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The Best Gets Better: KA-BAR BK72 Survival Knife Review

The KA-BAR BK72 tackles the monumental task of improving upon the renowned BK2. And it proves its worth in almost all the right ways.

(Photo/Nick LeFort)
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Almost a decade ago, I reviewed the KA-BAR Becker Companion. Known in the knife world as the BK2, it was 10.5 inches of ¼-inch thick 1095 steel, with Ultramid nylon handle scales. Coming in at 1 pound, solid, it was quite a knife.

In fact, when it first came out, some of the bushcraft and survival purists thought it was too much knife. But over the years, the BK2 became more and more popular, to the point where it’s still in production today. Now, the Becker Companion is heralded as a must-have and a classic.

Fast forward to 2023 and a company called Knivesandtools (yes, one word) launches an update to the BK2: the KA-BAR BK72. Based on Ethan Becker’s design, there’s very little that’s different in size and shape between the two knives.

However, when you get into the materials that make up the beast, you soon realize that the BK72 stands on its own as a more effective, overbuilt survival knife.

But, are these upgrades worth the weight? Is the BK72 actually too much knife? After some testing, I think the answers lie in what you plan on doing with it. Because, as I found, you can do anything you want with it.

In short: The KA-BAR BK72 upgrades the classic BK2. With improved materials, including S35VN blade steel and Micarta handles, this combination is built for everything you can think to do with it — even basic survival. But, don’t go out and look for trouble — just stick to using it around camp (if you can).

KA-BAR BK72 Knife


  • OAL 10.5”
  • Blade length 5.25”
  • Blade steel S35VN
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 58 HRC
  • Carry Kydex sheath
  • Weight 15.34 oz.
  • Price $260


  • ¼” S35VN steel
  • Ergonomic Micarta handles
  • Size-to-weight balance


  • The sheath needs work if you plan on wearing it on your belt.

KA-BAR BK72: Review

(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Who Is Knivesandtools?

The BK72 is an exclusive knife that can only be purchased from Knivesandtools. So, who the heck is that, and how did it convince KA-BAR to let it create the upgrade of the renowned BK2?

Knivesandtools is actually a collection of several international knife, tool, and outdoor gear websites in the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Austria. Its massive presence makes it the largest knife and tool retailer in the world.

But, don’t mistake it for some fly-by-night knife broker. Knivesandtools is staffed by an array of knife experts who not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. These folks collectively know more about knives than anyone with whom I have ever talked shop.

Design and Features

The BK72 is made from a solid piece of ¼-inch stonewashed S35VN steel. With an overall length of 10.5 inches, that’s a whole lot of corrosion and abrasion-resistant steel that holds a nice edge. S35VN is also fairly easy to sharpen.

The handles comprise Micarta that has been shaped, tapered, and sanded smooth for both increased comfort and grip. When bolted up to the BK72, the whole knife is 1 inch thick.

KA-BAR BK72 review
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

The butt of the knife has been designed for breaking, shattering, and hammering — or, if need be, hammered on. This comes in handy for everything from smashing nutshells to hammering the knife into a tree as a step.

When you put this all together, you have a beefy knife that leans more toward survival, but will work on basically anything. It can do all the campsite tasks that you want a knife to do, but by being bigger and heftier, it could provide a worthy line of defense should the need arise.

The one place I wish KA-BAR and Knivesandtools spent a little more time is the sheath. I love a good Kydex sheath just as much as the next person, but the one included with the KA-BAR BK72 is a taco-style sheath, and it doesn’t come with a clip.

In my personal opinion, this should have been a pancake sheath with linear rivets and milled slots for better carry. Heck, even the sheath that came with the original BK2 would serve well here.

With belt clips being a dime a dozen these days, the absence here doesn’t bother me a bit. But it’s worth noting for folks who pick one of these up and expect to go from box to trail.

