In a most fitting tribute to Jim Bowie, Cold Steel recently came out with the Bush Ranger. This is a folder that sure does remind one of the Bowie fixed-blade knife, with its deep clip-point blade.
Cold Steel Always In Demand
Anyone who has been around the cutlery field for any length of time surely knows the name “Cold Steel” and their outstanding line of knives. To be sure, the Cold Steel line-up is always in demand, and quite often they will be out-of-stock on many of their knives. It is difficult for them to keep up with supply and demand. That’s a good thing as well as a bad thing. It’s good that their knives are so popular and bad if you can’t find the knife you want. However, you can sure do a web search, and with any luck you’ll find the exact knife you are looking for.
Many readers have asked me to review more “expensive” knives, instead of lower priced imported knives. Well, I’m here to tell you right up front that the Cold Steel Bush Ranger is also an imported folding knife, and it isn’t on the low end of the scale, when it comes to cost. I’ve repeated this hundreds of times, especially for all you haters of anything imported. You get as good as you want from overseas, and overseas doesn’t always mean China or Taiwan either. To be sure, Cold Steel does not have any of their knives made in a slave labor camp, far from it. They are made in modern factories, with all the modern machinery you’d expect to only find in the USA.
A “Custom” Knife At A Much Lower Price
Not all that, but many years ago if you wanted a “custom” knife, folder or fixed blade, you sought out a custom knife maker, a good one, and had them make a knife to your specifications or obtained one from their own stock of knives. I used to collect (and design) custom knives, and I had quite a collection at some point. I’m sad to say, they were all sold when we needed funds to make a move from Colorado back to Oregon many years ago.
However, with modern machining techniques, I don’t miss any custom made knife any longer. As a matter of fact, the knives produced by Cold Steel are in my humble opinion equal to or even better than the knives from the hands of many custom knife makers. The Cold Steel knives are “that” good, if you ask me. Plus, you are getting a “custom” knife at a much lower price than you’d get from a custom knife maker. That’s something to think about.
Use of CNC Machine in Some Steps of Knife Making
These days, many custom knife makers employ the use of CNC machines in some of the steps of their knife making. Some used to call those types of knives a “mid” custom knife, because it wasn’t entirely made by hand; a machine did some of the work. I’ve toured many of the knife companies in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m amazed at the quality of knives they are turning out on the CDN machines and grinders and how each knife is hand fitted, not simply “assembled” as you might think. One major advantage to having knives made overseas is that you can get them for a lot less money than if they were made in the USA. At least this is true in many cases, not all cases.
Collaborations Between Designers and Factory
Many knives produced by the big-name knife companies come from the minds of some of our most famous custom knife makers. They understand that they can’t produce the knives in the quantities that their customers want and at a price point that is acceptable to end users. So, a lot of the knives coming out of the big-name knife companies are collaborations between the designers and the factory produced knives.
My own OC3 fixed blade, double-edge fighting knife is a fine example of this. I designed it, and my friend and custom knife maker– Brian Wager–produced it. However, if he were to make them all by hand, the waiting list would be very long, and the cost would be around $600, whereas, it is produced in a modern factory overseas, and the retail costs is a fourth of that amount.
Brush Ranger Features
The Bush Ranger has many nice features that I want to touch upon. First of all, as already mentioned, it has a deep clip point and looks like a folding Bowie knife, if you ask me. The blade steel is modern stainless, CPM-S35VN, which is one of the newer super stainless steel blades that holds an edge a very long time. The handle scales are brown G10 and super tough, almost bullet-proof material, and it’s finely checkered for a sure grip under all weather conditions. We also have a pocket clip that can be moved from one side of the handle to the other, if you are a southpaw. That’s great news. There is a lanyard hole, and I like that.
The locking mechanism is the famous Cold Steel Tri-Ad lock– one of the strongest if not the strongest for a folding knife. It is incredibly strong. There are no worries about the blade closing on your fingers. The 3.5-inch blade also has the Andrew Demko designed Thumb Plate, and with a few minutes of practice, you can draw the knife from your pocket, and the blade will be opened when it comes completely out of your pocket.
I showed the Bush Ranger around to quite a few folks, and just about all of them best described this folder as “Awesome”. They are right. When the Bush Ranger is pulled from your pocket, and it opens automatically, and you have the sight of the wicked clip point, then the knife is awesome.
Blade and Handle
The blade is an extra thick 4mm, which is much thicker than most pocket knife blades. The G10 handle scales are 4 7/8 inches long, making this folder 8 3/8 inches long when opened. The Bush Ranger only weights 5.7 oz, but it feels much lighter than that, and boy does it ever feel great in the hand. Everyone said as much.
The pocket clip is very tight, and on the particular brand of cargo pants I wear, the pocket lip has an added piece of material, so when you take a knife out and put it back in repeatedly the lip of the pocket won’t wear as much. That added lip thickness made the Bush Ranger a little difficult to clip into the right front pocket. I removed the pocket clip and bent it ever so slightly, so that it would slide in and out of the pocket easier. Yet, it still remained tight in the pocket with no chance of losing it under any conditions. As a matter of fact, my wife washed one of the pair of cargo pants with the knife still in the right front pocket. There was no damage to the knife at all.
Needless to say, the Bush Ranger came super-sharp out of the box, and I expected no less from any Cold Steel knife; they are well-known for producing super-sharp knives. They started the trend if you ask me.
I like the Thumb Plate. It really speeds up opening the knife. With a few minutes practice, you can draw the knife from your pocket. When it is fully out of your pocket, the blade will be securely locked in the open position. I banged the back of the blade on my work bench to see how well the Tri-Ad lock would hold. All I managed to do was dent the wood on my work bench.
I used the knife for all manner of chores on my small homestead, from slicing down blackberry vines, and we have a lot of them this summer, to cutting open heavy cardboard boxes with ammo in them. The Bowie-style blade easily stabbed deeply into stacked cardboard, and I even used it around the kitchen for cutting chores. In more than three weeks of use, I never once had to touch up the blade’s edge, and I did a lot of cutting.
A Quality Knife
For a knife of this quality, I would have expected it to cost a lot more than the $224.99 retail price. I was pleasantly surprised that’s all it costs… Check one out on-line, in a knife shop or on-line; you’ll be amazed. It’s one awesome folder.