A high-performance utility knife that belies its budget price.

My enthusiasm for the Morakinv Basic 511 utility knife cannot be overstated. If you want a utility knife to carry and use while you do chores around the homestead or farm, I cannot think of a better choice for the money than the Swedish-made Basic 511, some may also call it the “Q”. With all my comments in this review, keep in mind that I’m talking about a knife that goes for just $12 delivered.

The knife falls into the 3½” category at 3.6” and an overall length of 8¼” for a comfortable blade-to-handle ratio. A thin blade, in this case 0.08”, is a better option for utilitarian use around the homestead. It’s a utility knife. I don’t chop fire wood or other gross bushcraft activities, though this knife can handle most bushcraft demands.

The carbon steel blade is shipped sharp enough to cut arm hair, but it won’t make arm hair pop. It can hold a hair-popping edge, but I don’t possess those sharpening skills. It is not a full tang blade, but is still balanced well. If someone likes an unblemished blade, like most carbon knives, the Basic 511 will have to be wiped clean after use. Some recommend a light oiling before putting it away at the end of the day. The bevel is a large portion of the bade at about 25% of the total cheek with the grind going right up to the finger guard. Its belly sweeps up to the tip that is almost straight out from the spine.

The TPE rubber handle grips well and has molded finger guard and pummel. I have a large hand and the distance between guard and pummel easily accommodated me. The pummel does cause some folks to balk when gripping the knife in reverse where it can cause a hotspot on one’s palm. The TPE is very durable and hard enough to keep the blade from compressing the material at the spine. I even hammered in a few nails that were popping out of some deck planks with the butt of this handle. Its grip was still good even when my palm got sweaty.

I wear the knife during all operations and chores on our farmstead. In one case, I sharpened points on survey pegs made of hardwoods and construction-grade wood. The Basic 511 handled each cutting through the hardwood with slightly less-than-expected pressure. Yet, the knife didn’t plunge too deeply into softer wood. I suspect this is due to the bevel angle and thinner blade. Cutting wood shavings on branches was easy and I had total control. Rope, strapping, leather, plastics and a host of other materials were no match for the Basic 511 which never balked at these materials nor felt like it wanted to wander or bind. I even use my Basic 511 for weeding. As I planted my vegetable garden, I used wood fence slats as my row head markers. The knife easily whittled points into these 4” weathered fence slats that were very dry. There has not been a task on the farmstead where the knife has failed or was even difficult to use – even when that task was abusive. In fact, the retail price will cause owners to abuse the knife knowing that another one is just $12 away.

The sheath is likely the one thing that will be disagreeable for many users on the homestead. It comes with a plastic sheath that can be a bit bulky on one’s hip. I’ve had it come off my belt while operating my tractor. I don’t fear the knife coming out of the sheath as it locks in well with friction and does not rattle in the sheath, sometimes a problem with plastic sheaths. I’d prefer a leather formed sheath, but that would cost at least twice as much as the knife itself. My guess is that the plastic sheath is what helps keeps this knife at a budget price, but not budget performance. The sheath does have an interlocking features that allows you to stack a second Mora knife. This means you can carry knives for different purposes on the same belt location.

As you can see from the photos, I haven’t always cleaned this blade after use so the carbon steel is a bit discolored. However, discoloration doesn’t impact performance as my abuse hasn’t hurt the knife’s ability to hold an edge far better than I expected. It flat out performs like a knife that cost seven times as much.

I could write on and on about the virtues of the Morakniv Basic 511 utility knife. For the cost of a movie ticket, you get a tool you will find invaluable. Every time you use it, you will be astounded that it only cost $12. Don’t wait any longer. Even if you already have a utility knife, go buy one now and I promise you won’t be using your other knife again.

Dan Grubbs

Dan Grubbs, editor of Stewardculture, lives in northwest Missouri where he is implementing and managing a permaculture-style design on his 15-acre homestead. A weekly teacher of the Bible, Dan believes that an agrarian lifestyle is one in which he can answer God's calling to steward creation through regenerative techniques that attempt to mimic God's design.

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