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Boar Bushcraft Kinfe – Livefire Edition

It has to be said that The Bushcraft Store’s Boar Bushcraft Knives come in a great variety of choices – steel, handle material and sheath variants – but all feature top-quality materials and are built to perform. This review features the TBS Boar Knife Livefire Edition, with a Bohler N695 stainless steel blade, natural brown micarta handle and a Livefire fire lighting kit attached to the sheath.

The Boar Knife has a 5mm thick, 110mm long drop point blade that is 30mm wide at the ricasso. The blade has a full ‘Scandi’ grind, with no secondary bevel and is satin-finished. The Bohler N695 stainless steel (carbon 0.9%, manganese 2%, chromium 0.35%, silicon 0.25%, vanadium 0.1%) is hardened to HRC58 and was chosen for its performance in edge retention, as well as corrosion resistance. The knife is of full tang construction, has natural brown micarta scales with black liners bolted to the tang and features a lanyard hole near the end of the 120mm long handle. Micarta is an almost maintenance-free modern synthetic of outstanding strength and durability and the natural brown colour chosen looks almost like wood grain. The handle is generously sized, longer than on many knives of this type, and it also fills the hand well and is comfortably shaped for use with many different grips.

With no ‘frills’ or gimmicks, the Boar Knife is a very solid tool, built to last many years of hard work with little need for lots of care being lavished on it.

Sheath Up

The sheath is a quality leather item, sewn and riveted, and can be carried either in a traditional vertical, or in a horizontal fashion on a belt or attached to pack straps, and even Molle webbing. With a generous welt and a secure press-stud closed wraparound closure, the sheath is well thought out for durability and safety and has slots designed to take a removable pouch, in this edition the pouch being the TBS fire-lighting kit.

This fire lighting kit comprises a TBS ferrocium rod firesteel (9.4mm thick x 5.5cm long) with a shaped plastic handle (3.5cm x 2cm x 1cm), which is attached by a lanyard loop to a very effective striker. The 7.5cm x 2cm striker itself also boasts a map roamer scale, a 500mm ruler, a hex nut spanner and a bottle opener. The ‘Ferro Rod’ sparks very well indeed and should give 6000 to 8000 strikes and showers upon showers of white-hot sparks.

Also in the pouch is a ‘Livefire’ tinder box; this clever product is a slide topped 8 x 3.5 x 1cm box containing 100% waterproof and wind-resistant waxy tinder.

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Simply slide the top back, fluff up some of the tinder and drop sparks from the Ferro rod in and you have between 27-minutes and several hours of flame. It takes seconds to light a prepared fire, so you should be able to light hundreds of fires with each tin. Burn times vary according to how far back you slide the lid to expose the tinder. The tin does get hot in use, so use the lid as a handle, but all you need to do to extinguish the flame is slide the tin closed. The fire lighting kit pouch opens at the top and bottom with strong press-studs and attaches to the Boar Bushcraft Knife sheath with Velcro-fastened straps. The Ferro rod has its own tube holder on the side of the pouch, initially a snug fit, but will become looser as the rod wears with use. The fire lighting kit can be removed from the knife sheath, its straps detached and worn separately from the knife on a belt.

The whole TBS Boar Bushcraft Knife Livefire Edition looks a solid, well-made, well thought out combination filling many bushcraft needs with its knife, fire kit… and bottle opener. The knife, sheath and pouch are all made of European materials (not Chinese imports) in Europe in small batches, and quality of materials and manufacture is carefully controlled. This shows in both the fit and finish on the knife (which comes hairpopping sharp) and the sheath and pouch as well as in the lifetime guarantee that comes with the knife. The supplied advisory notes are to the point and useful too. The knife alone weighs approx. 350g; with the sheath some 450g and with the fire starting kit, 550g.

Superb Performance

In use the knife and the fire lighting kit performed superbly! The fire lighting tinder was all it said it was – waterproof and easy to use and the TBS Ferro rod gave magnificent showers of sparks using the striker. The extremely strong knife itself proved very comfortable in use, raising no ‘hot spots’ even after hours of cutting using different grips. The handle material was not over slippery, even when covered in unspeakable slime, and the blade held its edge very well and was straightforward to hone after use. The sheath was strong, safe and secure, though for my personal taste carried a bit high on my belt (as a fat bloke who bulges over a belt, I prefer a low carry so the knife rides below the bulge). The horizontal carry option was a bit wasted on me as (again, personal preference) I do not like using a horizontal carry. There are Boar Knife variations with Scandinavian ‘dangler’ sheaths available, if you prefer these.

I am normally a fan of carbon steel blades and natural material handles, but with the TBS Boar, I found the Bohler N695 stainless steel (not one I had used before) to come close to the performance of a good carbon steel, with better corrosion resistance. There were no chipping, rolling or edge retention issues and I had no trouble sharpening the edge after use. The grinds that form the edge are not far off perfectly even and not too steep. The micarta handle was technically better than any natural material and looked good… but, compared to wood at least, felt a bit ‘soulless’. There are some great looking wooden handled Boar Knives available too, if this is an issue for you!

Great Expectations

All in all, the TBS Boar Bushcrafting Knife, Livefire Edition, lives up to all expectations, is comfortable in use, effective over all the normal bushcraft tasks, especially the heavier jobs, that I employed it in, practical, with quality leatherwork, attractive, made to a high standard and versatile (whoever included the bottle opener knows bushcrafters!) without being gimmicky.

This is probably the heaviest bushcraft knife I have tried; the 5mm stock and long, full tang handle adding a fair bit of weight. These factors add ‘chopping’ ability – the weight and the longer reach you can achieve with an extended or three-finger grip adding ‘oomph’ to a strike, and also make the knife excellent for the odd bit of batoning, both along and across the grain. The advisory notes that come with the knife advise you not to baton on a regular basis. However, the 5mm thick blade and the weight of the knife do make very fine work a bit more problematic and if I knew I was going to be doing some fine cutting, I would back the Boar up by carrying a proven whittling blade as well.

Lifetime Guarantee

I only had one problem with this knife – the press-stud that closes the sheath around the knife handle failed. My email to The Bushcraft Store was answered within minutes on a Sunday evening (The Bushcraft Store is open seven days a week.) It was pointed out that material, manufacturing and construction of TBS knives come with a lifetime guarantee. A repair, exchange or full refund would be offered to any purchaser who experienced any kind of failure on a TBS Knife, but as it was, I had the tools and studs to hand (I do a fair bit of leatherwork myself) and in five minutes I had replaced the stud. The rest of the knife has proved very robust and I can see failures of any sort must be very rare.

The TBS Boar Bushcrafting Knife – Livefire Edition is an excellent choice for bushcraft needs and costs £127.95, exclusively from The Bushcraft Store.

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