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Cold Steel: Hyperbole vs. Reality

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Sam Cade, Oct 1, 2013.

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  1. Double_J

    Double_J Member

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    I have looked at a cold steel blade about 13 years ago, and would have bought it but for lack of funds. It was a middle of the road 4.5 inch stainless steel fixed blade "camp knife" with a kydex sheath. I went back when I had the money and found that it had been discontinued. I later found out what cold steels reputation was, and that the steel used on that model was not that good of quality. If I remember right it was 440a or 440b (or whatever the equivalent Japanese steel is). I still have not bought the blade I want for a camp knife, mainly because I am procrastinating and don't want to spend the amount of money a good one would cost. I will not buy garbage steel just because it looks cool, or might fit a purpose I need. I will hold out and buy exactly what I want, even if it takes a few more years to get it.
     
  2. rooter

    rooter member

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    Ok, let me rephrase that: I wouldn't consider any knife they have made.
     
  3. TimboKhan

    TimboKhan Moderator

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    When I was in the USMC back in the early 90's, there was no combat knife more desired by the troops as a whole than the Cold Steel Tanto. Gerber had a great reputation back then, Kabars were obviously popular and I am sure I saw a Randall or two. That Cold Steel Tanto, however, was the object of lust for many a young 03XX. Now, thats just my recollection, but I distinctly remembering being frustrated by how consistently fast they sold out of them in the PX, which is why I never had one. That, and the fact that as I recall they were right around $100.00 bucks and I never could hold on to my cash that long back then. By comparison, I think I paid around 30 bucks for my Kabar.

    I used a few, and to be honest, they felt nice, were lighter (or at least felt lighter) than a Kabar, and seemed to hold up to some ridiculous abuse pretty well. Say what you want, but at that time and with that group of guys, Cold Steel earned their respect the old fashioned way.

    Now? I have virtually no interest in Cold Steel other than that neat little mini-tuff that Ugaarguy reviewed a couple of weeks ago. It has nothing to do with the hype or marketing (which I find simultaneoulsy annoying and entertaining" but instead has everything to do with the fact that for what I want, I can buy a knife with better steel that I find more aesthetically if not ergonomically appealing.
     
  4. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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    I have one of their $20 'kukri machetes' that I bought on Amazon. (I have several nice kukris too, both HI and antique, so I understand it's not really a kukri, it's just a kukri-shaped machete).

    The thing is amazing. I abuse it and it does not care. It cuts well and feels right. Only modification I made was to sandpaper off some of the roughness from the grips to smooth them out a little.

    I have a pair of their serrated utility knives, a small one for my wife to use in the garden, and a big one to use as a dirty-job knife in the kitchen. They are perfect; sharp, tough, and comfortable.

    I also have one of their swords, bought second-hand. Yes, it is heavy and unbalanced. It's also lovely, tight, sharp, and it gives every indication of being very tough. You can find much better swords, but not at that price. Not even close.

    I agree that they almost seem like a parody of themselves sometimes, but I don't care. I like their stuff just fine.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  5. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Common complaint. I wish they would change the mold.

    I'm sitting out in the shop with some 80-grit at this very moment so I don't damage myself tomorrow.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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  6. limpingbear

    limpingbear Member

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    I bought some cold steel knives years ago and loved them. I still have a couple of the discontinued LTC kukri knives in their carbon 5 steel. I think that cold steel quality has declined a great deal these last few years. I don't like some of the re-styling they have done to their pocket knives, and the fixed blades leave a lot to be desired.
     
  7. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Let's not start that debate, ok. We don't need Busse fanboys flaming with others here.

    There is no "their carbon 5 steel" steel. CS used several different steels as "carbon 5" over the years based on price and final product performance. At one time it was CV, at others something else. By using a proprietary name they avoid telling you what it actually is and alarming customers when they change it.

    At least most of what CS produces is made with a known steel, AUS 8, instead of some Chinese production.

    What does CS have in their lineup that looks good?

    The VG-1 Black Bear Classic and Military Classic look pretty good.

    The Pendleton and Pendleton Plus as well as the Mini Pendleton look good.

