Bark River Northstar

Bark River Northstar sheep horn handle main (Photo: Gary W Graley - bladeforums)

Knife Collectors Org. Review:

The Bark River Northstar is another popular bushcraft knife. Like the other Bark River knives, it features a skeletonised tang to reduce weight but still manages to keep its balance point near the guard. Most people compare it to the other Bark River knives: the Aurora, Canadian Special and Fox River.

Moving away from the typical straight handle design, the Northstar has a rather peculiar shape, being slightly curved along the top part of the knife along the spine and through to the blade (see pictures below). This would mean an easier hold when holding the knife in a “carving” grip, with the thumb on the spine to push the blade along wood, when doing whittling. The curved handle results in a more ergonomic grip when holding the knife, but this is mostly useful only when doing bushcraft tasks. It is quite natural to have this grip when using the Northstar instead of traditional methods, because of the way this knife has been designed. The good part is that this curve is not so pronounced as to make carrying the knife awkward or being too uncomfortable when slicing or chopping.

Editor’s Rating: 8/10

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Blade Length: 4.25″ x .170″
Length Closed: -NA-
Overall length: 8.5″
Blade Steel: A2 Tool Steel or CPM-3V
Blade hardness: Rc. 58-59
Blade Finish: Polished
Weight: 4.5 oz.
Edge: Plain
Lock Type: -NA-
Carry System: -NA-
Handle Material: (Customer’s choice)
Knife Type: Fixed Blade
Country of origin: USA
Part #: -NA-

Rarity Details:

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: 3/10 (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…


Product Description:

The North Star was Bark River’s first entry into the Bushcraft Task Arena. The knife was suggested by and developed with Reid Hyken. The North Star is a great general purpose knife but excels at woodcraft tasks. The pointed spear point blade is the most popular shape for this kind of field work.

The North Star has gone through a few changes and evolutions over the years. Initially the knife was made with a tapered tang. Only the first run had that feature. After that we skeletonized the area under the handle slabs to give the knife balance without tapering the tang. The 2007 model has a few more changes. The handle slabs were extended forward to be very close to the plunge line of the grind. This will give a more secure grip and enhance the notching ability of the knife. Next the small notches on the underside of the handle in the choil area were removed. The notches on top of the blade are now deeper and more defined for easier use on a ferro rod. These notches were initially put in with the laser while the blades were being cut out. The limitations of the laser itself caused them to be less defined. They are now machined in after the blades are cut out and fully annealed.

If you look carefully you will also notice that the pin configuration has been changed. Originally the knife had three pins through the handle. The lanyard tube was not installed because of the external lanyard loop. The configuration was changed to have two pins and a lanyard, while retaining the external loop. You now have the option of using either the hole or the loop. You even have the option of having the external loop ground off, in case you feel that the loop might interfere with palm thrust style drilling with the point.

These non-standard North Stars are made from CPM 3V instead of out standard A-2 Tool Steel. The CPM 3V is a Powdered Metal Steel that is tougher than A-2. It is part of a new generation of Super Steels that bring performance into a new level. One will note that the CPM 3V version of the North Star is also a bit thinner (.165″) instead of the standard (.170″) thickness of the standard A-2 version. This should improve the carving ability of the knife without compromising the toughness of the knife because of the additional attributed of the CPM 3V Steel.

The North Star 2011 carries the Bark River Bushcraft Compass Point Mark on the Right facing of the blade.

This is also the First Run of the North Star that is assembled with Corby Bolts instead of Pins. You have the option of using either the Lanyard hole or the External Loop. Otherwise you can request to have the External Loop ground off if you feel that the loop might interfere with palm thrust style drilling with the point.