Pat’s Product Review: Cold Steel Bushman Series Knives

I have received many requests to test and evaluate the Cold Steel “Bushman” line of knives that Cold Steel is producing. I’ve been a big fan of Cold Steel products since the very beginning – I’m sold on their products. However, for some strange reason, I never requested anything from the Bushman series of knives.
My friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns and operates Cold Steel, isn’t afraid to back up his products, and does so, in a series of videos on his company web site. On the web site, you will see all manner of Cold Steel products being put through a variety of torture tests, that would make other knife makers shudder. Thompson isn’t afraid to show you how his knives are tested – sharpness is only one of the tests – and to be sure, Cold Steel set the standard in my humble opinion for super-sharp knives many years ago. Lynn puts all his cutlery through things that you and I wouldn’t even think of – to prove to his customers just how strong and well-built his cutlery is. You really need to watch the various videos on the web site to appreciate the torture Cold Steel knives go through – no one else in the cutlery field are doing this. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the computer watching all the videos – its worth it.
First up for test and evaluation is the Pocket Bushman – and right up front, I’ll tell you, this is a spartan-looking folder – it’s not going to win any beauty contests. Nor was it designed to. The 4116 German stainless steel blade, is razor-sharp out of the box, so be aware of that. Also, be sure to read the warning that comes with this knife before opening it. The blade length is 4-1/2″, so there’s plenty of blade to get most jobs done from survival to self-defense. Now, the handle is manufactured out of one piece of 420 stainless steel and it’s bead blasted to cut down on reflectivity. You have to closely examine the one piece handle to sincerely appreciate how it’s made – it’s one flat piece of stainless steel, that is cut to the right dimensions and then folded over onto itself, to form the handle. We are talking super strong. I tried bending it with my bare hands – didn’t happen.
The weight of the Pocket Bushman is 6.1 ounces, so it’s not exactly light – nor is it too heavy, either. overall length of the knife, in the open position is 10-1/4″ – it’s a handful, no doubt about it. The blade is of the clip point design, and hollow ground from top to bottom, with just enough belly to be useful for all sorts of tasks, too. A dual thumb stud is there for opening the knife one-handed – more on this in a moment. There is also a pocket/clothing clip, which can be moved from one side to the other for ambi pocket carry for right or left handed carry, too. There is a 550 Paracord lanyard in the butt of the handle as well.
The overall appearance of the Pocket Bushman is very sleek and smooth as well. Now, for the thumb studs for one-handed opening. Yeah, you can open the Pocket Bushman with one hand, but you can’t really open it “fast” – there is a lot of resistance from the locking mechanism. So, don’t think you are gonna whip the Pocket Bushman out of your pocket and flick it open fast with one hand. Now, that’s not a bad thing, either. The patented internal Ram-Safe locking mechanism is the strongest I’ve ever run across – this knife is a virtual fixed blade when fully opened and locked. On the Cold Steel video of the testing of this knife, they place 250 pounds of dead weight on the lock and it doesn’t fail – and I believe the lock can take even more weight before failing. That is very impressive.
Now comes the “trick” to closing the blade, once you open it. I showed the Pocket Bushman to several people, and they couldn’t figure it out – until I showed them. You must pull on the lanyard cord, which then releases the lock and you can close the blade. It takes quite a bit of effort to pull on the lanyard to get the lock to release, too. If you’re a petite woman, this folder probably isn’t for you – and I’m not a sexist, either – just being realistic about the strength and effort required to unlock the blade.
As a rule, I don’t recommend any folding knife for chopping chores. However, with the 4-1/2″ blade and long handle, you can actually do some light chopping chores with the Pocket Bushman. I chopped some fairly large branches off a dead apple tree in my front yard without a lot of effort. I was impressed, to say the least. The blade never loosened, nor did the lock show signs of giving way, either.
The Pocket Bushman isn’t gonna win any beauty contests, but it wasn’t designed to. This knife is designed to save your butt when the chips are down – using it for survival, or self-defense – this hummer won’t let you down. You would think that a folding knife that is this strong, and super-sharp, that can take anything you can throw at it, would cost a lot – it doesn’t! I was more than a little surprised to see that full-retail is only $42.99, and you can find it for less than that on the ‘net if you shop around. To be sure, if this knife were a hundred bucks, it would be worth the asking price. This may just be the last folding knife you’ll ever need – this baby isn’t gonna fail you, under the harshest of conditions. With that said, “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder, and I find the Pocket Bushman a real “beauty” in my book. There’s no reason this knife shouldn’t be high on your list of cutlery for survival purposes.
