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Cold Steel Kudu Review

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by me2, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I've been EDCing the Kudu for about 2 weeks, along with my Delica as a backup, just in case. I also used the Kudu as a work knife for rough jobs about a year ago.

    So far, it has worked quite well. The Krupp stainless sharpens to a very sharp edge on my waterstone and on the leather belt on the 1x30 sander, though I need to do some work to make sure the latter method doesn't cause heat issues. The steel used also takes a very sharp edge off the 220 grit side of the water stone, sharp enough to do some hair whittling on beard hair.

    The weight of the knife when carrying is not noticable. The overall length of the closed knife makes it noticable in jeans, but larger pockets or carpenters pants w/ the leg pockets work well. The ring takes some getting used to when cutting. Once I read the instructions, opening and closing were easy. Closing with one hand is pretty easy once the technique is discovered. Opening one handed is all but impossible for me. To close, I put my index finger through the ring and push with my middle finger and thumb to disengage the lock. Then I just fold it against my leg or other hand. The upside to the large size, since it has no pocket clip, is you always know where to find it in the pocket.

    The blade is over 4" long, making it too long for some people. To me it also has an odd profile, with a fairly abrupt clip point. It may just be me used to the relatively longer clips on slip joint clip point blades, which I may reprofile the blade to match. This would remove the nail nick, but I don't find it is a requirement to open the blade. The blade tapers from the beginning of the clip to the tip, over a distance of about 1.5 inches. There is some blade play, but it is minor, and has stayed fairly constant since getting the knife. The pivot is adjustable, but I haven't tried it. The lock is sturdy, and the ratchet action is smooth enough that I don't have trouble opening it. The locking hook sticks up beyond the lock bar over 1/32". It will eventually wear down, but I have no idea how long it would take. I have not been able to close the knife without disengaging the lock, using just hand pressure, no whacks, but some twisting during the rough use phase.

    I've used the knife for breaking down cardboard boxes, about 1/2 of a kitchen garbage bag full of 4"x4" pieces. The edge still slices paper over the full length of the blade. Over most of the blade, it will shave a few hairs off my knuckles (no jokes please) with some care and effort. It's plenty sharp for kitchen use, and I've used it for a paring knife and steak knife during dinners.

    During the rough work, I used it to scrape concrete, and remove epoxy from aluminum dollies. These are small Al cylinders that were epoxied to a concrete topping surface and used to measure the adhesion of the topping to the base material during a dam restoration. While cleaning off the epoxy, I discovered the blade had the ability to take very fine shavings off the dollies, which was actually easier than trying to cut/pry the epoxy off. After cleaning 2 or 3 dollies (2" diameter) I used the edge of my truck window as a steel. This took a pretty mangled edge up to the point it would catch a few hairs, but not really shave.

    During the last couple weeks, the blade has been sharpened using a 220/1000 grit water stone at 17 degrees per side (DPS) followed by micro beveling with the Sharpmaker brown stone flats at 20 DPS. During the rough work, it was sharpened on a very worn 180 grit belt and power stropped on the Surgisharp leather belt with white compound on the 1x30 sander. Both methods produce an edge that will catch hair above the skin of my arm.

    So far, I'm pleasantly surprised by my $5 knife. The edge is a little thick for a full flat grind, but not too bad. Edge holding is acceptable, and durability during the rough use exceeded my expectations. I solved the lock ring issue by looping my index finger through it. This works especially well when using the knife as a paring knife in the kitchen, and as a steak knife during dinner. Otherwise, it just has to flop around. I have a couple modifications in mind, but may never get around to them. One is to lengthen the clip and make the blade pointier. The other is to convex the blade. This would start with the blade flat to the leather backed sandpaper, followed by rolling the blade up and over the shoulder of the secondary bevel. This may or may not improve cutting, but the mirror finish on it now makes fingerprints shine and the cardboard cutting scratched the finish quite a bit.

    The next step will be to lower the edge angle to 12 DPS w/ a 15 DPS Sharpmaker bevel. If it holds this through the same work, I may go so far as to lower it again to 7 DPS, and microbevel at 12.

    Also, the knife survived an accidental trip through the washer and dryer last night. Some knives, especially the heavier ones, take an awful beating, and I had one come completely apart during the cycle.
  2. Allcaps321


    Mar 27, 2011
    Does the ring ever feel like an encumberment when you are using the knife? Does it get in the way?
  3. gomipile


    Apr 17, 2010
    I replaced the ring on mine with a loop of paracord. It is very comfortable to close now, and the paracord doesn't get in the way when using the knife.
  4. Bruise Lee

    Bruise Lee

    Aug 4, 2002
    Nice review, thanks for posting. I bought a CS Kudu, too, mainly because I put in an order with Cold Steel and I said, "What the heck, it's only a few dollars." I, too, am pleased with my purchase. Although a friend of mine could not believe "Cold Steel would pt it's name on such a cheap knife." For it's blade size, it is extremely easy to pocket carry, mainly due to its light weight. One of the reasons for that light weight is there are no liners at all. The downside of this is the handle of this knife is probably the least stiff of any knife I own.
  5. Mossyhorn

    Mossyhorn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I am so pleased with the Kudu that I bought several just to have spares. This knife is a sleeper that is overlooked by many. Thanks for doing the review.
  6. philwar


    Mar 27, 2009
    It's true. Things get so silly sometimes that I feel embarassed to carry it, 'cause really, it's too cheap for the likes of me. :rolleyes: Fact is, it does almost anything you can want or expect from a folder, and it does all those things well. I have thousands of dollars worth of folders, and this one is all I've ever needed so far in life. It's a fair bet I'll never need more.

