Cold Steel SR1 Folding Tanto, by Pat Cascio

20 August 1935 The birthday of former Congressman Ron Paul. He recently retired from congress. Dr. Paul is to be commended for fighting the good fight for many years.

Cold Steel SR1 Folding Tanto, by Pat Cascio

Under review in this article is one of the most awesome folding knives I’ve ever tested. It isn’t one of those dealer display knives that are huge but worthless. Nope. It is the Cold Steel SR1 Folding Tanto.

Many of our readers have requested that we test some more expensive knives. We are happy to do so, when they become available for testing.

Friendship Set Aside When Test Products

More than one reader has “accused” me of having a bias, when it comes to some products, because I know the people who run these companies. It’s difficult to not become friends with all these great folks. However, those who have known me for a lot of years know that our friendship is set aside when I test their products.

I’ve Ruffled Some Feathers With My Reviews

On more than one occasion, I’ve managed to ruffle some feathers with my reviews. They have to keep in mind that I’m testing just one sample, and I have a certain criteria I use in my testing. In the end, the final results are just my opinion, though it’s an educated opinion and one I’ve earned over the years as a writer with more than 26 years under my belt.

One gun company refused to send me any more firearms because I wrote up one of their guns in an unfavorable light. I try to be more than fair. If I think I got a bad gun, I’ll give the company a chance to either repair the sample or send me a new one. In the case referenced, after three strikes, I called it. It was a poorly designed gun.

Don’t Play Favorites, A Fair Writer

Long time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel knives has been sending me his knives for testing for close to 25 years now. To be sure, Lynn knows that I don’t play favorites, when it comes to his products. I test them fairly and give my results to our readers. We might have had a disagreement or two over the years, but Lynn knows I’m a fair writer.

Most Awesome Folder Ever Come Across

I recently received the Cold Steel SR1 folding tanto knife, and it is, without a doubt, the most awesome folder I’ve ever run across. It is that well-made and stout.

Lynn Thompson– “The King of Tanto Knives”

Over the years, I’ve claimed that Cold Steel set the gold standard, when it came to super-sharp knives. However, after reviewing this SR1 folder, I’m declaring Lynn Thompson the “King of Tanto knives”. Thompson started the trend with the modern tanto fixed-blade knife some years back, and there have been many, numerous, imitators, but none come close to the Cold Steel line of tanto blades. They are that good.

Tanto Copies Were Junk

Many companies had copies of the Cold Steel Tanto made in China. They looked “okay” for the most part, but they were absolute junk, plain and simple. If you want a Cold Steel tanto, fixed or folding blade knife, then the only place to get one that’s the best-of-the-best is from Cold Steel.

Fit My Hand, Worth the Wait

I like big folders with blades between 3 ½ inches and 4 inches in length. They just seem to fit my hand perfectly and can do more chores for me than smaller folders or bigger folders. I was excited when I read about the Cold Steel SR1 folding Tanto. Through a mistake, it took several months for me to receive my sample, but the wait was worth it.

Cold Steel SR1 Tanto Folder Overview

We are looking at a folding Tanto blade that is four inches long and made out of CPM-S35VN stainless steel– one of the new super stainless steels. The knife weighs in at 7.2 oz, so it’s no light weight, but it feels good in the hand and carries nicely in the pants pocket with its heavy duty pocket clip. The overall length, opened, is 9 3/8 inches, which is nice.

Where It Departs From Other Quality Folders Tested

Here’s where it departs from just about every quality folder I’ve tested. The blade is 4.8mm thick. We are talking a thick blade. The handle scales are made out of OD green G-10 laminate, which is extra tough stuff, and it is checkered for a sure grip under any weather conditions. Needles to say, it has the famous Cold Steel Tanto blade with a super sharp point that is almost bullet proof.


I do various types of tests with knives, and of course one of the first things I do is test for sharpness. Yep, this SR1 has the famous Cold Steel edge on the blade. It also has a combination of a slightly polished and subdued finish on the blade, which is very attractive. We also have the Tri-Ad lock, which is one of the strongest if not the strongest types of locks for a folding knife. No worries about this baby accidentally closing on your fingers, once you have the blade opened and locked.

As long time readers know, I live in rural western Oregon, and we have an over abundance of blackberries in our area, and our small rural homestead is no different. I hate spraying to kill these vines; it is expensive, and I don’t like using those chemicals. So, I cut down a lot of blackberry vines all year ‘round. We recently had one super-thick blackberry vine in our driveway, near where I park my pickup truck. It was vicious and seemed like it would reach out and grab you on the naked arm. Well, the SR1 folder took this thick vine down with one swipe. Any lesser knife wouldn’t have done so.

Cut the Frozen Cake

I stab stacked cardboard, and the SR1 easily stabbed to the handle scales. I also cut poly rope, which was no match at all for this man’s folder. Cutting open UPS and FedEx boxes was no challenge at all. Using it in the kitchen for cutting up veggies and fruit was a piece of cake, and it actually was used to slice an ice cream cake for our oldest daughter’s birthday with no problem at all.

Well-Designed Stainless Steel Pocket Clip

I honestly thought that the SR1 would feel heavy in my right front cargo pants pocket. Nope! Thanks to the extra wide and well-designed stainless steel pocket clip, the knife rode nicely in my pocket. The clip is so stout that it did take some effort to draw the SR1 from my pocket. I would rather have that than a loose clip that would allow the knife to just fall out of the pocket and get lost.

Great Every Day Carry Folder

The SR1 would make a great EDC folder for various every day tasks, as well as using it for self-defense. That huge bade will sure give the bad guy second thoughts about attacking you. As a wilderness survival folder, yep, it can handle that…almost. Almost? Well, it will do as well as a small fixed blade knife would. It would easily dress out game or fish, too.