Next up are the Bushman and Bowie Bushman, fixed blade knives. The original Bushman has been around for a decade now – and that says a lot about the design and strengths of the knife. To underscore this: I was once told by the owner of a major knifemaking company that a really good knife design typically has about a three year market life. After that, the design doesn’t sell well any longer. Think about it…
Okay, we once again come to a knife that won’t win any beauty contests, and once again, it wasn’t designed to. It was mean to be a very affordable and nearly indestructible fixed blade do-it-all knife. There are a few differences between the two fixed blade Bushman knives, and needless to say, one has a Bowie-style blade and the other is more conventional. The original Bushman weighs in at 9.8-oz, and the Bowie 10.1-oz. both have a 7″ blade made out of SK-5 High Carbon steel, that has a protective black coating the help retard rust – and Carbon Steel knives will rust if you don’t take care of them. The overall length of both knives is 12 1/4″ from tip to butt.
Unlike conventional hollow handle knives – which the Bushman is – the hollow handle isn’t a separate part of the knife – the hollow handle and blade are all once piece. The blade and handle are expertly forged out of one piece of SK-5 Carbon Steel – as you will readily see once you handle a Bushman. There isn’t any screw-in cap on the hollow handle of the Bushman, instead you can pack whatever survival supplies you want in the handle and then close it off with some duct tape, or whatever you have on-hand – even stuffing it with clothing or mud would work.
Both fixed blade Bushman knives come complete with a Cor-Ex sheath as well, and there’s a pocket on the front of the sheath for carrying other things, like a multi-tool, sharpening stone or whatever you might feel you need – even fishing line and tackle. I was honestly surprised, that the Bushman came with a sheath, especially considering the full-retail price of only $37.99 for your choice of blade styles.
The Bushman have been torture-tested by Cold Steel. Be sure to watch their video. You’ll be amazed, by what these knives can do. One test included putting over two tons of weight at the handle/blade junction and it didn’t fail. Wow!
While not designed as a throwing knife, the fixed blade Bushman can be used for throwing. I don’t recommend you use the knife as a throwing knife in a self-defense situation, but you can have a lot of fun in your backyard just throwing the Bushman and watching ’em stick in the target. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to get the blades to stick in a target, either. And, like all Cold Steel cutlery, the Bushman were shaving sharp right out of the box, and held an edge a good long time – even after doing some serious chopping on some dead trees on my small homestead.
You can also attach a pole/shaft to the hollow handle, and use the knives for self-defense that way, or even use ’em for hunting small game by taking careful aim and launching the Bushman at your game. To be honest, it didn’t take a lot of practice to consistently hit a makeshift target I set up in my yard – but the old broomhandle I was using broke – it was already broke from the broom head – but it broke again after several throwing sessions. You can find a good wood shaft to attach to the Bushman, making it into a virtual spear – and it’s lots of fun, too.
So, once again, we have a couple Bushman knives that won’t win any beauty contests, and they weren’t designed for that. Lynn Thompson, designs his knives for hard use. That’s not to say Cold Steel doesn’t have some beautiful knives in their catalog – about 95% of their knives are a thing of beauty in my eye. But the Bushman series of fixed blade and the folder, weren’t designed as beauty queens, they were designed for the worst conditions you can submit any blade to, and they will hold-up to all you throw at ’em. What’s not to like here?
As already mentioned, either of the fixed blade Bushman knives retail for $37.99 each – and there is no reason you can’t get one or two of these babies and toss ’em in your e-box in your car, or your bug out bag. I can’t think of any other knives, in this price range, that can stand-up to the same torture – it’s just that simple in my book.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, I’ve received more requests for me to test and evaluate the Cold Steel Bushman series of knives, than any other products. I’ve got to admit, I’m sorry I didn’t request a Bushman many years ago. I kind of put it off, since the Bushman series are  inexpensive knives, assuming that they were more of a gimmick than anything. I hate admitting I’m wrong – but I was. The Bushman series are knives that won’t let you down, and you can certainly afford them on just about any budget. Get one or two, or all three – and you’ll thank me. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

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