I've been long time fan of Busse knives, and especially their Battle Mistress series. I don't think I've missed any of the important editions of that knife, if you check the Busse Knives Reviews on this site, you will fine one or more Battle Mistresses in each generation of Busses I've had, plus a whole bunch of the variants. If there is one knife that defines and characterizes Busse combat knives the best, then to me it is the Battle Mistress. My first one was the generation one BM. Later, I've had many more, but the first one is still with me, pretty much unused too. Anyway, I've missed Fusion BM when it came out, since I was sortta out of knife action for a while, and then when I came back, I wanted to have the new one. Then at some point, the opportunity came, and I have traded several other Busses I was no longer interested in for this and few other Busse knives I was interested in ;) That trade involved Satin Jack TAC (SJTAC), Combat Grade Satin Jack (SJCG) and few other things, while I've received the FFFBM being reviewed and Tuxedo Game Warden amongst other things. If you are not well versed in Busse acronyms, which won't be a big surprise given the number of those, then FFFBM stands for Fat Flat Fusion Battle Mistress, which shouldn't be confused with FFBM - Flat Fusion Battle Mistress. Frankly, I'd have hard time telling them apart, without measuring the thickness. Fat or flat, those are very respectably sized knives.
General- As I said above, I got a knife in the trade. It was pretty much brand new, I'd say in 99% new condition. Well, that's what happens to the collectors, you accumulate so many knives, you can't use them all real hard, or you feel bad about using them. Anyway, I got it almost new. Minor scuff marks on the crinkle coating, and that's all. I got the knife complete with a custom leather sheath, which I really like. It's a well made sheath, holds the knife reasonably secure and the draw is not restricted. The FFFBM knife is BIG. Well, 9" long blade is a big one by any standard, and overall length is almost 15". Build quality of the knife is real good, and you wouldn't expect any less form Busse combat. The one thing that truly distinguishes this knife, it's the weight. Fat Flat Fusion Battle Mistress weighs in at very impressive 956g(~32oz). That's about two lbs. Not even 20" long Himalayan Imports kukris I have, weigh that much. In simple words this is a big, heavy, sharp hunk of steel. Definitely a collector piece :) I am not so sure how many times I will actually carry 1kg knife in the field, but for occasional back yard heavy duty chopping and testing it sure is fun. FFFBM is a brute.
Blade- FFFBM blade measures 235.00mm(9.25") in length, and it is 53.40mm at its widest section. Thickness is 7.93mm i.e. 5/16" thick. You do remember the knife is called Fat, don't you ;) So, all that metal, is what makes 1kg knife, remember it's a full tang knife, plus that skull crusher, which adds few ounces. The FFFBM was sharpened to a standard convex edge, at ~40° angle, which is what is recommended by Busse for his knives. I've stated in many other reviews, that 40° is too thick for most of the knife uses, definitely it has no place in the kitchen knives, but for such heavy duty knives, which will most likely be used for really hard chopping and prying, 40° total edge angle makes more sense. The edge finish was pretty good, I'd guess it was finished on something like 1000 grit and the probably stropped. Although, I am not sure if the original owner stropped it or not. Sharpness is ok, does shave, but not all that easy. I keep postponing sharpening it, mainly because I always have bunch of kitchen knives from different people to sharpen, and another reason is its weight. Sharpening that monster freehand is not the easiest thing. Anyway, as soon as I get time, I will sharpen it, and it will be the good one, level 4 edge as Dave Martell would call it, 1200, 3000, 5000, 8000, 10000 grit Japanese synthetic waterstones, followed by 0.50µm, 0.30µm and 0.25µm microabrasives. Why would I want to create a polished edge like that on a heavy duty knife? Because higher polished edge resists chipping and fracturing better than the coarse one, and chopping does increase chances of those effects. Besides I like the polished edges anyway :)