    The Kobun has been a good knife.

    The Laredo and Natchez Bowies have been good and in the current steel should be ok.

    The Master Hunter should be ok.

    The Recon Scout should be good.

    The San Mai knives should be good.

    The Trailmaster should be good.

    I've handled their Japanese and Chinese swords and they handled like 2x4s compared to other manufactuer's pieces. Some of their European swords handled ok. As to whether they would actually cut... I didn't try them.

    I have less experience with their folders so can't gauge.

    CS can and has designed good knives and can and has quality produced in spite of their marketing hype.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  8. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll insert a few thoughts:
    Spyderco started off having knives made to their specs by a manufacturer in Seki City, Japan. Spyderco does now make some of their knives in their own facility located in "Golden, Colorado, USA, Earth" (Yes, they actually stamp that on many of the blades). However, Spyderco still has a large percentage of their knives made to their specs in Japan, Taiwan, and even China.

    Cold Steel still makes some excellent products. Their $25 Mini Tuff Lite went toe to toe with an $80 Spyderco Meerkat in my EDC based testing for my Serious Small Knives Review.

    Cold Steel is using Andrew Demko's Triad Lock, which is a heavily re-engineered back lock mechanism. The Triad Lock is one of the strongest folding knife lock mechanisms available. It isn't as elegant as a Benchmade Axis Lock, or a Spyderco Compression or Caged Ball Bearing Lock, but the Triad Lock is absolutely functional and rugged.

    Cold Steel's marketing is absurd, and I try to ignore it. However, they still offer some truly good products at very reasonable prices.
     
  9. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    I'm not sure theres much debate that cold steel represents themselves as the badest most hardcore knife you can buy. In my opinion there are plenty of knives and knife companies that are far superior in the hardcore use department. Now that said to each their own dollar and choice. Does cold steel produce ANYTHING that is functional or dependable of course they do. I wouldn't argue that. Cold Steel just makes me think flea market ninja sword. Fair? Thats up to you. But its the awesome youtube videos that I saw that gave me that first impression. Its all opinion and I enjoy debating, and having conversations with other knife guys and gals. I don't consider myself a Busse Fanboy, but I'm comparing the car door wrecking, Pork bone hacking video's Cold Steel makes in comparison to what INFI is actually capable of. Heck just compare steel to steel, and material to material. Thats the most important thing. If Cold steel beats out the competitor in the price range in those things that you are looking for and you believe them to be a company you want to support then buy. The choice is yours.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PQiaurIiDM
    I hope they get the grill going after there in house training sessions. I love a pig roast. The vid's are awesome. So many little gems through out each one.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  10. TimboKhan

    TimboKhan Moderator

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    Well, sure. Why wouldn't they? They aren't going to sell a lot of knives by proclaiming to be the best OK manufacturer of average cutlery ever produced. HSO said we aren't going to do the Busse thing, and we are not. I am just saying that from a marketing perspective, what do you expect? I think that brand is a genuine extension of that guys personality, which is to say blustery and over the top.
     
  11. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Heh! If I recall correctly, the grip isn't the most dangerous part for you...

    ;)

    Hope the knee is loosing someof it's stiffness by now. :)



    Personally, I'm intrigued by their sabers and the (only) cutlass they have. Probably because of my enlisted naval history and my understanding of the extremely utilitarian "hack-and-slash" practicality of the naval cutlass in the days of yore.

    I really like their 1917 cutlass and may, in fact, buy one in the future. I wish, however, that the guard was more traditionally styled than their "half basket" design.

    The site says it's a "modern recreation of this classic fighting sword is as authentic as possible, it is virtually an exact copy of an original in the personal collection of Cold Steel President, Lynn C. Thompson". It's basic dimensions and shape seem to play that out and the real deal was blued and the handle painted black.

    Historically speaking, there is no real record that I've ever been able to find of what kind of steel, or how that steel was made, was used in the making of the various cutlasses the Navy has commissioned. Given that contracts for cutlasses were often awarded to various swordmakers and were just as often ship-spacific back in the early days, there likely is no real consistency in steels used. ("Ship-specific" meaning cutlass contracts were often made in small lots for single ships instead of for the entire navy.)

