So you want to buy a Mora knife. The problem is, you visited a web store and found dozens of models. To make matters worse, it was hard to see any difference at all between them. In this article, we explain the subtle differences between the most popular Mora knives.
Mora of Sweden? Morakniv? Frosts? Eriksson?
Mora is a town in Sweden, made famous by its Scandinavian-style knives. The term Mora has come to mean the specific style of knife produced in Mora. Historically, two major knifemakers manufactured knives in Mora: Frosts of Mora and KJ Eriksson. Those two companies recently merged into a single company called Mora of Sweden or Morakniv with a unified line of knives.
All of these names still get thrown around interchangeably and older models under the Frosts or Eriksson names still pass through online stores. It doesn’t matter what name is stamped on the knife. The quality has been consistent for decades.
Feature Differences between Mora Knife Models
At first glance, the different models seem almost identical. But if you put them side by side, you begin to see the subtle differences emerge. Even more surprising, those differences get more pronounced when you actually put a knife in your hand and begin working with it. As similar as they might seem, if you grab two different models, one will fit your hand and technique much better than the other.
Which leads to one other point. Even though these knives seem like plastic-handled toys, once you start working with them you will be surprised at the handle ergonomics and geometry. Subtle features like a lightly flattened spot for the thumb on the top of the handle go a long way in making these knives feel like an extension of your hand. These are thoughtfully-designed tools made for heavy use, not eye-candy.
Four key characteristics differentiate one model from another: blade length, blade width, blade thickness, and handle size. This table lists some of the most popular models and their attributes:
|Craftline Q (511/546)||3 3/4″||∼ 11/16″||3/32″||3 1/4″|
|711/746||4″||∼ 13/16″||3/32″||3 11/16″|
|731/748||5 3/4″||∼ 7/8″||3/32″||3 11/16″|
|840/860 (“Clipper”)||4″||∼ 13/16″||1/16″||3 3/8″|
|911/946||4″||∼ 13/16″||3/32″||3 3/8″|
|Craftline HighQ Allround||3 3/4″||∼ 11/16″||1/16″||3 3/8″|
|Companion MG||4″||∼ 13/16″||1/16″||3 3/8″|
|Craftline TopQ Allround||4″||∼ 13/16″||3/32″||3 3/8″|
*Most Mora knives come in two versions: carbon steel and stainless steel. The model numbers are for carbon/stainless.
Comparisons between Mora Knife Models
To really appreciate the subtle differences between the Mora models, some side-by-side comparison will go a long way. We’ll group them by blade size.
The Small Blades: Mora Models 511 and HighQ Allround
The “Q” (which we’ll refer to by its original name, the “511″) and HighQ Allround share the same blade, the smallest blade of the models in our review. It’s 1/4″ shorter, 1/8″ narrower, and 1/16″ thinner than “full-sized” Moras. The smaller blade makes these two knifes a dream for everyday camp tasks. They feel like part of your hand.
Like we’ll see with the other blade classes, what separates these two models from each other are the handle and sheath.
The 511, probably the cheapest of the Moras, has a hard plastic handle with an oversized finger guard to keep your hand from sliding into the blade, a great safety feature. For that reason alone, I purchased a bunch of 511s for my scout troop to use when we’re doing knife work.
The HighQ has a medium-sized thermoplastic handle, rubberized with just enough texture to keep it firm in your hand, and missing the finger guard. We’ll see this excellent handle on some of the other knives too, namely the Companion and TopQ.
Finally, the 511 has a pretty pathetic sheath while the the HighQ comes with a clip-on sheath that holds very secure (in fact, the clip holds so well that it’s hard to get it off your belt sometimes).
The Medium Blades: Mora Models 840 “Clipper” and Companion MG
First, let’s make it clear that the 840 (“Clipper”) and Companion are, for all intents and purposes, the same knife.
In 2010, Mora announced that they were retiring the Clipper. I don’t know whether public outcry made Mora change their mind, or whether they planned all along to reintroduce it as a new line. Either way, the “Companion” recently showed up in the Mora catalog in a number of styles, including some with serrated edges.
The Clipper and Companion MG are identical in every way but one: the Clipper had a checkered handle, while the Companion has the newer smooth textured handle. The handle dimensions are identical.
