I had some time today, a pile of produce from the garden and two shiny toys to play with. In one corner, I have a Cold Steel Mackinac Hunter which I have been testing, and in the other a new Mora Bushcraft which I just purchased based on Chris Dumm’s recommendation. What better way to spend a rainy Tennessee morning than making some salsa and refrigerator pickles? I’m still putting both knives through their paces, and am not quite ready to write a complete review on either yet. But I feel like each one got a pretty good workout . . .
As a fishing guide, my knives are often called into duty for kitchen tasks. From slicing tomatoes and rolls to fire preparation, all of my knives must be serviceable in a wide range of tasks. I am in the process of auditioning a new camping/guiding knife, and these two knives are certainly leading candidates. Neither knife will take the place of my Wusthof in the kitchen, but both of them proved more than suitable for occasional camping culinary use.
Test 1: Cucumbers
Since I have been testing both knives for future reviews I touched up their edges with the ceramic rods on my Spyderco Sharpmaker. The Mackinac takes a great edge. Coming up with the right description of the edge on the Mora is harder. Let’s just say it is scary sharp.
Cold Steel: The Mackinac simply glided through the cukes…dead straight and smooth. The heft of the knife and the thin, more gradual primary bevel combined for an effortless cut.
Mora: While the Bushcraft is slightly thinner (3.2mm) than the Cold Steel (3.5mm), its primary bevel is dramatically shorter and steeper. More of a wedge. This “Scandinavian” grind made it feel like the slices were “splitting” off of the cucumber, rather than a pure slice. But the results were more than satisfactory.
For those of you who may be facing a bumper crop of cucumbers and might be so inclined, a great recipe for refrigerator pickles can be found here.
Test 2: Salsa
The salsa test consisted of dicing/mincing tomatoes, peppers, and onions. They also were subjected to the delicate task of mincing the cilantro.
Cold Steel: It continued to be a joy to work with. I know that some reviewers have complained about the faux-antler plastic scales becoming slippery when wet, but even when covered in tomato slime I never had grip problems with the Mackinac.
Mora: That crazy sharp blade sliced through the tomato skins without tearing. The dice wasn’t quite as fine as with the Mackinac, but it was perfectly acceptable. The rubber handle allowed me to retain a positive grip throughout the process.
Both knives did a great job on the cilantro. I would have to give an edge to the Cold Steel as the belly of the knife allowed for a more traditional chopping angle. The handle on the Mora kept hitting the cutting board first and required a technique adjustment.
Test 3: Watermelon
Ok, so I didn’t grow the watermelon myself. But when my wife brought it home from the store, I jumped at the opportunity to cut it up for her. I decided to cut it in two, using each knife for half of the cut. Then I would cut a disc from each half.
Cold Steel: The thin, sharp blade did an excellent job of slicing effortlessly through the melon. The disc that I cut from the halved watermelon was uniform and cleanly cut.
Mora: The initial stab/thrust into the watermelon met virtually no resistance as the blade slide in up to the quillon. The knife had a tendency to wander when slicing, not so problematic when halving the melon, but it did make the disc cut difficult to do evenly.
The Mora proved to be a more than adequate at most camp-cookery skills we tested. The Cold Steel however simply excelled. While the incredible sharpness of the Mora allowed it to overcome the relative shortcomings of its blade shape, the Mackinac’s heft, thinly beveled blade, and sharp edge glided through anything I put in front of it.
I believe that a more typical Mora, such as a Companion, would do a better job with its thinner (2mm) blade. The same robustness that makes the Bushcraft a great all around camp-knife rob it of a little fine cutting performance. In fact, it’s likely that I will be getting a stainless Companion to live in a drawer in my camper.
Edge: Cold Steel (by a fair margin)
A couple of other notes:
I fully intend to try to dress a trout with each knife. Unfortunately, we are almost 20″ of rain up on the year and I have been having to cancel trips. I will file an addendum with pictures when I get a hold of a couple of fish.
Also, just for poops and grins, I decided to try to peel a peach with the Mora. The results were exceptional (I am sure the razor-sharp Mackinac would do even better).