    Given their intended customer and end-use, I seriously doubt the vast majority of cutlasses were of the highest quality steel available. So long as the blade was tough and could take and edge relatively easily, it would have served it's purpose in the hands of the enlisted.


    Now the naval officer's sword would have been a different matter. Whereas the hack-and-slash cutlass was a heavy blade by comparison, the officer's sword was much "daintier" (my own, admitedly biased, description) and would not have been as tolerant of inferior grades of steel in its construction. So very likely, these would have been made of a consistently higher quality of steel than the average cutlass.


    Yes, I am eyeballing the Coldsteel 1917 cutlass for a possible future purchase. But that will be in spite of the entertaining videos I've seen. Unless, of course, I can find a more historically accurate 1917 cutlass. :neener:
     
  12. Piraticalbob

    Piraticalbob Member

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    You folks really don't understand the mindset of Lynn Thompson. He really is the successor, as far as knives are concerned, of P.T. Barnum. Barnum, first and foremost, wanted people to give him money. To make that happen he became the greatest showman on earth, as far as the 19th century is concerned. Barnum's museum, and later his circus, were there to provide money for Barnum, first and foremost, and provide entertainment for the public, second. Barnum provided something for everyone; he was as happy taking a penny from a boy as he was a dollar from a full-grown man; it all went to make him rich. If, occasionally, he advertised something that wasn't quite what it seemed, such as the Fabulous Egress, it was all done in good fun with the hope that the customer would enjoy the experience as much as Barnum did.

    Thompson is in the same mold. He first and foremost wants your money. He started out selling little "urban" knives for self-defense, noted and jumped in on the Tanto craze just as it began and milked it for everything he was worth, and since has sold a variety of knives and other tools to people all over the world with no apology. He sells some high-quality knives to this very day, he sells affordable knives that a working man can buy, and he sells cheap knives for people who only value a low price. Something for everyone. He also sells toys for boys: the baseball bats, swords, axes, sjamboks, etc. He's a boy at heart himself and enjoys playing with these toys, and he thinks you will, too. If you want to laugh at him, that's fine also, as long as you're in the store/website looking around, and hopefully spending money. I've bought a few things from Cold Steel here and there; I buy a lot of knives from a lot of folks. It's all either serious tools or not-so-serious toys, and you pay your money and make your choice. If you need a little video of Thompson and his buddies to help you make up your mind, he provides them for almost everything on the website. Salesmanship. Showmanship. It earns him his bread.
     
  13. Piraticalbob

    Piraticalbob Member

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    FYI, the replica 1860 Ames Navy cutlass, with the full brass basket, is sold in both budget and deluxe versions by Atlanta Cutlery. You might want to give them a look.
     
  14. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Heh! No, I think many of us get just that very thing. It's his over-the-top tactics which have both garnered him quite a successful business AND quite a measure of eye-rolling at the same time.

    :)
     
  15. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    I've looked at theirs. Very nice looking.

    When I retired, this is what I bought for myself:

    http://www.militarysabers.com/navy-cpo-cutlass.html

    I chose this for a variety of reasons, one of which was the fact that it was going to be used primarily as a display/keepsake instead of any real offensive purpose. Therefore the stainless steel suited me. And the craftmanship is truely outstanding on all points.

    I've handled a variety of 1860 naval cutlasses by different sources, and many had shortcomings in various areas that really irked me.

    Most have no edges, which suits me for display purposes. Many didn't come with a scabbard, or if they did it was a very cheaply constructed one. Often, there is no description of the steel used so no real functional comparison could be made from one to the other. Some came with blemishes on the blade already. Some had really fine looking blades, awesome for display.

    I suspect, though I don't recall having actually handled one from Atlanta Cutlery, that theirs doesn't come with a scabbard based on their description. I've found that if it's not mentioned, it generally ain't there. Why anybody would sell just the cutlass with no scabbard, I've no idea.
     