The Clipper/Companion has “full-sized” blade geometry (4″ long and almost 3/4″ wide) except for the thickness of the metal. It has the same “thin” blade as the 511/HighQ. This actually gives the knife a really nice feel – lightweight but substantial.
Both models come with the same clip-on sheath as the HighQ.
The Large Blades: Mora Models 711, 911, and TopQ Allround
The 711, 911, and TopQ Allround all have “full-sized” blade geometry: 4″ long, nearly 3/4″ wide, and a hair under 1/8″ thick. They feel noticeably more substantial than the HighQ. These knives seem meant to take a beating.
The TopQ comes with a medium-sized handle that’s identical to the HighQ and Companion — good ergonomics, very comfortable in the hand, and no finger guard at all. It’s slightly flattened on top, right behind the edge of the blade so that you can get your thumb up there for finer control.
The 911′s handle has the same diameter as the TopQ’s, but slightly different ergonomics. It has an indentation for the first finger and a slight finger guard. In my opinion, the ergonomics make the 911′s grip less forgiving. Your hand either fits the grooves or it doesn’t. Also, the 911 has an “improved” sheath with a clip similar to the HighQ’s, but much less secure. The sheath also has a pivot, which doesn’t work well enough to bother with.
The 711 has the thickest handle of any of the Moras, with a coarse pebbled texture. It feels great in the hand. The handle also has a slight finger guard. All in all, the 711 feels more secure than the TopQ, but the TopQ feels more nimble.
The Monster: Mora Model 741
I hate this knife. Everything about it feels wrong. Ok, I take that back — the grip is nice, the same grip the 711 uses — but the blade feels out of place. It’s both wider and longer than the 711, and ends up feeling completely out of balance and cumbersome. Every motion comes out forced and awkward, like a lanky teenage boy trying to figure out how to move his stilt legs.
This knife is too light to chop with and too long to carve or cut with. The only use I see for it is splitting small logs. Maybe someone will point out a perfect application to justify this knife. Until then, I call it an aberration that you shouldn’t waste your time or money on.
The New High-End Moras
Mora has released a line of higher-end outdoor/bushcraft knives with new blade geometry and better sheaths. These knives carry a significantly bigger price tag, which is why I chose to omit them from this review. While I’m sure they’re top-notch knives, to me they fall outside the range of the quintessential Mora — a high-quality throwaway knife.
If they intrigue you, by all means, pick one up. But also pick up a few of the classic Moras. You might be surprised how often you reach for the “beater” instead of the Cadillac.
Some Subjective Opinions on Mora Knives
Out on the knife and bushcraft forums, most of the buzz centers around the 511, the Clipper/Companion, and the TopQ, which interestingly enough, represent all three blade sizes. So we can safely conclude that users are split on the best blade size. I’d recommend you get one of each and see which suits you best.
My favorite is the HighQ Allround, which lives on my belt when I’m in the outdoors. The comfortable grip and responsive blade size make this knife feel like part of me. It has enough blade to be useful, but not so much that it ever feels cumbersome.
When I feel like I want a little more blade, I grab the Companion since its handle matches the HighQ’s perfectly. It’s like swapping blades without swapping handles. I don’t use the TopQ because it only comes in stainless steel. I prefer carbon Moras.
I keep a 711 in my fire building kit for splitting kindling. The thicker blade can take a pounding and the ample grip makes people feel comfortable using it.
Where Do I Buy a Mora Knife?
I’ve never seen a Mora in a local store. So unless you’re luckier than I am, you will have to buy online. Three vendors that I’ve had good dealings with are Ben’s Backwoods, Ragweed Forge, and Safe Zone. These stores have a lot of enthusiasm for Moras and the sites are packed with useful information. They’ll give you great advice and great service. I recently stumbled across another one that seems reputable but that I haven’t dealt with yet: Smoky Mountain Knife Works.
When I was pulling some of these knives out for the review, I noticed an old invoice crumpled in the bottom of the storage box. The total on the invoice caught my eye: $55. Turns out it was $55 for five knives. That’s when it hit me again how cheap these knives are — cheap, but with outstanding quality. This is a bargain that comes along so rarely that you can’t help but get excited about it over and over again.
So budget yourself $40-50 and get an assortment of Moras. None of them will disappoint you, and one of them will probably thrill you.