Mora has quite the reputation for making quality yet very affordable knives. Because of this, they are immensely popular among outdoor-living instructors, backpackers, and seasoned Bushcrafters as well as novices alike. The blades may not look as pretty as a $350 custom knife, but they are every bit as functional. The Companion Heavy Duty is no exception.
This model is carbon steel and has a 104mm (4.09 inches) long blade with a Scandinavian grind and a 3.2mm (.126 inches) thick spine. The handle has a black, rubberised grip, and while a little large for people like me with average-sized hands, this is an advantage in winter, especially if you’re wearing mittens or gloves, since the knife will be easier to control. I bought the knife on amazon.com for about $18, but it can be found for a bit less. As you can see, I put a forced patina on it for a more rustic feel .
I know there are many reviews of this knife out there, but I wanted to add in my two-pence worth. The Companion, particularly this design, has become a loved-standard in the Bushcraft community – because of that, it seems appropriate to base my future knife reviews in comparison to this one.
The ‘Companion’ series gained popularity two years ago as a step-up from the older ‘Clipper’ knives. The major upgrade was in the Companion tang, which extends nearly 2/3 of the way through the handle, as opposed to a shorter tang with Clippers. It comes with a durable, plastic sheath – plain and simple. Like the Clipper sheaths, it has a sturdy belt clip so you can easily put it on and take it off without much hassle. The Companion Heavy Duty also comes in bright orange, a wise option if you are prone to placing your knife down and forgetting where you put it. Companions are also made in stainless steel (Companion F Rescue, F Serrated, Orange, MG, and others) though none of them have the 3.2mm thick spine. Mora’s carbon steel knives are hardened to 59-60 Rc – stainless blades are 57-58 Rc.
To begin, I collected some Eastern White Pine and Sugar Maple logs, approximately 1.5 inches diameter for each.
Starting with the pine, I shaved off curls from one side to simulate general carving. Thanks to the Scandinavian grind, this was a breeze . Next up was the batoning test.
The blade went through the log like butter. Not only did the Scandinavian grind split the fibres with ease, but the 3.2mm spine wedged the two pieces apart without getting stuck. The same was true with the piece of Sugar Maple.
I split the pine log again into quarters, and used the inside corner for finer carving, making a featherstick. This is where the Scandinavian grind really excels, planing off thin shavings.
Truncating was a different story. The Companion got the task done, but adequately. The thickness of the blade proved a slight disadvantage here because it cannot cut through the fibres as easily as a thinner blade.
Another downside is that the spine is rounded-off, so using it to strike a ferrocerium rod (firesteel), will prove difficult. I’ve heard that you can use the very tip where the grind thins to the point, but this did not help. I gave up after a half hour’s effort. It should be noted, however, that since most firesteels come with a striker, using the back of your knife is not necessary. I don’t know where the idea came about that you must use the spine of your knife against a firesteel in order to create a sufficient shower of sparks to light a fire. I’ve done just fine with the small striker that came with my firesteel. But if you so choose, you can take a sharpening file and roughen the spine so that it will throw sparks better. I am including this test because many outdoorsmen/women use the back of their blades to strike sparks, and my findings would be useful to them.
For last, I used a knee-lever grip to see how much bite the knife has. I favour this technique over the more commonly known chest-lever because I can slice larger chunks of wood more efficiently. This comes in handy when large stock removal is needed in a carving project.
The Companion made short work of the quartered pine log, and was equally effective with maple.
In conclusion, I can say that the Companion Heavy Duty is a capable, well-rounded blade. It is a great choice if you plan on using your knife for moderate batoning, and it performed well overall with the carving tasks. The only downside was that it couldn’t strike sparks from a firesteel, but this doesn’t matter for me.
Some folks have raised concern over the tang because it isn’t a full, wide tang, and therefore won’t be as strong. This is true, but it should be remembered that knives weren’t meant to handle the abuse of heavy chores in the first place – that’s what the axe or hatchet is for – and batoning is a fairly new concept. That said, if you use it hard enough, it will break at the handle…but at $18, the Companion can be replaced without much heartache. Personally, I wouldn’t use it on a regular basis for splitting anything thicker than 2 inches diameter.
I have owned this knife for almost two years now, and it has lived up to its name. I’ve only needed to sharpen it a few times with a fine stone followed by stropping. One can clearly see why the Companion Heavy Duty is so popular. For more information of Mora knives, visit http://www.moraofsweden.se/