Cudeman is a Spanish knife-making company based in Albacete, Spain. They are in business for over 25 years in Europe, but not that well known in North America. They produce a wide selection of good quality knives. Including folders, survival and hunting blades. Also, they offer knife kits as well to build your own knife. According to the company they test each and every knife in their own testing facilities using a process known as the Charpy impact test. My understanding is that they offer a lifetime warranty on their products. The subject of this review is their new (for 2014) survival/hunting knife model, the MT-5.
Steel: Bohler N695@60HRC
Overall length: 226mm
Blade length: 109mm
Blade thickness: 5mm
Blade width: 30mm
Weight: 200g (+ 95g for sheath)
This Austrian made high carbon stainless steel is an updated version of the good old and well known AISI 440C. This steel is a very good choice for stainless knife blades and also it is very popular in Europe. It has high hardness, high wear resistance and it stands up well to corrosion.
The MT-5 is a good looking mid-size knife. Its appearance is one of the typical European hunting knife designs.
The blade did not readily shave arm hair because it had micro burrs along most of the edge and also there was some uneven grinding/fitting where the bolster meets the front of the finger-guard.
That said, I do not believe this characterizes their work. It was just somehow missed and it got past their quality control. I took care of the burrs on a charged leather strop in a few minutes and brought the edge up to shaving sharpness. I might even fix the little blemish later, although it does not affect the performance of the knife in any way.
Other than these small imperfections, it is a nice, solidly built knife.
The knife has a beefy, full broad tang construction. The tang extends beyond the handle slabs and houses a lanyard hole. This extension protects the handle slabs and provides a surface for pummelling on (with a wooden baton) and pummel with. There is another hole in the top of the ricasso that could serve as a front lanyard hole or help with lashing the knife to a pole. Mind you, I do not think there is a real need for a front lanyard on a mid-size knife. The 5 mm thick, satin finished drop point blade tapers to the tip and has a full flat grind (FFG) with a secondary bevel and thumb jimping on the spine. This jimping might be too sharp (especially around the edges) for some folks without gloves...
The handle consists of a well defined integrated finger-guard, stainless steel bolsters and shaped cocobolo handle scales which are fastened with stainless flat-head Allen screws and they are nice and flush with the surface of the panels.
The shape and design of the handle provides a very secure and comfortable hold in different positions. Here are a few in hand shots in various grips with and without gloves.
The fold over style sheath is made out of full grain, premium cowhide and comes with some cordage in matching colour. It is double stitched and reinforced with rivets. It has a wide, wrap around flap closure with a snap button and a bottom drainage hole. The smartly designed sheath provides two main mounting options. One is the traditional vertical mount...
... the other is horizontal carry and in this “mode” the sheath can be attached or removed without unbuckling the belt.
There is a third, slotted leather flap on the back, which can be used to secure the sheath to various webbing or equipment, if needed.
I have been using hard and testing extensively this knife in different areas and applications for over a month now. As usual, I grouped my observations and experiences in categories by field of use, rather than in a chronological order.
Let me start with this very important sphere of knife usage. First off, some of the harder vegetables like carrots and celery stalks sliced...
...and some diced onions.
More kitchen food preparation, sliced mushrooms this time.
These other, following photos were taken at an outdoor excursion.
Peeling a piece of Japanese radish (Daikon)...
...slicing some cured and lean European bacon.
And here is the full “platter”. Cheese, sausages, bacon, radish, yellow peppers and rye bread. All sliced and ready to eat.
Quartering a pear here to complete the meal.
The FFG tapered blade is definitely an advantage in the kitchen and food preparation. I had no difficulties, whatsoever using the knife in this area. Also, the food juices and acids did not leave any trace on the N695 steel blade.
For this next arena I like to use a wide assortment of materials as test subjects in order to get the best possible idea about the cutting and slicing capabilities of a given knife. Let us begin with the fibrous group of stuff. This is 6mm nylon rope here...
...followed by two different kinds of kernmantle type...
...then some kind of braided rope, which I have found on location.
Still staying with the fibrous things, like these two nylon straps...
...and a piece of 55mm wide polypropylene construction safety anchor.
Leather is somewhat fibrous as well.
Next up is rubbery stuff, such as bicycle inner tube...
...and reinforced pneumatic air hose.
