One to Watch: LT Wright Bushbaby HC
Tony Sculimbrene 11.17.17
High-end bushcraft knives from companies like Bark River, Fiddleback Forge, and LT Wright Knives are all exceptionally-nice tools designed to be used extensively outdoors. They are usually made in the same style–full tang construction, hand-ground blades, and heavily contoured handles. Many of these knives include very specialized steels; Fiddleback Forge uses a proprietary heat treat on their O1, Bark River delves into high end steels regularly, and LT Wright does a bit of both.
One unifying factor in all of these knives is that they tend to be very, very expensive. Because of the amount of hand work, there is simply no way around a high cost. “Cheap” Bark Rivers run around $200 and you can’t get a Fiddleback Forge for anything less than $350 (there was a midtech run a few years ago, but they seem to have been all scooped up by now). These boutique makers have raised the game for knives, but at the same time they have raised prices as well.
Enter the LT Wright Knives Bushbaby HC. You can snag one for $55 without the leather tube-style sheath or $85 with one. The knife is small with a 3 inch spear point blade, but given its design it looks like it can do real work. The handle is made of natural micarta and it is a full tang design. The handle is also fully sculpted with a prominent index notch and a barrel-style handle. The steel is 1075. This is an exceptional value, far from the nearly $400 Fiddleback Forges out there.
The original design was made by Tim Stetzer. LT Wright simplified it and added a few nice touches. First, to combat rust (1075 will DEFINITELY rust), LT double treated the blade giving it an unusual pre-patinaed appearance. Second, for added durability, the handle scales are attached with fasteners and epoxy, something very unusual for this price point (see, for example: the BK series from Ka Bar). LT also made sure the knife was roughly symmetrical around its vertical axis, as this allows for the knife to be used as a bow drill or the like. Only the index notch throws of the knife’s complete symmetry, both blade and handle.
I have found that fixed blades of this size are incredibly useful in the woods, around the fire, and even in the yard. While it is too small to split with, it is perfectly-sized for delimbing most branches. The knife’s handle and size also make it excellent for detail work such as food prep and making firestarters. It also looks like the knife could, in a pinch, be stowed in your pocket with just the sheath and no loops. It’s not an ideal carry there, but is small enough that it will work, especially in casual clothing.
The LT Wright Bushbaby HC is a great-looking fixed blade in the tradition of the high-end makers dominating the market today. It is, however, incredibly inexpensive. If you want to see what these makers can do or just need a good small fixed blade, at $85 with a sheath there is no reason not to try the Bushbaby HC.