Golok from Condor Knife and Tool


This review of the Condor Golok consists of :

Specifications

A few of the critical specifications :

The edge is consistent at 0.3" wide and as the blade tapers from choil to tip this results in an angle which sweeps out from 18.5 degrees per side in the choil to to 8.5 degrees per side through the tip.

The initial sharpness was fairly low, not close to shaving and not able to cleanly cut paper. A few test cuts on light vegetation showed it would push it around more so than cut it (grasses and such).

Initial impressions :

Stock testing : main

An attempt was made to compare the carving ability of the Golok to the Survival Tool carving some 3-4" Alder with light force. However the Golok was simply too dull and would not readily cut into the wood.

However the edge was not damaged and just a few minutes with some fine stones had the edge shaving sharp and of course it would now smoothly slice into the woods. With the blade lightly sharpened, 25 points were made on the Alder

This would be expected as the edge angles are similar and since light force was being used that would be the dominant factor. However there was more fatigue with the Golok as the Survival Tool had a more ergonomic grip and the blade curvature and upsweep would lock in the wood and prevent slips.

In order to check the fatigue rates of both of the blades more points on some more Alder but this time under very heavy forse cut as fast as possible and recorded the time to make a point. Both blades required similar amounts of cuts to make a point as noted previously but the Caine could make the cuts 60% faster as the fatigue rate of the Condor was significantly higher. There was no need to actually measure this difference it was so readily obvious.

The Condor could be greatly improved by simply rounding off the front of the handle which comes fully square and does make it fairly abrasive and increases fatigue.

On to some chopping, the Golok was compared to a Fiskars hatchet. Through 50 sections of spruce, pine, fir and birch (2-6" in thickness) the Condor kept pace with the small hatchet, there was no significant difference detected in raw cutting ability.

The hatchet is a bit more fluid in softer woods where the penetration was deeper, but in general the Golok was never at the point where it would be called frustrating to use due to binding though a difference could be seen compared to a blade with a primary grind which creates more of a wedge cross section which is more fluid in the wood.

For some statistics, the average performance ratio (number of chops to make a section) was 100 (5) %, i.e., both were equal. The chopping with the Golok was with use of a full grip towards the front. The grip can be shifted towards the back and the power will be slightly greater but accuracy and precision also drop. A hot of about half of the wood cut is shown on the right.

The video at the right shows some heavy chopping with the Golok in some very soft wood. Before too much is made concerning the performance which appears to be very high, this is freshly cut clear white pine which is is extremely soft, it is not balsa but not a lot harder. Even a decent blade gets more than an inch penetration in this type of wood and two inches and more is not uncommon with a blade with decent heft and taper.

This video was also not intended to be a demonstration of how to properly chop such wood. In the video the Golok is used with a lot more force than necessary and there is a lot of twisting of the blade when it is in the wood to force chips to clear. These things are done to put more stress on the blade as part of the review, it is for evaluation more than anything else. They simulate work done with the blade with someone who is a little inexperienced, under stress, etc. .

In general if you are cutting wood not for evaluation purposes then much less force would be used to both allow the work to continue for extended periods without excessive fatigue, and of course it is also safer and much less demanding on the blade.

On to some splitting, the Golok working through the most seasoned and knotty woods with no issues with vibration in the handle. The lack of a primary grind made the splitting more difficult than normal, not as dramatic in binding as a machete which can wedge excessively, but more sticking could be noticed than a blade with a primary grind.

The very long blade does however allow working on very large wood easily as there are lots of space for impacts and the blade responded very well to impacts both in the tip and also closer to the handle. The tip is also not so fine that concern would need to be had over impacts and worrying about snapping the tip.

However as the angle changes along the blade then it would be advised to avoid working the tip through very hard knots as the edge is very acute through the tip. Note that in the video while some care is made to work around knots in a sensible manner, blade placement at times is less than fully optimal, again this is for evaluation purposes to see how the blade reacts with less than ideal technique.

At this point, after the chopping and splitting the edge was visibly reflecting light. While it could cut Alders and similar springy woody vegetation still very well, the Golok could no longer handle fine grasses and other very light vegetation. On a more stock test of sharpness, the Golok had no ability to slice paper either aside from through the tip which never contacted the woods. However the edge was not chipped, dented or significantly rolled.

A shot of the edge under 5X magnification is shown at the right. However this is likely a lot less likely the optimal performance. Most factory edges tend to come over heated due to power stropping and since this was only lightly honed before using there still could be less than ideal steel in the edge. But even at this level, it still is not that bad to cut up this much wood with only slight wear on the edge.