Handle- The FFFBM knife has standard handle for the new Busse fusion line. The main difference from the standard combat grade would be the slab material, which in this case is black paper micarta. Paper Micarta happens to be one of my favorite handle materials too. Back in the day, when I got my first Satin Jack LE with paper micarta handle slabs, I was concerned with potential grip security problems, because paper micarta is smoother than the standard micarta. Then, the actual use experience proved my concerns to be wrong, which is one of those rare cases when being wrong is good ;) After that, I really like paper micarta. Because of the handle ergonomics and texturing it is plenty secure, and at the same time doesn't try to rip your palm skin to shreds when you use your knife long time, or real hard, or both. Handle slabs are well machined, sizes are perfectly matched to the blade, nothing protrudes and everything is aligned properly. Slabs are attached to the knife tang with three tube fasteners. As an option, some of the knife modders out there do replace them with the screws. That offers the ability to remove the slabs when necessary. Although, in my experience, when only time I needed to remove handle slabs fomr the fixed blade knife, was when I was either rehardening the blade, or recoating it. Since none of that is in my plans for the FFFBM, I'll just leave tube fasteners in place. So, in the end, I just wanted to say that the handle ergonomics are good and I had no problems, as in sore spots on my palms after not too prolonged, but intense chopping session ;) Well, one more thing, the handle sports the usual skull crusher, which despite of its menacing name, never gets used for that purpose, but comes in handy occasionally to hammer in small stuff, break things, and punch holes in tin cans if you're in the mood.
Usage- So far not so much, but I'll try to describe what I managed. I did cut some cardboard with it, which was rather pointless test, since I already knew 9" long blade, especially ~8mm thick was not really designed for that. FFFBM obviously managed to cut that, but for me that wasn't really fun. Cutting the rope on the solid base was much better, because of the blade length and sheer weight. The other challenge was in the kitchen, when I've picked up a lamb rack and had to separate the bones from each other, to prepare them for some dish. Now that was where FFFBM really shined ;) First time, I made a rather gentle swing, but the blade went through the meat, then the bone and a joint and finally ended up lodged few millimeters deep in the bamboo cutting board I have reserved specifically for meat chopping. After that I've figured, bones or not, lamb rack was no challenge for this brute, and switched from chopping to cutting. Because of the blade weight and length, it didn't take too much of an effort to separate the bones. It was clear that the knife of this size and weight is way too much even as a meat cleaver, at least for the small bones you get in home kitchen. Swap Rat Paul's Ratchet does work just fine for my meat cleaver needs, and it's easier to operate in non chopping mode, because it is much lighter.
The next session was outdoors. Well, outdoors being my backyard. Considering that it is just a small backyard in bay area, don't expect full blown wilderness adventures. All I had that day, a few branches of the lemon tree, which needed trimming, some leftover dry wood from remodeling works done earlier at home. Lemon tree branches were no biggie, I went through each with a single swing. Wood blocks, some were 2x4, others bigger, those posed more challenge. At that point, I wasn't really counting the chops, or measuring forces, not that I even have equipment to do any of that. No, my main concern was the grip comfort, pure chopping performance and whether or not I'd get any blisters in the end. Overall, I was swinging that 1kg knife for about 40 minutes and then I did feel tired. Considering that my chopping technique is not really comparable to that of a professional logger or woodsman, because I am just a programmer, part of that tiredness is clearly to blamed on my technique, the other part was the knife weight. I do have better than average wrist and forearm strength, thanks to daily kettlebell workouts, and that definitely helped. In the end, despite of being tired, I was quite happy with the handle ergonomics, no blisters, no sore spots, just muscle tiredness. Well, that was for the round one, and that's it for this review for now. Once I sharpen the blade as planned, I'll go at it again. For one chopping ability will improve, second, repeating the test is always good, and third I get to use one of my knives.
- Model - Battle Mistress FFFBM;
- Blade - 235.00mm(9.25")
- Thickness - 7.90mm
- Width - 53.40mm
- OAL - 380.00mm(14.96")
- Steel - INFI steel at 58-60HRC
- Handle - Paper Micarta
- Weight - 956.00g(32.33oz)
- Acquired - 02/2009 Price - 580.00$
- Warranty - Unconditional Lifetime;
Last updated - 09/01/11