Ed and Newton Martin are a father and son team who draw from their influence of well-known makers such as Bob Loveless, Bo Randall and Jimmy Lile. Martin Knives has been making hollow-handled knives since 2004. They mainly focus on fixed blade survival, tactical, and bushcraft knives. Sometime in 2010, Martin Knives started their first official collaboration with Boker Knives. The first joint effort between Martin and Boker was with a folder called the Nopal, which is the Spanish word for the pad of a prickly pear cactus—that is what the folder resembled in the folded position. The latest collaboration knife between Martin Knives and Boker is the Apparo, which is the Latin word for “prepare.”
Because Boker Knives are from Germany and most of the world—with the exception of the United States—uses the metric system, I will also notate the specifications in the metric system. The Boker Apparo blade is made of 440C stainless steel, which is a high carbon chromium stainless steel providing stainless steel properties, with optimum hardness after heat treatment. Overall length of the Boker Apparo is 12.13 inches. Blade length is just under 7 inches, with a 6-inch cutting edge. Width of the blade is a hair over 1.5 inches. Maximum thickness is 0.25 inches. Weight is approximately 19 ounces without the sheath. There is a guard on the handle of equal thickness to the blade. The Boker Apparo comes with a simple, black, high-quality leather sheath capable of accepting any size belt.
The handle is hollow and provides ample space for tinder, a fishing kit, rolled up money, or anything that needs to be carried and kept dry via a screw-on waterproof cap. Being that the shape of the handle is round, the cord wrapping helps to keep the knife from turning in the hand. It provides a better grip and also gives several feet of useable cordage for lashing poles, fishing and trap making.
While testing the abilities of the Boker Apparo, I decided to go with it as a stand-alone tool for my upcoming outdoor trip, reminiscent of the hollow-handled Rambo knife I’ve used in my green and callow days. Taking stock, I found the Boker Apparo has a saw about the same size as the one I carry on my small jack knife. The blade also has a decent amount of length and weight for chopping so if this tool can’t do it, hopefully it would have the ability to be able to make a tool that could do the task at hand.
Before setting out into the woods, I wanted to make a sheath for my axe out of heavy tin from an old coffee can. Heavy scissors just wouldn’t cut it, so out came the Boker Apparo. The false edge, combined with the spear point, made penetrating the thick tin easy. Cutting through tin was more of a “wedging effect” than actual cutting. I used the Boker Apparo in conjunction with a baton to get the cuts perfectly smooth by shearing the pieces of tin to size with a piece of wood underneath. I must admit that at this point there was no baton, but a hammer was nearby. A few whacks on the unsharpened portion of the spine close to the tip and the work was done. Maybe not the right tool for the job, but it was available and effective. Either way, there was no damage to the knife.
There is a learning curve for any new tool, especially a knife with a saw on top. I have used saw-backed knives in the past and regardless of them working or not, they have all shared the same design flaw. That is, the handle usually had some sort of finger cut outs that made using the saw quite awkward. With the Boker Apparo, the handle is round, and that really makes a huge difference in being able to hold the tool somewhat comfortably. I sawed through a wrist-thick piece of dry oak and it did get through it, but I’m pretty sure I could have hacked it in a shorter amount of time. It was oak I was sawing through after all; I’m sure pine would have been much easier. However, the saw made clean, precise cuts. On dry branches the saw worked well in a scraping manner while holding the saw at a 30-degree angle to the wood in order to get small shavings that were larger than sawdust for tinder. The saw worked best on smaller diameter green wood of thumb thickness, perfect for trap parts and tarp stakes. The broad side of the blade served as an effective hammer, easily pounding the stakes into the ground.
While performing light chopping tasks, the black cord wrapping around the handle seemed to come loose near the screw on waterproof cap. Once I tied it off, I put a strip of yellow duct tape around the handle to keep it from happening again. This also added a degree of visibility, making it near impossible to misplace the tool. While chopping with the Boker Apparo, I found out that green saplings around 1.5 inches thick were easily lopped off with 2 to 3 swings. Smaller, green branches were easy to make pot lifters out of with one good chop and minimal carving. On dry wood, like oak, the Boker Apparo hacked through wrist-thick branches much faster than I expected. Chopping black oak is hard on a hatchet and will ding most machetes. After this task, there was no edge degradation on the blade whatsoever.
Using the Boker Apparo for striking a firesteel was at first a challenge. Usually, I test out the spine (unsharpened top portion of a knife) to see if it will serve as a good striker and produce a shower of sparks. The 440C stainless steel won’t spark in the same way as carbon steel, but as long as there is a sharp angle on the knife anywhere it can be used to strike a firesteel. Having 6 inches of sharp cutting edge, I knew I could sacrifice a small portion to get a fire going. After two strikes with the blade into some very thin wood shavings, there was fire.
As a final hard-use test, I decided to lash the knife onto a pole, not for a spear, but for an extension saw. I wanted to harvest a dry, dead limb on a live sycamore tree that was about 10 feet above me. I did so by chopping a thick piece of scouler willow and carving just enough to minimize the thickness so that it would fit into the hollow handle snugly. Then, I made notches on either side to thin out the wood before I bored holes through each side until they met. Using the supplied cordage wrapped around the handle, I lashed the knife to the pole so it would remain tight when stressed by the pushing and pulling motion of the saw. It worked perfectly as an extension saw. I am confident that it could be used on a shorter pole in the same way socket handle choppers in Thailand are used by adding length to the knife, as if it were a long blade, for maximum impact. Of course, it must be lashed securely first.
Making the Cut
When it came to food preparation, the Boker Apparo prepared three tilapia fish, salami, cheese, chicken, and bread. It also made all the necessary cooking implements too. It seems as if every “survival-knife” is equipped with a bottle opener. While not a necessity, the Boker Apparo didn’t disappoint. It has a built-in bottle opener located between the top of the guard and the last saw tooth at the spine. It works perfectly!
The Boker Plus Apparo /Martin proved to be an all-around camp, survival, utility knife. Making camp implements like roasting sticks, pot lifters, stakes, tongs, and a camp cooking range were easily accomplished. Tasks like chopping wood for fire, and being used as a food prep knife, combined with the cordage and waterproof space for survival items makes it an extreme survival knife in my book!