Bark River Bravo 1 & Bravo SS
Knife Collectors Org. Review:
The Bark River Bravo 1 is said to be designed based on the needs of the Force Recon of the US Marine Corps. The Bravo 1 is produced in 2 versions, the A2 Tool steel & the very much more expensive CPM 154 “SS” version. But the stock version of the Bravo 1 is quite expensive as well.
The knife balances fine in hand, and it has enough weight to be used as a branch chopper in the woods. It is thick enough too to be used for small prying tasks, and has a thumb ramp for fine bushcrafting. Users are quite split over whether this knife is a good buy, but those who own one find it to be good for their usage and have almost no complains about it.
In comparing the Bravo 1 and the Bravo 1 SS, Mike Stewart of Bark River has said that CPM 154 steel holds an edge 20% longer than A2 steel, but loses out in terms of toughness. Here is the post from Mike himself:
A-2 has FINER carbides that any Super Stainless.
It is WAY tougher.(only S-7 and CPM3V are tougher in use in knives)
Here it is in a nutshell.
CPM154 is as Tough as D-2.(Not A-2)
It holds it’s edge longer than A-2 by about 20%
It is also much harder to sharpen because of it’s abrasion resistance – not because it is harder.
(If maintained it is easy to touch up with a Convex edge)
A-2 Is Much tougher – holds and edge very very well and is easy to sharpen.
The Advantage of CPM154 is that it is a more Stain Resistant Alloy.
It will stand shoulder to shoulder with A-2 in most uses but the in more abusive use A-2 will beat it without Chipping or Breaking.
In my Experience CPM154 is the Best Stain Resistant High Carbon Blade Steel that has been developed so far.
Jon–Feel Free to paste and copy this into your Forum.
There are both a larger version (Bravo 2) and smaller version (Gunny) of the Bravo 1 to suit various user needs, with a common design.
Some have claimed that the knife is overrated and is heavily sold based on the “marketing hype” of being associated with Force Recon. (Note that there has been no documented usage or endorsement of the Bravo 1 by the Marine Force Recon).
Overall, it seems like this knife is a little beefy and heavy for the outdoors. The A2 version of it would be a much better bargain than the CPM 154 version, unless one lives/uses the knife in a humid/salty environment, the stainless steel version could be considered. For a normal knife from Bark River, it is quite expensive (see prices below). It however is still a good enough knife to use in the woods and won’t disappoint. That is, if one can afford it.
Editor’s Rating: 7/10
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Blade Length: 4.25″ x .215″
Length Closed: -NA-
Overall length: 9.065″
Blade Steel: A2 Tool Steel or CPM 154 Stainless Steel
Blade hardness: Rc. 59 or 58 (SS)
Blade Finish: Polished
Weight: 7.375 or 7.9 (SS) oz.
Lock Type: -NA-
Carry System: -NA-
Handle Material: (Customer’s choice)
Knife Type: Fixed Blade
Country of origin: USA
Part #: -NA-
Production Status: In Production
Last Known MSRP: Premium Member Content (see FAQs)
Current Estimated Price: Premium Member Content
Production dates: Premium Member Content
Production numbers: -unknown-
Limited run?: No
Other things of interest: –
Rarity Index: 2.5/10 (10 being the most rare)
Rarity index scale (1 to 10, 10 being the most rare):
1 – Very common; easily available on ebay, google product search and almost every knife selling website. Spammed with at least 10+ listings on ebay.
3 – Has been around for at least 2 years and are selling reasonably well, with retailers favouring other newer models over this knife.
5 – Knives that are on the borderline of being discontinued or have been discontinued for less than 6 months
6 – Products from 6 onwards are either discontinued or limited edition.
7 – Discontinued knives that pop up once every few months on the “For Sale” part of forums or on ebay. Still can be found at a few online shops though.
8 – Knives that need lots of researching to find. Not available anymore in online knife shops and pop up (if you’re lucky) >4 months for one at a time.
9 – Knives holding this rarity are the shadowy kind. You can’t find any information on them at all (not even from online knife shops that have not taken down that knife’s product page). If you see one for sale grab at all cost.
10 – The rarest of all knives. If you hadn’t been here you wouldn’t even have known that it existed. Should you have one of these you better lock it up in a triple-combination safe and treat it like a family heirloom…
The Bravo-1 was developed with the assistance of the training unit of the Force Recon of the U.S. Marine Corp. These folks bought a large number of knives on the commercial market and tested them without saying anything to any of the makers.
The Bark River Gameskeeper came out on top to fit their requirements of a real time general purpose survival/bushcraft knife.
We were contacted by them and were asked to make a knife based on the Gameskeeper with a few changes.
The Bravo-1 is the result of their input.
The changes were the addition of a ramp style thumb rest on the spine and changing the guard into an integral self guard. They also wanted the choil eliminated to bring the sharp edge all the way to the front of the handle slabs for leverage in notching.
The balance of the knife had to be on the first finger.
Balance was achieved by skeletonizing the tang to put the weight evenly over the first finger position.
The handle slabs had to be epoxied and bolted to and through the blade.
All of the Bravo-1 have the handle sets attached with bolt sets. They are non-removable. We grind off the screw slots as we finish out the handles.
The synthetic material handles will all have stainless steel screw sets.
All the natural material handle sets are attached with brass bolt sets.
Here is something that we need to clear up.
The ramp on the top of the Bravo-1 is not actually a thumb ramp. It serves two purposes. The rear part of the ramp is notched to engage the firesteel. The front part of the ramp aids in putting more pressure over the plunge line for notching.
The final result is a heavy duty bushcraft/survival knife that can stand up to abusive use.
Here is the long awaited Bravo-1 S.S.
The Stainless version of the Bravo-1 is identical to the Standard Bravo-1 except it is made from the New Crucible CPM 154 Stainless Steel.
CPM 154 is the Powdered Metal Version of the original 154CM. Powdered metal Steels have much Finer Grain Structure than their Standard Equivalent.
I think those Micro-Structure Pictures tell a large part of the Story.
Powder Metal Steels are more consistent in Carbide (Black Dots) Disbursement for a more Consistent Cutting Edge and have greater Toughness because those same Carbides are smaller and not Stacked up.
Couple This Powdered Metal Technology with Bark River’s Heat Treat and Temper and I think these will Surprise you with their performance.
We really Took Our time with this project and I am very happy with the Final Result.
Each Knife is marked with the Steel Type on the blade.
The Right Face of the blade is marked “First Production Run”.