THE JONBURNAXE BUSHCRAFT KNIFE GETS IT ALL DONE
Meet the Beast. We took the Jonburneaxe by Bark River Knives into the field, where it took care of bushcrafting tasks from the mundane to the monumental.
Knives play an important role in any survival situation. The type of knife to put by your side depends on what your survival style is, what you believe you will need to meet that intent and what you are most comfortable using. As you know, there are many options out there, and the primary uses vary.
As a retired Army combat vet of 25 years and a survivalist, I have grasped many different types of knives, blades, axes and tomahawks over the years, and I possess a huge collection of them. I also happen to be a multiple-tool-for-the-job kind of guy, and I always want backup options. Usually.
My thinking on this changed drastically after being thrust into an extreme 21-day survival challenge in which I could only select one tool. During those three weeks, the only tool I had, a knife, came up way short on several tasks. To top things off, it broke on day 10. I now believe a blade must have multiple uses at hand for me to feel it passes the keisters-on-the-line test. So, what happened? Well, along comes Bark River’s JBA (Jonburnaxe), designed by Randall Burns with Jonathan Zook, right into my grasp.
Once I pulled this knife out of the box—in its deluxe leather carry sheath that’s proudly made in Escanaba, MI—I was immediately taken aback. The sheath is high quality naked leather, well-made and stitched, and it is clearly going to be very durable. The knife also comes with two outer straps for holding other needed items or attachments.
I drew the JBA out for the first time and admired its gleam. First impressions mean a lot to me, and the JBA did not disappoint. I believe that all blades possess the spirit of the designer and/ or craftsman, and I can feel that when I hold it in my hand. It appealed to me right away and created the wow factor with its overall unique look, its wide and stout burly blade, the well-placed forefinger choil with thumb jimping, the amazing steel and a beautiful looking Micarta handle, which is a marvelous piece of craftsmanship.
It also had some unexpected heft in its weight, which surprised me for its size. It really has a good bit of weight and compact power. The handle seemed about right and even fit into my big mitts well, but I was not a fan of its seemingly overall slickness.
Regarding the specs, the JBA measures in with an overall length of 11.25 inches, and its blade length is 6.125 inches. It has a 5.50-inch cutting edge, which is a full 0.250 inches thick. The full tang construction features A2 tool steel for maximum toughness and durability.
The handle slightly curves at the back end and is roughly 5.25 inches long, and it has a nice ergonomic feel and thickness to it. It comes in varying degrees of Micarta options.
The knife weighs in at around 20 ounces, which gives it some added punch for tasks that require a little something extra. The razor-sharp convex edge geometry means that even though this knife is stout, it is sharp, and this will add to its bite for chopping tasks.
The JBA is based on the Tracker concept, so it is designed as a bushcraft knife. This means it can handle cutting, skinning, slicing and chopping with its unique shape and trademark design. JBA’S designer did extensive testing
and retesting in his survival school, as well as in his everyday life as an avid outdoorsman, before Bark River Knives went into full production on it.
Over the course of several weeks, I used the JBA out in the field. This allowed me to get used to handling it, and I was rather happy with it and its performance.
The next step was to do some deliberate testing with it, so I conducted a series of tests with the blade, all of which would be done in most every survival or outdoor scenario. I wanted to make sure that if anyone found himself in a situation with just one tool, he (or she) would be able to fully understand where they stood with the JBA in their hands.
It comes with a very sharp edge right out of the box, and it didn’t disappoint. I checked its overall sharpness and edge durability first by cutting several pieces of cardboard, slicing along the edge and then toward the middle of each piece. I also cut through some pieces of leather and rubber tire strips, with no issues or binding. The sheer weight of the JBA aided in its ease of cutting.