First Impressions

KA-BAR BK72 - first impression
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Back in 2014, I tested and reviewed the KA-BAR BK2 survival knife. It was the kind of knife that had everything you needed to make a go of living the hard life outdoors. But, it was big and people complained about its size and weight.

Eventually, the clamoring quieted to a whisper, and in its place rose praise and acceptance. In fact, it’s still in production today.

If I had never worked with the original BK2, I might be a little intimidated by the size and heft of the KA-BAR BK72 myself. It is a big and heavy knife, but for good cause. It’s perfect for both survival and bushcraft crowds, and it won’t leave you wondering if it’s truly reliable.

You know its reliability the minute you put it in your hand. That said, for its size, the BK72 fits my hand great and where it needs to. The improved styling on the Micarta handles creates an ergonomic experience you might not expect from a knife like this. It will come in handy for chopping and batoning, and it won’t leave my hand tired like it would swinging a hatchet.

The upgrade to S35VN was a great choice. Yes, it drives up the cost of the BK72 overall, but it also sets the knife up to be passed down from generation to generation with little maintenance over the years.

KA-BAR BK72 Drawback

My one complaint goes back to the sheath. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not as robust as it should be. It’s not even as robust as the sheath that comes with its predecessor, BK2.

I don’t mind that the absence of a belt clip, but taco-style sheaths are generally tighter, and the BK72 is a bit of a bear to remove and reinsert. I am not sure how much of an impact it will have in the field, but I hope it is minimal.

In the Field

(Photo/Nick LeFort)

The beauty of a knife like the KA-BAR BK72 is that you don’t need anything else with an edge on it to spend a day or two off-grid. It’s a knife, hatchet, hammer, boat anchor — seriously, the list goes on.

In fact, you could spend multiple days in the wild with this knife and be perfectly content. Even with a blade that is ¼-inch wide, its taper allows you to work on a smaller scale, even where precision is required — like skinning.

I took a few different approaches to my adventures with the BK72, mostly to address how different folks might carry it. A knife this size will do just fine on your belt, but addressing the sheath out of the box, it might be something you carry in your pack (or lashed to it).

The fact of the matter is that you may not need the BK72 at the ready in most situations, until you get to camp and get to work.

In combat or a survival situation, yes — you will want the BK72 on your belt for easy access. But let’s be honest, how many of us are going to be in that situation? Hey, I love “Legends of the Fall,” when Brad Pitt takes on a grizzly bear with a belt knife. But that’s not something that happens on the regular.

If you do want to wear the BK72 on your belt, you can pick up a Tek-Lok Belt Attachment for under $10. Additionally, with a little heat from a heat gun, you can warm up the Kydex to adjust the sheath and allow the knife to slide in and out more easily.

KA-BAR BK72 - knife - testing
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

But for me, I used the BK72 around camp and out in the yard. It excelled at splitting wood and prepping food. It also proved great at chopping and shaving.

Its heft allows you to drop it into limbs and remove a lot of material in minimal time. And its size makes it a suitable stand-in for a draw knife. All in all, the BK72 allowed me to leave my hatchet at home. In the right situation, it would be awesome to build a shelter with it.

KA-BAR BK72: Conclusion

If you’re out on the front lines and need a reliable knife to carry you through battle and help you stay alive, the BK72 is the right one for you.

For the rest of us outdoor enthusiasts, who want to lighten a load and bring a single-edged tool on adventures, the BK72 is precisely that very tool. Think of it like a bushcraft knife, but bigger and beefier. Because, let’s be real, bushcraft knives are really just smaller survival knives and vice versa.

In upgrading the steel to S35VN and the handles to ergonomically shaped Micarta, Knivesandtools addresses the issues people had with the BK2. The BK2 is still a great knife. But the BK72 is a better knife and is well-suited for more environments and adventures.

Knivesandtools has the exclusive on the BK72, so you’ll have to order there if you want one. And though it costs just shy of $260, I think it provides value over the long run. I have a ton of great memories from testing out the BK2, but I have even more with the BK72.

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