For many years, I’ve looked that the Cold Steel web site as well as their printed catalogs, and saw among their fixed blade knifes a survival-type knife, with a hollow handle – called the “Survival Edge” and I just didn’t understand why it was in the line-up. To my mind, it just looked like a “cheap” hollow handle survival knife – one that doesn’t really belong in the Cold Steel line of fantastic knives. Lynn Thompson (Cold Steel’s owner) and I have been friends since the early 1900s and if there is one thing we have learned about each is the fact that we can always be open and honest with each other – never taking offense at each other’s comments or thoughts. So, I never really wanted to order the Survival Edge, thinking that my testing would result in a poor article on the knife.
One day, I had an e-mail from my contact at Cold Steel, telling me that two of the Survival Edge hollow handle survival knives was heading my way – at there quest of Lynn Thompson. Remember, I didn’t request samples. Lynn took it upon himself to send them my way. “Oh great, I sure don’t want to ruin a friendship over what I considered some cheap knives…” But I enter all my testing and evaluation on all products with an open mind – at least as much as I can. Like everyone else, I sometimes form opinions before I should. The knives arrived -and to my mind, they just appeared to be “cheap” knives – full retail is only around $35.
I watched the Cold Steel video of their testing on the Survival Edge – I was more than a little impressed with their testing. This was the sort of testing I wouldn’t consider doing myself. The Cold Steel video was eye-opening. This”cheap” hollow handle survival knife, couldn’t possibly be that good – could it? A quick break down on this knife finds that it has 5″ long blade, and is1-inch wide made out of 4116 German stainless steel – a blade material I’m not familiar with – other than I know the Germans produce outstanding knife steel.Blade thickness is 2.5 mm and the Polypropylene handles – they come in two colors – orange or black are 4-1/4-inch long. And the knife only weighs in at 3 ounces–yes, you read that right – 3 ounces!! I like the molded-in cross guard on the handle – prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade under heavy use! There is also an ambidextrous Secure-Ex polymer sheath – that comes with a Ferrocerium fire steel – it fits nicely in a molded-in pocket on the sheath. I will mention that this knife is made in Taiwan, however as I’ve said numerous times, you get as good as you want in a knife from Taiwan – if you want a $1knife, you can get one – if you want an outstanding $500 knife, you can get one of those too – so don’t ever judge a product by the country of origin.
The weak point of any hollow handle survival-type knife is the junction of the knife blade and the handle – they will separate in short order, if they aren’t properly joined together. I’ve had this happen back in the early to mid-1980s, when hollow handle survival knives were all the rage. Personally, I’m glad most of those knives have fallen out of favor and are long gone. Still, I had serious reservations about testing the Survival Edge – I was sure the handle and blade would easily go their separate ways under the lightest of use- but I promised myself to give the knife a fair shake for this articles.
I like the Polypropylene handles – they have grooves and in the grooves are rubber “O” rings, that give you an unbelievable grip on the knife’s handle under any weather conditions – bravo! The hollow handle does not have any supplies in in – I would add some fishing line, sinkers, a button compass and some water proof matches for starters. And I know for a fact, that fish can be caught using some fishing line, hooks and a warm, tied onto a broken tree branch – did it many times in the past when testing other hollow handle survival knives. The hollow cavity in the Survival Edge, can carry a lot of gear.
A word on the sheath…the knife locks solidly in it – no chance of it ever falling out – it snaps in, loudly. Plus, the Ferrocerium stick – it is locked in the sheath until after the knife is removed, making it almost impossible to lose it.
As to be expected, the Survival Edge samples I received, were sharp as sharp could be – not that I would have expected anything less from Cold Steel – they set the gold standard for sharp knives. I did my usual testing for sharpness,cutting cardboard, slicing paper, slicing through rope and poly rope – always a serious test of sharpness – many knife blades will simply slide right off poly rope. I did some work – pounding the knife’s blade through some small pieces of firewood,and encountered no problems.
I then set about to do some torture testing…I threw the knives – numerous times – never could get them to stick in a tree – didn’t think they would. Lynn Thompson, demonstrates in their video attaching one of the knives to a spear shaft – fits nicely into the hollow handle, and throwing in into a 4″ round mailing tube – stuck dead center. The guy is good!
I pounded the knife in between the top railing on my front deck, and the support board under it – and hung from the knife – it bent a little bit, under my 260-pound weight…but once I pulled the knife out, it sprung back to straightness. I also like the sheath – because it fits on every belt I’ve tried, simply snaps right on – or you can tie a lanyard around your neck and carry it that way out in the boonies.
I never once had to touch-up the blade in my testing – and the knives were used around the kitchen, too…held a good sharp edge – simple as that. I didn’t dare start any fires with the Ferrocerium steel – we have been under extreme fire conditions in our part of Oregon all summer, and I didn’t want to chance a lit ember getting away. However, I did run the blade’s back of the Survival Edge knife across the Ferrocerium stick, in my backyard. It gave out tremendous sparks – no worries about starting a fire with this thing under any weather conditions.
These are knives you throw in your e-box in your car or truck, and totally forget about them, until you actually need them. Toss one in each of your family members bug out bags, they take up very little room or weight. Give to friends and family for Christmas presents – they’ll thank you, once they see all these little fixed blade knives can do.
And, surprise! I shopped around on the ‘net – and while I’d have no problem paying full retail of $34.99 – I found the Survival Edge for as little at $22.That is the bargain of a lifetime, if you ask me. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of these knives – they are not like some cheap hollow handle survival knives you’ve seen in the past – appearances are deceiving, to put it lightly. Then again, I expect no less from Cold Steel -Lynn Thompson actually “forced” my hand, when he sent me these samples – I had to put them to the test, and they surprised the daylights out of me. I might have to order some more for gifts, since one family already “stole” one of my well-used and abused sample.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio
JWR Adds: I agree that looks can be deceiving. Many of the Swedish Mora knives features brightly-colored plastic handles, and have low retail prices. They too at first glance look like “cheap knives.” But they have great steel and really hold an edge.