  16. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Before the videos the hype wasn't as ridiculous and CS generally produced respected products across the board. Expanding the product line to capture a broader spectrum of the market requires an expansion of quality offered as well as designs. To my knowledge, and I've been around this biz a while, CS has never offered utter junk that was unsafe like the low end companies have. The personality of the owner and the hype of the videos is what colors my and most people's impression of the company.
     
  17. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    I got the cold steel blackthorn cane and it been great. I got one of their bolo machetes that I not tested yet. I did sand down the rubber handle.
     
  18. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Some of thier products are decent.

    Unfortunately they have decreased in number over time. Many of thier unique and highly durable products were replaced by a more affordable version or less expensive to produce version and the original that was decent no longer produced.

    They hade some folders that had very strong locking mechanisms compared to many near that price range on the market, or hard to find on the market at all.
    However most that had a design strong enough to make use of it had handles made of metal, which have predominantly been discontinued and replaced with plastic versions that will bend or warp under actual abuse or allow enough movement for the lock to fail if force is applied in a realistic way from a less than perfect angle to the lock.
    The Rajah 1 for example was pretty beefy and like a folding machete that could take some abuse with a durable lock. If you used it as a knife and resisted using it as a hatchet it was more durable than most knives on the market and would last forever.
    It cost a little more than the Cold Steel folder market seems to target. It was discontinued and they now have rajah 2 or 3 that are crap by comparison, handle does not support the blade with rigid metal and would give out, but more affordable to thier target audience.
    Quantity over quality is the path the company has seemed to be heading, and they phase out the quality.


    One thing that drew me to cold steel is they were offering large durable folders, and I am in a state with no folder length restrictions.
    I originally ran across them because they were one of a limited number of places that offered relatively inexpensive swords that were actually manufactured to be used to hit things and not merely be decorative and liable to come apart if you used them. Some are not as refined as more expensive products, but can easily be a third of the price and still actual cutting and chopping swords.
    However thier modern inventory is lacking many of the original folders and is largely cheap knives you could get elsewhere, or plastic and or less durable but easier to mass produce versions of what they had that were decent.
    One thing that is still somewhat unique is thier aluminum ti-lite knives. Not great work knives with a thin blade profile, clearly has the look of a weapon and so not something you would want to get into trouble with either. The cheaper zytel handle versions though are garbage and wouldn't support the blade and lock under high levels of force.


    The discontinued City Stick with a steel head (now they are aluminum) was a very durable cane, more so than many you would find, but had a regular cane look. It didn't look like something out of place or created as an intimidating weapon but could be used to break rocks if you wanted.
    Like many of thier products, it went down the road of being replaced by a model bearing the same or a similar name but of lower quality.


    The other thing they had going for them beyond the marketing was they brought many different types of products together and some were decent.
    You may find them due to a knife and then run into a spear head, or a quality slambjock, sword, or one of thier canes. While normally you go specifically to a manufacture that has only one of such type of product.



    You used to be able to weed through thier junk and find some gems. However the theme is they replace those with a junk version bearing a similar or same name and retire the original. Sometimes the new version gets a new name, or sometimes they just are sold as the old one but of inferior quality.
    This means it is not a company I can rely on to replace or puchase a design a like down the road because it may be junk at that point, nor recommend them as a brand name to others.
    And while I can appreciate the videos, I liked before they were made. They probably increases quantity of sales and are good for business, but if I actually wanted something for a weapon such over the top marketing is a liability. A liability that does not exist for some similar products.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    If they would stick to these sorts of videos instead of the over the top ones they'd have a more respect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=72e_mHtMTpA#t=14

    Of course, if they'd also stop dumbing down good products they'd also maintain a better reputation as well. Wanna offer a dumbed down version of a sound product, keep the sound product and offer both, but don't replace the sound product with a lesser one that looks similar.
     
  20. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Any thoughts on the wire tang?


    IMG_2808.jpg

    IMG_2803.jpg
     
  21. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    ^^^^

    I have some thoughts. They ain't nice ones, though.

    I take it this came from the site in question? I'd complain deeply.
     
