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Brian Andrews - Bitterroot Knife

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by kgd, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    I ordered the Bitterroot model from Brian Andrews, one of his newer styles introduced in mid-May this year. The knife's grohman/pathfinder-like profile instantly appealed to me as do Brian's handles. My knife was ordered with African blackwood scales which I absolutely adore for their depth of colour.

    Here are the specs:

    Blade length: 4"
    Blade width: 1/8"
    Blade height: 1 1/8" max.
    Blade material: O1 (can be had in A2 or D2 also)
    Handle length: 4.5".
    Handle width: 5/8" at the center
    Handle height: 13/16" at center.
    Handle material: African Blackwood with mosaic pins


    Before ordering, Brian told me that despite its specs, this is a compact knife. This is certainly the case as the comparison shots with his much larger bushcrafter will show. The bitterroot has a much more diminutive handle in its width and height and while not as hand filling as his bushcrafter, it is quite comfortable in a variety of grips. Brian pays special attention to his ergo's and in a compact knife like this one it is essential to get the profiling right since a skinny handle with a wrong contour will feel terrible. I'm happy to say that this one fits me extremely well in standard hammer grip and reverse grip.



    Some comparison shots between the Bitterroot, Brian Andrews Bushcrafter and my Bruce Culberson EDC.




    Having only had the knife since last night, the total amount of testing has been minimal. I took it with me on my morning dog walk (2h) and it felt nice and light, essentially unnoticeable, on my hip. I didn't use it too much on my walk aside from using it to harvest a few wild edibles including some sassafras root and sumac berries for tea. I also harvested a bunch of these flowers which Doc pointed out to me last Monday as making a good tea.


    When I came home, I decided to give the bitterroot a little work out by making a bowdrill set. I think the making of a bowdrill kit is a great knife test as it forces you to carve a spindle, baton and make a notch. I used a single piece of cotton wood to make my hearth and spindle. I was a bit lazy and used a pre-made bow and headpiece.


    First, I baton split the cottonwood. Piece of cake with the bitterroot, even forcing my way through a knot. Here is a nice aspect of the knife. Even though it is a compact package, that extra length (4" blade) is well above a typical small knife and this just makes batoning wrist sized pieces of wood that much easier. For those of you into making classic style bowdrills, baton splitting your hearth is an almost essential task for your blade to do.



    More coming....
  2. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Just for the sake of fuzzies, I fuzzed up one end of the cottonwood that was to later become my spindle. The bitterroot makes fuzzies really well and I love the control afforded by the knife. Despite really liking the BA Bushcrafter, I'm still a bigger fan of full flat with convex edge as my muscle memory makes doing fuzzies with this configuration much easier than I find using a scandi.


    The knife comes razor sharp and has a very thin profile at the edge. This combination made carving the spindle from the half portion of the wrist-sized cottonwood piece a simple task. As stated before, the contours of the handle seem superbly fitted to my hand. Overall, I found the knife was very comfortable on the 12 minute or so activity of carving down the spindle. There were no hot spots and I didn't experience any hand fatigue in the process of making the spindle, a test which often brings out bad ergos in a blade very quickly.


    Nice sharp tip is great for drilling.


    That continuous belly design beautifully cuts into wood and is great for notching. This will also aid the knife in kitchen prep/slicing chores as well as for game processing.




    For posterity, I ended up drilling out and notching two holes and I liked how the bitterroot was behaving here! Here is the coal produced in the second well.



    In my scheme of things, for a multi-day trip, this is a blade meant to compliment a larger tool such as an axe or mid-size blade that you can keep in your pack while out for the long haul. It will serve excellently as a dayhike blade on its own as well. Its not so large of a blade to draw the eyes of other hikers and its compact sheath and attractive handle make it a very non-tactical, public friendly in appearance. At the same time, this is a blade that can really so some muscle duty when called to action. There is a lot you can do with 4", whether that means splitting larger pieces of wood or performing intricate carving with its fine tip. The blade profile sports a continuous belly which looks a little funny but performs extremely well at cutting, slicing and carving chores. Like a classic Grohman, it has a touch of an offset handle/blade angle that will make it great in the kitchen.

