One to Watch: Busse Battle Mistress Anniversary Edition
Tony Sculimbrene 09.24.13
Not since Excalibur has a fixed blade release been this exciting. Okay, so maybe that is a bit of hyperbole, but for fixed blade fans and Busse fans that’s probably only a mild exaggeration. The Busse Battle Mistress series may be the toughest knife built by man with its INFI steel, massive blade thickness, and tons of powder coat.
Given the Battle Mistress’s heritage, any new Battle Mistress sparks a feeding frenzy. But the Anniversary Edition is even cooler. This is a grail knife from day one, an instant classic.
Here is a video (a LONG video) showing the infamous “Knife Test” destruction demo of a previous model of the Battle Mistress. You only need to watch a few minutes though to realize that the Busse Battle Mistress is in a league all its own in terms of durability. Report after report, person after person has confirmed in real life use that the Battle Mistress is unrivaled in terms of toughness. Troops have raved. Backyard knife testers have drooled. Survivalists wrote internet love letters. This is a knife that everyone that can afford it loves.
But Busse pulled out all of the stops for the Anniversary Edition. This is not so much a knife as it is a sword, with an 11 inch blade and, ready for it, 5/16 inch blade thickness. It comes in two models, one with the customary cake frosting thick powder coat and the other with a satin finish blade befitting the high status release.
The magic of the Battle Mistress comes from two places–the steel and the ergonomics.
The steel is a proprietary Busse-only steel known as INFI. Legend has it that a cut test was conducted out back at one of the Blade Shows and the INFI steel made 2771 cuts in 1″ hemp. Furthermore at the 2,000 cut, it still shaved hair off a person’s arm. The trick is that INFI is both tough and holds an edge well. It is a tool steel, as most steels are on big choppers, but it has significantly better corrosion resistance than stuff like 1095. It is also usually heavily coated. As Jerry Busse revealed a few years ago, the INFI mix is made possible by the inclusion of a significant amount of nitrogen, something unusual in chopper steels. Typically nitrogen shows up as a hardener in steels that are designed to be more rust resistant than normal carbon-based steels (stuff like Spyderco’s H1 is heavy in nitrogen). The result is a steel that is peerless in the world of big choppers.
But steel alone would not make the Battle Mistress the stuff of legends. Its the ergos that tip the scale into legendary territory. First, most BMs, including the Anniversary Edition include a choil. Having used and tested almost a dozen dozen knives I can say that choils help on a knife of any size. The BM’s use of a choil helps make this more than an axe replacement. You can do some real detail work (though not a ton) with a BM. I’d imagine the 11 inch behemoth is probably even more limited than the normal BM, but the choil is still there. The handles are also very well designed. With a parrot beak at the end, they really lock the hand in place and make sure it doesn’t move, even in high momentum swings. The blade shape is simple and effective as well, eschewing the weird angles, recurves, and compound grinds of many high end fixed blades.
The Anniversary Edition BM is not cheap. Coming in at $487 for the powder coat version and $697 for the satin finish, the Anniversary Edition is a very expensive fixed blade. They also don’t come with a sheath, per Busse tradition. To accommodate something this big you probably want to factor in $100-150 for a kydex model and more for leather. But think of it this way–the Anniversary Edition BM will be useful no matter what. In ten years if the zombie apocalypse arrives you’ll be slayin’ undead with ease and style. If not, you can probably recoup your investment and turn a tidy profit. Few Busses depreciate, and this extra special edition seems to be a lock for gaining in value.
(Picture of Regular Battle Mistress, courtesy of Carrot…thanks Steve).