If the Ka-Bar Navy Mk II USMC fighting/utility knife is too big for you, that is no surprise. Fortunately, it has a little brother, the Navy Mk. I. This knife is much better-sized for dressing and butchering game and fish, as well as being less obtrusive for everyday carry (EDC) in the agrarian working environment.
I’ve had both the leather handle/sheath model, and the new style, with rubber handle and Kydex sheath. Normally, I prefer leather sheaths. But in this particular situation, I’d definitely go for the newer, state-of-the art system–especially for anyone who is left-handed! The Kydex sheath is fully amidextrous. (It weighs a little over 3 ounces.) If you jump out of airplanes, the 3 retainers will withstand canopy-opening shock. But to be honest, I’d still make a cam-locking leather pouch sheath for everyday carry on my pants belt, since I can.
This knife has a 5-inch blade, 5/32-inch thick, 1-1/8-inch wide, that is full-V flat ground with a well-designed clip-point and false edge. (For all-around utility, this blade is much more functional than the Mk. II’s narrow hollow-saber-grind and wide blood groove, and deeply curved clip.) Steel is good old 1095 high carbon, black-coated as usual.
The guard is short (5/16 below, 1/8 above, the blade). The tang appears to be 1/2-inch wide where it enters the guard, and it comes out the buttcap at 3/8-inch wide. (Like its big brother, the blade-handle juncture is a bit vulnerable if you abuse it.)
The steel pommel puts the balance-point of the knife 1/3-way back on the handle. But if you need to do some chopping, just choke back, holding the knife with your thumb and index finger, and take the swing. The 7-1/2-ounce package will do good work of chopping off twigs, sapplings, briers, and those over-zealous grapevines that obstruct the pathway.
For those who wonder about batoning this blade, for tasks such as splitting kindling, briskets, or pelvises–you may. Just keep the blows close to the point of contact, keeping stress away from the blade-handle juncture.
In many ways, this knife reminds me of my first sheath knife–the Buck 619 Woodsmate. Weight is similar. Blade is better in some ways. I still like the old Buck, but if I were advising a 15-year-old on what his first belt knife should be, I’d probably give the Mk. I preference.
Another similar knife, is the Air Force Survival Knife. By comparison, the AFSK blade is somewhat stronger, which could be an advantage for egress from a wrecked aircraft. But for everyday cutting tasks, the Mk. I would be a more efficient blade.
Price–this knife is not real cheap, but certainly not expensive, considering that it is still made in the USA. Well worth the $65.