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Battle Mistress Long Swedge Fighter Clip
Bolo Variant review

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Busse Battle Mistress Fighter Variant

General - This was the second Busse Variant in my collection :) Long swedge, bolo fighter battle mistress variant (BMLSB) was made for 2000 NY custom knife show, but for some reason didn't make it to the show. I got it from the same Gentleman, Andy Prisco and the same place - Sharper Instinct Combat Variant HQ.
    This was my first Busse Bolo. Well, the first bolo knife too. What a beauty :) First of all I find it very attractive visually, click here for another view, secondly it offers improved performance in the area where large blades are preferred, in particular chopping, however for better slicing it has a long recurve :) Although, with the blade of this size, over 9 inches probably you won't be doing much slicing anyways. To be honest I haven't conducted any experiments to compare straight vs. bolo performance, I think bolo will do just fine, especially that it has a long recurve and a significant belly. Also its clip point offers better penetration and generally better suited for most cutting tasks than the other point types.
    As far as the quality goes, well it's not top notch unfortunately. For one, this knife has the same problem all of the eHandle knives suffer from. That is the slabs not matching the tang. Tang is slightly higher and when chopping it is noticeable. Second problem is with this particular knife. The swedge grinds are not even. One side is slightly wider than another. Not that it'll hamper the performance, but still, for 700$ knife that's not really a good thing :( Anyway, I liked the knife enough to keep it as a user.

Blade

 - That's what I like in this knife the most :) Looks just terrific. Clip fighter variant is noticeably lighter, thus more maneuverable than the standard Battle Mistress E and the older Battle Mistress. However because of its bolo geometry and the eHandle, it should perform very well as a chopping knife. Whenever I have a chance, I'll try to perform some tests, though I don't think I'll have something to complain about :) Same with the blade material - INFI. Can't say anything new about this one, except that it is very well suited for the large blades thanks to its impact strength and flexibility and great edge holding. Fighter clip bolo variant doesn't have the Busse asymmetrical grind, instead it has convex edge. Which improves the edge strength and cutting ability. Although I am not exactly sure which edge would be stronger, full convex or asymmetrical one.

Handle

 - The handle is a new, standard E type, made of micarta. I've written about it in several other reviews, SH E and there have been a lot of discussions on the www.bladeforums.com regarding the eHandle. What I dislike about the handle I already said above, would've been a lot better if the tang was flushed like on earlier models or customs. Overall, I like this knife a lot :) Especially that duo-tone look. For the time being, this is my choice of the large heavy duty user blade ;). As you can read below eHandle is more than adequate for whatever it was designed.

Heavy Duty use, part I

 - It's been a long time since I've had this bolo. However I've never really used it. Finally I've decided to give it a shot. I've had to do some "woodworking" to do in my backyard, and at this time I've decided to give a rest to my trusty 5/16 SH 2 which was my primary chopping knife for quite some time and use this bolo. Considering the differences between those two blades, I wasn't exactly sure about the outcome. I didn't try to conduct SH2 vs. BMLSB contest though. SH2 served as a baseline, since that was my choice for the heavy duty works lately. As you can see differences are significant: length, 9 inches of BMLSB vs. 7 in SH2. Then the geometry, SH2 is a straight droppoint knife, BMLSB is a clip point bolo plus the recurve. THeoretically, a bolo knife should do better job with chopping. Also very important, the edge geometry. SH2 has Busse standard semi-convex edge, while BMLSB has full convex one, Full convex offers better performance. However, as I've mentioned above BMLSB is lighter than the standard BM, and I'm not exactly sure if my SH 2 isn't heavier than BMLSB. Considering that SH2 I use is 5/16 " thick I wouldn't be surprised if it is actually heavier. Continuing comparison, SH2 has old, straight handle and the bolo has eHandle. I guess that's pretty much it. Nothing in common except the INFI steel and the maker :).
    The chopping material consisted of live and seasoned wood. Unfortunately I have no idea what kind of wood was it. For starters I've had to chop down 2 branches, approximately 4-6 inches in diameter. Considering that I was standing on the ground and those branches were above my head it wasn't exactly convenient to chop, but I was too lazy to get the ladder. For the reference I did not use glows from the begining.
    Bolo turned out to be a great chopper. Because of its full convex edge and longer blade penetration was greater than with the SH2 per hit. Obviously, the thinner edge on the bolo was helping too. I've managed to chop down both branches probably with a dozen swings. More importantly, for testing at least I've used the same part of the edge, which would start 3" from the tip and go for 4-5 inches. At this point the edge was still shaving sharp, I didn't really notice any degradation. Since the wood was soft it was expected behavior from a steel like INFI. Next step was to chop those branches into small pieces, as well as couple of the others, dry ones. This time I was chopping on the log, which was a lot easier. However, dry wood was significantly tougher to work with. First I've finished soft wood, which produced around 12 pieces, (10 cuts), and BMLSB was still able to shave, though with difficulty.
    Next I've proceeded with the dry wood. Once I've started chopping, immediately I've noticed the difference. After a while my palm started getting sore. Although eHandle was more comfortable than the straight one, it was noticeable. I've decided to use glows, since I didn't want to test my palm. With the thick leather glows the handle felt a bit small, but after a few chops I got accustomed with it, and further work was not a problem. Overall I've been chopping around an hour. And in the end I was really tired. I assume mostly because of my bad chopping techniques. A woodsman or a trapper would spank me for my chopping, and probably take the knife away, but I was all by myself ;).
    Closer to the end, due to fatigue it became more difficult to control the blade. I would miss more often. I mean both, the branch and the intended blade/wood contact area. As for the blade itself, it was no easy task for BMLSB either. Dry wood, with knots can inflict significant damage to the edge. Add here significant lateral loads, mainly because of my mistakes, but still unavoidable I guess. Once I was done, I've examined the edge very carefully. The area starting after first 2 inches, approximately 5 inches long was completely dull. Well, this is relative to the initial sharpness. It was neither able of shaving, nor able to slice through the hanging paper. The rest of the blade was practically untouched. Examination for the physical edge damages, such as chips and rolls discovered one(!) roll :) Around 0.5 mm wide and same depth.
    Obviously I was curious how dulled the edge was and what was necessary to restore it. I've started with the smooth steel. I was really amazed when after 20 strokes per side the edge was back to shaving sharp. I don't do this kind of workout often, but to restore edge from the level it was, to shaving sharp that easy was really an achievement for INFI. Ok, it wasn't as sharp as in the beginning, judging from its shaving ability, but no probs with slicing the hanging paper. The roll was aligned more or less. To finish the restoration, first I've pushed the rolled part of the edge back using the steel, then proceeded with 800 grit ceramic stick. After 11 strokes per side the edge was completely back to initial sharpness. Excellent!
   

Conclusion

 - I was tired, but more than satisfied with the results. BMLSB proved to be an exceptional performer. Chopping-wise it was performing better than SH2. There are several reasons for that, I've mentioned above. In the end, I'd be more tired should I use SH2 for the same job. Ideally I'd have to improve my own chopping techniques, and things would be a lot easier for both, me and my knife, but that's another issue.

Specifications:

  • Model - Battle Mistress Long Swedge Variant;
  • Blade - 241.30mm(9.5")
  • Thickness - 6.35mm
  • OAL - 368.30mm(14.5")
  • Steel - INFI steel at 58-60HRC
  • Handle - Micarta
  • Acquired - 11/2000 Price - 650.00$
  • Warranty - Unconditional Lifetime;

Last updated - 09/01/11