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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. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    Let's look at this objectively. I'll stick the folders since that's the area where I have more knowledge.

    The Rajah II and III folders have thick Grivory handles. Grivory was developed as (and is used for) a metal replacement in high stress automotive applications. It's stonger than Zytel, and does not need metal liners. Benchmade makes the HK Soldat in Grivory without metal liners. Spyderco makes the Manix 2 lightweight from a similar automotive grade plastic without metal liners. The Rajah series does not need metal liners for strength. If you don't like it you have the right to that opinion, but I think an unproven assertion that the knife will "give out" is more than a bit over the top.

    Al Mar Knives Eagle / Falcon / Hawk series knives are lockbacks made with AUS-8 blades and Micarta handles, and they don't have metal liners. Cold Steel's most similar products are the American Lawman, AK-47, and Recon 1 lines. Those knives also use AUS-8 steel for the blades. Their G10 handles are at least as strong as Micarta, and the Triad Lock is stronger than any standard back lock. They aren't as pretty as the Al Mar Micarta handle knives, but the Cold Steel G10 folders are half the price for comparable blade sizes.

    Cold Steel's Voyagers have always been positioned as direct competition to Spyderco's Delica and Endura folders. The Delica and Endura currently have steel liners nested in their FRN handles, and have been upgraded to VG-10 blades. Cold Steel has stayed with AUS-8 blades, but they have Grivory handles with steel liners. Three inch blade Voyagers sell in the low $40 price range, and their 4" blade brothers bump up to the high $40s. In contrast, the Delica and Endura (with 2.9" and 3.75" blades, respectively) are priced from the mid $60s to high $60s / low $70s price ranges. Build quality is equivalent, and once again you get the stronger lock from Cold Steel.

    I'm not even a Cold Steel fan. I currently own exactly two of their knives, while I own many Spydercos, many Benchmades, and several Bucks (amongst others). So, I think I'm very brand neutral.
     
  2. mdauben

    mdauben Member

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    Kershaw, Buck snd the old Schrade USA brands are generslly considered quality production knives well worth their cost. Unfortunstly current Schrade knives are manufactured in China and are of more questionable quality



    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk 4
     
  3. CA Raider

    CA Raider Member

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    i've heard some people overseas say bad things about Cold Steel.

    personally, I've dealt with them for many years. I have never been disappointed in a CS product, and no knife from them has ever let me down. as far as alloys go - if you buy lower prices you will get cheaper alloys. that is true anywhere. but their basic Carbon V is a pretty good steel that holds a good edge.

    i always trust Lynn Thompson to make a sturdy robust product. CS knives won't let you down - mine haven't failed in any way. The only drawback is that the designs tend to be a bit heavy ... so evaluate that if it is a concern. but it's generally only a factor on the large blades & swords.

    overall i am very positive about Cold Steel and their customer service has been first class.

    cheers,
    CA R
     
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    As hso said: there is no such thing!

    So whatever steel they used for your knife/knives worked well for you but it may just be 1095 for all you really know.
     
  5. zignal_zero

    zignal_zero Member

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    As previously stated - cold steel does not MAKE knives, they MAKE videos and catalogs. So the "quality" of a CS knife depends entirely of WHO made it for them. I have limited experience with their Chinese stuff. However the older Japanese made Tantos were quite nice and the Carbon V knives (made by Camillus who is no longer around) were absolute TANKS. If you get a chance to buy a Recon Tanto that says "USA" and "Carbon V" or an SRK marked the same way, do not pass it up :)
     
  6. hillbilly

    hillbilly Member

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    hso wrote "CAS, Chiness, and Kris have products that cut as well or better than CS at the same or even lower price. What CS does is market reasonably well to the public."

    Googling around, I found Kris Cutlery.

    Who are "Chiness" and "CAS?"

    I'm looking for some knives and would like to check out their product lines.

    Thanks!
     
  7. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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  8. Rob0321

    Rob0321 Member

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    I got their Hatamoto folder as a gift a few years back. It is massive for a pocket knife but seems very well made. I have actually never used it as I carry an Emerson CQC-8 for work or a Spyderco Harpy for dress up occasions. The Hatamoto is just too darn big.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. CA Raider

    CA Raider Member

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    "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. "

    That may be true - but I don't have a problem with that.
    Lynn Thompson, in my experience, is a straight-up guy.
    He doesn't play games with his products, and he doesn't screw over his customers. I'm not saying anyone else does, either.

    It's pretty logical that if a knife company stays in business a long time, they may need to change suppliers. When that happens, subtle differences in an alloy composition could take place. So they could have changed "Carbon V" a bit. But the point is that Lynn doesn't throw products on the market - he tests them to death. All I can tell you is that the Carbon V blades I've had have been excellent.

    I haven't compared Carbon V to 1095. To be honest, I actually like 1095 and I've got nothing against it at all. I don't think Carbon V is identical - I suspect Lynn and the folks at CS have probably alloyed something else into the mix. And once they have established a formula they think works pretty well, I would think they would stick it with it where practical.

    People tend to give CS a hard time because their suppliers and subcontractors are overseas, or some of their baldes are cheaper alloys (e.g. ATS). But really that is purely a function of economics. Americans just are not willing to spend the $$ to buy good blades. So from a marketing perspective, folks like CS have got no choice but to get things made in China. The essential thing is that they are designing and thoroughly testing all their products. That is their important contribution. People who want to spend a lot of money on good blades can buy high-quality alloys from CS. I've got one "San Mai" blade from them, and really wish I could afford to own more.

    I'm not against other knife manufacturers. I own knives from other people - and they are good blades too.
    But everyone is subject to the same painful laws of economics, that's all.

    CA R
     
  10. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Actually, he does play games with his products. One has only to watch some of his own videos to see this. But that's not bad, in and of itself: it's marketing strategy, at its bottom line.

    I DO find SOME of his videos to be misleading. Whether anybody wants to call them "dishonest", I'll leave that up to them. Myself, I would prefer some of his videos to be more straight-up than they appear to be.

    By the testimony of many here, it would appear that there ARE decent CS products to be had, so at the very least Lynn cannot be said to be "all bad". On the flip side of the coin, however, some have apparently ended up with a bad apple or two from CS.


    "People tend to give CS a hard time because their suppliers and subcontractors are overseas, or some of their baldes are cheaper alloys (e.g. ATS). But really that is purely a function of economics."

    Respectfully, I disagree with this. Quality is a function of standards, not economics. If standards are set forth for a contractor, it doesn't matter who the contractor is or where they are: they're responsible for producing the material or product to the standards agreed upon. If those standards are low, or not clearly defined, then the contractor has more leeway in what materials to use and how to produce the product.

    If one changes the standards in order to affect the economics, then the same rule applies: the contractor is obligated to produce the material and product to the standards agreed upon.

    The onus for the quality therefore lies with the originator...in this case, CS. Not the contractors they do business with. If the various contractors use different steels and CS accepts this, then that's because CS has said that it's OK.
     
  11. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    Lynn Thompson aside, Cold Steel is solely a promotion an advertising company. The quality of the products they sell was always determined by who made them. A Camillus-made Cold Steel knife is perfectly respectable (as long as you didn't pay too much for it), but I have always thought there are both better-quality knives and better value knives at any of the price points Cold Steel has.

    The only thing they do have that's worthwhile is that they have a truly amazing variety of random things. Want a bush knife that's a spear point as well? A sjambok? A waxwood cane? A lot of those things were hard to find before Cold Steel started bringing them out, so I give them a little credit for that.

    Of course, I have to take that credit back for their blatant willingness to steal other people's designs and pass them off as originals, but they're not the only cutlery company or custom maker who does that, I guess.
     
  12. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Not that I disagree with you, but what personal experience do you have with Mr. Thompson?


    I agree with that, except where the dealer and distributor are considered "customers". They had a very annoying practice in years passed of selling product themselves at shows below what their commercial customers could sell it for and that earned them some hard feelings. I haven't seen them do this at the Blade Show for many years so the sore feelings over that practice seems to have passed as well.

    1095 is 1095, ATS-34 is ATS-34, 154-CM is 154-CM, 440C is 440C. There's no subtle difference in alloys with specs to industry standards established by organizations like AMS, ASTM, AISI, ASME, Federal, Mil and SAE. A new alloy is simply different from a different alloy, but there's nothing different about the specs of known alloys designated for them by those organizations. Where it gets interesting is when a non-standard steel is developed (more and more today) and the specs for the steel are not released (and a clever name is used for it). See AG Russell's chart for info. The chief engineer for KaBar, Paul Tsujimoto, worked with the steels back them and summarizes Carbon V's history as - mid 1980s, Carbon V was originally 1095CV/0170-06/50100B, early 1990s, Carbon V started out as 1095CV/0170-06/50100B but while at the CS location in Ontario CA, Dan Maragni removed the small amount of nickel from the formula, ~1995, Carbon V stayed 0170-06 minus the nickel.
    After that I've not seen anything authoritative enough to cite.


    That's generally been my experience, but that doesn't always extend to overall product changes. "Carbon V" is supposed to have been also known as CV (which was 0170-6 and THAT was a 1095 modified with some Ni, Cr, and Mo by Shannon as a cutlery steel) up to the late 80's and then the steel changes because Shannon is gone and then reappears when CV is brought back briefly and then changes again as Camillus dies. Also remember that a blade is more than the steel. Heat treat and edge geometry along with the steel are critical in making a blade more the sum of the parts.

    I agree with the second part of that. CS never switched the steel for "Carbon V" unless there was a very good reason (e.g. Camillus going out of business, Shannon Steel going out of business in 1988).

    I disagree with the first part because CS doesn't make steel (no major knife company does) and they don't have steel made for them (only a very few may) and they don't manufacture the blades themselves. They contract all of that to have their designs made for them. There's no tinkering with alloys done at CS. That's neither good nor bad because they're trying to bring a product to the consumer at a price that sells.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  13. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    Come to think of it, I had one of those Cold Steel kukris, the $20 one, not the $200 one.

    The steel appeared to be rough-finished, parkerized carbon steel. By 'rough' I mean the blade bevel appeared rough cut, like tree bark or 100-grit sandpaper. There were visible rough machining marks all over it. The bevels were unevenly ground, assuming they were not simply cut, and the edge started out rolled with small bits of steel sticking out at different angles.

    I had the same complaint about the handle, sharp, but not terribly grippy. Had a good shape, though.

    I am not sure if mine was ever heat treated. I bought it for $20, but a Tramontina or Ontario machete would have been a better deal. I actually have an Ontario milsurp machete, and the handle is cracked, but the blade itself is fantastic.
     
  14. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Yup. That is all perfectly normal and acceptable for a machete.

    Cold Steel/Lasher is even a bit ahead of the curve for the grind in that the bevels will usually meet.

    http://www.shootingreviews.com/machetes-and-you-a-short-introduction-for-the-novice-user/
     
  15. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Oh really?

    Hey, I read similiar garbage and more on Bladeforums. Cold Steel hate threads that went a 1000 posts and more. Haters on Badforums have developed quite a number of bogus tenants they use to bash Cold Steel. The one you posted is just one of many, and I am certain you did not come up with it by yourself. Why don’t you take your Badforums bashing of Cold Steel back over to Badforums?

    Isn’t anyone overseeing the moderators here?
     
  16. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Slamfire, I'm very intrigued! What experience do you have with Cold Steel's manufacturing capacity? Have you been on plant tours or met their factory workers? That would be really cool to hear about!
     
  17. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Yup.



    You a Jim Croce fan?


    In any case, it isn't wise to make brand loyalty a part of ones self identity.

    Or, to paraphrase Tyler Durden, " You are not your knife." ;)
     
  18. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    Right I agree, why wouldn't they? And why wouldn't I argue they are not if that was my opinion? And it is. And I'd say its just about a factual statement they are not the baddest toughest knife manufacturer in the biz. No matter the knife in their catalog I believe there is a better option by another manufacture many made in America.

    SlamFire1, I'm not sure those statements you pointed out are "garbage". Companies earn their reputations sometimes.

    I dunno can go around and around. Either you like them or you don't I guess. Their youtube videos sells it for you or you think it makes them look ridiculous.

    Either way as usual I enjoy the conversation.
     
  19. AKElroy

    AKElroy Member

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    You folks are far more knowledgeable than me on this stuff, but I do think I can judge quality. Some of the stuff they make looks gimaky and cheesy ( the AK 47 comes to mind) but the Lawman is built like a tank. I find it a very durable, hard use knife. The belt clip could pull a car without bending,and I always seem to have these things break and/or work lose on other knives.

    Can we start on SOG next? Aren't they kind of in the same category? I have a Vulcan Tanto with a San Mai laminated blade that is exceptional( but for the weak belt clip. )
     
  20. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Start a new thread if you want to discuss SOG products.

    edit: I say that with a smile and absence of grump.

    If you have a good idea for a thread, don't hesitate to start one. This forum is a community creation and depends on YOU guys to make it live.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  21. Morgo

    Morgo Member

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    I don't mind Cold Steel gear, I think they make some good stuff, mainly their San Mai III gear, as well as some cheap junk. Its like all things if your only spending a few dollars on the item don't expect awesome quality.

    I have the Trailmaster in San Mai III and one of their older Japanese made small tantos.

    I also had this one arrive last week.

    _MG_6754_zps5dde6317.jpg

    For no other reason than I've always like the Tai Pan.

    My go to knives that actually get used are Esee's :)
     
  22. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    ^^^^

    I like the Tai Pan, too! Vaguely reminds me of my Gerber Mark II, which I've had since the early 80's.

    Darn sight more expensive than my Gerber was, though. Holy cow! Five hundred bones!
     
  23. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    Why don't other knife company's answer Lynn Thompsons Challenge . He has on videos dared them to prove their knife lock can stand up to his test or Cut like his knives. I don't see any one answering for a 1 on 1 show down . I have several CS knives dating back to early 90's to present times. That all have served me well . I have met Lynn several times at NRA conventions since I work a booth doing the conventions and always try to drop buy for a look and a chat. . He can be sometimes a little over bearing but. He believes in what he sells. I would like to see him and another company go head to head . Use knives of comparable model . I go no where with out my XL voyager clipped to pocket.

    Lets see who tactical folder has strongest lock , Will cut the best Make fun of his videos but she me you brand equal or better at same task. In same price range.
     
  24. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    No company actually cares to do this and there's no real benefit to actually screwing up a great marketing strategy. There are plenty of enthusiasts these days to post youtubers anyway and that just constitutes free advertising.
     
  25. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    I had to do A bit of excision this thread.
    Focus on the knives people.
     
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