Limbing

The Golok was used for limbing which can be very demanding on a blade as the limbs are much smaller and usually harder and thus the stress is both higher and localized to a smaller section of the blade.

On soft woods the Golok easily clean up the wood, removing all limbs efficiently and easily. It progressed from soft to harder woods with no problems. Even some very old trees which had very little light and mostly dead limbs were no issue, the branches were casually lopped off in the worse way possible, just bringing the blade straight down like a cleaver with a fast wrist snap cutting or breaking all the branches in single swings.

This is NOT the recommended technique in most cases when the wood is very brittle it is possible to crack it off with the spine of the blade and the Golok does that well the upturned tip is a large advantage there. In fact during the cutting on the very hard limbs they tended to snap rather than be cleanly cut anyway. The curious part was that the edge took no damage even in the tip which as noted earlier is very acute. However upon careful examination when it was sharpened it was convex and swept up to 16-18 degrees per side in the last 0.015" thick just from the natural tendency to round bevels on natural stones.

The Junglas was also along during the work for comparison and it also handled the work with no issues with cutting ability, handling and so forth. The easiest way to summarize the performance between the two is to basically say that the Junglas is very much a large knife the Condor Golok is just that, a full size Golok which similar to a native Parang are optomized much more for brush work and even though it may not seem like a lot, those extra few inches giving a full 14" blade make a lot of difference. It is simply a matter of what can be cut per swing. The hooked tip on the Golok also did tend to work better for breaking the harder limbs.

splitting

Always a matter of contention, the Golok was also used to split a variety of woods. No real issues aside from :

Most of the video is about how to split, cut placement in general :

No issues with edge retention, the blade was still sharpen enough to cut light grasses after significant splitting.

a little amusement - food

Using Golok to prepare supper, carrots, parsnip, onions and asparagus were no issues. Now the cutting is best done with the tip as the blade is as noted very chunky of a grind near the handle.

Now of course this is a long blade, much heavier than a regular chef's knife and the rate of fatigue is much higher and the control not hearly as high. But for simple preparation, for small amounts of food it is easy to cut tight to the cutting board

The grind is not so thick as is found on the heavier tactical grinds and outside of trying to cut something like a large turnip, the Golok works reasonable well. It would excell in truly chopping up some nice large but soft materials like watermelon.

Sharpening

The Golok was dulled excessively during scraping all the rust off an old iron fence (grave) which needed to be repainted. After a half an hour of scraping there was little left to the edge.

Using a very inexpensive ($2) hardware benchstone (coarse/fine), the coarse side worked the bevels to meet and then a micro-bevel was applied with the fine. Even using a low aggression hone there was no issue sharpening and it just took a few minutes with a very dull blade.

Edge Durablity

The Golok was also used on

and as required

There was no chipping, just some impaction.

As a severe check, the entire section of blade was used from the from tip where the angle is fairly acute to the base which is fairly heavy to chop right into rock.

Even through the heaviest work the edge took very little damage as shown in he picture at the right which shows the tip at five times magnification. The most important thing to note is that the edge did not fracture, just deformed. This is very good as the damage is both minimized and also indicates of course very good toughness regarding impacts for the blade itself.

To sharpen just took three minutes with a 200 grit SiC hone and the blade was easily able to slice paper for 90% of the edge with just a few of the rock impacts still remaining.

For comparison, the exact same work was done with the ESEE Junglas. The Junglas took less damage, which is expected as it is slightly harder, but curiously enough it took five minutes on the 200 grit SiC hone to get the edge on the Junglas restored where 90% of it was able to slice paper and as noted only three minutes on the the Condor Golok which has a blade almost 50% longer.

The Condor does have a lower carbon steel which is softer so obviously the grindability is higher, but it was suprising to see it be this much faster to sharpen, especially with the much more narrow edge on the Junglas. If the Condor had a primary grind like the Junglas it would sharpen almost instantly.

Overview

In short, the Condor Golok is a solid example of a medium sized blade for cutting woody vegetation. Of course a knife with a full primary grind would be more efficient how getting a full grind blade at this size at this price point is not trivial.

modifications

Modifications :

Edge profile :

The transition bevel and primary bevel could come down a couple more degrees but the difference in performance gained is minimal, and due to the stock thickness this requires a lot of metal to be removed.

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@gmail.com or by posting to the following thread :

Most of the pictures in the above are in the Condor Golok album at PhotoBucket.

Playlist on YT for the Condor Golok.


Last updated : 06/03/2013
Originally written: 11:29:2011
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