Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Check out this Mora on steroids - we review the Bark River Liten Bror

It's a beefed up, Scandinavian style knife. If you like Mora-style knives, you'll probably love the Bark River Liten Bror. by Leon Pantenburg
 Disclaimer: is a sponsor. I was not paid to do this review. 
  In the past decade or so, my bushcraft and utility knife needs have pretty much been taken care of by a standard trio. I carry a Swiss Army Classic everywhere, usually include a Mora to handle utility duties, and then include a specialty knife for hunting and/or fishing. The Bark River Liten Bror, top, is a Scandinavian-design bushcraft knife. It is very similar to my long-used, sometimes abused Mora 860.  

The Bark River Liten Bror, top, is a Scandinavian-design bushcraft knife. It is similar to my long-used, sometimes abused Mora 860.

Mora is a brand. With a Mora, you can get a quality fixed blade, comfortable handle and reasonable price, all in the same package. Generally speaking, I define a Mora-style as a knife with a rigid, three-to-four-inch blade, a Scandinavian grind and overall length of about eight inches. The handle typically doesn’t have a guard, and the knife is intended to be an all-purpose, general-use cutting tool. The Mora I carry most often, a model 860, cost $15 about 10 years ago. My C.T. Fischer custom four-inch bushcraft knife goes for about $250. In both cases, I consider the money well-spent.

 So I was very interested when I saw the Bark River Liten Bror in the catalog. The name in Swedish means “Little” or “Small Brother,” and is a smaller version of Bark River’s Aurora Bushcraft Knife. (I recently field tested and reviewed the Aurora. Check it out!)

I own several Mora-style knives, and don't need another. But I was too weak to resist a high end, quality piece of cutlery in one of my favorite styles and designs. I got a Liten Bror with a blaze orange handle for high visibility. This knife, if it worked out, would have an active and much-used career.
 The Liten Bror specs:  
Overall Length: 8.125 Inches  
Blade Length: 3.775 Inches  
Blade Thickness: .156 Inch
Blade Steel: CPM3V @ 58rc Weight: The Aurora, top, is Bark River's premier bushcraft knife. For people wanting a smaller knife, the Liten Bror is a good choice.  

The Aurora, top, is Bark River's premier bushcraft knife. For people wanting a smaller, but similar knife, the Liten Bror is a good choice.[/caption]
 Every Bark River I've evaluated comes out of the box shaving sharp. The Bror was no exception. Workmanship and finish were superb. I like: Made in the USA: Every Bark River knife is made in Escanaba, Michigan and the craftspeople's pride in their work is evident. Call the plant and you'll talk to a pleasant person with a Midwestern accent. Every Bark River knife comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. They mean it. The steel: The blade is made of Crucible's CPM3V Powdered Metal Steel. I evaluated this steel on a couple other Bark Rivers, and I like it very much. I've had to deliberately dull the blades to make them lose their sharpness and it was not hard to restore the edge. With the Liten Bror and the Aurora, I whittled a bunch of pitchwood into firemaking chips. Pitchwood is very hard and tacky, and it takes a knife edge off quickly. Another test I do is to whittle corrugated cardboard. The material is very abrasive, and cutting cardboard quickly dulls any knife. The CPM3V holds out very well. The grind: I like a Scandi grind, because it is easy for beginners - and experts - to sharpen. The Liten Bror has a "Convex Scandi" grind. A “Convex Scandi Grind” is a grind that is half way up the blade, according to Bark River, but the grind itself is convex. The convex grind allows the edge to be supported by nearly 400% more metal. This convex grind and the tough steel, Bark River claims, means the user can have a Scandi grind with a stout edge spine for serious edge retention. My findings are that this combination works very well. I don't baton wood to test a blade, but this blade would hold out very well is you needed to pound it through a chunk of firewood. [caption id="attachment_17969" align="alignright" width="300"]The Bark River Liten Bror fits my hand like it was made for it. This provides a very secure - and safe - grip for the user. The Liten Bror fits my hand very well. This provides a very secure - and safe - grip for the user.[/caption] Handle: A handle that doesn't fit your hand is dangerous. It could twist when you're putting pressure on it, slip and cut you. Also, a too-small handle would force you to grip hard, and could contribute to fatigue in your hand and fingers. Finally, a poorly-designed handle will cause your hand to develop hot spots over prolonged use, which will lead to blisters. None of these things are acceptable is a knife that will be used a lot. The Liten Bror fits my glove-size large hand like it was made for it. The handle is just right - not too long or too short. I was able to use it for extended whittling sessions with no problems. Another consideration is how easy the knife handles when you're wearing gloves. In sub-zero temperatures, it's not a good idea to be removing gloves every time the knife is used. I wet the handle with vegetable oil to test how it would work when covered with blood, slimes, scales and other body fluids. While the handle was not as sure a grip as when dry, the good design prevents it from being really dangerous. Any slippery knife handle is dangerous to the user, so be aware. [caption id="attachment_17970" align="alignleft" width="210"]The Bark River Liten Bror, top, has a much thicker blade than the Mora 860. The Liten Bror, top, has a much thicker blade than the Mora 860.[/caption] Blade thickness opn the Bror is a good compromise for a potential do-it-all knife. My other Moras have thinner blades, which makes them better for slicing or cleaning fish. But that thickness makes the Liten Bror a better choice for an overall or hunting knife. The Liten Bror works fine for kitchen work and most camp duties. If you want a quality knife that will be used mostly for cooking and kitchen duties, take a look at the Bird and Trout knife. The top of the blade has two 90-degree angles on it, which means it would work well as a striker for a ferrocerium rod. I wouldn't use the blade for that unless it was an emergency, but it's nice to know that's an option. [caption id="attachment_17967" align="alignright" width="210"]The Liten Bror comes with a Sharpshooter leather sheath, which secures the knife very effectively The Liten Bror comes with a Sharpshooter leather sheath, which secures the knife very effectively.[/caption] Sheath: Any rigid blade knife must have a sturdy, safe sheath. The Liten Bror comes with a leather Sharpshooter Bushcraft B Sheath - Brown. I have a couple of those sheaths, and they work really, really well for safe and handy carry. I add a D-ring for easy carry. Other considerations: Cost: The Liten Bror goes for about $200.00. Initially, that might seem like a lot. You can find cheaper knives that might serve you just as well. But consider this: What is a no-questions, 100 percent guarantee worth to you? It means if you ever break or the knife fails, it will be replaced. I also call that credibility. Obviously, Bark River couldn't afford to make that offer if they have to replace very many knives. And consider this: The investment now in a quality product could bring dividends later. Decades from now my grandchildren could use and hopefully appreciate my quality knives. I like the Liten Bror very much. So much, in fact, it may replace my well-used Mora model 860. When something works really, really well, there is no point in replacing it. Unless, of course, you can upgrade it with something just like it, only better. The Liten Bror and I will be working together a lot in the next few months, and I'm guessing I will be very happy with it. Please click here to check out and subscribe to the YouTube channel, and here to subscribe to our weekly email update - thanks!

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