ANCIENT WAYS, MODERN EDGE
THE CONDOR PRIMITIVE BUSH KNIFE SEAMLESSLY MERGES PRESENT AND PAST
The Condor Primitive Bush Knife is a modern throwback with some serious field applications and solid performance. BY EJ SNYDER
Knives play an important role in many cultures.
Knives are tools that have been around for centuries, making lives easier for those that needed them for many, many tasks. You always see folks, in these modern times, trying to reinvent the wheel, or make a better mousetrap, and that’s no different in the knife world. However, sometimes, one only needs to look to the past to find something that will work and fit in a modern world, and that’s exactly what Matt Graham did when developing the Condor Primitive Bush Knife (PBK).
Once I pulled this knife out of its unique sheath and gripped it fully, I almost felt as if I was being transported back in time and sitting in a cave skinning a buffalo. It has a truly unique look to match its sheath, and it draws you into the spirit of the blade’s essence right off. As I admired its fine craftsmanship and beauty, I couldn’t wait to get out in the bush and truly find out what it could do.
The Nitty Gritty
Featuring an overall length of 13.5 inches, the Primitive Bush Knife is constructed of 0.12-inch-thick 420 HC stainless steel, with a bead blasted satin finish. The 8-inch blade features a deep belly that is reminiscent of an almost shortened barong and features three narrow fullers running the length of the blade on both sides, giving it an almost aboriginal look. The high grind of the edge bevel gives the Primitive Bush Knife a keen edge and geometry that is perfect for slicing chores and getting fine, feathery shavings during fire prep. At the tip is a very aggressive, 0.875-inch-long swedge that is very little work away from being sharpened fully, giving the tip maximum penetration ability for drilling tasks and game processing.
The full tang is skeletonized and adorned with walnut handle scales, with three holes running the length of the handle for lashing purposes. The blade features the iconic Eye of the Condor, which gives you a very cool spot to choke up on the blade and have better control for finer knife tasks. It’s stamped with Matt’s signature on one side and the home of origin, El Salvador, on the other. Weighing in at only 11.1 ounces, the Primitive Bush Knife rides very comfortably inside the belt with its unique leather sheath designed specifically without a belt loop.
“Kiesters on the Line” Test
Over the last several weeks I have been able to use the Condor Primitive Bush Knife out in the field to get used to handling it and I was rather happy with how it performed. The next step was to do some deliberate testing with it, so I conducted a series of tests that one would find themselves needing to do in most every survival or outdoor scenario. The version I am testing was the earlier design with hardwood grips constructed of walnut. The newest versions have been upgraded with a newer two-tone Micarta, which I believe are a needed addition, as I will explain later.
“… SOMETIMES, ONE ONLY NEEDS TO LOOK TO THE PAST TO FIND SOMETHING THAT WILL WORK AND FIT IN A MODERN WORLD …”
The Primitive Bush Knife comes with a very sharp edge right out of the box and didn’t disappoint. I checked its overall sharpness and edge durability first by cutting several pieces of cardboard, slicing along the edge and then towards the middle of each piece. I also cut through some pieces of leather and rubber tire strips, with no issues or binding. On the PBK version I had, the tip was sharpened on both sides, but I also know there are versions out there where the PBK comes unsharpened and a bit of a false drop point instead. I did find that I really liked the double-sharpened tip as it made gutting and cleaning fish very easy, and made skinning and gutting the small game I trapped a breeze.
The point of the blade was very good for boring holes in wood, which aided in making fire hearth boards. However, due to the flatness of the handle, one could not spin the knife easily between their hands in a drilling motion to do this task. There were no issues in making that much-needed notch in the board to aid in processing a coal when using a primitive fire drill method. The PBK easily carved out feathersticks, and again, there were no issues in making notches for traps. The design felt great in my hand for scraping and planing tasks, I just had to be extremely aware and conscious of the sharpened upper portion of the double-sharpened tip so that I didn’t cut myself. I can really see an issue with the tip being a hazard if one was to become fatigued or was rushing through a task.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to
expect when it came to chopping, as it seemed somewhat small for a chopping blade and weighed in at just under a pound. In my opinion, it felt like the blade had a bit of a machete feel and movement to it. I have used machetes quite a bit and most of the time I’m using them to clear my way through triple canopy jungle brush and vines, and only chopping rather soft jungle materials like rattan, balsa, and bamboo. The PBK can be swung very quickly, but I found it took me several swings to figure out the best chopping angle for the blade design. Once I did, I went to town on several pieces of wood from soft pines to harder woods. The knife bit in well and sent several chunks flying about, though not as well as some of the bigger chopping knives I have used. I’d honestly classify it as a good medium chopper.
I did find that while chopping, the wooden handle had the PBK trying to fly out of my hand. I have a large hand and I found the handle, as is, rather too narrow for my liking. I did not modify it for the test, but may use my go-to trick and apply some good old skateboarder or hockey stick tape to help with the grip for future use. I can see the Micarta versions may alleviate this issue, as well as being a little thicker to help with grip. The chopping was made much easier when I added a baton club to the task by hitting the spine. I did baton and process some wood logs for the fire and the PBK bit well into the wood and got the job done. Its weight was nice for the task and again, doesn’t wear you out as fast as a heavier chopping blade would.
“FEATURING AN OVERALL LENGTH OF 13.5 INCHES, THE PRIMITIVE BUSH KNIFE IS CONSTRUCTED OF 0.12-INCH-THICK 420 HC STAINLESS STEEL, WITH A BEAD BLASTED SATIN FINISH.”
Blades with Character
Overall, beyond the grip, and in some cases the double-sharpened point, I was very impressed with the Condor Primitive Bush Knife and have nothing to complain about. I liked its capabilities, what it brings to the tasks at hand, its durability and dependability. I used it for an extended period, doing task after task, and my hand never got tired or developed any hot spots or blisters. I am a big fan of blades that can do many things, not to mention having its own unique and tribal look. I love blades with some character. I would have to say that if your “kiester was on the line” out in the wild, the Condor Primitive Bush Knife would answer the call. Great job, Matt. KI
Above: Condor Primitive Bush Knife (PBK) by Matt Graham.
Left: Feathersticks were a cinch with the PBK.
Left: Notches were also easy, due to the perfect grind geometry. It also really performed nicely on finer tasks, due to the great balance, weight, and ease of operation.
The blade of the Primitive Bush Knife features the distinctive Eye of the Condor just above Matt Graham’s signature. The three fullers running the length of the blade give it a tribal feel.
Top Right: The top swedge is just shy of being completely sharpened on some models. This aggressive swedge, or secondary edge on some, makes it great for boring holes or cleaning game. Left: The PBK cleaned up boards and shaved them up nice for hearth...
Far Left: The 0.125-inchthick blade stock makes the Primitive Bush Knife light and agile in the hand.