If you have been skimming through the reviews on this site, perhaps you've already noticed I have fairly large collection of Busse knives. Never the less, Jerry never stops coming up with new and cool designs, so every once in a while, I spot something that I just have to have. Hog Muk was one of those must have moments, when it was announced, although, as it has happened before Busse combat did take their sweet time, before actually producing it, if I am not mistaken, that was closer to two years, from the initial announcement to the time when I actually could buy the knife. The design changed a bit here and there, but overall it stayed the same. There was debate about the size, small, medium, etc, but eventually it came down to what you see on the pictures in this review, and the exact specs are at the bottom of the review in case you are cautious. Well, to be precise, what I got is a limited edition, and anorexic at that :) As much as I like Busse knives and their designs, I still think, Busse standard - ¼" thickness for a 4" long knife is a bit out of proportion ;) At least, not the best for the use I have in mind for such knives.
General- Busse Hog Muk is or was designed along the lines of the Nessmuk knife. In case you didn't know, and I had no clue who or what Nessmuk was, but being curious about it, I did Google Nessmuk. Turns out, it was a pen name of the George W. Sears, who was the sportswriter for the Forest And Stream magazine in late 19th century. His biography does mention book on camping - Woodcraft, which apparently is in print even today, and sure enough, search on Amazon yields multiple results. Anyway, I was unable to find exact info about the knife origins, whether or not he designed it or how. There's a lot of talk about Nessmuk trinity system of cutting tools, a folder, a light fixed blade and hatchet. There's an image of a similar knife in the Nessmuk trinity(from the book), but I haven't read the book, so I am not sure. Anyhow, it is a relatively small, light fixed blade. I am not sure if 4mm thick knife at 101.60mm(4") length would count as thin and light for Mr. Sears, but for a Busse, that is as thin as it can get :) IMHO, it is ok for tough use small fixed blade, definitely better cutter than ¼" thick would've been. The knife features full tang construction, and that'd complete generic description, blade and handle details are discussed in their respective sections below. Quality wise, the knife is very well made. I never had complaints with Busse knives, and being a limited edition it gets more attention and better handle materials, in short - top notch. Overall, it is still a small knife, in my opinion of course. Pretty lightweight at 213.80g(7.23oz), quite robust design and really comfortable in hand.
Blade- Hog Muk, as a relative of the Nessmuk has a pretty distinct blade geometry. Hard for me to classify, somewhat leaf shaped, drop point blade. I think it looks very cool though. As I mentioned above, the blade measures 101.60mm(4") in length, 4.13mm thick at the heel, measured using digital calipers, and at its widest, which would be closer to the tip, it measured 39mm exactly. As a limited edition, it has very nice satin finish on it, evenly done, no scratches or toolmarks. Actually, it is closer to the mirror finish that your average satin finish. Very easy to clean(well, of course, depends on what you mess up the blade with) and at the same time, more susceptible to fingerprints ;) The edge is standard convex type edge, ground at approximately 40° inclusive angle. I guess, now it's a bit thinner, I mean the edge, sharpened it once, lowered the angle a little bit, probably 35°-36° inclusive, didn't measure, just eyeballing, by the increase of the bevel width. Currently, Hug Muk sports 100K edge finish, like many of my other knives. As for the steel, it's the famous Busse proprietary INFI steel. I've written enough about it in other Busse Knives Reviews, so I'll spare the details here. In short, INFI works very well for large knives, and very respectable performer in small/medium tough use knives. I find it more useful with high polish edge, since tough use as usual implies chopping and push cutting, using lots of force. Polished edge works better for those cases, so that's what I do. Ok, besides polish, it is sharper, whichever way you put it ;) The blade on Hog Muk has a small choil for delicate tasks, which could be frequent for a knife of this size. There are two lanyard holes on the Hog Muk, one at the choil and another on the handle butt, typical for Busse knives. Other than that, on the left side there is a Busse Logo and the knife number - 213.
Handle- The handle on the Busse Hog Muk is similar to many other small/medium fixed blade knives from Busse Combat. Handle material - paper micarta, which has very nice and smooth finish, but thanks to its texture and finish provides quite secure grip. At least I have never had problems with slippage, neither in utility use, nor in the kitchen, where wet and oily hands are not unusual occurrences. As far as handle/blade proportions go, I think it's spot on. The handle fits my hands perfectly, at the same time doesn't look oversized either. Like I said, Hog Muk is a full tang knife. Most likely you will never utilize all the strength of the full tang construction in this knife, but Busses are known for being overbuilt. What is worth noticing, the tang finish is very smooth and perfectly flush with the micarta slabs, no protruding on recessed parts, everything fits with a micron precision. As with other Busse knives, the handle slabs are secured with three tube type fasteners. So, removing/replacing etc is not an easy option. On the other hand, it's a very nice handle and even with my tendency to customize and upgrade all sorts of knives, the thought of replacing paper micarta handles on any of the Busse knives never crossed my mind. Very good handles, what else can I say.
