This year I managed to attend the CLA game fair at Bleinheim palace and was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere. Being somewhat used to music festivals where crowds of youths can be found simultaneously urinating and littering used fast food packaging, the civility was refreshing! The diversity of stalls and demonstrations was fantastic and I had a truly amazing day. One highlight was gunmaker’s row that showcased all the major firearm manufacturers and shops. For those with a firearms certificate the show enabled them to test and compare more models than could ever be possible at the local gunshop.
It was such a lovely day that I decided I wanted to retain a memory in form of a new purchase. One stall I came across was showcasing a range of Cold Steel knives. Cold Steel as a company is an interesting one. On the one hand they make a great range of utility/bushcraft themed tools, and on the other some insane all out weapons. An example of the latter is the astonishing two handed great sword!
Despite my desire to run around a forest wearing burlap and leather armour I decided to buy a Cold Steel Pocket Bushman. The design philosophy of the bushman series is based on simple utility and sturdy construction as well as a focus on survival requirements. I have previously bought a non pocket Bushman and that knife exemplifies these concepts. It is constructed from one piece of steel where the handle is rolled to create a pocket that can be used to store survival items or be used to mount a pole to make an emergency spear!
The Pocket Bushman Itself
The construction ideology conforms to the precedent set in the earlier Bushman tools. The handle is constucted from a single piece of 420 stainless steel. The blade measures approximately 4 1/2″ and is also made from a single piece of 420 stainless steel. The real selling point of this knife vs. other utility knives is its unique locking mechanism called the “Ram Safe”. Where most knifes use a liner or rocker lock type mechanism the Pocket Bushman features a steel ram that slides forward as the blade opens to fit between the handle and the knife blade to lock the blade open. The claimed advantage to this is that pressure in both directions is directly transferred to the back of the solid steel handle instead of being held by a thin liner lock or back mounted rocker. The lock provided by this mechanism does feel incredibly strong and suggests that this is as close to a fixed blade edge as a folding knife could ever get to be.
Critically this lock mechanism makes opening this knife a two handed affair. The opening and closing mechanism is so crucial to the safe handling of this knife that Cold Steel include a well advised red safety strap around the knife and handle that has to be removed before you first open the knife that advises you as to the best way to open the blade. The two handed opening method also takes this knife away from the tactical origins of the company which I like.
Attached to the knife is a reverseable pocket clip and a lanyard that is almost required for the safe closing of the blade. Trying to pull the ram back is almost impossible without this lanyard which is a potential issue for long term survival use. That said, a locked open blade is better than no blade at all in such a situation.
Some reviews for this blade have identified a flaw in Cold Steel’s construction method for this knife. There is a groove in the rear of the ram that locks the blade open that contains a small but powerful spring that pushes the ram forward. On the first version of this design the ram had an extra superfluous circular cutout that looks to have been included to aid assembly. This cutout was found to allow the spring to kink into this space causing the ram lock to fail. Cold Steel has since resolved this fault with a new ram design sans cutout. This revision has returned this knife to the high build quality level you should expect for a survival knife.
I bought this knife primarily to remember my day at the fair but it remains an interesting tool. The niche this knife is trying to fill is that of the fixed blade knife but in a folding knife form. In that role I think it does very well, however I am unsure why it is superior to simply using a fixed blade knife. As a mechanism and a collectors item I love it. As a survival tool there are better options.