AN­CIENT WAYS, MOD­ERN EDGE

THE CON­DOR PRIM­I­TIVE BUSH KNIFE SEAM­LESSLY MERGES PRESENT AND PAST

Knives Illustrated - - News - STORY BY EJ SNY­DER, PHO­TOS BY EJ SNY­DER AND JOSHUA SWANAGON

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.

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