Test and Review of the Condor Crotalus Knife
When it comes to picking a solid, all around great survival or woodsman knife, the field is full of tough competitors. Much like any type of outdoor gear, personal preference to style and materials as well as budget will play the biggest role in deciding on a knife.
As we look at the Condor Crotalus, that is exactly what comes to mind, solid materials and a decent price. At under $100, the Crotalus is a serious contender against all comers, except those with some sort of super steel…and really in a survival knife, why would you want a super steel anyway?
If you’re looking for a great backcountry knife that can hack away some brush, process kindling, handle dicey situations and still take care of some finer detail cutting like skinning and hunting tasks, you just found your knife.
I keep referring to the Crotalus as a survival knife, but you can interchange the term belt knife or camp knife right in there too. With it’s 5 ½” blade, it rides the line between a bushcraft blade and a bigger hard use fixed blade.
The big thing that sets this knife above the others is in its layout and weight. It’s a heavy duty knife that is on the lighter side of the scale.From cutting some salami and jerky to carving a tent peg, the Crotaluas is at home doing any number of outdoor tasks.
I appreciate the lightweight design; most knives like this are heavy and not always ideal for doing small cuts that require more precision or accuracy and need more control.
I’ve owned this knife for about 6 months and have had a chance to bring it backpacking, a few adventures and thoroughly test it’s cutting and chopping abilities. If you have seen a few of the review videos out there, I can attest to the hype, this knife is fantastic.
One thing I like to touch on in all my reviews is the price, as of right now this blade is less than $85 on Amazon where I got mine. I think that price is more than fair for the knife we have here and the craftsmanship that is clearly throughout the piece.
A nice touch on the Crotalus are the micarta scales, something you don’t always see around this neighborhood of price.
The Condor Crotalus Was Impressive In The Backcountry
I often take the family out hiking. If we’re out for the day, and need to start a fire to cook franks and burgers, this knife is the only knife I need to cut kindling and get a good fire going. It will shave wood chips for small tinder or fray the end of a stick. Stand a good-sized branch on end and get the knife started, then bang it through the branch to make longer pieces of kindling.
If you lose a tent peg and need to carve out a new one, you’ll be able to do it with this knife since it’s light enough and balanced enough to do the small things right along with the big things.
If you’re in the field and lose or break your skinning knife (or it loses its edge), the Condor Crotalus makes a good substitute skinning knife, thanks to the secondary convex edge. Its blade holds an edge, so you can go from cutting deadfall for firewood right to skinning and quartering your dinner.
A Perfect Camping & Survival Knife
This is a knife that was designed by Joe Flowers and is hand-crafted by Condor. The heat-treated blade is made from German 1075 high carbon steel and is as strong as advertised. It’s annealed to around 56 to 58 Rockwell hardness, so it’s a tough blade that won’t bend when you pry something. It’s strong enough to chop wood for kindling and even digs holes in a log without bending.
I don’t recommend prying anything other than soft material (such as wood) as you can damage the edge on any knife, including this one. However, if you had to bore a hole in wood or even use it to pry larger joints apart when quartering game, it’s strong enough to do that.
The blade features a non-reflective powder coating that has some texture to it and is abrasion and rust resistant. The length of the blade is 5-1/2 inches and, unlike many knives, it comes with a nice edge to it. The powder coating can scratch after heavy use and abuse, but you can always remove it later and have it redone or even blue it.
The full flat grind and secondary convex edge is part of what gives you control to do smaller jobs with this size knife. It’s even great for skinning and other jobs that need small cuts and even control.
The Crotalus Will Be A Great Fire Starter
The flat spine is thick and sturdy. It works well when using with your firestarter since Condor didn’t add the baked-on coating to the 5.0 mm spine. Just get your tinder and kindling ready, then strike the back of the knife against your firestarter one or twice to get a good spark. You’ll be making a bonfire, heating up water for coffee, or cooking a meal in no time.
You will see from some of my pictures that I have worn off the traction coating during use. This is normal wear and tear on all knives that are coated in this fashion from my experience, but in the case of the Condor Crotalus, it held up remarkably well. Only after batoning some oak firewood into kindling did it finally start to peel ever so slightly.
I typically put a light coat of oil on my blades when I go to store them to prevent any rust or corrosion, so I will do the same with the Crotalus. I’ve been known to just throw a knife back into the tool box wet only to find it rusted over three months later. That is the great thing about these high carbon blades, you can clean them up in a matter of a few strokes with some sandpaper and an oiled rag.
The Condor Crotalus features a Micarta handle. This not only gives it a nice look, but makes it comfortable and functional as well. The overall length of the knife is 10-3/4 inches, so it’s a larger knife, but unlike other knives of this size, it’s perfectly able to tackle smaller jobs. The tang goes all the way to the end of the handle, and the rivets that go all the way through ensure the blade and handle stay together. The handle features a generous palm swell and fits nicely in your hand. The knife overall is well-balanced.
I am a huge fan of micarta when it’s done right and by right I mean being rounded over and profiles correctly. The Crotalus feels great in your hand and is comfortable to hold in hard use situations such as carving or heavy cutting.
The sheath is Kydex Molle compatible and comes with a removable scabbard. The sheath is perfectly serviceable, but I do have one gripe about it: the nylon upper section flaps around when the knife isn’t in it.
That being said, it’s not enough of an inconvenience to go out and find another sheath. The knife pulls out of the sheath quickly and easily, yet won’t fall out if you happen to fall or are bouncing around on an ATV.
If you can’t tell from the above review, I love this knife and I think all the praise is well warranted. I own a few Condor knives and they really strike the sweet spot for performance and value. I mentioned the one fault I have about the sheath, other than that it’s a real beast.
So where do I see this knife fitting into my system when in the wilderness? I think the Crotalus makes a great companion knife to someone who carries an axe or saw when in the bush. It’s light enough to be belted on your hip or back and you will hardly know it’s there.
I also beat on the knife sufficiently to know that it can handle much rouge stuff. It cuts exceptionally well when it comes to food prep, yet can still go toe to toe with making some firewood.
I Say Buy The Crotalus, It’s A Great Combo of Performance and Value
The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ isn’t necessarily true with this knife. It costs less than other knives and, because it’s lighter and more balanced, you can do more with it. It’s fast becoming my favorite knife since it’s so versatile. Once you get this knife, you’ll be sure not to leave home without it.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.