United Cutlery Bush Master Survival Knife
If you want a decent survival knife without breaking the bank, this is for you.
The blade is heavy, comes sharpened fairly well, and even the typically redundant saw-teeth have a good edge on them. I am by no means a small person, so this knife works well for me. It may be a bit too big for others.
The handle and handguard are METAL. Yes, it adds to weight, but it's not going to be as prone to cracking during lateral blade movement as a plastic/kydex/playdoh/etc handle would be. Also, the tang appears to go halfway through the handle, right up to the hollow for the fishing gear. There is a small hole through the side of the handle that looks to be part of the mounting of the handle to the blade, however, it is the same diameter as the cordage that attaches the sheath to your leg, and could be used for lashing the knife to a pole for use as a spear.
The knuckle guard is metal and is removable by unscrewing the compass pommel, sliding the bottom of the guard to one side, and then sliding the guard down the blade. Good construction on this point...the guard won't come off unless you want it to.
The compass actually works and the housing is all metal. Weighty, but it won't break from side impacts. The 180 degree azimuth on the side of the blade is actually carved/lasered/nibbled in, not just painted on.
In the handle is a sealable tube. Inside that are a couple of fishing hooks, weights, a bit of line, matches, and a spare scalpel blade in antiseptic packaging. On the side of the tube is a listing of the alphabet in morse code.
The sheath is a kydex scabbard inside of nylon, can be worn on the belt, and can be fastened to the thigh with the provided cord or, you can replace the cord with paracord/shoelaces/etc.
At this point, the knife "might" be worth the price, but it's the extras that more than cover the cost.
In the three pouches on the sheath, from top to bottom, we have the following:
The famous P38 can opener. Probably the most kickass pocket item from WWII before the Zippo. Nothing else in this pouch, but there is a little room if you want to add on.
Snakebite Kit: contains a scalpel blade in an antiseptic package with a vial of iodine and a cloth tournquet, packaged inside of two heavy rubber suction cups. It also actually contains instructions for what to do in case of snake bite. Might swap the iodine for anti-venom, but overall, I'd keep it the way it is.
Flashlight: it's rather cheap, but if you're in the dark, it's better than nothing. Takes one double-A battery (not included). Typical "twist clockwise to turn on" action. Not the one pictured; I got a black one with a yellow lanyard. Will probably swap this for something a little more reliable.
This pretty much fills Pouch 2, but if you trade out the light for brighter LED model, you might gain a little wiggle room.
Stainless steel animal snare: good length with a decent gauge wire. Definately a keeper.
Whetstone: cheap and rather coarse. Would probably ruin the finish on the blade and I would definately trade this out, but in a pinch...who knows?
There's a little room left over for extras in Pouch 3, but that pretty much does it.
It's well worth the price. I'd say that if you wanted one to go from the box to the outdoors, this would probably be the best bet. While there are things that i will change out, there is nothing on it that I would say is garbage/worthless....except maybe the whetstone.
The pouches are large enough to provide custimization of your gear, but small enough to keep from overloading. Most of the gear provided is great(compass, snakebite kit, animal snare, fishing kit, can opener) and the few things that would need to be traded out aren't "total" crap (flashlight, whetstone) they just provide the basics of what you would need.
It's not "MOLLE" compatible and it's not ambidexterous, but it does more than what you would need it to do. If you're a lefty, you're already used to working around stuff made for righties.
Lastly...IT'S ALL METAL!! No plastic to break if you lose your footing and smack into a tree. It's going to be there for the long haul.
For $40.00? BUY IT, BUY IT, BUY IT!!
Heck...Buy and extra for the missus...and one for the truck.
The first part of the review was based on what I got out of the box...this review is for one year down the road.
Long story short, the knife has held up well. No complaints on the knife itself or the sheath, but I did have to make a few upgrades (all available on Amazon)...
...and yes, all of this will fit.
***Handle: Left as is. No room left and what's there is solid.
ROPE: You will ALWAYS need rope. Wrapped the knuckleguard with 20 ft of black 1/8th rope ("cord" really). Wrapping the knuckleguard keeps it from going "clink" when you bump into stuff. Besides, 1/8 cord will fit through the lash holes on the handle and is the same diameter as the cord that ties the sheath to your leg. Also, at the top of the sheath above the belt loop, there is room to push through the 1/8 cord and be able to mount the knife inverted on a backpack if you don't want it on the hip and makes it pseudo-MOLLE compatible.
P-38: Kept it. It's perfect...why change?
TINKERQUICK: Stuffed five bundles for tinder and to quiet the clinking.
MICROPUR TABLETS: Got the sheets of individually wrapped tablets. Worked in five of these. Fire will give you clean water, but sometimes fire isn't a good idea.
ELECTROLYTE TABLETS: Stuffed in a packet of two. Had the room and you lose tons of salt and minerals if you're sweating profusely.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE: The Bushmaster is large, but sometimes you need a smaller blade, so get the Victorinox Swiss Army Camper...in Black. Overkill? Probably. But for 2.5oz, you can't beat having the extras. Screw drivers, reamer/drill, small saw, etc. There's a reason MacGyver carried one.
FLASHLIGHT: Chunk the old one. Gerber Infinity Ultra Task LED light, flat black, all metal. This light is bright and sturdy with a screw tight operation that prevents accidental activation.
DMT WHETSTONE: Chunked the old one from pouch 3 and added a DMT mini diamond coated whetstone.
SNAKEBITE KIT: Kept as is.
NEOSPORIN: You can get a box of ten single use packets at Wally-World. Stick one or two in here.
STAPHASEPTIC: If you're very germ concious or deal with a lot of kids/adults/goats/etc on a regular basis and can spend the money, this stuff kills everything. Get the box of single use packets, and stuff one of these in as well. Gangrene and bloodbourne pathogens from serious injury have killed a fair share of lost hikers.
SNARE: Kept it. It's solid.
WIRE SAW: I couldn't fit a pocket chainsaw in here, so this is the next best thing. It will come in handy...get one. Will cut through small limbs and bones when chopping away isn't a preferred option.
MAGNESIUM FIRESTARTER: Fire is life. A block of magnesium will produce enough shavings to start several dozen small fires or, if needs be, shave the whole block and add with some rust and you have thermite for emergency welding or chain cutting.
FIRESTEEL: Whomever the supplier, it's a good backup and easier to work with for dry tender. Redundant to the TinderQuik and the Magnesium? Yes. But you can fit it in there and it's easier to use with thick gloves or numb/shakey fingers.
FISHING GEAR: In addition to the gear in the handle, added various hooks, weights, and swivels in a tiny zip-lock baggy.
FISHING LINE: Added 50ft of clear 50lb test monofiliment line. Use for fishing or use several courses to help build an emergency shelter.
MINI GLOWSTICKS: 2" Mini ChemLight/glowsticks to fill out the pouch. Tiny, but they will last about 8 hours, give light without heat, and can be used as a marker for rescue personnel. Cut a couple open and smear on fabric for increased surface area glow.
After reading this, I must again state, YES, I fit all of this into the pouches on my knife(and the missus's knife, too!), and the velcro closed securely. Gear doesn't fall out, even when inverted, and the upside to having so much is that it won't rattle.
You may notice the slight weight increase, but the knife is big to begin with. The increase in weight shouldn't bother you.
Before the cross-country driving begins for Christmas, I'll try to take a series of "How To" images to show you all how it's done. Be safe out there and always be prepared for the worst.
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