Can Easily See SR1 Adopted By Military

I can easily see the SR1 being adopted by the military, or those in the military buying it out of their own pockets, and also special forces operators, too. It would be my first choice in a folder for use in the field. For anything that might come your way, the knife really is that good and that “bad”, if you ask me.

Now, for all your naysayers, the Cold Steel SR1 is made overseas. If you have a problem with this, then you will be missing out on one of the best and most awesome tactical folding knives there is. The call is yours, but be advised that Cold Steel does not have their knives produced by prison labor. Far from it. |

I’ve saved the best for last, the full-retail on the Cold Steel SR1 is $274.99. If you ask me, it is a deal at that price. Knowing what I know about this knife, I would expect to pay a couple hundred bucks more for it. It is that good of a folder, and one that will never let you down under any circumstances. Also, don’t forget the Cold Steel lifetime warranty. I don’t think you will ever need it, but it’s there if you do. The SR1 is in short supply these days, so if you want one, get on the ‘net and start looking for one. As this articles is being written, Cold Steel is out of stock on this baby, and I am not surprised at all.


  1. Pat,

    Since as a blade shape novice I’m behind the curve on not being familiar with tanto blades would you please give your experience on them. Obliviously you like the SR1 as an EDC but I have some doubts as a defense weapon the second or so it would take to unfold. It sounds like it is made more for stabbing than slashing? Would the stab wound stay open for bleeding and is there a blood groove? I assume the tanto is single-edged, beveled? Would that be limiting in a fight? (Yea, I’m old-school Gerber Mark I.)

    And as a bush craft knife it’s “almost” aspect plus not being a full tang. Does it have a ninety degree spine for striking a ferro-rod or batoning?

    As an EDC it sounds great but as no knife can do everything maybe for a lesser price a Mora knife bicycle tubed to a Ka-Bar?

  2. pat- use vinegar on the cut stumps of the unwanted berry; next best thing to 2% roundup. I’m not afraid of roundup, but I wouldn’t drink it. uncle eric

  3. The Tanto blade on the Cold Steel SR1 has a double bevel, unlike some that have only a bevel on one side – a chisel grind. The Tanto blade is outstanding at stabbing – and many can penetrate soft body armor. The Tanto blade actually has two cutting surfaces, one on the main part of the blade, and the second on the small tanto upswept portion of the blade – it is an oustanding stabber and slasher. The US Navy SEALs have conducted testing on Tanto-style blades and their tests reveal they are outstanding at slashing – better than other blades.

    Yes, you can use it for striking a ferro rod, but I prefer to use a hack saw blade…and as to batoning – I’d much rather use a fixed blade knife. As you surmise, no one knife can do it all, but the Cold Steel SR1 is one heck of a folder, one I’d carry into combat…


  4. Available from Amazon for $147
    I bought the 3.5″ Cold Steel CTX XHP about 3 months ago. Best folder I have ever owned. $84 from Amazon.
    Large Carl

  5. It’s a fine knife. I personally find the Finn Wolf from Cold Steel more useful as EDC, but it’s a trade off. Few designs stab as well as a tanto point, but a scandi blade like the Finn Wolf is better for skinning and general use, in my opinion.

  6. I’m sure it’s fine for opening boxes and impressing your friends. Stabbing? Bushcrafting? Really? I am not looking at a $275 FOLDING knife, period. That’s just insane. You obviously have a very different idea of “value” than I do. I’ll take my Ka-Bar and my $30 Chinese Ganzo auto. I suppose next we’ll have a review and sales pitch for a Cold Steel sword cane or katana or Damascus-steel steak knives?

  7. I’m sure it’s fine for opening boxes and impressing your friends. Stabbing? Bushcrafting? Really? I am not looking at a $275 FOLDING knife, period. That’s just insane. You obviously have a very different idea of “value” than I do. I’ll take my Ka-Bar and my $30 Chinese Ganzo auto. I suppose next we’ll have a review and sales pitch for a Cold Steel sword cane or katana or Damascus-steel steak knives?

  8. Pat C. – Thanks for the review. Always appreciated. I’ve got a few large folders and one of the things I’ve been looking for is a slightly thicker blade. Tanto point designs seem to lend themselves to allowing for a thicker profile for most of the length of the blade. I’ll be sure to check out the SR1.

    BinWY – there is a difference between the MSRP and actual “street price”. In this case the knife sells for about $125 under MSRP and that makes it a good value. I know more than a little about knives and Cold Steel makes a high quality product. This knife would be a good choice as a primary carry for years – even decades. I’ve got a few in the $50-$75 range where the construction is acceptable but steel quality and edge retention is less than desired.
    Your money, your choice. After some of my experiences I’ll take a higher quality more expensive knife over a bargain knife any day. Any knife can serve one’s needs – until it fails unexpectedly under heavy use or repetitive use exposes growing dissatisfaction with scale contours, etc.

    Everyone – be respectful with your comments. There is a way to be polite while still delivering constructive comments. Anonymity seems to bring out the inconsiderate side of people.

  9. I have a Rawles Cold Steel Voyager folding Tamto knife and I have to say this thing is extremely sharp and durable. And bought it for 80.00 bucks even. Now it is big,but boy it is sharp and simple and robust. Not the same as Pat’s SR1 but close. As this is the 6th Cold Steel knife I own I agree they are quality knives at moderate price points. You can’t go wrong here.

  10. US Special Operations troops use Benchmade folders for deployments/assignments where guns are prohibited.

    Secondly and separately, would love to see Pat’s reviews be less about Pat…

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