Backcountry hunting knives are one of those things that you can’t get enough of. The new AEBL Standard Bugler Blade Knife is one of the best hunting knives and fills the need for a high quality hunting knife without spending a fortune. This new Standard Bugler Blade Knife offers you a top quality hunting knife at a more affordable price point than others in its class, without sacrificing performance.
If you are looking over some of the best hunting knives on the market, this one deserves a look. The Bugler Blade Knife came to market to fill a need for those folks who want a high quality, ultralight hunting knife that FEELS AMAZING in your hand, but isn’t as expensive as others on the market.
Bugler Blade Review: AEB-L Steel
The Bugler Blade Knife is an ultralight hunting knife that is made of a premium AEBL steel. This lesser known steel helps this knife retain an edge extremely well while still being able to be sharpened in the field if needed. The Bugler Blade Knife stayed extremely sharp for me while field dressing my deer, and I could have easily gotten through the entire deer without any touch up, but I did take a couple of strokes on my AccuSharp pull through sharpener to bring back that scary sharp edge.
Best Hunting Knives Steel: AEBL?
So what is AEBL steel? Should that type of steel be used for the best hunting knives out there? It’s a less popular steel than S30V, S90V, or A2 but holds its own against the other types of steel in its class and at a lower price point. An entire article could be written about the makeup of AEBL steel, but I’ll leave that to the steel experts as I am not one.
In short, the carbon makeup of this steel helps the Bugler Blade Knife maintain super high durability and keep its edge, while also being reasonably easy to sharpen. The steel does seem to lose its razor-sharp edge a bit faster than the Argali Carbon Knife I tested last year, but it seemed to maintain its super sharp edge for a longer period of time than other more expensive types of steel.
After doing more research on the makeup of AEBL Steel it made sense, based on the makeup, that it stayed as sharp for as long as it did. This Bugler Blade AEBL with its Rockwell Hardness of 62 makes this blade have excellent edge stability, meaning that it retains its sharp edge well, but it is average in its edge retention where the blade stays hair-shaving sharp. What does that mean in real life field dressing? For me it meant I lost that razor sharp edge a little faster than something like the S35VN knife I tested, but it never required sharpening while field dressing my entire deer as it never really became dull.
Bugler Blade Knife Review: Handle Material
One of the things I loved about the Bugler Blade Knife is its handle thickness. The material used to make up the handle is a textured Black Canvas Micarta material, offering an excellent grip even when your hands get bloody during field dressing. I did find myself wishing there was a little more texture and/or a softer rubbery feel to increase the grip. Grip was by no means bad, but I felt like it could have been a little better.
The shape of the Bugler Blade Knife handle is thicker than other skeltonized knife handles I’ve tried and is designed to give you weight of a skeletonized knife with the feel of a full-handled knife. I have large hands and long fingers, so skeleton handled knives typically aren’t quite as comfortable for me, but this Bugler Blade Knife was the most comfortable of these styled knives that I’ve tried thus far.
I will say that the Black Canvas Micarta handle isn’t quite as refined looking as others because it looks a bit more industrial, but I could care less about that. The handle is comfortable and functional and that’s what matters to me!
Bugler Blade Knife Review: Sharpening
Sharpening the Bugler Blade Knife is a breeze both in the field and at home. In order to be one of the best hunting knives out there it either needs to be able to hold its edge throughout field dressing an entire animal, or be able to be easily sharpened (or preferably both). I felt like the AEBL steel of the Bugle Blade Knife did both well. If you do dull up the Bugler Blade Knife in the field, a few strokes on a diamond pocket sharpener, leather strop, leather belt or even a leather part on your boot, brings the edge right back.
If you really dull it up, sharpen it like you do your favorite knife: a flat stone, hand held sharpener like this Lanskey broadhead sharpener or a Lanskey C-Sharp knife sharpener, lightweight Lanskey pocket sharpener, a Worksharp Pocket Sharpener or really any other sharpening tool you choose. My sharpener of choice, though, is this super easy, cheap, and lightweight AccuSharp pull through sharpener. I’ve been able to bring the edge back in a flash by running the knife through this just a couple times. It’s fast, easy and simple which is what I like in the field when I’m busy working on an animal or even butchering back at home.
Bugler Blade Knife Review: The Sheath
The Bugler Blade Knife comes with an awesome Kydex sheath that you can add a Tek Lok clip to. The only color option for the Sheath is all black. I wish there was a blaze orange option as I find it easier to locate my knife when I set it down during field dressing. Hopefully the Bugler Blade handle and sheath are soon offered in different colors– or at least Blaze Orange!
Bugler Blade Knife Review: The Specs
- Weight: 1.95 oz (knife only) 3.18oz (knife + sheath)
- Steel – AEBL stainless steel (Cryo treated and heat treated)
- Rockwell Hardness – 62
- Total Length – 7 1/2”
- Blade Length – 3 1/4” long, 7/8” wide
- Steel Thickness – .110”
- Handle Length – is 4 1/4”
- Handle Material – Micarta handle
- Blade Style – Drop point
- Sheath Type – Kydex
- Sheath/Belt Attachment – Tek Lok
Bugler Blade Knife Review: What I liked
The list of things I didn’t like is much shorter than the list of things I did like on the Bugler Blade Knife. I loved the thicker handle, overall weight of the knife, and how comfortable it was to use. I have used the Outdoor Edge replaceable blade knife prior to testing this knife, and while I really like the Outdoor Edge for a replaceable blade style knife, this Bugler Blade Knife really is in a totally different league. I also got to test out the Argali Carbon Knife last year (see that review here). I would put this Bugler Blade Knife in the same class as the Argali Carbon Knife, just with a few different features, feel and steel.
Bugler Blade Knife Review: What I didn’t Like
While the price point of the Bugle Blade is better than most in its class, it’s still not cheap. Sure, you can pick up a cheaper replaceable blade knife like the Outdoor Edge, Gerber Vital or a Havlon and save some coin, but they simply aren’t as durable as this knife. The blades can break more easily, and you may have to change blades in the field as well. Don’t get me wrong, those are great options as well, but having a well-built, high quality, ultralight knife is my preference.
While field testing for this Bugler Blade Knife review I found that the AEBL steel didn’t retain that scary, sharp edge quite as well as other high quality steels, but its makeup helped it maintain an extremely sharp edge throughout an entire deer –including skinning the head for a euro mount. I still think it is one of the best hunting knives out there, but it may need a quick touch up here and there. A couple quick strokes on a sharpener and you get that razor sharp edge right back. While you pay a pretty penny for the Bugler Blade knife, I think you’ll find it’s money well spent.
I also wish the handle had a little more texture and/or rubbery feel to it. Add a little more grip to this thicker handle and it would be flat out amazing!
Bugler Blade Knife Review: Conclusion
At the end of the day, what makes up the best hunting knife is dependent on what features are most important to you. I LOVED the new AEBL Bugler Blade Knife. The edge stability and durability are fantastic, the ability to sharpen is great, and the handle is the most comfortable I’ve tested yet for a skeletonized knife. You get an ultralight hunting knife that will last you many, many seasons.
While I do wish the handle had a little more grip and that it held its razor-sharp edge a little longer, it sharpens right up easily in the field if needed. If you are looking for one of the best hunting knives at a reasonable price point, check out the Bugler Blade Knife. Pick one up and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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