From early in the 13th Century through the mid-1800s, the Donnybrook Fair was an annual event in Dublin, Ireland.  Over the centuries, it grew from a fair centered on trade and socializing to one that involved excessive drinking, fighting, and debauchery. Today, donnybrook is a slang term for some sort of wild fight or brawl.  Should one be unfortunate enough to find themselves caught up in one, the Donnybrook knife from Bark River Knives would certainly be welcome.

Design and Construction

The Donnybrook knife is light and fast, suitable both for defense as well as run of the mill daily chores.  The needle point is designed for penetration.  The false edge along the top of the blade arrives unsharpened but the crew at Bark River can change that upon request.  The knife is hair popping sharp right out of the box.

The Donnybrook has a finger hole or ring at the butt that works well for blade retention.  Held in a reverse grip, the index finger naturally finds the ring.  In the forward grip, the pinky slides into the ring.  The knife is also comfortable to hold and use while keeping all fingers wrapped around the handle.

From point to butt, the Donnybrook runs 8.31 inches, with the blade measuring 3.82 inches and the cutting edge running 3.625 inches.  Check your local laws, of course, but a blade under 4 inches is usually legal for carry.  It weighs in at a feather light 2.7 ounces.

Bark River uses CPM 154 steel for the Donnybrook.  This is a stainless steel with great edge holding ability without being a bear to sharpen.  Being a stainless steel, it also has some corrosion resistance.

The Sheath

The leather sheath that accompanies every Donnybrook is well made and durable.  If the user wishes to “scout carry” the knife, so it is parallel with the belt, they will need to acquire an aftermarket sheath or fashion one themselves.

As with every Bark River knife, the Donnybrook is assembled and finished by hand at their shop in Escanaba, Michigan.  Each knife is inspected for sharpness multiple times by different people.  Bark River also has one of the most robust warranties in the business.  If the knife fails or is damaged in any way, give them a call and they will fix it.

The black canvas Micarta scales shown on this model is just one example of numerous handle materials available, including blaze orange G-10, desert ironwood, and maple burl.

Testing the Donnybrook Knife

We ran the Donnybrook through a few performance tests to see how it would hold up.  We went through the tests in the following order and did not strop or otherwise touch up the blade between tests.

Test #1 – Corrugated cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is tough on blades due to the adhesive used when making it.  The glue dries very hard.  This was our first test.  We first used the Donnybrook to trim a large piece of cardboard and then ran several cuts, each more than two feet long, along the length of the cardboard.  The blade never hesitated or caught at any point.   We’ll score it 10/10.

Test #2 – Sisal rope

Sisal rope is abrasive and can be difficult to cut easily.  We used a push cut with the Donnybrook, cutting though a ¾ inch thick hank of rope.  Each time, the blade made it through about 98 percent of the rope with just pressure straight down but then required a tiny bit of rocking to complete the cut.  Score 9/10.

Test #3 – Leather

Rather than sacrifice an animal just for the sake of a knife review, we chose to slice up some leather scraps.  We first cut off several pieces with dragging cuts across the leather.  The blade edge performed very well, cutting through the leather just fine.  We then stacked several pieces and pushed the knife tip down through them.  With just the slightest pressure the tip pierced through every piece of leather in the stack and was looking for more.  Score 10/10.


All in all, the Donnybrook knife is a solid choice for EDC.  It is a fast knife, lightweight and easy to handle.


  • Overall length: 8.31 inches
  • Blade length: 3.82 inches
  • Sharpened edge: 3.71 inches
  • Weight: 2.7 ounces
  • Steel: CPM 154
  • MSRP: $172.46

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