Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Cold Steel Swift I & II

I’m one of these people who doesn’t sleep much at night. On a good night, I might get three or four hours of sleep. So, I spend a lot of time thinking. I sometimes come up with my best ideas in the middle of the night. I’ve often “written” my articles while in bed and put them down on paper later on. I’ve “designed” many knives while lying in bed wide awake, and then put the idea down on paper, and more often than not I can bring my idea to fruition.

My long-time friend Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel Knives, is one of those gifted people in many areas. He’s gifted not just as a knife designer but he excels in shooting and hunting, with firearms as well as his own cutlery products, plus he is a well-known martial artist. However, I had no idea that Lynn could read minds, especially my feeble mind. Through his efforts and that of custom knife maker Andrew Demko, they produced the Swift I & II folding knives. Without a doubt, they some how got into my mind and stole this design, because this is about as perfect of a folding knife as I could design on my own. So, we can now add mind-reading to the list of skills that Lynn Thompson is superb at.

I have designed many fixed blade knives over the years and had them produced for me by several different custom knife makers, and more often than not they were able to decipher my crude drawings into what I envisioned. I’m no genius when it comes to designing folding knives, however. I presently have one drawing done, and it might come to completion, one of these days. Designing and producing folding knives is a whole different world, compared to a fixed blade knife. There are many intricate and detailed workings of a folding knife. Everything, and I mean everything, has to fit together perfectly in order to have a good folder.

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The Cold Steel Swift I & II are just such a folder, perfectly designed. And, to add to the complicated process, Cold Steel made this design into an assisted-opening folding knife, which is just a lot more complicated in the end. A quick look at the specs are in order on the Swift. We have a weight of 4.6 ounces with a blade made out of Carpenter CTS XHP steel. The blade is four inches long, and I’ve found that for my taste a folder should have a blade between 3.5 and 4.0 inches long; they just seem to work better for me. The handle scales are super-tough black G-10. The Swift I is an uncoated satin polished blade, while the Swift II has a DLC black coating for that subdued tactical look. We also have a reversible pocket clip, well sorta. Because of the curvature of the handle, a second pocket clip is included for those who carry in their left front pocket.

The proven Tri-Ad locking system on the Swift is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the industry, so there are no worries about the blade closing on you unexpectedly. The blade is a modified spear point design, which is very useful for many applications. The top rear of the blade has “friction” grooves as well as the top front of the handle for sure placement of your thumb in the fencing grip. We also have ambidextrous thumb studs for easy opening. Plus, the handle, as mentioned, has a curvature to it; it dips down and just fits my hand perfectly. The knife just feels perfect in my hand, period! And, as always, the blade is super-sharp, like all Cold Steel blades. They set the Gold Standard for sharp knives. Thompson and Demko also included a lanyard hold in the butt end of the handle, too.

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The Flash-Tek assisted-opening design is patent-pending, too. I don’t have a way to measure just how fast any assisted-opening knife, or for that matter, an automatic-opening knife opens. However, I will say this; the Swift might just be the fastest assisted-open folder I’ve ever tested, and it might be faster than an automatic-opening folder is. We are talking fast!!!

To be sure, the Swift is manufactured in Taiwan. If it were made in the USA, the price would be quite a bit more. I’ve said many times that you can get as good of a knife as you want out of Taiwan. You need a cheap 50-cent knife? You can get it. You want a thousand dollar knife? You can get that, too, and it will be worth the cost. So, don’t let being made outside of the USA bother you. I’ve tested thousands of knives over the years, and the quality is as good as you order from Taiwan.

The design of the G-10 handle scales are worth a closer look. While many knives– folders as well as fixed blade– have a “flat” design to them, the Swift has ergonomically CNC machined handles that are ever so slightly rounded, so as to not make holding the knife the least bit uncomfortable. This is important. It’s a small matter but important, at least to me, and it should be to you, too.

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The pictures with this article show two different samples of the Swift. The satin finished uncoated blade is from the first run of knives. The black blade sample is a new and improved design, with the ”XS” (Xtra Safe) safety, that keeps the blade securely locked when closed, as well as locking the blade when it is open. It adds another measure of safety so there are no worries about the blade popping open in your pocket. It’s a great idea! Plus, the sliding “XS” safety is mounted on the side of the handle, not on the top. I can pull the knife out of my pocket and with my index finger release the “XS” safety, and then apply pressure to the thumb stud and the blade flings open, fast! And, if needed, I can apply the “XS” safety to lock the blade in the open position. It’s just another added feature that assures you the blade won’t close accidentally when in use!

Did I happen to mention that the Swift came super-sharp right out of the box? Yeah, I thought I did! However, as part of my testing I still like to put every knife I get through a series of tests, to see just how sharp a blade is. This includes cutting chores in the kitchen, as well as slicking newspaper. Many knives won’t slice newspaper because it is so thin. There were no problems with the Swift. I also cut cardboard, a lot of it, and this material is extremely tough on a knife blade. It will dull a knife is very short order, but I had no problems with the Swift, either of my samples. Cutting poly rope is an extremely good test of how well a knife will cut. Many knives, even though they are sharp, will simply slide right off the poly rope; the Swift had no problems.

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If you’ve followed my knife articles, you know that one tough test is cutting through blackberry vines and we have more than we need in western Oregon. Blackberry vines are wicked, especially the long thorns on them and the vines themselves are tough. I take a single swipe at a vine, and if a knife blade doesn’t cut completely through one of these vines the edge of the blade needs some work. I had no problems with the Swift. Just one clean swipe and the vines were cut into two pieces. During all my testing, over a long period of time, I didn’t need to touch-up the blade. It held the super-sharpness it came with. However, at the end of my test period, I just ran the Swift’s blade over the crock-stix to touch it up.

Some years ago, Cold Steel had a line of custom folders, and they were custom in every way and form. They were made in Japan, and they were expensive. I tested several of them, and they even exceeded the quality of custom folders made by some of the best custom knife makers in the country, bar none. However, they were a little bit on the spendy side, beyond the reach of many consumers. The Swift is as good as any custom folder I’ve tested. Yeah, it is that nicely made!

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As I always do, I pass knives around to the guys (and girls) at the local gun shop I haunt, and every one of them loves the way the Swift felt in their hand. The manager of the gun shop is very picky when it comes to knives and guns and can usually find something to complain about, but he had no complaints about the Swift, none! I even put on my magnifying gunsmith goggles to take a closer look at the workmanship of the Swift and couldn’t find a thing wrong with the workmanship at all!

In the past, I have disassembled some folding knives– assisted-opening, manual-opening, and even automatic-opening types– and some, I wished I hadn’t taken apart. They were a real bear to put back together. I was very tempted to disassemble the Swift to see what the Flash-Tek assisted-opening design was all about, but I regained my senses. I didn’t want to have to put the parts in a plastic bag and send it back to Lynn Thompson with a plea to put the knife back together for me. I’m dumb but not stupid! LOL!

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I hope to see the Flash-Tek assisted-opening mechanism on some more of the Cold Steel folders. I like it, a lot! It is fast and smooth, very fast, and very smooth in operation. In the meantime, I’m going to consult with some legal minds and see if I can file suit against Cold Steel for getting inside my head and stealing this design. Gotta be some legal recourse. LOL!

Full retail on the Swift line varies, according to which model you want. However, if I had no other choice but to pay $240 for the Swift I or II, I’d sure pull the ol’ credit card out of my wallet and get one. Its top-notch material, extreme detail to quality, workmanship that’s second to none, fast and smooth opening, what’s not to like? Check one out at your nearest dealer, and you’ll buy it.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

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