Backup survival knife or affordable survival knife? BOTH.
This is a prepper website, and even the most dedicated prepper knows that there are limitations, and there are times when a specific knife is good to have, but that a backup always makes sense. And then there are the times where you need Cold Steel to accomplish a task. The best knife is the one that gives you versatility and redundancy – the one you set and forget in your pack/go-bag.
Maybe you are just looking into knives, or are a seasoned edged tool veteran; either way, there is always a reason for more knives, they are like potato chips or guns…once you have one….you always want some more.
The ColdSteel Bushman exudes versatility as a survival knife – primary or secondary
I want to talk about a knife that most people would say isn’t worth the time, because it’s too specialized and too inexpensive to possibly be worth a look: The Cold Steel Bushman. It’s a knife I first got 20+ years ago and one which I still carry on every outdoor adventure I go on, to this day, unless I’m traveling by plane, and cannot possibly bring it. I would argue heavily that it is ANYTHING BUT a specialized tool – and it is super affordable. Like stocking stuffer affordable.
It’s my beater knife, the one that can do it all and doesn’t complain, care or worry about looking like they know what they are doing. It’s a bit worse for wear, with scratches, a blade line far different than when it first was purchased, and the small, nearly integrated memories of a small chip in the blade, where I used the knife to get myself out of a very bad spot. If it weren’t for that knife, I don’t know if I would be alive today. Aside from the dramatic, the Cold Steel Bushman has served me well in the past 13 years, and I now own four of them. Two of my Cold Steel Bushman knives are still in their original packaging, bought solely to enhance my abilities if SHTF, and trust me, these Cold Steel Bushman knives will do the trick in TEOTWAWKI situations, they are as cold as they come. A bit like the electrical grip tape revolver Michael Corleone uses to off the Police Chief McClusky and the aspiring Turkish drug kingpin, Sollozzo in the restaurant. Colder than the Devil’s heart. Ok, Ok, enough with the foreplay.
The Cold Steel Bushman
The Cold Steel Bushman is a utilitarian knife, and despite many novices feeling like it comes sharp enough from the factory, it will need a bit of personal attention as with any knife. It’s 1095, cheap enough to keep costs low, but tough enough to do any basic job.
The style is a bit awkward looking, and it certainly doesn’t look the part of a bona-fide survival knife, or even a usable knife by some people’s standards, but this thing is no slouch. The Cold Steel Bushman is easily the most versatile and usable knife I have ever owned at any price point. That’s the beauty of it: you won’t be spending more than $25 on the knife and in many cases you won’t go over $20, so there are no regrets: you will FIND stuff to test this knife on.
It’s a one piece build with a handle that is cold formed prior to blade heat treatment into a shrouded conical design made to fit somewhat in a users hand but also over the end of a straight stick or shovel handle for use as an improvised spear. It does actually work, and you can protect yourself from wild animals quite well with it in this configuration. I have done so with a wild dog and a feral pig, both of which were harrowing experiences. The Cold Steel Bushman is no joke; perhaps if I had never had to defend (my life?) with the Cold Steel Bushman, then I wouldn’t be so giddy about it. But the heart grows fonder…
The edge isn’t brittle; it’s tougher than most, and it can take a better edge than just about anything out there. I heard once that a friend of mine received a Cold Steel Bushman that couldn’t hold an edge. I didn’t believe him, so I loaned him one of mine while I sent his knife back to the factory. They replaced it and there is mutual happiness abounding.
The key to being a knife guy (or girl) is knowing how to buy quality and knowing how to use a stone OR Other Knife Sharpening System, to properly sharpen the knives you purchase. If you can spend the 10-15 hours of experimenting with a knife to understand how and where to sharpen, you can officially call yourself indoctrinated into knife culture, and you can add another essential skill to your arsenal. Good quality stones are fairly expensive but can really make the difference over the years. Treated well, stones will last a lifetime, and a knife will as well. The Cold Steel Bushman is no pretender to that achievement, I have several that have many years of hard use on them and they are as good and arguably better today than they were new out of the box. The Cold Steel Bushman is the PERFECT starter knife to learn your stone and sharpening skills on. It’s the right material, the easiest to justify making a mistake on, yet still call it a quality cutting tool, and it’s forgiving.
The Cold Steel Bushman is not heavy enough to make it a good big knife, but it’s about as close as it gets looks and handling wise. The handle is hollow, and the blade is more centered in the hand for its weight rather than pushed out towards the tip, so full swings lack the momentum necessary to function fully in the Zombie Apocalypse or some other times of defensive need. The Cold Steel Bushman is not a specialty knife, despite being special. It’s made for utility.
The blade is a bit thinner as well, and is not for heavy hacking, though it will easily sever ¾” branches if needed and baton some pretty decent kindling and firewood.
The blade itself is available in a drop point or a bowie knife design and it is about 6 inches in length; I wish that the Cold Steel Bushman was still made in the compact version, but alas they discontinued it’s run of manufacture quite a while back. Small hand carving and food prep work can be done with the knife, as well as field dressing. The Bowie version of the Cold Steel Bushman is particularly useful as a high hold center of the knife position, for this type of work and the drop point is just not substantial enough to beat it at this.
Where can the ColdSteel Bushman Knife improve? Or, what should you know?
The Cold Steel Bushman has served me well so I have very few complaints about it, but it does have some minor weaknesses that should be addressed:
- It CAN rust
- The powder coating is very thick and can slow you down on long work days in a survival scenario
- The knife needs practice to use it as a spear, you don’t instantly become a ZULU warrior upon mating the Cold Steel Bushman to a stick and tying it into place.
- The grip can get slippery, and I suggest using a ranger band or two to improve grip and handling.
All that said, the Cold Steel Bushman is an incredible buy and an excellent value as it is a knife you will be glad you purchased.
Points where the ColdSteel Bushman Knife Excels at the price point
It’s got properties that other knives 3-4 times its price wish they had in the abundance that the Cold Steel Bushman delivers them:
- It’s sharp, or able to be sharpened
- It’s readily available
- It’s almost completely maintenance free
- It’s got the multi-role idea figured out
- It is easy to understand and easy to rework the blade.
- It’s ridiculously low price is begging for you to snap a couple up.
This may seem like an advertisement, but it really isn’t except to say that I wholeheartedly endorse this piece of steel for anyone’s collection and certainly for the tool belt. It has served me well for years and despite owning many (50+) high end survival or combat/tactical knives, this is almost always the one I reach for in the outdoors or when I know there will be some punishment. That’s not because I don’t want to ruin the delicate finish on my other knives, it’s because the Cold Steel Bushman is the one I KNOW will take the abuse and keep delivering performance.