Knife maker Cold Steel released the budget-minded Finn Hawk. So we put it to the test against the value standard, Mora Companion.
When considering inexpensive outdoor knives, Cold Steel isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. That’s generally the domain of Mora and its ubiquitous line of Companions.
But Cold Steel aims to shift that paradigm with the Finn Hawk, a fixed blade purpose-built for bushcraft. So when the brand offered to send one over, the chance to compare the two was too much to resist.
Cold Steel Finn Hawk vs. Mora Companion
What we have here are two stainless steel, budget-friendly bushcraft blades. On paper, the biggest difference is cost. The Finn Hawk retails for $38 through Cold Steel ($21 elsewhere) while the Mora can be found for $13 on Amazon.
Dimensional disparities are so small they’re not really worth discussing. Both feature 4-inch blades, with an additional 0.2 inches of tail feather on the Hawk (4.5-inch handle vs. 4.3). And both sport satin blades, polymer grips, and scandi.
With such a similar form, can there be a meaningful difference in function? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
On the Belt
At first glance, these knives bear almost identical sheaths. Both are composed of hard plastic and secure to the belt with a semi-flexible clip. But when it comes time to draw, the difference is immediately apparent.
See that little thumb ramp atop the Mora sheath? It allows you to grasp the knife in your palm, apply pressure, and easily pop it past the molded friction stops.
The more expensive Cold Steel doesn’t have that. Instead, the thin rim of the sheath sits directly against the back of the Hawk’s handle. This leaves you with no place for your thumb, unless you feel like jamming plastic under your nail. It’s almost impossible to draw this knife one-handed.
Instead, you must take your opposite hand, wrap it around the base of the sheath, and pull until it pops free. That’s rather dangerous, considering the wicked factory edge and awkward motion.
In some ways, this is reminiscent of the Tri-Ad lock on Cold Steel’s folders. They generally come stiff from the factory but wear in over time. So, this sheath could break in. But it’s still not a good design.
In this case, the Mora beats it by a mile.
Thanks to its familiar grinds, the Hawk easily matches the Companion around camp. We’ll talk about bushcraft tasks further down, but suffice it to say it’s a competent slicer. I’ve prepared meals with each, chopping onions, cutting carrots, and even paring down some potatoes.
Extended use, however, yields some interesting results. What’s the first thing you think of when mentioning Mora, other than their trademark grind? For me, the answer is ergonomics.
So imagine my surprise when the Finn Hawk turned out to be the more comfortable tool. It’s not a major difference, and I didn’t really notice it until putting the knives through the paces. But, in my hand, the down-swept pommel and straight-back handle felt slightly more natural than the Mora.
Advantage: Cold Steel
Fire prep is one of my favorite parts of camping. Most of us have experienced the wood carving prowess of a Mora, but I was shocked to find the Hawk matched it cut for cut. In fact, this Taiwanese upstart produced longer, thinner shavings than the Swedish veteran. I suspect that the Hawk’s slightly higher scandi helped give it the edge.
I will say this: Neither the Finn Hawk nor the Companion (especially in stainless) is intended for batoning. You can do it, but you’re going to get chips. This occurred almost immediately with Cold Steel’s Cryo-Quenched 4166 steel, as you can see in the close-ups. It’ll carve and cut all day, but impact tasks are best left to beefier blades.
In the end, this one wasn’t close. The Finn Hawk rakes a ferro rod like no other knife I’ve used. Its sharp spine and excellent grip give you an incredible amount of control. Its ample flow of sparks was easy to direct, igniting the thin wood and dry grass after just a few strikes.
But what about the Mora? While it’s fine for breaking down tinder and kindling, its rounded spine doesn’t work well with ferro rods.
Many folks choose to take a file or grinder to the back of the blade, but I’m judging on stock knives. It’ll generate sparks if you use the sharpened edge, but there’s a reason the company puts rough spines on their other models.
Advantage: Cold Steel
Properly cared for, these knives should last for years to come. Should something go wrong, however, Cold Steel and Mora offer warranty policies covering manufacturer and material defects. Mora explicitly states its guarantee is good for life, while Cold Steel is a little more vague.
We should also talk maintenance. Scandi grinds are notoriously easy to sharpen: Lay the bevel flat against your stone, swipe, switch sides, and repeat.
Both Mora’s Sandvik and Hawk’s German 4116 take excellent edges, without the added time needed to hone a super-steel. But because of its broader bevel, Cold Steel comes out ahead again. A minor advantage? Certainly, but still enough to send it over the top.
Advantage: Cold Steel (just barely)
Winner: Cold Steel (Kinda)
So, am I ready to say that the Finn Hawk is the superior knife? Yes, but it depends on your intended use. If you’re going solely for comfortable carry and food prep, the Mora is the better (and slightly cheaper) option. But if you enjoy carving, sharpening, and making fire, the Finn Hawk is a truly excellent offering.
If Cold Steel can do something about the sheath, it’ll be pretty much perfect.