    Have I just confessed to being certifiably insane? :confused: What sane reason is there to want a Yuna or a custom Demko if I already own a Kudu?
  7. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Me too. And now it doesn't rattle and looks extra spiffy! :D
  8. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Thanks for the review! I have one also, a while back when I bought a tomahawk from the Spec Ops catalog, they threw in a Kudu for free! Score! This guy is a little bigger than I like, and I'm still not fond of the ring. I'm going to try the paracord, thanks to all for that idea. I just don't like "clanking"...

    On the plus side, I really like the Krupps steel. It holds a pretty good edge, and as you have noted, it's good enough for most situations, it seems to mirror the edge holding of my old time knives in 1095, which is to say soft 1095, and sharpens up very easily. Almost as easy as O1 or 52100, at least for me, and that's compliment from me, those are some of the friendliest steels I've found to sharpen. I like using this steel in the kitchen, I use the Hunter series (Long and Western), and it stays shiny and sharp, and is horribly abused by my family. They don't hesitate to throw these into the dishwasher, no problems at all. They proudly serve side by side with my Old Hickories, even though the OH's have more character. ;)
  9. sh00ter01


    Sep 26, 2007
    I bought one a couple years back and EDC for several month straight. Great knife (and unique locking mechanism) for the price IMO:thumbup:

    My only complaint when I first got it was how to carry it, it my pocket was a pain as it was too long to be comfortable. I carried vertically next to my wallet in my back pocket for a time, but really don't like anything buy my wallet in that pocket. So, I added a lanyard to the ring and hook it over the lip of my pocket. The added weight of the lanyard keep the ring from slipping back over the lip and down into your pocket. And, if I found myself in dire need of some cord, I can use the lanyard without loosing function of the knife. The lanyard also make the grip feel fuller and more secure as I grab it and the handle together in use (the specific knot pattern lays flat against the handle so it's not awkward at all).


    Great user, that's held up to everything I've thrown at it, still sees EDC use from time to time as well:thumbup:

  10. mogmz


    Sep 1, 2002
    I have to get me one of these. After watching the video below I was surprised how well it performed for such an inexpensive knife.

    sh00ter, I like the idea of using a thick lanyard for an improvised pocket clip. Cool beans.

  11. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Did a little cardboard cutting today and compared my Kudu to my Spyderco Delica. Both were sharpened with a back bevel at 17 DPS, with 20 DPS microbevels put on with the Sharpmaker, down to the white flats. Taking advantage of the high polish on the edge, push cuts were used. The Kudu cut about 40% better than the Delica in terms of effort to make the cut. This is pretty much what I expected. The half height flat grind of the Delica doesn't cut as well as the full flat grind of the Kudu. The Delica blade is slightly thicker, maybe 1/64", barely enough to see in a spine to spine comparison.
  12. shecky


    May 3, 2006
    I was a bit disappointed with the thickness of the edge bevel on my early model Kudu. It seemed such a shame to give the blade a nice mirror polished full grind, and then finish it off with a thick, not terribly acute edge bevel. After reprofiling, the knife is a fine user. The steel works fine. And the knife as a whole if nicely made. Definitely a good user. I wish Cold Steel would do an "econo-line", low budget versions of their other knives such as the Vaquero or Spartan. Just plain injection molded handles, 4116 steel, no pocket clips or ornamentation.
  13. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Gonna start lowering the bevel to 12*/side tonight. Using just a water stone, it may take a while. We'll see.
  14. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    I think they need to put out a Kudu with a fat navaja bowie blade on it akin to the Espada series.
  15. sh00ter01


    Sep 26, 2007
    I like your guys thinking:thumbup:

    I've been impressed with how well their 4116 holds up, I wouldn't mind seeing more budget folders in it from them.

  16. A.P.F.

    A.P.F. Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    It is good to see a thread on the Kudu, which has to be the 'sleeper' of all time. It is a great general use knife that gets the job done. As well, it is an excellent knife for fruit, steak or what have you. About every second or third order I place, I get them to throw in a Kudu, otherwise the shipping costs more than the knife. All in all, a great knife.
  17. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I dropped the bevel down to slightly less than 12 degrees per side. I'll see how it cuts and how long it lasts like this later this weekend. It is noticably sharper/more aggressive now than before.
  18. Cyblade


    Aug 16, 2001
    I suggested a fully serrated version on the Cold Steel facebook page.
  19. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I've really just gotten started on carboard cutting, but I've broken down a few boxes and it will still shave my arm with some effort. I also cut some wire in the form of a bread tie. I had 2 dents in the blade the depth of the microbevel, which is about the width of 3 sheets of typing paper. More to come.
  20. Frozy


    Apr 3, 2010
    If only coldsteel made a Navaja like the kudu

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