Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Knife Review: Mora: Morakniv HighQ Allround Knife

Morakniv HighQ Allround knife with sheath

When I started doing these knife reviews, a part of my motivation was to provide suggestions for affordable good quality knives.  In that vein, I am finally getting around to reviewing a Mora knife.  If you were to spend far too many hours reading about various types of knives for camping and bushcraft on various knife forums (as some of us do), there would be certain knife brands that you would hear mentioned repeatedly as top performers.  The Mora knives are absolutely one that I read people raving about, but what I didn't realize at first was that they are also extremely affordable.  When it comes to affordability in a general purpose knife, I don't think you can really beat a Mora.

Most of the knives I have been reviewing tend to be fairly expensive.  Some of them are very expensive, but not this one.  You can pick up a Morakniv HighQ Allround for less than $15.  This is a quality knife that you can pick up at a disposable knife price.  But in reality, you probably won't pick up this exact knife since the model that I am reviewing was recently discontinued, but there are newer models that are very similar.  If you would like a handy primer on the different styles of Mora knives there is a handy one here, from Ramblin' Jim.  As Jim says, at these prices you can just pick up a few and try them out.  Amazon has bundles of different Mora models for sale.

The TL;DR review summary: 

If you really aren't interested in reading the whole review, then let me just say that I started out just wanting to see if the Mora could handle some of the tasks that I had done with other bushcraft knives.  It was such a pleasure to use I ended up carving a spoon.

This is the first spoon I have ever carved, and I did it entirely with the Mora I am reviewing here (well, I also used sandpaper, but it was the only knife I used)

Let's Start With the Specs:

(Knife Specifications from Knife Center)

  • Blade Length: 3.75" (95 mm)
  • Blade Steel: High Carbon Steel, 59-60HRC
  • Blade Thickness: 2 mm
  • Overall Length: 8.2" (208 mm)
  • Handle Material: Rubber
  • Weight: 3.7 oz. (105 g)
  • Made in Sweden

I'm not going to go into the specs too much here, especially since this exact knife is discontinued, but the followup models are very similar.  

What I think is probably most noteworthy is the steel.  This particular knife that I reviewed is not stainless, it is high carbon.  I accidentally left it outside for a few weeks after I had taken the photos I used for the review, and it definitely rusted.  The rust was just superficial, and it cleaned off, but it left stains.  And this type of steel does stain.  After using the knife for a while the steel will turn grey, even if you take care of it, that is just the way it goes.  The discoloration is called a patina, and lots of people actually really like the patina.  There are many discussions online devoted to different types of forced patinas, and how to get different colors.  I personally prefer stainless myself, but carbon steel is often better performing than less expensive stainless steels.  

Mora also has a good reputation for their heat treatment of their stainless steels, and the use Sandvik steels for their stainless.  But that is not what I am reviewing, because Mora has a particularly good reputation for the heat treatment on their carbon steel blades, and my experience is that the reputation is well earned.  Carbon steels might discolor easier, and they require cleaning and oiling to maintain optimally, but a good high carbon steel can have as good or superior edge holding and toughness than a stainless super-steel at a much lower price.  If you want excellent performance for a low cost, and you are willing to take care of your tools, then a high-carbon steel can be an excellent choice. 

A Note on the Sheath:

I really liked the sheath for this knife.  It is not fancy looking, but it is not a fancy knife.  The sheath is easy to clip on to your belt, but it stays on securely.  The knife fits snugly into place in the sheath with no wiggle or rattle.  It stays secure without needing an additional snap or loop to hold the knife in place.  As an extra bonus, and showing the origin of the knife as a construction/work knife, the sheath is designed to stack with other Mora sheathes, so if you needed two different knives you could have them stacked.



As I stated earlier, the steel is high carbon.  Morakniv does not provide a more precise description than that.  Whatever the exact steel recipe is, when combined with their heat treatment is makes for an outstanding performing blade steel.  A lot of the hardness, edge holding, and resistance to chipping in a knife comes down to having a good heat treatment.  The many decades in the making reputation of knives from Mora, Sweden is in large part due to the heat treatment.

I found the knife to hold an excellent edge, even when I abused the edge.  And one of the benefits of carbon steel as opposed to stainless steel is that it is easier to sharpen.  So after I managed to wear out the initial edge to the point where it just was not performing as well, it was a breeze to put a new edge on the knife.