Then a bunch of plastic materials in the form of linoleum welding PVC cord...
...softer, 8mm diameter PVC hose...
… harder and thicker PVC tube.
Finally in this group, a small diameter but real hard plumbing pipe. Here the initial cut required a bit more power and effort, but nothing outside the “acceptable”.
For paper products, this time around I have used a smaller cardboard box …
...and reduced it to shreds with the use of the MT-5.
None of these materials presented any difficulties and the blade had no problem cutting and slicing any of them. Good show here.
I left this field for last, but not least. And I think, perhaps this is the most important domain for an outdoor/survival knife, such as this blade.
First thing off the bat, I would not bother chopping with this knife. It lacks the necessary length and weight to be efficiently utilized for that. Of course it can do light chopping, like delimbing or cutting a sapling, etc... But for heavy chopping or cross-grain sectioning better to use the aid of a baton, if you must. (Of course it is always best to use a folding saw or a camp axe for these tasks.) I actually did take a photo of a little cross-grain batoning on a half dry sapling. It was easy as pie.
In my opinion, another important job is wood splitting or batoning. This comes handy for example to get the dry inside of otherwise wet and moist wood for fire making. But it is useful for a number of other purposes, as well. Here are a few shots of this chore performed on different kind and size of wood.
The knife had no problem and proved to be a decent wood splitter. As long, as it spans the piece of wood across, it is good to go, just keep it within reason.
Another useful skill for fire-making is to be able to produce nice, good feather-sticks and shavings and this is also a good practise to get a feel of the given blade.
Some more feather-sticks in green wood.
Since we are on the fire preparation subject... Here is a picture of my Folding Firebox stove, all the fuel prepared and ready for “ignition”, courtesy of the MT-5. (This Folding Firebox is another excellent piece of equipment. I love it.)
Two more photos from the same field. Batoned and split firewood...
...and a decent pile of shavings.
Still on the fire-making subject... Let me mention here, that the spine of the blade is square and sharp enough to work good with a ferro-cerium rod and it is usable for light scraping as well (although it is not purposely made for these jobs).
To test the strength of the blade tip I did some stabbing, digging and prying in a big, sun-dried log...
...and in another log as well, with no ill effects to the blade.
Also, I have used the knife to do plenty of whittling in the course of my test regime. Here is photo of separating some nice, thin shavings from a notch.
These bits of wood pieces and chunks used to be a small sapling and the blade just ate it up and spit it out like this...
Two different kind of points on some sticks.
Then a couple of stakes completed with notches and carved tops.
Some more notches...
Nice and clean power slice here, done in the chest-lever grip.
Here is a picture of an improvised spear/gig that I have made for practise and also for fun. (I would not risk my knife to be used as a spear...)
This knife did an admirable job in the woods and tackled every field task I threw at it without any hitches.
The MT-5 model performed well in each field. The shaped handle is comfortable, the tapered FFG blade is a good slicer and still provides enough backbone for heavier tasks. This knife just does its job without any fanfares and does it well. It is just a reliable cutting tool with good capabilities and a classic design. Also, it can take some abuse, no problem. It suffered no damages during my testing procedures. The blade picked up some light and a few medium surface scratches, but that is normal and will happen with use and time. This Bohler N695 stainless steel stands up very well to corrosion and food acids, making maintenance a breeze. The cocobolo wood panels have darkened nicely from use and the UV rays of the sun. Also, since these particular slabs are made from untreated wood it is a good idea to apply a few coats of mineral oil to them. It will make them even more resistant to water, moisture and cracking, warping. Plus, it will bring out the grains and the beauty of this exotic wood a lot more.
This is a solid, well built knife complemented with a well designed, versatile leather sheath. Also, the price point is very good on these blades. Let me mention here that, this model is available with canvas micarta handle slabs as well, for those who prefer synthetic materials.
There are a couple of things I think would better this blade. I would rather have a longer cutting edge all the way (or almost) to the bolster, instead of the fairly large ricasso. Also, I do not feel that the front lanyard hole is really necessary on this knife.
All in all the Cudeman MT-5 would serve well as a general hiking/hunting/outdoor belt knife and it will make a good survival/bushcraft blade as well. It really deserves your consideration if you are in the market for such a cutting tool.
Thanks for reading!