In Part 1, we examined how the Rodan survival knife from Condor Tool & Knife holds up when tested. In Part 2, we take a look at it from a maker’s perspective.
When looking over the Condor Rodan, custom-knife maker Paul Granger immediately liked the way the butt curves downward into a bird’s-head shape. This design keeps it from flying out of the user’s hand as he or she is chopping with the knife.
The handle is made with a single guard that’s squared a bit, with an indent in front of the guard. The guard is somewhat ramped; Granger would prefer that it was curved since such a ramp might make the user’s knife slide up if his hands were wet. There isn’t a swell to the handle, but the sides do taper a bit going into the guard, about where it would rest in the sheath.
The Condor Rodan’s handle is thick, which might contribute to hand fatigue if the knife was used for a while. Though not completely round, it might be round enough so that the knife might tend to turn in the user’s hand if he’s doing heavy-duty cutting.
The handle is made of polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer.
The leather sheath is very simple and fairly well made. There isn’t a liner, but there is a welt built into it. A new knife often must be squeezed into a sheath, so it could take a while to break it in enough to insert the knife with one hand.
Also, in looking into the sheath, Granger could see stitches for the belt loop, something he felt wasn’t a good idea because they’re at risk of being cut when first putting the knife into the sheath. While nice looking, due to the stitch issue, Granger is reluctant to endorse it.
The blade was not razor sharp out of the box. Granger measured its thickness at 3/16-inch, but it looked thicker. It has a black finish called Ultra Black. It’s constructed with a drop point and a convex grind, the type of edge that might be found on a hatchet.
The Rodan survival knife is made of German 1075 high-carbon steel, hardened to a 56-58 HRC. This is a good working hardness. A convex blade gives it a durable edge as well.
The grind is not very symmetrical, but this is more of an aesthetic thing. With the whole blade made with a convex grind from its top to its bottom — or cutting edge — Granger felt it would take a skilled knife sharpener or a custom knifemaker to sharpen it, rather than a less skilled person. Sharpening would be done by holding the blade to a slack belt. With carbon steel, Granger suggests that the user rub the blade lightly with rust-proofing oil after every use.
On the Condor Tool & Knife website, the MSRP for this survival knife is $49.98. For about 50 Yankee dollars, this El Salvadoran bird should be flying high on the American market.