Cold Steel Bushman Survival Blade

Cold Steel is one of the most remarkable names in the knife industry. Their mission to produce the strongest and sharpest knives all over the world has been well lived and upheld since their founding in 1980.

This is why up until now almost 3 decades after, they are among the leaders and forerunners of innovation in the industry.

Among the many proofs of their seemingly unending lead is the introduction of the checked Kraton handles and the American Tanto point blade styles which includes really fascinating features that everyone in the industry takes and sees as inspiration to create high-end, top quality releases.

With San Mai III and the “Tri-Ad Lock” folding knives locking mechanism, Cold Steel has taken the knife industry up into a new and higher level in innovation. In fact, not one of the company’s toughest competitors had been able to top the technology and the craftsmanship of the Cold Steel Tri-Ad Lock to this day. Because of this, outdoor enthusiasts and professionals perceive that if there be any technology that will be able to outperform Tri-Ad Lock, it will still be a release from Cold Steel.

With all of the products mentioned above one can safely say that, this company has really uplifted their founding philosophy amidst the updates in technology. In fact, the Cold Steel SRK serves as evidence of their competence in applying technology in the manufacture of knives that are strongest and sharpest in the world.

For all this, anybody can trust Cold Steel to have applied the same dedication to their philosophy when they designed and introduced the Bushman.

For the money, the Bushman knives just might be the strongest survival/outdoor knives in the world!

The Cold Steel Bushman series is available with your choice of either a straight spine or a clip point blade shape. Both knives measure 12 1/4” overall and both feature a 7” saber ground blade.

Unlike most hollow handled survival knives, there is no joint or seam between the blades and handles that requires a mechanical fastener. Instead, the Bushman’s blades and integral handles are each expertly cold forged out of a single piece of 2.5mm thick SK-5 high carbon steel. The resulting knives are expertly heat-treated and tempered to RC54 (Rockwell Hardness) and, when subjected to Cold Steel’s tests, they have withstood over two tons of pressure on their blade/handle transition!

In addition, every Bushman blade has been carefully ground to an extra thin edge, and then honed and buffed by hand until razor sharp. Plus, the Bushman knives are versatile as well because their hollow handles will accept survival supplies or a variety of handle extensions which can maximize reach, leverage, or ease of throwing. Also, both Bushman knives come complete with Cold Steel’s new Secure-Ex sheath which includes a Ferrocerium Fire Steel.

Now, I have to admit that when I first saw this knife, I was a little skeptical. However, now that I have gotten the chance to explore the knife better, I would have to admit that I have thrown my doubts on this knife out the window. In fact, as of now, this one is something that I would refer to someone who is looking for a knife that is trusty but is not all that expensive.

When I put my prejudices aside and actually look at this knife, I have to admit that it would actually serve rather well as dedicated survival knife. In addition, the SK-5 steel (a Japanese equivalent of American 1080 steel) used in the Bushman and hardened to 54 RC is an excellent choice for this type of knife because 1080 steel is a high carbon steel with a Carbon content of 0.81% and a Manganese content of 0.75% as the only other component.

Therefore, the carbon content and lean alloy make this a shallow hardening steel with a quenched hardness that is normally between RC 60 to 64 depending on exact carbon content. This combination of factors makes this one of the toughest steels available because, when quenched properly, it produces a near saturated lathe Martensite with no excess Carbides, avoiding the brittleness of higher carbon materials.

This steel is, therefore, particularly well-suited to applications where strength and impact resistance is valued above all other considerations and will produce blades of almost legendary toughness. 

However, according to the Cold Steel web site and as per quenched by Cold Steel, SK-5 steel normally has a Rockwell hardness near RC 57-58 and produces a mixture of carbon rich Martensite with some small un-dissolved carbides and the excess carbide increases abrasion resistance and allows the steel to achieve an ideal balance of very good blade toughness with superior edge holding ability.

Also, while I find the integral hollow handle a bit odd, I have to admit that it does make it easy to attach the knife to the end of a stave for self-defense from predatory animals and, if you did find it absolutely necessary to use the knife as a javelin point, I can’t think of a better steel for the job than SK-5.

Now, while I am aware that Cold Steel designed this knife with a saber grind in order to produce a strong edge rather than a razor sharp edge, I would be happier with it if the bevel were a bit higher on the blade. On the other hand, I do applaud the choice of Kydex to construct the Secure-Ex sheath from since Kydex in an extremely tough material that is impervious to water and the inclusion of a fire starter stick is an excellent idea.

So, while these knives might appear to be a little weird at first, they are actually a very well-suited for the express purpose of outdoor survival. In addition, because they are both inexpensive and very tough, they can be used for such tasks as splitting wood and digging roots without fear of getting the knives ruined like many of the others on our featured list.

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