Cold Steel Extra Large Espada, by Pat Cascio

We get a lot of requests at SurvivalBlog to test and review many products. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of these requests, we simply can’t review every product, or we’d have a website full of product reviews each and every day. I personally take as much time as I possibly can with each product I test to make sure I give it a fair test, in that the product does what it is expected to do. When it comes to firearms, I shoot them a lot, and in the case of a handgun I carry it, too. I’m not going to recommend a handgun to someone else if it isn’t something I’d carry myself.

We get a lot of emails, at least I do, personally, for knife reviews. I’m happy to say I have some of the best contacts in the knife industry, and they are happy to send me their products for testing. Still, I can’t review all of the knives I’d like, because there isn’t enough time! I also get requested, or should I say readers asking me what is the “best” knife! I simply can’t answer that question; there is no “best” when it comes to anything, if you ask me. Each knife (and firearm) is designed for specific tasks. While knife “A” might be a fine example of a survival knife, it isn’t up to the task of an every day carry folder. Knife “B” might be an outstanding every day folder, but it falls short of being an outdoorsman or hunting knife. The list is endless, as you can imagine. Some readers get frustrated when I can definitively say that “this” knife is the best knife; ditto applies for firearms or any gear I test.

A number of our readers asked me to do a review on a big folding knife. Okay, but what defines “big” to me might be small to someone else. I personally like a folding knife with a blade between 3½ inches and 4 inches in length for most tasks. However, I don’t think this is what our readers were looking for. I turned this question over to long-time friend and without a doubt the man who knows more about cutlery than anyone else I know– Lynn C. Thompson, who owns Cold Steel knives. He is the true expert when it comes to cutlery, designing it as well as using it. Yeah, I’ve designed a lot of knives over the years, and as a martial artist I’ve also taught knife fighting as well as knife defense to some of my students, but I’m just a serious student myself. I don’t claim to be an expert in anything. However, I do think that Lynn Thompson is an expert, when it comes to anything in the cutlery field.

An email was fired off to Thompson telling him that our readers wanted me to test a “big” folding knife, and in short order Lynn sent me the Cold Steel Extra Large Espada folder. A quick email was fired back to Lynn explaining I wanted a big folding knife not a folding “sword”. Well, needless to say, when it comes to knives Lynn Thompson is “the” man, and the Extra Large Espada is “the” folding knife of big folding knives, period. Thompson isn’t afraid to step outside of the box when it comes to cutlery. A quick look at his website will prove that. While some knife companies feature a “big” folding knife with a 4-inch blade, the Extra Large Espada comes with a massive 7½ inch blade made out of CarpenterCTS XHP alloy steel, which is super stuff. You read that right; the blade on this massive folder is 7½ inches long. It is longer than many survival knives I’ve reviewed over the years. When opened, the Espada is 16¾ inches long. WOW!

A little history is in order. The Extra Large Espada is based on the Spainish Navaja knives of Spain. However, the Cold Steel version is the result of a collaboration between Lynn Thompson and custom knife maker, Andrew Demko. Demko is famous for the Tri-Ad locking mechanism, and it has been tested to hold the blade open when 600 lbs of hanging dead weight was applied. There is no way this hummer is going to accidentally close on your fingers. However, Thompson and Demko took this test a little farther and had the knife support a free-hanging engine block! Demko is also famous for his thumb plate that allows the knife to be opened as it is drawn out of the pocket. When the knife is fully out of the pocket, the blade opens fully and is locked in place. It just takes about 5-10 minutes of practice to master this. However, once mastered, it is faster than any automatic opening folder.

The Extra Large Espada has a nicely curved handle that is fully capable of allowing a two-handed grip on it. The handle material is polished, high polished, G10 material, which is almost bullet-proof stuff. And the bolsters are highly polished aluminum. There is a pocket clip on the handle for pocket carry. The blade is a Bowie style, and the clip point is strong and sharp. The entire blade is super sharp; one of the attributes of the Carpenter steel is that it holds an edge a good long time, too. I’ve said it hundreds of times, when it comes to sharp knives, Cold Steel set the gold standard, many years ago.

One would think, rightfully so, that such a huge folding knife would weigh a lot. Well, this baby comes in at 16 ounces– one pound. However, when clipped in your pants pocket, it simply doesn’t feel that heavy. Now, as a word about clipping this massive folder in your pants pocket, it isn’t going to work with some pants that might have shallow pockets. Also, it doesn’t work with many jeans that are designed for women. Sorry! The pockets aren’t deep enough. It is a trade-off. If you want a massive folding knife, you have to have the right types of pants with deep front pockets.

As is my wont, I take a lot of knives I test to the local gun shop to show off to the boys (and girl) who work there. They are all into knives. Needless to say, when I started to draw the Extra Large Espada out of my right front pocket, their eyes were just glued to my hand. The knife just kept coming and coming and coming before it was fully out of my pocket, and it was, of course, fully opened and locked when I completed the draw. It was mpressive to say the very least.

The Extra Large Espada is a custom-made folding knife in every respect as a matter of fact, I’ve owned some very expensive folding knives in the past from custom knife makers whose knives weren’t nearly as nicely executed as this one. It is fit and finish is absolutely perfect in all areas. The knife deserves to be displayed on a desk or in a knife collection. It just looks too good to be used. However, Lynn Thompson doesn’t have knives made as wall hangers. His knives are meant to be used and used hard.

Most folding knives are not meant for any sort of chopping, as the locking mechanism just won’t hold up and will fail. The Extra Large Espada is the exception to this rule. I used the knife to chop some fairly large tree branches off fallen trees, and the lock held tight. As I mentioned, you can hold the handle of the knife in two hands if you want to, or you can choke-up on the handle or move the hand down to the bottom of the handle for a longer reach. I’m here to tell you, if someone were attacking you and you pulled this knife out of your pocket, I can assure you that the attacker will sure wish he picked another victim. The sheer size of this folder is enough to give a bad guy a heart attack.

I used the sample knife to easily, very easily slice through free-hanging hemp rope that was an inch thick. There was no contest at all. The knife could easily shave the edge off a piece of copy paper with aplomb too. For such a massive knife, it performed quite well. I just don’t think I’d pull this knife out in public and start cleaning my finger nails with it. LOL!

The Espada was carried in my right front pocket for several weeks, and I used it for all manner of cutting tasks. Even my UPS driver was impressed when I opened a package he delivered to me one day. He couldn’t believe such a huge knife was in my pocket and came out so fast, and he’s very much into knives, too.

I’ve seen bigger folding knives, but these were “display” knives. They were just for show in hardware stores or sporting goods stores. They had no function other than to “look” big and bad. There were not something you’d ever want to carry for any purpose. The Cold Steel Extra Large Espada is one massive folder you can count on, in the city or in the boonies, to do what it is called upon to do. Nothing comes close to this folder, and needless to say, there is a “Large” Espada that has a blade that is “only” 5½ inches long.

I believe that Lynn Thompson hit a home run, all bases loaded, when he came out with this massive folder. If this knife, doesn’t fill the needs of those SurvivalBlog readers who wanted me to review a “big” folding knife, then I don’t know what will. These are hard to come by. They aren’t always in stock, because they are popular with knife collectors. Full retail on the Extra Large Espada is $629, which is not within reach of many budget, but you can save up and get one. You won’t be disappointed in the least. You can also shop around and see if you can find the knife for less money on the ‘net. In any case, this is one “big” folder that won’t let you down.