Cold Steel is a well-known knife company that prides itself on its durable blades and entertaining marketing videos. But behind all of the branding and marketing, where does Cold Steel make and manufacture its knives? After a ton of research, this is what I found out about the manufacturing location of Cold Steel knives.
Cold Steel currently manufactures nearly all of its knives in Taiwan, although a few are made in Japan. Some Cold Steel branded knives were made in the U.S.A. by Camillus Cutlery Company, but when Camillus went bankrupt in 2007, Cold Steel moved their manufacturing entirely overseas.
Cold Steel is a very intriguing knife company that is quite well known and holds a pretty good reputation among knife enthusiasts. Throughout its many years, Cold Steel has moved its manufacturing to and from many places worldwide.
To fully understand where your Cold Steel knife is coming from, let’s take a more in-depth look at where Cold Steel currently makes its knives, as well as where they have historically manufactured their blades.
Make sure to check out my favorite Cold Steel knife, the Recon 1 Folding Knife!
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Where Does Cold Steel Currently Manufacture Their Knives?
Unlike many other knife companies, Cold Steel doesn’t seem to be very open and forthgoing about where they manufacture their knives. While there are many probable reasons for this, it could be partially because Cold Steel manufactures their knives at various facilities all over the globe.
While Cold Steel may source their knives from other places unbeknownst to me, I have found that they currently manufacture their knives at two locations.
Cold Steel’s Manufacturing in Taiwan
Currently, Cold Steel manufactures the VAST majority of its knives and blades in Taiwan. While overseas manufacturing can be seen as a downside by many knife enthusiasts, the high level of quality control and good materials Cold Steel uses makes their knives very robust and reliable.
Cold Steel uses many steel types to make their knives produced in Taiwan, including D2, AUS 8A, CPM S35VN, CPM 3V, and MANY others.
If you decide to purchase a new Cold Steel knife, chances are it was made in Taiwan. While most of Cold Steel’s manufacturing is done in Taiwan, the blades produced there are generally very high quality, reliable, robust, and up to the standards of what you would expect from a renounced company such as Cold Steel.
Cold Steel’s Manufacturing in Japan
While the vast majority of Cold Steel knives are manufactured in Taiwan, a select few are made in facilities located in Japan. Cold Steel has an excellent reputation for producing good quality knives, and their Japanese facilities are no exception.
The Cold Steel San Mai III series of knives are made exclusively in Japan. San Mai III knives are a very traditional Japanese inspired line of knives known for their durability and ability to hold an edge very well.
Overall, the quality of Cold Steel knives coming out of Japan is pretty good, and the blades are reliable and robust. However, very few of Cold Steel’s knives are produced in Japan, so unless you are purchasing a San Mai series knife or a few select others, your blade will likely be manufactured in Taiwan.
A Short History of Cold Steel and Its Knife Manufacturing
Now that we’ve gone over the primary two locations where Cold Steel knives are manufactured, Taiwan and Japan, let’s briefly look at Cold Steel’s manufacturing location history.
Throughout the years, Cold Steel has developed and adapted to the market, and subsequently, they have moved their manufacturing facilities from time to time. In fact, there are three major “eras” in the history of Cold Steel and its manufacturing locations:
- The Cold Steel U.S.A. and Japan Manufacturing Era
- Cold Steel Moves U.S.A. Manufacturing Overseas
- And the Current Cold Steel Taiwan and Japan Manufacutirn Era
So let’s just jump right in and take a look at where and why Cold Steel has moved its manufacturing operations throughout its long and prosperous history.
The Cold Steel U.S.A. and Japan Manufacturing Era
In 1980, Lynn Thompson founded Cold Steel and began to make exceptional knives for survival, law enforcement, self-defense, and hobbyists. Cold Steel’s knives were pretty revolutionary for their time, and the company helped to popularize the tanto style blade in America.
