Pat’s Product Review: Cold Steel Hold Out I

Make no mistake, given my druthers, I’d rather pick a large knife over a smaller knife. Now, you can get by with a smaller knife, but a larger knife can do more chores than most smaller knives can. When it comes to survival, on the streets, in the wilderness or in a SHTF scenario, my choice would be a larger knife for my needs, especially on the mean streets in our country.

My long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel is a firm believer in big knives – either folders or fixed blade – and I can’t really find a lot of fault in his logic. Some months back, I did a review on the Cold Steel “Hold Out II” folding knife, and found it to be super-strong, and priced right, too. Now I’m commenting on the “Hold Out I” plain edge. Let’s get some of the specifications out of the way first: The blade length is 6″ – yes, you read that right SIX inches! It is made out of one of my favorite steels AUS 8A stainless – which I have found, over the years, to be a great compromise when it comes to price, as well as it holds a good edge a long time, and is fairly easy to re-sharpen. Overall length of the Hold Out I is 13 3/16″ – yeah, this hummer is big – even if it were a fixed blade knife. Blade thickness is 3.8mm – plenty of strength there! Weight is only 7.7-oz, so for such a massive knife, it is fairly light-weight. The handle material is G-10, some almost bullet-proof stuff that used to be used exclusively by custom knife makers. There is also a stainless steel clothing/pocket clip on the handle for ease of carry.

A quick review of this design goes back many years, as Lynn Thompson has always been fascinated with the “Black Knife” of Skean Dhu (Gaelic) of the ancient Scottish warriors. It was used as a utility or back-up knife, worn under the sleeve, tucked inside a jacket or slipped into the top of a stocking as it was thin, flat and pointy, and light as a feather. The Hold Out I features the record-breaking Tri-Ad lock, which is simply put, incredibly strong – you really need to check out the tests Cold Steel has performed on the Tri-Ad lock – you’ll find it on their web site – and you will be amazed at how strong this locking system is. Lynn Thompson isn’t afraid to put his knives to the test, and he proves it on his web site – I don’t know of any other knife company that provides this kind of proof on their web sites.

Okay, I know some of you, maybe most of you, are asking “really, a six inch bladed folding knife?” Yeah, and believe it or not, this thing isn’t as “clumsy” or hard to pack in pants pockets as you might think. Lynn Thompson usually carries two of the Hold Out I folders in his pants pockets – one on each side. At first, I also thought that this big of a folder would be a bit too much to carry in my cargo pants pocket. However, I hate to admit it, but I was wrong! I slipped the Hold Out I into my right front pants pocket and never gave it another thought – it just didn’t feel big or bulky in the least, not even when sitting at my PC for hours on end. Surprised? You bet I was!

The Hold Out I features a thin, acutely pointed tip that’s sharp as a needle – it can easily pierce some body armor as is glides effortlessly through many puncture resistant materials. Each blade is expertly hollow ground before being honed to a razor’s edge. And, I have said for many years, that Cold Steel set the gold standard for “sharp” when it comes to knives. Once word got out as to how sharp Cold Steel knives were, right out of the box, everyone else had to either jump on the band wagon or get left in the dust. Lynn Thompson is the “King Of Sharp”, if you ask me.

The G-10 handle scales are worth a mention, they offer a palm-hugging profile and a thin, flat lightly checkered cross section that resists rolling or twisting in the hand, while remaining comfortable and versatile enough to accommodate a wide variety of gripping styles – I know, I tried! The G-10 handle scales have several holes drilled through them, to lighten the overall weight of the knife, and aid in the balance. There are also friction grooves on the top back of the blade, for proper thumb placement in the fencing grip. Dual thumb studs on the blade aid in quick opening of the blade as well.

I can see the Hold Out I working as a wilderness survival knife, as well as an urban defender. I showed this sample to a lot of folks, and they simply couldn’t believe I was carrying a knife “that big” in my pants pocket. When the knife is opened, it will surely get anyone’s attention in short order. It reminds me of Mick Dundee saying: “That’s a knife…”  That’s the same comment you’ll be giving a bad guy if you are forced to pull the Hold Out I for self-defense. Believe me, the mere sight of this massive folder will probably be more than enough to make someone wish they had picked an easier target. As a wilderness survival knife – I found I could actually do some serious chopping with it – and the Tri-Ad lock never gave a hint of letting loose – the blade stayed open and firmly locked! The Hold Out I can easily replace packing a fixed blade knife on a camping trip or in a bug-out scenario – I kid you not. I’m a firm believe of less is more – and if I can get by with less, I’m a happy camper…and I believe you can get by just fine with the Hold Out I instead of a fixed blade knife in a SHTF scenario. This is one knife that you need to have in your bug-out bag – seriously!

I liked how fast the Hold Out I was in my hand – it was really faster than many smaller folding knives in different fighting grips. You can also choke-up on the handle for more precise cutting, or move your hand all the way down to the bottom of the handle, extending your reach by several inches in a self-defense situation, or for chopping purposes – we’re talking VERY versatile.

I have to admit, when I first opened-up the box the Hold Out I came in, the first thing to cross my mind was “Really, this is too big for a folder.” Yes, I was wrong. The Hold Out I will grow on you very fast, and will become a favorite for EDC (Every Day Carry) if you give it a chance. You’ll forget you’re carrying such a big folding knife, until you pull it out to use it. If someone pulled this knife out on me, I’d be heading to the hills – I wouldn’t want to fight against this knife unarmed! My Glock 23 or 27 would be clearing leather – I’m not about to face this knife without being well-armed! Even an untrained person could cause you serious harm with the Hold Out I simply by slashing out at you – keep your distance, simple as that.

As with all Cold Steel products, I believe you get more for your money – you can spend a lot more, but will you really be getting more? The Hold Out I has a full-retail of $159.99 and if you paid full-retail, you’d be getting a heck of a knife. However, you can shop around and find the Hold Out I for less money if you spend a little time on the ‘net. Even if you don’t, you’ll be getting one heck of a folder if you paid full-retail. You will impress your friends and family when you pull the Hold Out I out of your pocket and start doing some cutting chores – you’ll even impress yourself, as to what you can do with this folder. You can also get the Hold Out I with a partially serrated blade, too. So, you have a couple choices there. If you’re looking for one knife, to do many chores, then the Hold Out I might just be what you’re looking for – it can easily replace a fixed blade knife, and it can do most chores that are called upon by smaller folders. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio