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Condor Hudson Bay: A Quick Review

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Sam Cade, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member


    By popular demand, the Condor Tool and Knife Hudson Bay.


    Factory specs read thus:


    The blade is 8.5" in length, flat ground from the spine but having a convex final bevel. Over all length is a bit over 13".

    Price was around $40.

    ..now that is out of the way, the complaints and griping can begin. ;)

    This particular example has the 2nd (smaller dents) version of the "Condor Classic" finish.

    As best as I can figure, the "classic" finish is applied by pounding the shazbat! out of the blade with an air hammer after the primary grind has been established. Not kidding. :uhoh: This is...less than smart. I would really like to know for certain the process by which this "finish" is applied.
    In any case,there are a variety of reasons that having a knife blade covered in tiny dents and crevices is a bad thing. If the goal was to achieve the facsimile of a hammer forged blade, Condor was appallingly unsuccessful.

    Previously these knives were coated in a perfectly reasonable black powder coat.

    ..but no, now we have this:

    The scales are very attractive and fitted flawlessly.



    The scales are secured by three brass pins, peened at either end then ground flush. The same method is used on IMACASA/CONDOR machetes.


    Attached Files:

  2. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    The grind is quite uneven above the ricasso and higher on one side.

    Out of the box the edge was erratic, razor sharp in places, blunt in others.
    Overall the grind was very thick.



    Though hard to see in the picture, there was was a bit of heat discoloration toward the tip on the right side :uhoh:


    The sheath is nicer than what would be expected at the price point, but there are some caveats.

    Deep sheath, but it is unfitted with zero retention on a swivel. Get the sheath past horizontal (like by sitting down perhaps) and it dumps out your knife. Dangerous!

    Nice thick leather! Except around the swivel where one side is skivved down to paper thinness. IME this is going to be a failure point the first time you catch on the steering wheel or doorframe. :banghead:

    Attached Files:

  3. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Now...this is a fairly large knife, but it isn't huge.


    Overall performance with the factory grind (after stropping to reasonably good sharpness) was fairly poor.

    The flat grind removes quite a bit of weight from the wide blade and coupled with the relatively thick factory edge made for a mediocre chopper though the grip was ergonomically excellent. Three chops into my test block I lost the tip.
    Which embedded in my forehead. Safety glasses folks!!!

    It did better in general kitchen duty but, again the thick edge hampered performance.

    Edge retention (cutting mostly on polyethylene surfaces) was unimpressive.

    Regrinding at a higher angle greatly improved slicing performance. Knocking off some that paint didn't hurt the looks either. ;)


    All in all...this knife kinda sucks.

    Unless you have the goal of being an especially farby fur-trapper trapper reenactor.

    Attached Files:

  4. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sam.
  5. Vonderek

    Vonderek Well-Known Member

    Great review! It looks like they went out of their way to make a knife with a horrible finish and with little utility.

    A cheap knife but even a dollar spent on something that sucks is still a dollar misspent. Thanks for possibly saving me some money!
  6. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    It is puzzling isn't it? :scrutiny:

    It wouldn't take much effort on the part of the Condor production apparatus to make this into a very good general duty knife but they seem to have missed the characteristics that made the originals successful.

    The historical inspiration for these knives as sold by the Hudson's Bay Company appear to be full flat ground and tapered tang. I bet those are slicing, chopping machines. Paying just a bit of attention to the grind on the Condor would have greatly improved my opinion of the piece.


    As it is, something like a 7"-14" Old Hick or Russel would be a more historically accurate representation of a big frontier belt knife,be more useful and be cheaper but sheathless.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  7. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    And the price of a sheath for the Hick wouldn't break the bank either.
  8. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Speaking of sheaths, I neglected to mention a quibble with the Condor.

    Since the sheath is unfitted, the knife is free to rattle around rubbing the edge against the welt on the inside.
    It does a very impressive job at dulling the knife without requiring any use. :scrutiny:
  9. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    That finish reminds me of the ancient joke about the speckled axe...

    Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, tells of the man who bought an axe from the local blacksmith. The purchaser wanted the whole of its surface as bright as its edge, and this the smith said he would do, provided the man would turn the wheel while he ground it. It was a hard, wearisome job and often the man stopped to see how the axe was coming along. "Turn on, turn on," said the smith; "we shall have it bright by and by; as yet it is only quite speckled." "Yes," said the man, "But I think that I like the speckled axe best!"
    -- http://www.housetohouse.com/HTHPubPage.aspx?cid=3093

    In this case, I don't like a speckled knife...
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I doubt the Condor folks decided to cold hammer the surface to get the same results a Japanese smith is looking for when cold working a blade.
  11. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    I'm not sure if the initial version of the finish was better or worse.

  12. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    If the sheath does a good job of dulling the edge all by itself, do you think that they failed to heat treat properly?

    Do you think you'd like to take a stab at torch heat treating it yourself?
  13. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Judging by the heat discoloration I think that most likely they burnt the edge when they set the bevel.
    When I get feeling froggy I'll knock about 1/16" off the edge and regrind.

    Hopefully they didn't hose it up that badly.

    If so, I've got a magnet and a bucket. :D
  14. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Where is Sam1911 and his canoe knife. It fit my hand nicely and would be much better.
  15. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Camp Defender, maybe? I don't think I know the canoe knife.

  16. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Well-Known Member

    Sad to see that knife be so bad for the price.
  17. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    I was pretty disappointed as well.

    If Condor would just drop the stupid finish, be more aggressive with QC and grind the durn things properly this could be very decent knife for woods loafing and kitchen tasks.

    Scuttlebutt is that a "tactical":rolleyes: version is in the works for 2014.

    One of the things that just drives me crazy about Condor is how damned inconsistent they are with their grinding.

    I handled a Kumunga: (not my pic)

    ...and a Rodan

    ...this morning and both of them had high, mirror polished grinds with murderously sharp thin edges right out of the box. :banghead:
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    The grind on mine is very consistant and I can not see any changes in geometry along the edge. I have version 1 with the large diameter indents.

    I can't say that I agree with you. If you insert the knife into the sheath, the choil could come in contact with the pin in the sheath, but not the sharpened edge. All leather sheaths could dull the blade along the seam where the leather is welded together.

    I wouldn't want to drive a car/pickup with any large knife on my belt. The knife comes off before I climb in. I am much more partial to the condition of my seats than whether or not I can wear a big knife while driving.

    I believe you are correct about the swivel being the weak point. It could be ripped off if caught on something say if you were walking quickly or running. This is true of a number of their blades with the swivel type belt attachment.

    Condor does seem to have difficulty with consistent grinds and heat treat.

    Mine does not "rattle" around inside the sheath. But I suppose it could with wear and stretching. The knife does not fall out of the sheath when held vertical with the handle down.

    As a belt knife in general, it doesn't seem to be a chopper or a slicer. Like all big knives, it could be used for those purposes. It is not a knife I carry in the field much as I have others I prefer more. But for the price, I like the knife.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  19. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    It isn't really an agree/disagree sort of thing. This particular sheath for this particular knife is constructed in such a manner that the knife rattles about like...ummm..a very rattly...thing and contact with the welt dulls the edge when carried.

  20. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    Your Hudson Bay certainly falls out of the sheath easily. That was a really quick video.

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