Are Cold Steel Knives Any Good? An Honest and In-Depth Look


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If you have been around the world of knives for more than a second, you’ve probably heard of the knife brand, Cold Steel. Cold Steel has been a prominent and notable knife brand for quite some time, but how good are their knives?

Cold Steel knives are known to be good quality and reasonably priced. While most Cold Steel knives are excellent, Cold Steel manufactures its blades overseas, leading to the occasional quality slipup or product defect. Overall, Cold Steel knives usually live up to expectations and are well made.

Cold Steel is one of those knife brands where you either hate them or love them. And truthfully, there are valid reasons for both viewpoints. But we’re not here to theorize, so let’s take a more in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of Cold Steel knives so you can decide for yourself whether they are any good or not.

Are Cold Steel Knives Any Good?

Let’s get right into some of the benefits of Cold Steel knives; later, we’ll cover some of the reasons why you might want to avoid them.

Generally, Cold Steel makes pretty decent knives that both enthusiasts and beginners can use and enjoy without breaking the bank or blade. Cold Steel is very good at making well-designed knives that are actually quite high-quality for their extremely reasonable pricing. They are also super durable and go through some pretty rigorous torture testing before being released.

Cold Steel Makes Well Designed, Quality Knives

The VAST majority of Cold Steel knives are made from high-quality materials and are very well designed. Cold Steel designs often heavily emphasize comfort and cutting geometry to ensure the knife’s design doesn’t hold it back from completing tasks.

In some cases, Cold Steel designs can look quite cheesy and overly “tactical,” but most of their line up is very minimalistic, practical, and well designed.

Cold Steel makes knives in a variety of different materials and blade steels. According to the official Cold Steel website, a few of their most commonly used blade steels are 8Cr13MoV, 4034SS, American S35VN, Japanese AUS8A, 52100 High Carbon, and S35VN. Their blades are typically well crafted and use excellent, durable steels.

Most Cold Steel Knives are Reasonably Priced

Cold Steel prices their knives very reasonably for the quality and workmanship you are receiving compared to similar knives. Overall, Cold Steel knives are giving you a pretty good bang for your buck.

There are a TON of factors that go into the price of a knife, and it seems like Cold Steel has figured out a way to cut costs, and therefore prices, without sacrificing significant quality or durability. In some situations, Cold Steel knives don’t quite live up to expectations, but those are actually pretty rare cases and well cover that later on in this article.

For more information on why some knives are more expensive than others and the factors that go into that, make sure to check out my article on the topic.

Cold Steel Produces Very Durable Products

As shown in their viral promotional videos, Cold Steel knives are also famously torture tested extensively and are incredibly durable and well built. As Cold Steel founder Lynn Thompson said in an interview with Knife Planet, “We torture test our products. We put them through hell”.

Cold Steel’s materials, design, and quality control contribute to providing very solid, reliable, and durable products. Since Cold Steel moved its manufacturing overseas in the early 2000s, there has been some criticism of their quality control standards. However, Cold Steel still produces some truly durable and well-made knives, even after their manufacturing move.

Overall, Cold Steel knives are known and continually prove themselves to be very durable products that can stand up to quite a lot of use.

Reasons Why You Might Avoid Cold Steel Knives

There are many reasons to like Cold Steel, as I just discussed, but just like any company, there are aspects of their products and business that aren’t the best. 

None of the things that I’m about to cover in the following sections are deal-breakers for me personally, but they are definitely something to think about and keep in mind when considering a Cold Steel knife.

Cold Steel’s Overseas Manufacturing

As I talk about in my more in-depth article here, Cold Steel has had many locations where they manufacture their knives, but currently, they are all produced overseas. While the overseas production of knives isn’t bad on its own and definitely isn’t new, Cold Steel has had some quality control issues likely related to the move.

Some people also just prefer to use and own U.S.A-made knives, so the fact that Cold Steel manufacturer their knives overseas is just something to keep in mind. Cold Steel has its headquarters in Irving, Texas, U.S.A.

I find that the quality and durability of Cold Steel knives are more than enough for even my most intensive needs, so the fact that they are manufactured overseas makes no difference to me. In the end, Cold Steel’s overseas manufacturing is what it is, and whether it influences your buying decision is up to your preferences.

Some Cheaper Cold Steel Knives Don’t Live Up To Expectations

As with nearly any knife company, Cold Steel has had its fair share of poor quality knives. However, while it’s important to note these occurrences and factor them into whether Cold Steel knives are a good choice, a few mishaps shouldn’t reflect and stain the entire company.

Cold Steel has been making very durable and high-quality blades for quite some time, but some people have reported some of their knives to be less than ideal and even snapping in some extreme cases. Cheaper Cold Steel knives tend to suffer from this much more than their higher-end blades.

While I think Cold Steel makes some impressive and reliable knives, whether you get one that breaks easily, breaks after a few years, or lasts many decades seems to be up to the luck of the draw. 

Is Cold Steel As a Company Responsible and Good?

Cold Steel is very connected to their community and has an overall pretty good reputation as a company. A few people dislike Cold Steel based on the occasional lack of quality in some of their knives, but generally, their products are very durable and dependable.

Founded in 1980, Cold Steel has been in the knife game for quite some time. Through their steel and material choices, designs, and connectedness to the knife community, Cold Steel is able to make well-made knives that consumers actually want.

In 2007, Cold Steel moved its manufacturing exclusively overseas, although they still have their headquarters in the U.S. When Cold Steel moved their manufacturing outside of the U.S.A., the news was met with quite a bit of criticism and concern for the quality of Cold Steel knives going forward.

However, quite a few years after the manufacturing relocation, Cold Steel is still making very dependable, quality knives. For more information on where Cold Steel knives are made, check out my article on the subject.

Overall, Cold Steel appears to be a very responsible and good company as a whole. While they have had their fair share of controversies, they remain a very reliable and good choice for knives and other blades.

Best Cold Steel Knives

Cold Steel makes a plethora of different blades and knives for nearly every use imaginable. But out of all the Cold Steel products, a few sit above the rest in terms of quality, durability, design, functionality, and a host of other attributes.

Below are some of the best Cold Steel knives; it’s hard to go wrong with any of these!

Cold Steel Recon 1

One of the most popular Cold Steel knives out there, the Recon 1 is a staple among law enforcement and enthusiasts alike. While the Recon 1 looks a little bit tactical, it’s still got that ruggedness and practicality you need on a heavily used knife.

With a 4-inch blade made of CPM-S35VN steel, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is a very reliable and good everyday carry knife that can handle surprisingly intense tasks if needed.

Cold Steel Pocket Bushman

The Pocket Bushman is one of those folding knives that are so tough you often forget that it’s got a hinge, and you’re able to use it just like you would a heavy-duty fixed blade knife. The minimalist modern design of the knife makes it an excellent everyday carry knife.

The blade of the Pocket Bushman is 4.5 inches long and made of cryo-quenched 4116 stainless steel. Overall the Cold Steel Pocket Bushman is a very durable and stylish knife that holds an edge exceptionally well.

Cold Steel SRK

Sometimes you need an extremely durable and versatile knife to take with you to complete difficult tasks, and the SRK is perfect for the job. While its design is a little plain, the SRK is very practical and perfect for survival or other intense tasks that require a durable fixed blade knife.

Made of SK-5 steel and covered with a black Tuff-Ex finish, the SRK’s 6-inch blade is not messing around. The Cold Steel SRK is a very reliable and beloved knife that is perfect for those times when you just need a knife to depend on and take on more challenging tasks.

Townsen Bell

I'm the founder and primary author at Knife Manual. Over many years, I have become proficient at survival and bushcraft skills through lots of practice and many great teachers. I enjoy spending time outdoors, collecting knives, and learning new skills.

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