Sunday, December 26, 2010

Condor Bushcraft Basic Knife Review

For this knife review I want to look at a more robust bushcraft knife. Specifically, I will be testing the Medium Bushcraft Knife by Condor Tool & Knife. The way the knife is described by distributors varies from “small” to “medium”. This is the 4 inch blade, and is listed as Model # CTK236-4HC by the manufacturer.

Knife Length:
8 1/2 inches (216 mm)
Blade Length: 4 inches (102 mm); cutting edge 3 1/2 inches (89 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/8 inches (3 mm)
Blade Width: 1 1/16 inches (27 mm)
Blade Material: 1075 Carbon steel
Blade Hardness: HRC 57-59 on the Rockwell Scale (the information is unconfirmed)
Type of Tang: Full
Blade Grind: Single bevel with a convex edge
Handle Material: Wood inlays
Sheath Material: Leather
Cost: $30.00

In terms of price, I would describe this as a mid range knife. There are cheaper knives out there, but there are certainly ones with much heftier price tags.

The knife is very robust, and features a full tang. At first glance the knife appears to have a single bevel grind, but in fact, the last 1/8 inch of the cutting edge turns into a convex grind. The blade is the same length as the Mora 1, but the cutting surface is actually less because it does not extend all the way to the handle. The blade is a bit thicker and combined with the fact that it is much wider, makes for a very secure feeling and strong blade when compared to the Mora 1. The handle is a bit longer, and is very comfortable.

The design of this knife is very close to what I like to see. The only thing that I would like to see changed is to have the cutting edge extend all the way back to the handle. I never understood the need to have parts of a blade that are not sharp. I understand that this way you can choke up on a blade, but you could do the exact same thing if that part of the blade was covered by handle material. As it is, the unsharpened part of the blade is just an uncomfortable piece of handle. That design issue aside, the construction of the knife is rather lacking. It was hard to show in a picture, but the blade is not evenly ground. Much more material has been removed from one side than the other, making it a partial chisel grind. This shows a rather sloppy production process. While the knife is still usable, this is a defect that should have never made it off the production line.

The knife was fairly sharp out of the box, but needed a few minutes with the sharpening stone. Then I put it through the usual tests.

When it came to splitting, the knife performed very well. I first tried to use a 2 inch log like I did with the other knives, but the knife split it so easily, that I could not get it stuck so I could take a picture. That is why I did it again with a 3 inch log. The knife had no problem going through it.

I felt very comfortable doing a truncating cut with the knife. The added edge thickness and thicker blade made me feel more comfortable letting loose on it with a baton. The added thickness of the edge however made penetration into the wood harder than with the Mora 1.

The knife had no problem with the feather sticks. It is a common misconception that a thicker blade has a harder time making feather sticks. I find that if a blade is sharp, even a thick edge will cut wood just fine. The difference comes when you are trying to make deep cuts into the wood. Then the difference is visible because with the thicker cutting edge, you are pushing more metal through the wood than with the thinner one, requiring more energy and force. I found it just as easy to make feather sticks with the Condor Bushcraft knife as with the Mora 1. The fact that I have been using a convex blade for the past few years probably helped a lot.

Since this is a full tang knife, I batoned the edge into a tree trunk. The knife had no problem doing it.

The sheath of the knife is of rather low quality. It is made out of leather, but the stitching and design leave a lot to be desired. The thread used for the stitching is just white nylon thread, which creates a rather ugly contrast with the black leather. The design looks like it was made for a different knife, and while it holds the blade securely, it is very bulky. It also rides high on the belt, so it would be very hard to carry with a backpack that has a hip belt.

Overall, this knife features a good design, which has been executed very poorly. Had the blade been sharp all the way back to the handle, this would be one of my favorite knife designs. The fact that the blade has been so unevenly ground however makes this a waste of $30. For that price I certainly expect a knife to at the very least not be blatantly defective. Clearly Condor Tool & Knife is not overly concerned with quality control. For that reason I can not recommend this knife.