    Brians Fit & Finish is always extremely good and my knife was no exception in the area. The handle slabs are perfectly flush to the tang and I can't find any tool marks or missed/rough spots on the handle or blade. The slabs are perfectly symmetrical on both top and bottom aspects. The spine is nicely squared and throws sparks off a ferro rod effortlessly. Lastly, Brian provides a heavy duty pouch sheath with a full penetrating wax treatment. Right now, the sheath is still exuding some excess wax which ends up on the blade, but that will stop after a week or so. What is cool about this sheath is that the wax treatment actually causes the blade to 'click in' almost like kydex.


    All and all this is a great blade which I look forward to putting on my belt often. This blade probably won't appeal to folks who like substantial heft in their cutting instruments. It will appeal to folks who want most of the attributes and versatility of a 4" bushcrafter style blade but also want a knife that is compact, light and laser sharp. For anyone in the latter category, I highly recommend this one.
  3. mtnfolk mike

    mtnfolk mike

    Mar 21, 2006
    awesome write up Ken... that looks like a great knife... :thumbup: it's got some nice curves to it..:D
  4. protourist

    protourist [P] irate Member Platinum Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    That is exectly what I have been picturing in my head as the knife I want on my hip.
    Do you still have your Pathfinder? If so can you take a comparison pic please.

    WILLIAM.M Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    Great Review!!!!!!!!!!

    Could not have been done better..

    Thanks for taking the time to do that!!!!
  6. fixer

    fixer Banned BANNED

    Mar 9, 2000
    dang, that's a gorgeous knife!

    i like a lot of his work tho... just don't have any yet.
  7. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    The Breeden pathfinder I have is 5" in blade and 5" in handle, so it is quite a bit larger.

  8. protourist

    protourist [P] irate Member Platinum Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    Thanks Ken.
  9. j williams

    j williams Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 14, 2005
    Excellant review Ken.....Brian makes great stuff.
  10. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    great review with lots of pics. the knife is really so pretty that i might hesitate to use in wood work.
  11. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    Thanks for the write up Ken. Looks like a very comfortable handle on that. :thumbup:
  12. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    It is nice, but that never bothers me when it comes to using a blade. Once a knife is on my belt, then I just use it like I would any other knife I have. My S-Curve, the most expensive knife I have, has been dragged through a swamp waist high will attached to my belt and mercilessly batoned through knotty wood. Brian Andrew's knife will get its share of nasty treatment. One of the reasons I chose African blackwood is that it is a naturally oil and very hard wood. Despite its beauty, this one is of some tough material that should withstand harsh treatment.

    Finally, I have the benefit of living within an hours drive of both Rick Marchand and Brian Andrews. So if I ever need the blades to get a spa treatment I can always call upon them to do so. A great knife is a terrible thing to waste!
  13. jds1

    jds1 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    What a fantastic review and photo set. VERY nice job Ken. That knife looks as practical as it is beautiful. The blade design is useful for so many tasks and that handle looks like it melts into your hand.

  14. knife-fan


    Jul 15, 2010
    Wow. Major report and great photos. Thanks.
  15. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Great write-up Ken. Looks like a winner.
  16. Rockywolf

    Rockywolf Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Terrific looking knife and great review. I have a knife with same handle material from Brian and you are correct=tough as nails.
  17. Brian Andrews

    Brian Andrews

    Dec 11, 2006
    Hi Ken,

    I am glad your initial feedback is good :) I know that design hasn't been out there that long, but I was personally quite taken with it right away. It reminds of a Grohmann with a much nicer handle :D

    Nice write up and it looks like a fun way to spend the day regardless of knife.

    Take care,
  18. Big Mike

    Big Mike

    Aug 30, 2006

    :thumbup: +1 :thumbup: Yeah, Ken, great write up. :thumbup:

    Brian, that is one very fine looking knife my friend. :thumbup:

    I could see something like that scaled up to a very cool 6" or 7" camp knife. :cool:

    Big Mike
  19. tonym


    Mar 18, 2008
    Great write up Ken! That knife is a beauty, love the blade shape and handle!

    By the way, I forget the name of that plant that Doc told us about with the purple flower. What is it please?
  20. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    I think it was a New England Aster....

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