Though I did not do any skinning or gutting, I believe there would be no issue with either task. Next, I placed a water bottle upright and swung right through it with a very clean cut. To my surprise, this left the bottom half of the bottle standing and full of water. It easily carved out feather sticks and made notches for traps with no problem, aided nicely by the forward finger choil and thumb jimping on the spine. The point of the blade was very good for boring holes in wood, which would aid in making fireboards well. The design felt great in my hand for scraping and planing tasks. Though my hand is rather large, I just had to slightly adjust my hand position to make it work. And the results were great.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when it came to chopping, as I am a fan of bigger knives for this task, but
the JBA took well to chopping tasks— for the most part—with its meaty blade and pint-sized heft. It packed a punch. I chopped into several pieces of wood from soft pines to harder woods. The knife bit in well and sent several chunks flying about, though not as well as some of the bigger knives I have used. For its size, it can get the job done. While chopping, I did discover that the slick handle had the JBA trying to fly out of my hand.
I did not modify the JBA for the test, but if I had to, I would either place a piece of paracord lanyard through the hole in the handle, or I’d apply some good old skateboarder or hockey stick tape to help with the grip. Sandpaper would rough up the handle a little bit, too.
THE JBA TOOK WELL TO CHOPPING TASKS … WITH ITS MEATY BLADE AND PINT-SIZED HEFT. IT PACKED A PUNCH.”
It cut down a hardwood sapling very fast, and I could carve a sharp point quickly for a much-needed spear. The chopping was made much easier when I added a baton club to hit the thick spine.
I did baton and process some wood logs, but I was limited in the size of the logs I processed due to blade length. However, when I was batoning, the JBA bit well into the wood and got the job done. I personally would have liked another inch on the blade length for this task, but one must sometimes adapt to what he is used to and improvise to complete the mission. That’s what I did to make a nice pile of wood for the fire.
Weight and Balance
As an avid knife fighter, I did some standard knife-fighting drills to check its weight and balance. The JBA, if needed for self-defense, could easily make quick work and dispatch an opponent very fast. It swings with ease, and it isn’t burdensome when flowing through standard knife fighting arcs, swings, stabs and parries.
I conducted several stabbing tests into a door and a thick piece of rubber, and it pierced both nicely. The overall thickness of the point handles these tasks nicely with no fear of the point breaking. Needless to say, the standard watermelon and coconut tests stood no chance in stopping the JBA, and I got a nice snack out of the test.
Overall, beyond the grip, and in some cases, its stoutness, I was very impressed with the JBA and have nothing to complain about. I liked its capabilities—what it brings to the tasks at hand, as well as its durability and dependability, all while keeping its edge very nicely throughout my use.
I used it for an extended period of time doing task after task, and my hand never got tired or developed any hot spots or blisters. I am a big fan of blades that can do many things, and the JBA did not disappoint. Not to mention, it’s a very unique and “sick” looking blade! I love blades with some character.
I would have to say that if your keister is on the line out in the wild, the JBA would answer the call. KI
“… IT’S A PERFECT BALANCE OF AN OVER-BUILT BUSHCRAFTER THAT ALLOWS IT TO BE A ONE-TOOL OPTION …”— RANDALL BURNS
Top: The Jonburnaxe has a very comfortable, ergonomic handle with dark OD green Micarta polished handle scales for a very clean look.
01: The well-designed ergonomic handle was large enough to fit the author’s large hands.
02: The finger choil and jimping on the spine provided great control during fine tasks.
Top: The blade has a nice deep finger choil along with some fairly aggressive jimping on the spine for maximum control during finer use.
Bottom: The JBA comes in a beautifully crafted, high-quality leather sheath with a couple different carry options.
Top: With the wide profile of the blade, scraping and planing is a simple task.
Bottom: The JBA made cutting down a hardwood sapling for a spear very easy.
Top: The high convex grind on the blade gives it a hair-popping edge that is reminiscent of a Scandi grind.
Left: At the butt of the knife is a small lanyard hole, just big enough for a paracord lanyard.
Left: The edge of the JBA was sharp enough to bite deep into its subject matter for large whittling jobs.
Right: The keen edge gave some very fine curls in the author’s feather stick.