Golok / Bolo review


After reading about Golok’s on OldJimbo’s page I decided to give one a try. Initially I was going to get one from Valiant, however I found this one on ebay, (from this seller) and ended up getting it for AU$42 delivered, versus AU$85 for the small survival golok.

After doing a bit more research, it seems to me that it is more like a bolo than a golok as was indicated by the seller, due to the tip heavy blade shape compared with a sabre-like shape as seen on Valiant’s goloks. I could be wrong, as I’m certainly not even close to being an expert on blades. In any case, I’m going to refer to it as a bolo.

Construction is very nice, with the blade being around 4mm thick at the spine near the handle. This is thinned off towards the point. The edge has a convex grind. The finish on the blade is quite rough, with a lot of dents (forge marks?) present over the surface, and a raw finish. I cleaned this up a little by running a sharpening stone over the flat, but due to the dents lots of bits were missed.

I’m unsure of the handle construction method, other than it is not a full tang handle, but it is very solid.

Now, in use! This is the result of about 5 hours work (and no, Harry wasn’t particularly helpful)



It is a hibiscus shrub which I’ve been wanting to get rid of for a while. Springy saplings from 1 to 4 cm in diameter. Unsupported and springy, the bolo got through the thinner stuff in a single slice, with thicker bits taking a few chops. When chopping the saplings into shorter sections on a hardwood chopping block, it got through everything in one chop – about as much effort as using a hatchet.

The edge held up very well. While the edge was not great to begin with – inconsistent sharpness, uneven edge, it did not lose any sharpness at all after all that cutting. After testing with a file, it seems that it is differentially tempered, with the edge much harder than the spine.

The one area which did let it down was the handle. The carving near the butt, which is possibly meant to act as a hook for draw cutting, was quite sharp and caused blisters. This might be less of an issue for someone with smaller hands, but it still had hard edges, as the shape had been cut rather than sanded. A quick touch up with a rasp and some sandpaper made a big difference, although now I will need to re-lacquer or oil the handle.

Overall i think a fantastic buy for AU$42, and I will surely get plenty of use out of it.

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