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Rodent 9..The Efficient Chopper

Discussion in 'Swamp Rat Knives' started by Barrabas, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Hey, you bunch of Rats..posted this in W&SS as well, but would love your perspective as well..Here’s a review on the Swamp Rat Rodent 9, I appreciate your comments.:thumbup:

    Preface:

    Been wanting to do a review on a chopper for a while now, and if you don’t like reading novels, I’ll sum up the review of the Swamp Rat, Rodent 9 (R9) with one word: Efficient.
    Efficiency analysis is part of what I do for a living, and that type of critical thinking carries over to any edged tool I have..especially considering a 1lb chopper..I mean if I am going to carry a largish knife around, it has to be worth the effort right? it has to make the cut..(pardon the pun) with regard to a few core needs that I have, namely:

    1) Is the Overall weight/length manageable?
    2) Does it chop well?
    3) Does it limb well?
    4) Does it perform well when batonning, or does it wedge, because of the belly thickness behind the edge?
    5) Is it full tang construction?
    6) Is the Steel of good quality, and easy to maintain?
    7) Is it comfortable to use for prolonged amounts of time, in various grips?
    8) Can it perform reasonably well on finer tasks, (whittling/creating wood shavings/curls for fire prep), or does it feel “unnatural” if I choke up on it because it is not balanced for tasks like that?
    9) Is it within my price range?
    10) Does the manufacturer account for what I think a field blade is designed for, or am I stuck if I “abuse” it?

    As you can imagine with criteria like that..it shuts the door on a lot of blades..because it has to have one heck of a design in order to have all those bases covered.

    Background:
    Have had my fair share of choppers/machetes/hatchets through the years, and up until now, have never found one that was really efficient in the combined areas mentioned above; I’ve bought/traded/participated in pass arounds for years, and every other chopper I’ve had is now in someone else’s home..just was disappointed..I see myself as a “wannabe” outdoorsman..meaning I cherish the time I have in the field to hunt/fish/hike/wander/camp..but I have a couple of jobs, a lovely wife and 4 kids..so I “wannabe” in the field a lot more than I actually get to. If I can get a walk in once a week, I’m doing great!!

    Right tool for the job:
    I’ll always be a strong believer in that approach, and that blade lengths have their niche..some better for some applications, but I will say this; if for some reason I left my pocket knife/small fixed blade at home, and I had the R9 in the field, I could still efficiently perform any task (other than splinter removal :rolleyes:) that I could normally see myself doing. That is a HUGE statement, and have never been able to say that previously about a large blade.
    For those of you who have been in the field with a big knife, and were attempting smaller cutting chores, and have been stuck with a blade that wasn’t versatile, you know what I’m talking about...I think Scott Gossman said it best in a thread, that “Blade Geometry, is arguably the most important part of a knife’s design”..this blade is proof of that..it has crushed the stigma created by all the other largish blades I have used/held and worked with that left me thinking, “It’s good for this application, and I guess it’s ok for this application, but it either sucks, or really sucks in this one etc”…I’m not a blade smith, and don’t know for sure, but I really think the Convex Saber Bevel is what makes it (what I think) a chopper is supposed to be.

    A picture is worth a thousand words, so in the below pics, just by way of comparison, I ran it through some general camp chores alongside a Martindale Golok #2 ..which has served me well for years in various capacities, and yes, I used the “sweet spot” on the Golok that matched best with the given task, and by the way..The Golok is a performer, and frankly, even though it is a Machete type tool..has out chopped a bunch of so called “choppers” through the years, and sent them packing..The Rat however, did not suffer such a fate.

    Before we get into that, here’s some specs on both:

    R9 MG
    OAL: 15 1/4' 18'
    Blade: 9 1/2' 13’
    Steel: SR101 Carbon
    Grind: RD Ultra Convex Saber bevel MG?
    Weight: 1lb? 1lb?
    Thickness: 1/4' 3-4mm
    Handles Micarta Wood


    Btw..I got this R9 new, and as you can tell, today is not the first time I had it out..the coating on this Swamp Rat is tough, it took batonning through 8-10’ diameter aged oak, for like 3 or 4 decent sized fires, before I broke through the coating..it has made a bunch since then..:).

    Ergos:
    Whether your chopping/limbing or choking up the handle it feels good in my hand without gloves..the double bevel design on the edges in the finger choil, make for decent comfort on choke ups, and the balance makes it easy to use this way for prolonged periods without hand fatigue.
    I love the Talon holes on this knife, meaning if you are a tinkerer like me, and want to experiment with different types of handle options, you can try different lashings if you wish without permanently altering the handle design..a little bit of paracord wrap, really helped my medium sized mits, and has made much more comfortable for prolonged chopping, but again, to each their own :thumbup:.

    [​IMG]

    Now for a comparison pic of it and the Golok, before the games begin:

    [​IMG]

    You'll have to trust me on this, but both blades could push shave hare off my arm before we started / no edge roll, or burr (that I could feel on a thumb scrape anyway)..here's a pic of the edges:

    [​IMG]

    Here's round one with a good, steady swing.

    [​IMG]

    Check out the penetration difference between them..

    MG:
    [​IMG]

    R9:
    [​IMG]

    Going on to a little more chopping, here's some comparison pics of the first hit..

    MG:
    [​IMG]

    R9:
    [​IMG]

    Btw..it took the R9 5 total hits before it snapped easily; MG took 13..

    [​IMG]

    Now on to some light vegetation..think this is a willow that's growing beside our creek..
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here's the first hit:

    MG:
    [​IMG]

    R9:
    [​IMG]
    Btw..it took 2 swings for the R9 & 3 swings for the MG to clear it.

    Fire prep:
    Just doing wood shavings here for a fire..20 slices each.

    MG:
    [​IMG]

    R9:
    [​IMG]

    This has impressed me a lot with the R9..hard to tell from the pics, but the curls are fat, and really thin..it had been raining some, but based on the thickness of the curls, and using a LMF army model ferro rod, it took 9 scrape attempts before sustained flame for the R9 curls, and 21 for the MG.

    Tip penetration (steady swing):

    MG:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    R9:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Again, no blade smith, but the "ultra convex saber bevel" is amazing..how they brought this down from 1/4' stock to such an edge is amazing to me!
    Check out the weight on the back of the blade, before the taper begins..the force in chopping is apparent because of it (would love to know how much extra weight that adds to the spine compared to a flat ground of the same dimmensions :confused:)..the balance is so nice..just can't say enough good things about the R9..Way to go Swamp Rat!! Glad I got one before you change your line up ;).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Craziness:
    I’m an idiot occasionally, and at times use knives outside an intended application..when I realized how well this blade did at the standard stuff, I started to really appreciate the balance..then I lost my mind and did something I have not done in years..I threw it..yep..found a big Oak stump at the house, and although I am no thrower..took about 12 paces back and went to town..sunk it well 3 out of 10 attempts, sounds sucky right?..but remember, I have never really thrown a knife, and never a chopper..with some practice, this would be a fun blade to throw..did I mention it was versatile????


    Thanks for checking this out..In short, grab a R9 if you want an efficient, big blade.
     
  2. infocus2006

    infocus2006

    Feb 18, 2012
    Pure awesomeness!!! Thanks for the reviews and killer pics!
     
  3. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator

    Nov 30, 2001
    Outstanding!!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!!!! :D :D :D
     
  4. =MAX=

    =MAX=

    Aug 6, 2006
    That was a great review, thanks for sharing.
     
  5. rockgolfer

    rockgolfer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    Looks like the R9 is on my radar now. Appreciate your effort, great review sir :thumbup:
     
  6. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Rock..glad to hear your considering it..when you really take into account the OALs of both, and the blade length difference, and how a Golok is MADE for light vegetation..really highlights the efficiency of the R9..never thought I'd have a Chopper/Machete/all purpose camp knife all rolled into one..killer freakin' blade..
     
  7. rockgolfer

    rockgolfer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    I think we are all after that all-around blade. Have you swung a scrap 711 or a b10? Just curious, I had a b10 and miss it. My chopweiler is treating me right as my current all arounder. But I am always experimenting. The handle kept me away before but more and more its growing on me. Always more steel to want and try :D
     
  8. wildmike

    wildmike

    Nov 17, 2007
    Thanks for an excellent review!

    I have been on the fence about the R9, but this makes it difficult to remain so.
     
  9. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Thanks Wildmike!

    Rock, have had experience with some of the Basic line, but not the 10..Only Scrapyard I've had in the chopper world was a Dog Father..great blade, but not nearly as versatile, IMO as the Rodent..their products just get better year by year..Man, I bet that Basic 10 was one mean machine..:cool:
     
  10. Thrill

    Thrill

    Sep 9, 2010
    Great review. Thanks for the effort.
     
  11. rockgolfer

    rockgolfer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    That it was. But I did not know what I had. It was my first chopper and I let it go. It was the choilless version. Knowing what I like and use now I think the R9 puts together a solid package in design for a lot of different tasks. I have one or two 1311's coming my why and while they will be fun for camp. I do not see myself carrying one around the mountains. Think a chopweiler vs r9 comp is in the works. Heck Id love to see an R9 up against a b10. That would really be interesting. Hard to beat the res-c for comfort but the grind you point out on the r9 might help it to be a better chopper.
     
  12. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Those would be some awesome reviews, and your right about the Res C, mega comfortable.
     
  13. Drumrboy

    Drumrboy Gold Member Gold Member

    271
    Jun 12, 2011
    Great review. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
     
  14. deth1313

    deth1313

    464
    Nov 10, 2010
    That was a lot of fun to read! Thanks for taking the time to do all of this (although it seems like you enjoyed yourself) :)
     
  15. llcarter

    llcarter

    711
    Jan 20, 2006
    Great review - thanks!
     
  16. gunfixrjoe

    gunfixrjoe

    Aug 11, 2011
    Funny this is posted at the same time I am selling both my B10 and R9. IMO, from using both of these, the B10 does out chop the R9, but marginally. I'm not sure if its the weight, edge geometery, flat vs. ultra convex saber, INFI vs. SR101. I can't really tell you why, but I know this, both of these rocked. I hate parting with either, but it is what it is. Both were very comfortable to use. Both chopped very well. Both battoned very well. Both had silly edge retention. The only edge I give the B10 is corrosion resistance, but the R9 has the cost advantage. Can't go wrong with either!!!!
     
  17. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Thanks gunfixr..I thought that would be the case on pure chopping; how would you rank them in choke ups/all around efficency?
     
  18. gunfixrjoe

    gunfixrjoe

    Aug 11, 2011
    They were about the same for making fuzz sticks and little tasks like that. I also took wide blades of grass and split them length wise like I was making cordage. They both performed the same, although the shorter blade height of the B10 seemed a little more managable. But, that is why I also carry a shorter blade at the same time.
     
  19. high desert

    high desert

    May 20, 2009
    Had both. The Rodent 9 is very comfortable to chop with. It's also is a great looking blade. I let my go and kept the B10. The b
    B 10 weigh so much less that it's like your favorite 10" kitchen knife on steroids. I have no doubt the R 9 can out chop the B 10 but it versatility is limited to chopping only in my opinion. It's thick and heavy, good for chopping, but the B 10 can chop and also good for slicing as in meat preparation. To wear it on your belt it's weight is similar to a 7" knife. R 9 = great chopper. B 10 great all arounder.
     
  20. Barrabas

    Barrabas

    Feb 8, 2005
    Hi d, great perspective..totally respect your decision to keep the B10...have never used one, but have heard they are awesome blades..I will say though, the R9 is extremely comfortable in choke ups (for my hands), and does better than many smaller blades (both fixed and folder) I've had on slicing, and definitely... every other chopper I have used due to the edge geo, ergos on the choil, and sculpted micarta. I find the R9 the best all arounder that i've had so far, and frankly am content unless the Lord sends another my way.
    The thing I love about Busse & Kin, is that I rarely here of someone moving out of the line to find a better performer..a particular blade might not meet their personal needs, but the quality etc keeps us looking for internal opportunities..:), which in your case, seems to be one of the most respected blades on the market.

    Be well,

    Bar
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012

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