker 1/8" thick carbon steel blade, a squared-off spine (for striking firesteels and scraping tinder), and a black Tungsten DLC Coating for rust resistance.


When I heard that Mora was releasing the Black Carbon, I was excited to say the least, since it finally has the features I've been longing for. I'd like to say a special thanks to Ben's Backwoods for getting this knife out to us so quickly!

Mora Black Carbon SPECS:

Steel Type: Swedish High Carbon Steel
Blade Length: 4.35"
Overall Length: 9.35"
Weight with sheath: 5.7 ounces
Weight without sheath: 4.3 ounces
Blade thickness: 1/8" thick
Country of origin: Made in Östnor, Sweden by Mora Knives
Price: $38-$41 through most online knife retailers

THE KNIFE

When I first picked up the Black Carbon, I could feel the extra heft compared to any Mora I've used in the past. On a digital scale, the Black Carbon weighs a half an ounce more than the stainless Bushcraft Survival and Force knives, coming in at 4.3 ounces (without the sheath), compared to 3.7 ounces for the Bushcraft Survival. 

One surprise was that the Black Carbon has a longer blade than the aforementioned knives, coming in at 4.35" vs 4.25" for the Force and Bushcraft Survival knives.

Here is a comparison with the Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife
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Blade comparison (Black Carbon is on the right):


Comparison with Mora's 4" Companion "Heavy Duty" MG Carbon Model:

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Closeup of the black Tungsten DLC Coating:

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SHEATH

The Black Carbon comes with a standard Mora Bushcraft sheath, which has a removable belt loop that also swivels in place. Although it's not fancy, it is functional, tough yet lightweight, and does a good job of holding the knife safely and securely.
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The Black Carbon also fits directly into the Mora Bushcraft Survival Sheath:


FIELD REVIEW

Much has already been written about the Bushcraft Force knife, which the Black Carbon is based on, so I wanted to focus on the four things that I thought were most important: 1) Does the Black Carbon baton any better than the Force knife? 2) How will the DLC Coating hold up under this batoning? 3) Now that the blade is thicker, will it still perform fine carving tasks as well as the thinner blades? 4) How well does the squared-off spine work when striking a firesteel?

Batoning a small Aspen log 

For the baton test, I found a small, dead Aspen tree that was lying on the ground around my base camp and sawed off a section with my trusty Bahco Laplander saw:

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Using a baton made from a pitch-laden pine branch, the log was then batoned into smaller pieces for the feather-stick and firesteel test:

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Success! 


I felt that the Black Carbon's thicker, longer blade made batoning slightly easier than other Moras I've used in the past.

Carving a Featherstick

The Black Carbon performed excellently in the featherstick test. It doesn't carve with the absolute perfection of a thin-bladed Mora Clipper, but this slight deficiency is really only noticeable when you do a side-by side comparison of the two.
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Firesteel test

The squared off spine on the Black Carbon was a joy to use when striking a firesteel, and easily ignited the Aspen wood featherstick from the previous test with just a few strikes:

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DLC Coating- How did it hold up?

I was only able to baton one log and carve a few feathersticks before posting this review, but the DLC Coating on this knife looks very promising. Here's how the knife looked after the tests:

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and after a quick wipe down with gun oil:

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UPDATE: The Black Carbon is now available with the Mora Bushcraft Survival sheath:


UPDATE 2: Using the Black Carbon's spine to ignite Charcloth with Quartzite

Conclusion

With it's thicker, slightly longer blade, the Black Carbon just might be the ticket for those who love Mora knives, but are worried about using a thinner version for heavy duty wilderness tasks. No, it's not a 1/4 thick "sharpened prybar," but I highly doubt anyone would break one unless they were outright abusing it. 

Another advantage of the high carbon steel construction of the Black Carbon is the ability to ignite char-tinder by striking its spine against Flint or Quartz to produce sparks. Here's a great video on how to do this by IA Woodsman.

One slight negative is that there is a small degredation in cutting performance compared to thinner Moras like the Clippers, but it's barely noticeable unless you do a side by side comparison of the two. The Black Carbon is still an excellent wood carving tool compared to most knives.


I was impressed with the DLC coating. Even though I didn't have as much field time with the Black Carbon as I normally do with other knife reviews, it appeared to hold up as well or better than, the coatings on other knives I've used over the years. After I spend more time in the field with the Black Carbon, I'll post an update on how it holds up under long term field use.

This knife looks to be an excellent all-around bush knife, and just as the FireKnife was a hit for Mora, I predict the same for the Black Carbon.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)


Sept 12th, 2013 UPDATE- Mora of Sweden to release larger Black Carbon Bushcraft model in December

May 3rd, 2014 UPDATE- Check out our review of the new Mora Bushcraft Pathfinder Knife

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10 comments:

  1. I'm curious about how this knife will sharpen.  Is the coating on the bevel?  Diamond-Like Carbon coatings are very, very wear resistant and slippery, and sharpening through it to get to the steel beneath would likely require a diamond stone and lots of time.  Along those lines,  I wouldn't count on striking a spark with the spine - definitely try it before assuming it will work in a crisis.

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  2. Literate Viewer, good point about trying this knife on some Flint/Quartz first before relying on it, and I would argue to do this with any piece of critical gear as well. As for sharpening, I had no problem sharpening it for the test.

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  3. Although I love the "cool" factor of the knife, I wanted to save the extra twenty dollars and went with the robust MG. I was wondering, comparing the Black Carbon and the robust MG, which would you say performs better?

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  4. Hey Ken-

    MG- Slightly better at carving feathersticks 
    Black Carbon-- Much better handle
    Batoning- Black Carbon (longer blade)
    Striking firesteels and scraping tinders- Black Carbon (MG has a rounded spine)
    Sheath- both work well, but the Black Carbon's dangler has the edge.

    Overall- I would rather grab the Black Carbon over the MG for an all around bushcraft knife.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  5. Looks like a brilliant knife, as a Swede myself i just can't wait to get my hands on one! Have you tried to mount it on your backpack? It would be interesting to see how it would fit onto a MOLLE-system, perhaps something to look into if you would be doing a long-term review sometime :-)

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  6. Hi Robin, thanks for the comment.

    I haven't tried to mount it that way yet, but I'll make a note to try it on my next wilderness trip and get some photos for an update.

    -Jason

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  7. Several readers emailed me and asked if the back of the Black Carbon blade could create sparks while striking flint or quartz. I'm to report that yes, it actually works quite well. The problem is that it will damage the squared spine, which will obviously affect its ability to strike a firesteel or scrape tinder. However, it is good to know that this can be done in a survival situation.

    Cheers, Jason

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  8. Great review. Of course I had to order one, to add to the collection.

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  9. I'm curious about how this knife will sharpen.  Is the coating on the bevel?  Diamond-Like Carbon coatings are very, very wear resistant and slippery, and sharpening through it to get to the steel beneath would likely require a diamond stone and lots of time.  Along those lines,  I wouldn't count on striking a spark with the spine - definitely try it before assuming it will work in a crisis.

    ReplyDelete