Knife Review

Review: Fiddleback Forge Camp Muk

Sporting a 5/32” A2 blade, the Fiddleback Forge Camp Muk is a robust interpretation of the classic Nessmuk pattern. Fresh from BLADE Show 2017, this mid-size heavy-hitter has proven to be a capable camp tool, and is deserving of your attention.

SPECS

Maker: Fiddleback Forge
Blade: A2 Nessmuk, Convex Grind
Handle: Ivory Paper Micarta with Black Micarta Bolsters
Tang construction: Full Tapered Tang
Sheath: None
Country of Origin: USA
Price: $450

Dimensions (measured on this test sample)
Overall Length: 9.442”
Handle Length: 5.15″
Handle Thickness: 0.83” at widest point
Blade Length: 4.292” (measured from the tip to the leading edge of the handle scale)
Sharpened Length: 4.2”
Blade Thickness: 0.149”
Weight: 7.8 oz

OVERVIEW

When I visited the Fiddleback booth, owner Andy Roy graciously offered me a loaner knife for review, inviting me to pick anything from his display that tickled my fancy. My eyes were instantly drawn to this Camp Muk, and it is easy to see why; this knife is a stunner!

The black and white motif is classy like a tuxedo. The ivory paper micarta dovetails into the black micarta bolsters, with thick black micarta liners rounding out the scales.

Andy Roy’s signature “spalted” finish is present on the steel, as are a few other Fiddleback calling cards; that bullseye lanyard tube looks great, as does the lone black micarta “beauty mark” amidst the ivory. Four other black micarta pins are all but invisible, embedded in the bolster, making the beauty mark stand out that much more.

It can be difficult to craft a look that allows for so much variation while still maintaining brand consistency, but put all of these parts together and you have something that is instantly recognizable as a Fiddleback Forge creation.

But this knife is more than just a pretty face. A2 is an excellent steel for an outdoors knife (some would say it’s the “best” steel) and the blade, at 5/32” thick with a slightly convexed saber grind, should be very durable.

Fiddleback handles are some of the best in the business. Perfectly finished and comfortable, this knife is no exception. From the top down the scales are mostly straight, with a swell in just the right place, and the tapered tang helps balance the knife right at the index finger.

Like all Fiddlebacks, this knife did not come with a sheath. Luckily, my good buddy Spen Stelzer of JRE Industries was also at BLADE Show and a quick jump to his booth had me sorted in no time. Spen makes a great product. Full disclosure: he makes the sheaths for my Nordsmith brand and cut me a discount on the sheath I needed for the Camp Muk. For those wanting to know, his Q-pattern sheath fits the knife perfectly.

STANDARD TESTS

From the floor at BLADE Show the Camp Muk was reasonably sharp, but needed a bit of a touch up before I was completely happy with it. A2 is easy enough to maintain so it was little trouble to get it where I wanted.

I soon had the knife making ribbons of phonebook paper and chopping up ¾” manilla rope like a boss.

With a freshly stropped edge, the Camp Muk didn’t bat an eye at the first 135 feet of corrugated cardboard I threw at it either. It was still barely shaving sharp at that point, with plenty of usable edge left for at least double that amount. Just don’t expect the same performance on the S35VN found on the Fiddleback Production Bushfinger that we tested a couple of years ago.

CAMP TASKS

Comestibles

While too thick to be your primary food prep blade, the Camp Muk is capable nonetheless. Admittedly, I’ve gotten better at making thicker blades work in this arena, but this is still a knife that would rather split certain foods (potatoes, onions, etc.) than cut them.

You could do a lot worse though. I’ve seen guys use tanto point Gerbers for camping food prep. Don’t be that guy.

Woodwork / Carving

The edge of this Camp Muk has a gentle curve running almost all the way back to the heel from the point. I’ve always found this shape to work well for me when feathersticking and I’ve had no trouble getting good results with this knife. The edges of the spine are eased so placing your thumb out over the blade for extra leverage is nice and comfortable.

Notches and stop cuts were equally easy thanks to the roomy handle and keen edge. Whipping up tent stakes is a great way to learn about a knife’s woodcarving abilities because of the various cuts and handholds that can be employed. The Camp Muk had no trouble here either.

Splitting

People always ask about the blade hump on a Nessmuk. You can read more about that here, but one bonus when splitting wood is that it gives you a little extra to pound on before the rest of the blade gets buried in the log.

Once the blade is set, the thickness and grind and make the Camp Muk a handy batonner. The A2 stood up just fine with hardwood in the 3 to 3.5 inch range. Any longer than that and you start to run out of blade length.

The handle also coped with the beating just fine. Despite lacking any kind of metal pins or fasteners, the epoxy Fiddleback uses held together with no problems at all.

I even maliciously sent it through a few knots and the knife shrugged off the abuse.

Drilling

Like most Nessmuks, this Camp Muk will make a wider bowl when drilling than some other designs. Something to keep in mind if you are the bowl drill type.

Speaking of which, if I could change one thing about this Camp Muk, it would be to round out the pommel a bit.

That point at the end of the knife makes drilling tasks uncomfortable, but otherwise stays out of the way in normal use.

VERDICT

You’ve just got to love Fiddleback Forge, and this Camp Muk is the perfect representation of why. Everything they make is beautiful, but that beauty is more than skin deep.

As has always been the case, especially now with their (relatively) recent upgrade fom O1 to A2 as their standard steel, Andy Roy’s creations deliver the goods and look fantastic doing it. My experiences with his knives give me no hesitation recommending them as tools you will rely on, and this Camp Muk has done nothing but bolster that opinion.

They aren’t the cheapest knives in the neighborhood, but you owe it to yourselves to own one someday. The combination of killer good looks, exemplary construction, superlative performance, and instantly recognizable style are well worth the price.

Discussion

6 responses to ‘Review: Fiddleback Forge Camp Muk

  1. That’s a knife that would serve you well and would still be a useful tool when handed down through a few generations. I really like the artistry of this knife. As Nick might say, “It’s a beautiful thing”.

  2. At those prices, custom or not, it should include a sheath of SOME KIND … if not because of the tier of quality and craftsmanship, then to protect the blade. I cannot understand how or why no sheath (c’mon, even a cheap kydex option) is sometimes provided by some makers. If they can’t make them in-house, which is understandable given that they are bladesmiths, not leather or kydex-smiths, then farm it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *