Pat’s Product Review: Cold Steel’s Assegai Spears

I’ll reach social security age later this year – time has flown by in my life. However, my mind is still sharp, and I can remember so much of my childhood, it amazes me at times. If you were a guy, and grew-up in the 1950s and 1960s, you’ll appreciate this memory. I don’t know of any kid on my block, back in Chicago, who didn’t make a “spear” of some sort – usually, we got in big trouble, because we took the kitchen broom and broke the handle off and sharpened (using that term loosely) into a point, and we all had spears to toss at targets. Even back then, as kids, we knew better than to throw the spears at each other – but usually found cardboard boxes to use as targets. And, when it was discovered that we “requisitioned” the kitchen broom – and we all did it – for our spears….well, let’s just say we paid for our evil deeds.
Cold Steel’s owner, Lynn Thompson, has a fascination, with all manner of sharp objects, not just knives. He also has developed many useful self-defense products, that are used daily. When I was running three martial arts schools, at one time – in different locations – I made a large purchase of Irish Blackthorn Walking Sticks, from Cold Steel – and my students snapped them in up short order. These were the genuine Irish Blackthorn Walking Sticks, not the synthetic ones, which Cold Steel is now offering. I can’t think of any place in the world, were a walking stick is illegal to own. You can even carry one onto a plane – just “limp” a little bit while walking with your “cane.”  So, it came as no surprise to me, that Lynn Thompson developed the Assegai Long shaft  and Assegai Short Shaft spears. Thompson never ceases to amaze me, the way he searches history, to come out with improved and modern renditions of ancient weapons.
The Assegai Spears were first on the scene in the early 1800s and were the result of Zulu King Shaka, and if you’ve ever watched some old movies, in which some tribes in Africa were depicted, you usually saw the warriors carrying some type of spear, with the most common one being some sort of long shaft Assegai Spear. Thompson is a real student of ancient and modern weaponry, and don’t kind yourself, he isn’t just into things that cut or can smash a skull, he’s also into firearms and big game hunting as well. And, he can shoot, and shoot very well, too.
The Assegai Long Shaft spear is 6-foot 9 1/2 inches long – it is definitely on the long side. The short shaft model is 38 inches in length – quite a bit shorter than the longer version. The SK-5 mild carbon steel heads are 13 1/3 inches long on both models. And the shafts are made out of American Ash wood – with the shorter shaft being dyed a darker color – for some reason. I waited a year for my samples to arrive, these spears are always in great demand, and more often than not, you’ll find them on back-order on the Cold Steel web site. However, if you search around on the Internet, you can usually find them for sale some place…and they are well worth the wait or the search, trust me.
Now, the Long Shaft Assegai Spear is meant to be thrown in target practice, the mild carbon steel heads will bend if you hit something hard, though – like a large tree – been there, done that – on my own homestead. However, you can set-up a bale of straw, or hay. or an archery target, or very thickly-stacked cardboard and practice your throwing skills that way – just be close enough to the target, so the spear doesn’t smash into the ground. And, without a doubt, the long shaft Assegai is much better suited for throwing purposes, while the short shaft model is better suited for close-in combat against an attacker. [JWR Adds: Shaka, King of the Zulus was right: Except for a few circumstances, stabbing with a spear is the best way to use them in combat. That is why he ordered that all spear shafts be shortened.)] And the spears aren’t designed for slicing and dicing, they are designed to penetrate an attacker, and with the 13-1/3 inch head, it can do the job. However, in a pinch, if you can get close enough to a game animal, and have practiced your throwing skills, I can see you taking game in a survival situation, I really can!
Now, I’m not advocating that anyone head out to the wilderness, with only an Assegai Spear, and live off the land and hunt with it – that is not what this spear is designed for, and you’ll die in short order if you believe you can live off the land with a spear and a loin clothe as your only clothing.  Nor am I’m saying that the Assegai spears are the perfect weapon for self-defense, either. What I’m saying is that, these spears are a lot of fun to own, and they would look great hanging on the office wall at home or at work, and they are a great conversation piece as well, not to mention the history behind them.
We are simply looking at, a couple of very well made spears, that can, in a pinch, save your butt, let’s say, if someone was breaking into your home – “yes” you can defend yourself with a spear – but let’s not be foolish here – I’m sure you’ve all heard to never bring a knife to a gun fight – well, the same holds true here, don’t bring a spear to a gun fight, either. Believe me, if someone had one of these spears flailing it around in front of me and I had nothing but empty hands, I believe I would remember an appointment I had on the other side of town and get to it.
Survival comes in many guises, and unfortunately, many armchair survivalist, believe that survival means heading out to the wilderness and playing Rambo with a knife, or in this case, just a spear. Yes, you can, in a pinch, take game with a spear, if you’ve practiced and have a quality product to start with. However, a spear wouldn’t be my first choice in a hunting weapon, but it also wouldn’t be my last choice, either – I believe I’d take a spear over a David and Goliath sling shot. And, I’d sure take a spear over throwing stones, or being empty-handed, too. So, there is a place for a spear, especially if you are into more than just guns and knives, as a collector, Survivalist or Prepper.
Both the Long and Short Assegai Spears come with a polymer sheath to cover the spear’s head when not in use, too. And, the spears come in two parts, the head and the shaft, that you have to put together – just a couple screws, takes a few minutes. The Long Assegai retails for $76.99 and the Short Assegai retails for $65.99 – and in my humble opinion, you’ll want both models – if for no other reason than to hang them on the wall in your office or den. When I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate, he had several spears and other weapons from Africa in his Annex building – that was next to his house – where he kept all his guns, knives, books, and other weapons, and we had many conversations about the spears, that once belonged to a relative of his, who was a professional big game hunter in Africa.
So, if you want to add a little something a little bit different to your weapons battery, or just have one of these Assegai Spears as a conversation piece, or have some fun, throwing them into a hay bale, or as a last ditch weapon, place your order for one or both – and I’m betting you’ll want both of them – they are a lot of fun, and they do start conversations when someone comes to your home or office. Lynn Thompson never ceases to amaze me, with the variety and different types of weapons he comes out with at Cold Steel. And, one comment I have heard over and over again, by folks when they saw my Assegai Spears was “awesome!”  – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio