I enjoy Cold Steel products for a number of reasons. They have interesting designs, are extremely affordable, and are tough tools. A few years back I bought the Bushman model on a whim. Most knives by their nature are versatile but the Bushman with its hollow handle went a step beyond the rest.
Normally I do not like knives that have hollow handles. This is because if the handle is hollow then they are not really full tang, which I prefer. But Cold Steel found a bit of a loophole by designing the knife out of a single piece of steel. This allows for the knife to retain its strength while adding some intriguing characteristics. But before we get into that, let’s take a look a quick look at the specifications, the good and the bad.
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Cold Steel Bushman Review
- Two blade styles available
- The entire knife is cold forged out of one a single piece of Sk-5 high carbon steel
- Weight 9.8 oz
- Thickness 2.5 mm
- Blade length 7”
- Handle is hollow and is 5 ¼” long
- Overall length 12 ¼”
- Secure-Ex sheath with a ferrocerium fire steel
- Incredibly affordable
- Comes with a ferro rod
- Easy to sharpen
- Easily produces sparks
- Comfortable in the hand
- Two different blade styles
- Can be used as a knife or easily fashioned into a spear
- Hollow handle can be used as extra storage
- Light weight vs size
- The round handle may not suit everyone
- No grip on the handle
- The coating on the blade is not food prep friendly
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Cold Steel also has the Pocket Bushman which is a smaller alternative.
Coldstee Bushman Hands-On Review
As I said at the beginning of the article, I had originally bought this knife on a whim and wasn’t sure if I was actually going to like it. Upon taking the knife out of the package I was quite surprised at how comfortable it felt. The round handle fit nicely in my hand and I was able to easily adjust my grip. By just looking at this model I was expecting it to be extremely front heavy. However, once out of the package I discovered it was well balanced.
Every knife owner expects a brand new knife to be as sharp as possible right out of the box. When I received the Bushman, it was razor sharp. So much so that I was able to shave hairs from my arm (NOTE: I am not recommending you use this method for gauging sharpness)
The blade comes in two different options, standard or a Bowie style. For this review I primarily used the standard model. Made from SK-5 high carbon steel and with its flat spine I was able to easily use this knife with a ferrocerium rod for starting fires.
The seven-inch blade served me well in all manners of tasks. From making feather sticks, baton cutting wood, chopping small branches, cutting rope and cordage, clearing brush, processing game and even a bit of digging.
Though I am not a fan of coated knives for food prep, I did use this knife in that manner for testing purposes. I was surprised how easily I was able to transition from processing game to food prep, i.e. slicing and dicing.
The ability to lengthen the handle also gave me the ability to use the knife in a draw cutting method. Not something I do a lot, but the extra length provided me more control and stability over the knife.
After a day of cutting, chopping and slicing it is always a good idea to bring that edge back to working condition. Too often people tend to reach for a sharpening stone first rather than stropping, which can lead to unnecessary removal of metal from the edge. And if you are not patient you can do more harm than good (trust me, I know from experience) I was pleasantly surprised at how long this knife stayed sharp from simple stropping after use. If I recall, it wasn’t until about two months after purchasing it that I finally placed the cutting edge onto a sharpening stone.
Most knives either have a straight, flat handle or some kind of grooved design for finger placement, not a completely round one. I had never used a knife with a handle like quite this, so I didn’t know that to expect. I figured the handle was going to be awkward but surprisingly it felt great. This model can be used in the same fashion as a regular knife would be used or as a spear. This is why the handle is the defining feature of the Bushman.
The hollow, tapered handle allows for this knife to easily be fashioned into a spear. Find an appropriately sized piece of wood, insert into the handle and voila, instant spear. A spear can be thrown, help to give distance between you and a predator or simply help in acquiring items that would otherwise be out of reach
Since I wasn’t going to be using the spear option all that much, I decided to utilize the hollow space inside the handle for a different purpose. I decided to use it to carry extra items with me. I tried two different kits that I like to make. The first was a fire making kit. There was enough space for me try different combinations of a ferro rod, cotton, dyer lint, fat wood, stormproof matches and a lighter. The second was a fishing kit that included, fishing line, weights, lures and hooks. To keep the items inside I simply corked the bottom opening of the handle.
While the coating on the metal provided some texture to the handle, I would have like a bit more grip. I used this knife in varying conditions and didn’t have much of a problem, but I would recommend adding some kind of tape or other material in order to ensure a safer grip.
I will admit that at first, I was not a fan of the aesthetics of this model. But when I consider the size of this knife, how much I used it, the tasks that it held up to, its versatility, and its incredibly low cost, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t like this model. I can certainly see myself buying more of them in the future.
Please feel free to leave a comment below and add any experience you may have with The Bushman by Cold Steel. Stay sharp!
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