  22. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Sam,

    Compound tangs are found on a lot of vintage Bowies where the tang extends only partly into the grip and then is completed with other components running to the butt. It was common to see this in the height of the Bowie's popularity, especially from Sheffield. Look at Zalinsky's work on the Bowie. Quite surprising what all was done to run a "stub" through the handle to connect the butt. It also isn't uncommon on a hidden tang to see a bolt welded on running to a threaded on pommel.

    Is it as "good" as a tang running the full length of the grip? Depends upon what the knife is used for. With todays manufacturing I see no reason for CS to use that cable technique because it would seem to take more steps to manufacture than using a piece of All-Thread welded to the tang and run to the butt. Since it isn't a camp knife and there appears to be 3 to 4 inches of tang, meh.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  23. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Yes, the City Stick is a darn good offering. And a good example of what has been happening to the product lineup.

    I don't watch videos, I do understand why some feel they need to market that way - the demographic of young impressionable males with spending money unfortunately reflects a severe lack of reading skills. If Lynn wants to sell to them, he has to use video. They can't read their way out of a paper sack.

    Which is why on forums you see a predominance of negative opinion on him. Forums require a minimum eighth grade ability, video can be watched by a five year old and get the point across. Lynn is responding to the marketplace.

    Have some of his offerings been decent, even high quality, yes, and that doesn't mean they have been expensive. He has put out some affordable, even downright cheap knives that simply work well. The Bushman came out long before the current trend in carbon steel camp knives like ESEE or Ontario.

    But, being around longer than others doesn't mean he gets a pass on being a wannabe. Young wannabes become old wannabes - check the muscle car market. A lot of the owners couldn't or didn't have a 396 Chevelle in the day, but now they can and do. Doesn't make them street toughs who race on Friday night on Blacktop Lane. More like, fat old duffers sitting in lawn chairs at the local cruise in. I don't see Lynn stepping out of that, the videos actually go toward proving the point. He's ridiculed precisely for a lack of common sense restraint that professionals require of themselves.

    Nonetheless, meat bicycle or not, he doesn't even approach the ridiculous level of hype others have. There may be some ridicule of Lynn, but need we mention Dark Ops?

    As for the knife every soldier wants to own, consider the source. Young impressionable soldiers new to the trade spend money on things to embellish a non existent reputation, to gain stature in an organization that is highly energized by testosterone. The reality is burden that same young man with 85 pounds of web gear, equipment, and kevlar armor, and that big Tanto is the first item dropped back into the duffel bag. I did it, too. Don't take recommendations from newb beginners at face value. Look to the experienced pro's, and you quickly discover the reality - a simple folder like a SAK is the real battlefield knife. Lynn has nothing much to offer them. Hype trumps utility.

    Lynn's not going away, we are approaching the time he needs to hand off to a working organization that can actually keep the place running. Entrepreneurs have problems setting up good administrations that can keep the vision going. It will be an interesting time to discover if he can leap that hurdle and have as his legacy an organization that stays in operation. Hopefully it won't go the way of Gerber. Then again, is it really that different? Older products with a storied past, new stuff with a poor reputation that caters to wannabes.
     
  24. ID-shooting

    ID-shooting Member

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    "When I was in the USMC back in the early 90's, there was no combat knife more desired by the troops as a whole than the Cold Steel Tanto."

    Such was the case on the Army side of things at the time, especially on Ft Riley with the Big Red One. The PX could not keep them him stock. I just had the standard Leatherman tool as my everyday knife.

    I have been browsing for a longer field/machete/ammoless defense/rapid blind/concealment blade in the 24-30 inch range that lives on the side of my field pack. CS had been a consideration based on the post Desert Storm hype the CS got from the other troops on post. Reading this thread does not give me warm fuzzies over their product line.

    Not being a knife guy I feel a bit lost. My current pile consists mainly of Kershaw, Buck and Schrade knives and kits of hunting intent with my old issue M7 and a Glock field knife (given to me by a Glock Rep) being exceptions.

    Are they complete garbage or what?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  25. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    No, but you have to know which ones aren't to avoid the ones that are.

    If you're looking for a big chopper, look at the threads Sam Cade has been putting up on them.
     
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