Usage- Given the design specifics, in other words, being a small, fixed blade knife, Hog Muk's use and testing was somewhat focused to suitable tasks, but that's hardly a restriction. I have not done any heavy duty chopping, but the rest was very much within the realm of the Hog Muk capabilities. I've tried batonning, although not really my favorite thing to do, prying, cutting using various techniques and grips, and some kitchen testing as well. Obviously, success varied across the board, but as one, do it all knife, Hog Muk performs very respectably. First about heavy duty use. I did it because I wanted to test how Hog Muk behaved and felt for heavy use, not because I was testing INFI steel, I've had enough knives made out of INFI in all sizes and shapes to get the idea about its performance and abilities in general. However, each knife is different, and every time it is interesting to see how things go, even with the same alloy. Things started of with light chopping, small limbs on the tree, and it was surprisingly easy, even with rather lightweight and short blade. Well, it wasn't a big tree either, but overall it was ok. Batonning was next, using one log to split another. Blade length is sufficient to do batonning, unless you are tackling something considerably bigger than the Hog Muk. Main interest in all those activities was the handle comfort, and it was very good.
Next was utility cutting. I have skipped cardboard cutting tests, because I already know INFI edge holding ability on cardboard, which is quite high for an average knife, much better than simple alloys, and not as high as super high Vanadium alloys like CPM S110V, CPM 10V, Vanadis 4E and others. On the other hand, INFI can be used for much harder works without fear of the breakage. List of cutting materials was limited to what I could find in my garage and backyard, such as: leftovers of plastic tubing, other leftovers of rubber mats, whittling seasoned wood branches and at the end, ended up with cutting set of wires. The last test is sort of summarizing the testing of the edge stability for a knife. Incorrectly done, that is enough to screw up any edge, correctly done, it can easily show how good/resilient the edge is. In other words, damage it, or leave it intact, obviously, later is the result we all want to see. I did it mainly to test slightly thinner edge I've put on the Hog Muk. Overall result was very positive, no damage on the edge after cutting RG-6 cable, and set of smaller diameter wires, copper, aluminum and steel. There wasn't much to evaluation of the handle comfort during the wire testing, the grip was positive and main focus was on keeping the blade every straight, but for the other cutting tests especially with plastic and rubber, I did have to apply significant force, and handle ergonomics do matter, once again, Hog Muk handle is one of the best parts of it, simple and efficient. On other occasions, I do cut tons of cardboard, for the same purpose, to evaluate handle comfort, simply because the longevity of the job, but this time, I've figured it was faster and approximate results would've been similar, since I've had to use considerable force.
Next up the kitchen duty. Obviously, Hog Muk was never designed as a kitchen knife, however, doesn't necessarily mean it will not be usable for the food prep, at least to some extent. Busse PH Paul's Hatchet and Swamp Rat Paul's Ratchet are good examples. Especially the SRKW Pauls' ratchet, which I routinely use in the kitchen. Anyway, hatchet's and ratchets aside, Hog Muk is a light use fixed blade, and during a camping or hunting trip can be easily used for food as well. I am sure the great Nessmuk has done that many times. While my skills are nowhere near his, I still can cut a few different pieces of the food to see what happens. Bread, few types of vegetables were ok, just slicing cuts, high polished convex edge worked well and even though the blade is much thicker compared to most of the kitchen knives I own, it was still ok to say the least. Peeling an apple wasn't much fun, but mainly because I am no good at it, with any knife, and thick blade of the Hog Muk wasn't helping in maneuvering the knife. Cutting harsh ends of asparagus was on the other hand very easy. The same is true for the Broccoli stems, those are rather harsh items to work with, and Hog Muk's curved edge and overall design helps, because you can apply considerable force pretty comfortably. In the end, it was quite alright for a knife that will be used for occasional food cutting while on some outdoor trip. Definitely though, Busse Hog Muk is not a kitchen knife, but you already knew that ;) Other than that, as a primary food prep and utility knife for a camping or hunting trip, Nessmuk is more than adequate, I suppose you won't be cooking complicated gourmet dishes in the woods, so you should be fine :)
Conclusions- Very nice small fixed blade, with rather unusual blade geometry, which might have been very common back in the day, when Nessmuk was working in the wild, but I don't see too many knives like that these days. I think it's quite versatile blade geometry, for slicing and utility works, I liked it enough to order another version of it, custom designed Nessmuk, albeit considerably larger version from Shinichi Watanabe, here you can see Watanabe Nessmuk with Busse Hog Muk. Overall, it is quite handy for various small cutting chores, and if you are an experienced knife user like Nessmuk was, then perhaps that's gonna be your primary knife on your next camping or hunting trip. Since I do not do any of those activities, I can't actually commend about its field use, but in the end, it doesn't mater that much where do you that piece of meat or branches, in the backyard or wilderness, the knife performs the same. One other aspect would be maintenance in the field, and in that regard INFI steel performs quite well, while INFI is not a truly stainless steel, it is semi-stainless, and its good stain resistance has been noted in my reviews of Busse knives and on various online forums buy Busse users. In the end, it's a high performance, tough use knife that can take a lot of abuse should the need be, although I do refrain from abusing knives needlessly. If you like the design visually, then I can assure you, it performs very well, you can depend on INFI steel and if the price is right, then go ahead, Hog Muk, even if anorexic won't let you down. For the record, "anorexia" in this case is a positive feature in my opinion, for the knife of this size thinner is better.
- Blade - 101.60mm(4")
- Thickness - 4.13mm
- Width - 39.00mm
- OAL - 235.00mm(9.25")
- Steel - INFI steel at 58-60HRC
- Handle - Paper Micarta
- Weight - 213.80g(7.23oz)
- Acquired - 05/2011 Price - 301.95$
Last updated - 09/30/12