Blade Finish:

The blade finish is nothing to write home about.  It is a standard, somewhat polished, finish.  The knife is a work knife, it is going to get scratched, and since it is a carbon steel blade it is going to get a patina.  Some other Mora knives have coatings or special finishes, this one does not.


So a big part of what makes this knife (and most of Mora's lineup) perform so well while maintaining sturdiness is the Scandi Ground blade.  The scandi grind is a great geometry for a utility knife.  Different types of tasks can be easier with different grinds, I for one strongly prefer full flat grinds for kitchen knives as an example.  The scandi is especially good for wood working, which is handy for a knife you intend to use for camping or bushcraft.

A big part of the reason the scandi grind works so well for cutting into materials like wood is the lack of a secondary bevel.  The primary bevel on the blade goes right to the edge, so the blade does not shoulder until the blade is at least as far in as the edge of the primary bevel.  I worry that this might be getting a little jargon-rich/technical, so I will just say that I like the grind.  If you want to know more about grinds I wrote about them in my article Knives: A Primer a while back.  I also link to an interesting video that explains blade geometry and shouldering in more depth in that article.

The blade on this knife is pretty small.  It is less than four inches long, and pretty thin.  The blade feels more than solid enough for any task I asked of it, but it is not a big tank of a blade.  It is a handy, nimble size, good for general tasks, but it is not a big chopper.

I did do a little batoning with the knife, just because I figured that it really wouldn't have been a big deal if the knife broke.  The knife held up just fine, but with such a short blade you are pretty much limited to splitting wood that is already kindling.  If you have read my other reviews then you know that I am not a fan of batoning, but it is very "in" right now.

The one big drawback to the thinness of the blade is that it ended up giving me blisters on my left hand from pressing on the back of the blade while carving.


The handle is one of the best things about this knife.  It is not pretty, or flashy, but it is comfy.  The handle is plastic covered with a rubber layer.  It is soft, grippy, and ergonomically excellent.  This knife really feels good in the hand, even after you have been using it for quite a while.


This is a fixed blade, not a folder, so deployment is really just taking it out of the sheath.  The sheath is well designed, and it is quick and easy to take out the knife.

Fit and Finish:

Fine for a $12 knife.  This really isn't a fancy knife.  All I cared about was the sharpness of the knife, and that everything solid.  The bevel were even on the knife.  It came very sharp.  I have absolutely no complaints.

Use Review:

I took a fair number of photos, so I will let the pictures do most of the use review talking.  The one thing I will say, which I feel perfectly sums up how I felt about this knife in use, is that I had originally planned to give this knife away after I was done with the review, but I ended up liking it so much that I decided to keep it.  I like whittling, and it is a great whittler.  It also makes a great extra backup knife.  When I am out in the field, people often need to borrow a knife.  The Mora is a good one to be able to loan out.

The Mora is not really a kitchen knife (though Mora does make kitchen knives) but it does fine.  It's really at it's best handling paring or boning tasks, it's not a real food prep knife.

I loved this knife for wood working.  I used it here to drill out a hole for a fire board.

It bit right into the wood for the notch.

Made quick work of the notch.

You can see in this picture that I ended up getting too enthusiastic with the knife.  I found that it was not totally ineffective at chopping (this knife is NOT a chopper, but it did better than I expected).  But the small size and light weight lulled me into not taking it seriously.  I ended up chopping into my fingertip.  Always remember, knives are not toys, and this one was sharp.  That cut was 100% user error.  My fault.

Cut through a branch to make a spindle for a fire drill.

This is the process of cutting through.

Just a shot of the knife surrounded shavings and evidence of using it.


I highly recommend these knives.

If you are looking for a good quality all around knife, and you don't want to pay a lot, this is the knife for you.  Heck, even if you are willing to spend a lot of money, consider picking up a Mora, it might change your mind.  They aren't fancy, they aren't flashy, but they are extremely affordable and very good quality.  Frankly mine is a pleasure to use.

Moras are a great example of a quality tool that you can find for a great price.  And the best part is, you can use it as roughly as you want, since even if you did manage to break the knife you are only out the cost of a couple Big Macs.

1 comment:

  1. I was seeking this particular info for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.