At this time, Cold Steel made their knives in two locations: The United States of America and Japan. Cold Steel had an interesting business model where Camillus Cutlery Company manufactured their knives in the U.S., while Cold Steel distributed and marketed the knives. Cold Steel manufactured the rest of its knives in Seki, Japan. For some time, Cold Steel manufactured two knife models in Taiwan, but in 2000 both models began to be produced in Japan.
Arguably, the period between 1980 and 2007 was when Cold Steel was at its finest and created some of its best and most well-known knives. Camillus and the facilities in Seki, Japan, provided all of Cold Steel’s knives (except for the two knife models produced in Taiwan until 2000), and the company prospered.
Cold Steel Moves U.S.A. Manufacturing to China
In 2007, Camillus Cutlery Company went bankrupt and was unable to continue producing knives for Cold Steel. Later in 2009, Camillus relaunched and is now a thriving knife manufacturer, although they no longer make knives for Cold Steel.
Since their relaunch, Camillus has been making some pretty excellent knives that are reliable and well designed. Check out some fantastic Camillus knives here!
Once Camillus went bankrupt, Cold Steel needed to find a new place for its previously American-made knives to be manufactured, so they moved their operations to Mainland China. However, they didn’t last long there and ended up moving their production to Taiwan soon after.
There’s some speculation on why Cold Steel moved out of China, but quality control, production issues, and politics likely played a role.
The Cold Steel Taiwan and Japan Manufacturing Era
And now that leads us all the way back to the present, where Cold Steel manufacturer nearly all of its knives in Taiwan and Japan.
Some dedicated knife enthusiasts claim that Cold Steel has degraded its knives’ quality since moving its production out of the U.S. However, this is mostly regarded as not the case because Cold Steel knives are still some of the best, highest quality, and most durable blades you can get, even though their manufacturing is overseas.
Cold Steel as a company has been around for quite some time, and throughout their history, they have needed to adapt and evolve. From what I can see, Cold Steel is not going anywhere anytime soon, though there is no telling if their manufacturing will move.
Are Any Cold Steel Knives Made in the U.S.A.?
Cold Steel is not super public about the location of their manufacturing facilities, but from my research, no Cold Steel knives are currently being produced in the U.S.A. However, as I discussed earlier in this article, this has not always been the case.
Before 2007, Camillus Cutlery Company produced many knives for Cold Steel in the U.S.A. If you are looking for American-made Cold Steel knives, blades manufactured before 2007 are likely made in the U.S due to the sheer volume of knives Camillus made for Cold Steel.
No Cold Steel knives manufactured after 2007 are made in the U.S.A. Currently, all Cold Steel knives are produced overseas in Japan and Taiwan.
Where is Cold Steel Knives Headquartered?
While Cold Steel produces all of its knives overseas, it might be surprising to you that the company is actually based in the U.S.A. Cold Steel is headquartered in Irving, Texas, U.S.A., to be exact.
Irving, Texas, is also where Cold Steel founder Lynn Thompson and the rest of his team test their knives. In an interview with Knife Planet, Lynn says, “We torture test our products. We put them through hell. The toughest tests in the industry – and if they don’t pass, they don’t get released!”
Lynn Thompson designs most of the knives made by Cold Steel, although the company has worked with many custom knifemakers to create unique and stunning designs. GSM Outdoors is the parent company of Cold Steel.
Cold Steel is a fascinating and unique company that makes some genuinely incredible knives. While some disagree with their decision to remove their manufacturing from the U.S.A., the quality of blades they produce hasn’t slacked, so I don’t think it affected much from the consumer side of things.
Cold Steel knives are still known to be very heavy-duty, durable, and reliable. And to be honest, their viral “PROOF” marketing videos are pretty entertaining and fun to watch.
Cold Steel also offers some pretty excellent warranties and policies. Check out my article on the topic here!
If you’re interested in getting a Cold Steel knife for yourself, check out some of my personal favorites below: