I've discussed Becker knives a bit on this blog but have yet to fully admit my man-love for these blades. It all started about two years ago as I was taking a look at the Ka-Bar USMC combat knife and comparing it to current knife designs. I stumbled on the Becker BK-7, which Ethan Becker designed as a replacement for the USMC knife. Its beauty is in its simplicity - a sturdy full-tang design, well balanced and with a well shaped clip point and an extremely comfortable handle. I was immediately smitten. At the time I declared that it was probably the best reinterpretation of the classic USMC knife and a worthy successor. My opinion still holds.
|The Ka-Bar/Becker BK-7.|
We'll discuss this knife in a later post
It's not that Ethan doesn't like smaller blades. Apparently he just never got around to getting serious about designing them. In interviews Ethan talks about his early fascination with the classic Puma White Hunter and when he finally got his hands on one how disappointed he was in its performance. He had always intended to design his own version of a lightweight, versatile sheath knife but just never got around to it. That all changed about two years ago when Ethan and Ka-Bar (which manufactures all of Ethan's knives) announced that Ethan had designed a series of smaller sheath knives that fit in the lineup between his small skeleton knives and his big choppers. Naturally these were labeled the 'tweeners' by Becker's fans (affectionately known as Beckerheads). The waiting and speculation began as Ka-Bar produced a series of prototypes and released them for limited testing. Ka-Bar is one of several knife manufacturers that not only listens to its customers but participates actively in discussions about its knives in on-line forums. As the tweener designs matured Ethan and Ka-Bar made sure that members of the Beckerhead community got opportunities to view, use and comment on them, and they participated in on-line discussions about them.
After a long gestation period the knives were formally announced at the 2012 SHOT show and retailers started selling them soon after. Early production sold out overnight and none of my usual on-line retailers had them in stock. It wasn't until the 2012 Blade Show here in Atlanta that I got excited all over again about the BK-16. I stopped by the Ka-Bar booth and they had one on display. I was immediately impressed. Lightweight, well balanced and with an extremely well shaped and comfortable grip. I HAD to have it! To my utter disappointment the Ka-Bar guys wouldn't sell it to me. It seems they brought along a healthy stock to sell at the show but within just an hour or two on Saturday morning they were all gone. What was left in the case was their display model and that had been sold, too. I walked away dejected (but not too dejected - I managed to choke back my tears long enough to pick up a nice Kraton handled USMC combat knife and one of the new handle sets for the Becker BK-14 from the guys at the booth).
A few weeks after the Blade Show I checked with one of my favorite on-line Ka-Bar dealers, Tomars Ka-Bars, and was delighted to see he had the BK-16 back in stock. I ordered one and a few days later it showed up in my mail box. I've had it a few days now and my initial Blade Show impressions have been reinforced.
The BK-16 follows the same general blade shape that was pioneered by the Becker BK-2, a drop point utility profile. Ethan has used this same blade shape on several other knives, including the BK-11 and BK-14. It's a good general purpose blade shape. The BK-2 is Ethan's best selling design and it's a big, heavy, no-compromise knife. That means it's thick, almost 1/4" of blade steel. And heavy - too heavy to be a practical belt knife unless your name happens to be Paul Bunyan. The BK-16 brings that great blade profile to a smaller, thinner piece of steel. This makes it a more practical all-around knife.
Here's a comparison of the two:
|BK-2 (on top) compared to the smaller BK-16|
By the way, I changed the handle scales from black (seen above) to brown.
Ka-Bar includes both sets with each knife. I think the brown
makes for a nicer contrast.
|A dramatic difference in blade thickness.|
This makes the BK-2 heavy and somewhat unwieldy
while the BK-16 is light yet still plenty sturdy enough
for routine chores
So stay tuned and stay sharp!