Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Cold Steel’s Broken Skull

It happens all too often, and I don’t know what people don’t understand when I tell them a knife is super-sharp and not to run their finger down the blade. The first thing they do, when I hand them a knife I’m testing, is to run their finger down the blade and cut themselves. I like to believe that I speak in a manner that folks can understand what I’m saying, but, alas, many just have to learn lessons the hard way. I usually keep one or two Band-Aids in my wallet for the slow learners who refuse to heed my warnings.

For close to 25 years now, I’ve been testing Cold Steel knives and reviewing them in various knife magazines, as well on several blogs. I’ve yet to run across one of their knives that wasn’t sharp as sharp can be. I’ve said thousands of times that Cold Steel set the gold standard when it comes to sharp knives. Everyone else had to jump on the train or get left at the station, when it came to selling sharp knives right out the box. I used to collect custom, handmade knives, and you would be shocked at how many custom knife makers can’t put a halfway decent edge on their knives. They produce works of arts, but many can’t sharpen their own designs. It’s sad!

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Long time friend Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel, is very particular about his knives. In the past, he has been known to reject entire shipments of knives after inspecting some at random, because they didn’t meet his high standards in one area or another. Lest anyone think that just because Thompson and I are friends that I only sing the highest praises about his knives, you’d be wrong, dead wrong! Lynn and I have had a few differences in the past on some topics, but we remain friends. He knows that I will give his knives a little extra testing, just so no one can claim I gave his knives a pass in my testing. It’s just the way I am. When my oldest daughter was promoted to Black Belt under my watchful eye, I made her work extra hard for that Black Belt, once again, because I didn’t want anyone saying that I simply “gave” her the promotions to reach that rank.

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Lynn Thompson has teamed up with legendary pro wrestler Steve “The Rattlesnake” Austin on several Cold Steel knives, which will bear Austin’s name. Anyone who has followed Austin over the years knows that he is an avid hunter and outdoorsman and has a great love for knives– good knives, not junk.

The first knife out of the Cold Steel stable that bears Steve Austin’s name on it is the Broken Skull folder. If you watch any of the TV shows that Austin hosts, you’ll know what Broken Skull means. There are several different versions of the Broken Skull, and the only difference is in the handle colors. I have the Broken Skull I for this article. Lynn Thompson knows that on more than a few occasions I have misplaced or lost one of his knives on my small homestead with it falling in the grass or getting laid down where I couldn’t find it. So, Thompson, wisely sent me the Broken Skull folder with the bright orange G10 handle scales. Boy, do they stand out. It’d be hard to lose this one, even if I tried.

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The first thing that caught my attention on my Broken Skull sample was how light weight it is. It weighs a mere 3.1 ounces. Yeah, you read that right. It’s a 4” blade folder that only comes in at slightly over 3 oz. Amazing. The blade is made out of CTS XHP alloy Carpenters steel with a black DLC coating, for a nice subdued look. The coating helps protect the blade from the elements; it isn’t just for looks.

Thompson wisely picked his Tri-Ad lock, which is one of the strongest locks, if not the strongest lock, used on a folding knife. There are also ambidextrous thumb studs on the blade, for ease of opening. It does take a little effort, because of the stout Tri-Ad lock. There is a reversible pocket clip for tip up carry in either pocket. The overall length of the knife when open is 9 ¼ inches. We also have Steve Austin’s name on the blade, as well as “Broken Skull.” Cool!

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On a daily basis, I usually have two key rings in one pocket, one and quite often two folding knives– one in each of my front pockets, two wallets– one in each back pocket, a small high intensity flashlight in my right front pocket, and very little cash and change. On my belt, you will find whichever handgun I’m carrying. This changes. I do carry the handguns I test for my articles, along with a spare magazine and a Leatherman multi-tool. On my ankle is my back-up handgun, and that is almost always my Ruger LCP .380 ACP pistol. I probably carry an extra 8-10 lbs on myself every single day. So, anything that takes a little weight off of my “Batman Utility Belt” is welcomed. The Broken Skull at a mere 3.1 oz. It doesn’t add much of any extra weight that I have to carry. Over the course of a month, I often forgot I had the Broken Skull folder in my left front pocket.

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Some people believe I overdo it with two handguns. I don’t, and neither do many others. A small back-up handgun is really a nice thing. It’s a habit I got into when I was working as a PI, back in Chicago, IL many years ago, and it carried over when I was working in law enforcement. I feel naked without my ankle gun. My Leatherman multi-tool is used almost daily for some kind of chores on my small homestead, too. A spare magazine for my main carry gun is a must. More often than not, if there is a failure of some sort with my main handgun, it is most likely magazine related.

On to testing the Broken Skull I folder. I used it in my kitchen, and it is a good size for many kitchen chores, like slicing meat and veggies. Outside, I used it to cut back some blackberry vines. With the warmer temperatures, the blackberry vines are on the march this time of year, and they are tough, very tough, to cut. The Broken Skull had no problems cleanly slick through those vines with a single swipe of the blade.

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One test I like to do is seeing how thinly I can slice a piece of copy paper. Many knives will slice copy paper but not slice it thinly. The Broken Skull sliced it as thinly as I could get it. I also used the knife for some throwing but never could get it to stick. Then again, I didn’t expect it to. The knife got dirty, but there was no damage to the blade or handle scales. G10 is almost bullet-proof stuff; it’s very, very tough! At one time, G10 was only used by custom knife makers, because it was so expensive to use.

The Cold Steel Broken Skull is manufactured in Taiwan, as are many main stream knives that are sold in the USA. As I mentioned, Lynn Thompson stays on top of the manufacturing and refuses knives that aren’t up to his high expectations. Our own Jim Rawles collaborated with Lynn Thompson on his SurvivalBlog folder that is also produced in Taiwan. There is no slave labor involved in the making of Cold Steel knives.

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Back to my opening statement about people cutting themselves. Well, the local Mexican restaurant that my wife and I frequent has some new owners, and we have gotten to know them personally. They have been at our home, and one of the owners simply had to run his thumb across the blade of the Broken Skull when I handed it to him. He cut himself, deeply and didn’t even know it until he saw the blood. We are talking one sharp knife!

The Broken Skull line-up comes in different handle colors as mentioned, and I’m sure you will find one that suits your taste. Full retail is $139.99. As always, it bears the Cold Steel name, so you know the quality and value is there.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

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