Steel Heart II blade grind


Oct 21, 1998
my father acquired a busse steel heart II in a-2 via a trade this past weekend and had a question about the edge grind. i did not speak to the former owner of the knife so i will ask here. the edge is very sharp but appears 'rough' vs 'polished' like i am used to seeing. the edge 'roughness' is very even and the knife looks nearly new so that made me wonder if the edge was done that way from busse. any one who has one or has handled one please let me know about the edge on your steel heart II...thanks...dmc
Since I ave not received my Steel Heart yet I cannot comment. But, many knifemakers and knife users like a coarser edge over a polished edge, because they tend to provide more bite or grab and almost appear to last longer. I don't know if the last part is an optical illusion or if the microserrations just allow the edge to keep on cutting even when it's dulled, but it works. This may be the case with that knife, but not sure since I have never even seen one.
I own a Steel Heart 2, and mine has a polished type edge. It is several years old though, and the edge style could have been changed. It is super sharp though, and cuts with ease.
I got my Steel Heart II also used (thanks Greg) and I'm glad I did. For a knife in that price range > 300, it should show a better finish. My first complaint is the cheap black epoxy coating. That stuff doesn't last at all. It is very soft and comes off easily. Since the knife I got already had some scratches, I decided to take the coating off completly. That's when I noticed how poorly the knife is finished. The blade itself shows a surface like an old record with many parallel lines (see picture).


They could be from a rough grinding belt or some sort of machine (CNC?) since they are very uniform. The spine of the blade and the uncoated parts of the handle (see picture) showed deep markings from the saw which cut the blank out of the sheat metal.


The edge is - as DMC mentioned - also made with a rough belt. Nothing wrong with that, once you resharpen it, the edge will look scratched anyway.

In conclusion: The Steel Heart II is very strong, a tank of a knife. But as I mentioned, the finish sucks. It's the worst of any handmade knives I own. This of course doesn't affect the function but it gives you the impression of a cheap product, one which is not made with the attention it should deserve. I would rate it from the looks similar to the Ontario products, which go for 1/10 of the price.

Therefore my recommendation: If Busse, try to get the presentation grade.
thanks for the pics and info ralf. the one we have does not have a black coat blade but looks more like a silver coating. even with the silver coating you can see the grind lines underneath all over the surface of the blade. surface finish aside, underneath is a strong and very useable a-2 blade...dmc
As to the overall finish of the blade...

The additional time required to finish the blade would add time - which is money. The combat grade Battle Mistress is only ~$300. To get one finished and polished up, you need another ~$200 don't you?

That's not an excuse for poor final finishing but, I believe the way it actually is. With massive back orders, additional time spent on each knife to polish it out properly (for cosmetics) comes at great expense.

I like Busse products in general but, at their price points I expect better final fit and finish. I will also note that this "final fit and finish" would not add any functional difference to the knife so, how much does it really matter? You get a darn good using knife at a custom price.

There are many excellant custom makers out there who make knives in similar styles at similiar price points and provide an option for people who are concerned with the small details, cosmetic or not.


p.s. this is not intended as a slam against Busse or any poster..written words sometimes come across harsher then intended.
I've seen a number of knives with those parallel lines, and am also curious about what they are. Since I've only seen them on production knives, I assume it's the CNC machinery.

It was hard to tell from your picture how the lines were. If you look at the liners of all the BM folders I have seen you can see the lines that are caused by laser cutting. This might be the same thing. I do not know if Busse laser cuts his blanks.

As to the issue of the blade coating our experimenting with different types has proved to us that "Nothing survives the first encounter with a Coral Head" or any other abrasive medium. Through years of field work,by others as well as myself it has been determined that the best knife coating for a heavy use blade is something that the user can re-apply thierself. Something like black stove paint or cold blue.

As to the quality of the finish on the knife. It has been my experience in buying custom knives for the last 35 years that you find the custom maker that does the quality of work you expect for the price you are willing to pay and don't follow the crowd by what is popular. There are several custom makers out there that are riding the wave of popularity and are not putting out the finish quality expected of the average "custom" blade. They are building quality product and charging "Top Shelf" prices for work you can get better by doing a little shopping around. There are a lot of Custom knife makers out there. They might not be known as well as some of the Hyped up names but they will sell you a knife that fits your expectations for a fare price. You just have to be willing to search them out and not follow the crowd.

Good Hunting,

p.s. I would not put the money out for one of Busse's custom knives. I am however ordering one of his Basics line for testing for survival kits. I think it will work fine.

I agree with Sid and Ralph, that the finish should be better than what I see in Ralph's pictures. I do not expect the finely polished finish of the presentation grade, but something very close, like a nice smooth coat and no grind or cut marks. This may not improve performance, but it shows attention to detail.

