Wednesday, 22 October 2008

UnBoxing - Mikro Canadian II

Here in the UK due to the recent hysteria about young lads stabbing each other with kitchen knives filched from their mums kitchens, carrying any kind of knife in town is becoming 'contentious' to say the least. I've scaled right down to the smallest SAK (Swiss Army Knife) on my keys as my EDC and I've been pleasantly surprised just how handy it’s been for all those little jobs. The kit collector within stirs and sniffs the wind. The search for the perfect micro knife is on. I'm thinking of a 'Field Scalpel'.

In the same shipment as my lunch boxes came just such a knife. The Mikro Canadian (II), by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. BRTK seem to feature in a lot of peoples collections, and their wares have received glowing reviews from a few other bloggers so I told myself there was a convenient hole in my tool kit for an inconspicuous neck knife, convinced myself it was a bargain, and clicked the 'order now' button.

Since it's arrived I've made a few visits to The Old Operating Theatre, a real life Victorian operating theatre left untouched from the 1850s. The museum has an amazing collection of period instruments; handmade sharps and saws from the days when speed was the thing most likely to limit the risk of infection. One surgeon had the claim to fame of being able to take a leg off in twenty eight seconds. The blade shapes were interesting; saws with hinged spines designed to give rigidity during the first part on the cut, then as the blade was deep into the bone, the spine would lift up to allow the blade to pass through. I also saw a set of scalpels where the blade shape was almost exactly a Mikro Canadian.

These little slicers seem to have been a big seller for BRKT and I can see why. They’re small enough to be unobtrusive, whilst having just enough handle to feel solid in your hand. I've been reaching for it as my EDC for a few weeks now and, yeah, it's a handy little thing. The original model was made from A-2 Tool Steel, where as the MCII is 12C27, which seems an easy stainless steel to maintain a hair popping edge on.

If I'd really looked closely at the picture I ordered from, I would have noticed the mosaic pins (which are really nice) aren't even slightly aligned.

When you consider how easy a job it is to stick a piece of tape with a line drawn down it on to the handle (so you can line them up before the glue sets) it’s a bit of a disappointment. The maple burl (what could be more Canadian?) is easily the nicest wood of any of the knives I've got.

The fit of the scales isn’t neatest of work either, there's a visible gap between one of the scales and the blades tang, making the ideal place for gunk to fester, which kind of rules out using the knife for boning out, which is a shame as it feels as if it would be ideal. I'd intended to buy one handled in orange Micarta or G10, which would probably been a better shout for use as a field scalpel but the wood is good looking.

My knife’s is etched with the words First Production Run which is kind of surprising as I would have thought the collector market would be somewhat more discerning than someone like me who just wants to sharpen pencils, slice salami and open the mail.

No knife review would be complete without the 'I made feather sticks, cut notches for a 'number4' and shaved a tomato' bit. I'm not sure if I really want to eat city fox as their diet of abandoned takeaways isn't ideal, so I missed out the number 4 trap, made some melt-on-the-tongue tomato wafers, and feathered some lailandi branches. While the blade gave ultra fine shavings a couple of deeper cuts left a tiny dink in the edge so maybe
12C27 isn't such a strong steel after all or the temper isn’t quite right.

Despite its flawed build quality I've really come to like the Mikro Canadian’s design.

So I’m giving BRK&T the right to reply to this review, let’s see what they do with it.

Thanks for stopping by, Leave a comment, I'd love to know who's reading.


James Marchington said...

Sorry SBW, lovely though it looks, you can't carry that one around with you in a 'public place' (which perversely even includes the inside of your car). The law specifies a blade of less than 3ins and that is capable of being folded 'at all times' (which has been taken to mean 'not locking'). I'm using this Spyderco folder which is claimed to meet the rules, but it really annoys me that I should be forced to compromise my own safety because of the authorities' knee-jerk over-reaction to a problem that's nothing to do with me!

bushman said...

Hey bushwacker.
I find I'm carryin smaller and smaller knives. Most of the time I only have a boxcutter type knife clipped to my pocket. I do most of my skinning with a tiny pelter, bout 2" long.
Course I usually have a hatchet close by...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I know! Its an outrage! I've only been carrying it as part of my plumbing tool kit to tidy up cuts in poly pipe (a job it does a lot better than a Stanley knife) and of course to slice my lunch with.
I was very taken with the Spyderco UK pen knife (I saw yours when we were ferreting) but the price in the uk is an outrage!
I once saw the Spyderco in 'so-that's-where-it-is-orange' on an American website for about $45 - much more like it.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Grrr Further to the point.

Where's the evidence that hooligans, hood rats, or whatever you like to call them, actually spend money on the blades the war each other with?

It would seem common sense to throw away the blood stained weapon you've just 'plunged' someone with - rather than lovingly sharpening it and returning it to your tool draw covered in DNA.

Maybe it would make more sense to ban cheap knives?


Anonymous said...

Once again, supposedly educated people make the mistake of thinking a tool is what does the crimes.

Everyone should be armed with a weapon, unless they do a criminal act with one. You will see crime drop simply because the criminal element knows everyone can defend themselves.

Iowa Woodsman said...

Man I feel sorry for you guys across the pond. I would feel naked with out a good knife. Are these laws a new thing ?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Fairly new, i cant remember the exact date of the top of my head, but in the last ten years. Silly isn't it.

Anonymous said...


If you're really unhappy with the build of the knife, the defects will be covered by BRK's warranty. I've seen them fix all nature of things and poor fit of handle slabs is certainly in that realm.

I'd recommend heading over to here:
Post your concerns (which seem quite valid) and you'll have a very quick response!

See you in the woods

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

thanks for stopping by, i may well join that forum.

The trouble is i paid $90 plus shipping and If i send it back it'll have to be insured so at least £20 or $37 then a further $25 for BRKT's return policy so thats
90 + 37 + 25 = 152 effing dollars for a letter opener!!!!

It'll have to wait until I'm next in the states for a while

Anonymous said...


As to crazy knife laws, over here in the states we have them too, just each state is different... In Massachusetts for example it is illegal to own any knife with a locking blade, any knife with a one hand opening capability and any knife that has a blade over 1.5 inches in length. And don't even get me started on assisted opening knives!


Keith said...

Personally I don't think you can beat a good butcher knife for skinning and dressing game and for cutting up food.
They are cheap and easy to come by and can even be found second hand. I have never found any of the more expensive knives to be any better.
Le Loup.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Le Loup
But that would take all the fun out of it!