The Cold Steel Range Boss is a light, sharp, thin, and tough knife for everyday carry (EDC). With a manufacturer-suggested retail price at the date of this writing of $51.99 and available online for as low as $37.05, it represents a great value for the cost-conscious knife buyer. It is also a good, solid knife for the buyer for whom money is no object.
I recently asked Cold Steel if I could review their four-inch Range Boss knife in black. They were kind enough to agree, and a few days later a package arrived via FedEx from GSM, LLC., 5250 Frye Road, Irving, TX 75061.
Opening the Box
The 6.25 X 4.5 x 4.25 inch shipping box contained a 5.5 x 1.75 x 1.88 inch product box. The product box was chock full of interesting information. It told me that Cold Steel’s motto is “Anytime. Anywhere.” It provided an address and phone number for Cold Steel that is different from their headquarters address in Irvin, Texas (6060 Nicolle St., Ventura, CA 93003; 800-255-4716). It told me that the item number for the four-inch Range Boss with a black handle is CS-20KR5. It called attention to videos and other helpful materials on social media sites and at ColdSteel.com.
The product box also gave me the Cold Steel warranty:
“We stand behind our products 100%. We subject them to the highest standards in the industry and strive to make each as perfect as possible. We warrant that this product is free of defects in workmanship and materials. The warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, damage caused by misuse, lack of normal maintenance, or disassembly. Remember, anything can break or fail if subject to sufficient abuse. So please do not use this product inappropriately.”
The box also noted, “Please use caution when handling Cold Steel products. Knives are extremely sharp.” I am ashamed to live in a society so litigious that a knife vendor finds it necessary to warn a knife buyer that knives are sharp. A society like that has already sown the seeds of its own destruction, and those seeds are beginning to bear fruit. A society like that cannot be expected to long endure.
In addition to providing helpful information, the packaging was appropriate. It was a simple cardboard box containing a knife wrapped in bubble wrap. The packaging was sufficient to protect the product without wasting valuable resources that could have been better invested in the product itself.
The knife is thinner than most. The handle has a nice gritty surface that proved easy to grip under a variety of conditions. The pocket clip is very simple –perhaps too simple. I felt that it was the least pleasing aspect of the design. It also started out a little too tight, making it difficult to clip the knife onto the pocket and difficult to detach the knife from the pocket.
The Range Boss series of knives are all made in Taiwan. There are thumb studs on the blade to assist in opening it one-handed.
The locking mechanism is excellent. When the blade is locked open, it is locked so solidly in place that it almost feels like a fixed-blade knife.
The four-inch clip point blade is made of 4034SS steel. That blade is a little longer than the blades of most of the EDC knives that I have used in the past. The additional closed length necessary to accommodate the longer blade made the knife just a smidgen longer than I prefer. The knife occasionally bumped against other items in my pocket rather than riding above them.
The stone-washed finish on the blade is attractive and durable. The blade came out of the box razor sharp. It was perhaps the sharpest knife right out of the box that I had ever handled up to that point. The blade retained its edge well, and was easy to re-hone.
As mentioned above, the Zy-Ex handle is quite thin. That thinness felt a little funny at first, but it did not interfere with functionality, and enhanced ease of carry.
My usual EDC is a Leatherman Skeletool, so it was natural (although perhaps a bit unfair) for me to compare and contrast the Range Boss with that tool.
On my second day of carrying the Range Boss, I needed a pair of pliers to tighten a couple of nuts holding the blade on a scythe. At that point, it was obvious that the Range Boss is a knife and not a multi-tool. I missed my Skeletool.
Over the course of my testing period, I was able to use the Range Boss for a host of tasks. I used it to scrape corrosion off the contacts of a battery-powered pencil sharpener that I was repairing. I used it as a hammer to put a nail in a wall upon which to hang a picture (The handle was not damaged by this abuse). I used it to cut fibrous plant material off the shaft of my rototiller. I was very pleased with the knife’s performance in all of these roles and others.
The thin profile of the knife allows easier access to other items in my pocket while the knife is clipped there than is the case with other knives with thicker handles.
I mentioned the excellent locking mechanism above. It is the Cold Steel Tri-Ad lock system.
Cold Steel advertises this locking system as “the most secure and safest folding knife locking system on the market.” This specialized lock-back design is reported to hold up to 800 pounds of hanging weights.
The Tri-Ad lock system consists of four major features: the blade is shouldered around the stop pin for increased resistance to wear and tear, extra space is provided to allow the rocker to fall deeper into the notch over time in response to normal wear and tear, the slightly angled lock tends to force the lock inwards under pressure instead of outward, and the rocker pin hole is made with extra space on either side to allow for self-adjustment.
All of this is not just marketing hype. It really does add up to an outstanding locking mechanism.
“Ehud’s” Knife Notes
When I am evaluating a knife, it is not unusual for me to consult with my friend “Ehud”. Ehud is a true connoisseur of fine knives. I have nicknamed him Ehud in honor of the Biblical judge of that name. Judge Ehud was a knife maker and user of great renown. You can read the story of Ehud in Judges 3:12-30.
My friend Ehud and I have different perspectives about knives. I am a user of knives. I view them as tools. Ehud is an admirer of knives. He views them as objets d’art. This often impacts our evaluation of various knives. But in the case of the Range Boss, our observations were quite similar.
I turned the Range Boss over to Ehud for a couple of weeks of evaluation. At the end of this testing period, Ehud had a number of observations to share.
He noted that there were good scales on the handle that made it easy to grip. He found the blade to be sharp, durable, and to hold an edge well. He also found the light weight of the knife to be an advantage for everyday carry.
Although he is a knife connoisseur, Ehud is also a manual laborer. This forces him to employ some knives as tools, and that is what he did with the Range Boss. He carried the knife with him for a week as a work knife at his job. He described this use of the knife at work as “abuse”, but noted that the Range Boss stood up to the challenge with no damage.
His final evaluation was, “I would recommend this knife to anyone who is looking for a good, reliable, and easy-to-use knife.”
Cold Steel’s History
Cold Steel was founded in 1980, and is headquartered in Irvin, Texas. Their products are manufactured in many countries throughout the world including the United States, Japan, mainland China, India, Italy, and South Africa, but mostly in Taiwan. Again, the Range Boss knives are all made in Taiwan. Cold Steel offers a bewildering array of knives, swords, arrowheads, axes, canes, machetes, and similar items.
Cold Steel offers free sharpening of its knives. The customer just needs to secure a return authorization number and provide $10 for shipping and handling. In view of the excellent job the factory did at sharpening the knife during the manufacturing process, I would expect their re-sharpening to be done skillfully as well.
The Cold Steel Range Boss is a sharp, tough, and reasonably priced knife for everyday carry. It is proof that you don’t need to have an expensive knife to have a good knife. I recommend it for serious consideration to those who are seeking an effective knife for everyday carry.
Cold Steel was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Range Boss knife for testing and evaluation. I tried not to allow their kindness to influence my assessment of their product, and believe that I have succeeded in remaining objective.
I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.