I have both the Steel Heart and the Battle Mistress on order and expect to get a well finished product for my money. If there are custom makers out there who can finish a blade very nicely then there is no reason Busse cannot do it. Heck, even my manufactured big knives are excellently finished, like the Trailmaster, Sog trident, etc. These knives are much cheaper than the BM. Besides, the combat grade that I see in a picture looks very well finished. I would hope that this was not just to make them look better than they really are.

Joe, maybe you can bring this up to Busse.
Here some more details.

From what I know, the blade was never in contact with anything harder than wood. The edge was never sharpened and the knife only used for cutting firewood. The result was one deep scratch and several minor ones. This and the fact that I could take the coating very easily off by scraping it with another knife, tells you how soft it is.

The markings on the spine were definitely from some kind of hand-operated saw. They were spread over the spine in an irregular pattern. Some were very deep others not. I would like to show those, but I polished those out myself. The ones on the handle part are still there but those are not the deep ones. But what you can see is how wavy the steel is finished. Some parts have tiny dimples in it from some sort of hand held grinder.

The whole story tells you why I don’t like coatings, especially thick ones like powder or epoxy. It’s too easy to hide a badly finished blade under it. I can understand the maker. Why fine tuning a blade if nobody will ever see it? On the other hand, a knife in this price range (according to rumors from Spark not even made by Busse himself, so labor cost and limited time is not an issue) should
a. have a better coating
b. have a better finish.

I can compare it to similar knives. In the same price range you can compare it to an ATAK. This one has a better coating, better finish, is selective tempered and truly handmade by Mad Dog himself. And for ca. $200.- you’ll get the Mission MPK with an A2 blade. It has a state of the art coating (TiAlNi) and I’ll bet a superb finish (haven’t seen it yet). The Steel Heart II seems to be dipped in black epoxy as it came out of the automatic grinder. No labor was spend on making it nice, except where the bare metal on the handle shows. And even there it seems that someone inexperienced did the work.

Again, it doesn’t affect the function at all. But function is not everything I’m looking for in a handmade knife.
Does anyone out there have any info on what their Steel Heart II was like when they received it NEW. I never judge the quality of a knife in general based on a used knife as an example. You never really know what has happened to the used knife before you got it! If you search through here and the other place (as well as on Dejanews) you can probably count on 2 hands the number of negative posts about Jerry Busse's knives. There are, to the contrary, hundreds of posts lauding the toughness and quality of his knives. Even Mad Dog lets a few sub standard knives slip out of his shop on occassion


Chris Canis

Disclaimer: I am waiting for the delivery of my Battle Mistress and I'll be happy to post an honest first impression of it when I receive it. Before purchasing it, I read every bit of available information I could find on it and came to the conclusion that it was the ultimate knife for me. I also had the pleasure of handling one and did not notice any questionable quality issues.

The issue I think most people have is not whether the Busse is a good knife, it is. It's about the qualities people have come to expect from custom vs. a factory knife. In a custom knife, I think it is fair to say the vast majority of people EXPECT the grind marks to be removed from a finished blade. Is this too much to ask from a ~$300 knife?

As to the reference about the Mission A-2 MPK's. I have seen them with my own eyes and held them in my own hands. These knives are going to be what one has come to expect from a custom knife at, not a lot more then a good factory knife price. Whether you get one with or without the "Steelcoat", you will get a knife that is proper finished out, grind lines and all.


Sid Post
I am a dealer for and stock:
Mission Knives & Tools, Inc.,
Tactical OPS USA from Idaho Falls, ID,
Chris Reeve Knives,
the Krill Lamp from Kriana Corp.,
Underwater Kinetics flashlights and,
Streamlight Flashlights,
with other fine products being added as they are found and time allows
Ralf, the lines in the first pic of the Steel Heart are exactly the same as what I say on several knives by Ontario once I wore large patches of the coating off. The lines on the Ontario blades are deep enough to feel as you run your fingernail over them. I could care less about the looks of it. But as for rusting I would much rather an uncoated highly polished blade.

I'm with you Cliff. In fact, when I get mine, if the finish looks as bad as the above, I will definitelly have both polished to look like the limited run, along with removing all the ugly grind marks should there be any.
OK, I like a nice finish too, usually, but I'm most interested in cutting performance. I have a Finnish puukko by Roselli that some might call unfinished; the convex grind on either side is uneven, looks like it was done with a coarse belt; you can see the scale where it came out of the forge -- actually it's attractive in its own way. And it cuts like crazy. Beauty's in the eye of the beholder, I guess.