Ka-Bar’s Becker Kephart Woodcraft Knife
Dr. John Woods 06.26.19
Horace Kephart was a legendary knife designer and maker who has often been referred to as “the father of modern-day bushcraft.” His book “Camping and Woodcraft” was authored in 1906 and is still widely read. His designs and blade creations have been the foundations for many other knife makers’ designs. His work is carried on today.
Ethan Becker is carrying on the tradition started by Kephart. Ethan started his knife company, the Becker Knife and Tool Company, back in the early 1980s. Today, he owns one of only two known examples of of the original design Kephart Sheath Knives made by the Colclesser Brothers of Eldorado, PA. The original selling price shown in an old Colclesser ad was $2.00 including the leather sheath. The other Kephart knife is in a museum.
Becker partnered with the famous knife company KA-BAR in 2008 to reproduce the Kephart knife, now known as the Model BK62 in the KA-BAR catalog. It is a genuine effort to copy the original design in every way possible — with some modern upgrades. The only big difference I can ascertain is that the handle pins have been replaced by small bolts and countersunk nuts. Otherwise the new knife is the old knife.
The BK62’s blade is 5.125 inches long. It is constructed from 1095 CroVan carbon steel. Its hardness is HRC 56-58. The knife is 9.6 inches long. It is a full tang blade for strength with a flat grind in a matte finish. The blade thickness is 0.158 inches. The blade’s handles are rather simple, smooth walnut panels.
This knife is carried in the included leather sheath. The leather is thick, stiff, and well-shaped for the knife. The sheath has a simple belt loop sewn over at the top. Four sets of metal grommets supplement the sewn edge of the sheath. Inside the sheath is a plastic sleeve to protect the leather from the blade (and vice versa). In my estimation this sleeve was inserted backwards in the sheath I received. It seems the blade should be against the folded side of the sleeve when the knife is in the sheath rather than the open side. I simply reversed the sleeve.
The new knife’s handles seem to be screaming for some sort of oil treatment. They are plain, and the wood looks overly dry. A good application of some light wood oil should improve this. Some I know have removed the panels to coat and seal the wood from moisture on all sides, a good idea.
This Kephart design for meant for camping. It can handle anything from camp chores like preparing game or food, cutting cordage for projects, and general camp chores. It has excellent balance and weight for bushcraft work. MSRP is $182.27. Check it out at KA-BAR or Smoky Mountain Knife Works.