Benchmade, Case, Cold Steel??


Sep 6, 1999
I have always been fascinated with knives. I don't really collect anything but I have accumulated some knives, most of which I have an intended use for. Discovering these forums (Blade Forums and Benchmade's as well) has suddenly opened up a new world. Wow! people who like to talk about this most basic of man's tools. Anyway I was wondering what people think about the Cold Steel products. I've bought a couple seconds from them; a recon tanto (I'm still not sure why) and a carbonV master hunter which I have used to dress and skin deer with. I think it is a decent knife. Cold Steel is sure bombastic in its insistence that they have the greatest products in the known universe. Whats the consensus out there? Thanks folks.
Sorry about the misleading subject line in my initial posting. I was going to mention that I recently got a BM Panther which replaces a couple of Case sodbusters I used to carry daily.
While Cold Steel does tend to be more combative than most manufacturers, it did set a new standard for quality and innovation. I have several CS knives and none has ever failed to do what they were designed to do. That being said, there are a lot of other firms out there which are hot on CS's trail, coming up with innovative designs and steels which offer terrific alternatives. All of which means more choices for discerning consumers (fanatics) such as ourselves.
I am not a real fan of Cold Steel products. They are a good company when it comes to their top echelon tanto blades, but everything else they make seems to be kind of lame. I know some people get down on them because they make themselves out to be the BEST cutlery company out there today, but I chalk that up to pure and simple marketing. If they were honest and said "Okay, you would probably be better off with a Benchmade or a Spyderco, but please buy our ridiculously oversized folders, it would mean so much to us", not a whole lot of people would be impressed. Those pumped up claims are made to appeal to novice knife buyers, people who think that "other" companies products are simply more expensive by circumstance, NOT because they employ better quality and use better materials. A first time knife buyer will most likely not pay any attention to phrases like "Carbon Content", "ATS-34", "Teflon", "Full Tang", "G-10", or any other standout words that make knives of quality knives of quality.

I think you have a made a wise choice with the BM Panther, and I think you will see that the difference in quality between the BM and the CS will greatly differ in the coming weeks and months, if not already.

Robert Joseph Ansbro

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed. -Stanley Kubrick, 1928-1999

I am the moderator on the forum "The Balcony" located at Cinematopia, please come support this brand new site
Welcome to the place to be ptn.
I own several C/S knives they are decent products for the money spent.With that being said I probably will not buy any more of their products.I think Mr.Thompson's approach to selling knives is a real turn-off.I don't mind a person confidently displaying their products capabilities.But to claim that his competitions products are junk is going too far.The line between arrogance and confidence is a fine one and Mr.Thompson seems to be several paces across that line.I think a couple of slices(pun intended)of humble pie are due to Mr.T.
Well folks like they say "money talks and B.S. walks". I feel like Cold Steel's main objective is to sell knives, not make friends. This is what advertising accomplishes. Just think, a first time knife buyer picks up a magazine and reads one of Cold Steel's advertisements and presto, they just sold a knife!
By the way, I don't own a Cold Steel knife. I have been considering it though.

I have owned Cold Steel Knives for many years. My oldest is an old Urban Skinner which I have had for about 15 years. I have also carried a 4 inch Voyager, plain edge tanto for 2-3 years. Both knives are rugged and sharp. I also have some knives which were more costly, are highly regarded and which I like a lot...but I carry the CS blades.

As for CS's advertising techniques, it doesn't bother me. Lynn Thompson isn't marrying my daughter and he isn't coming over for dinner unless he brings it with him. It is his company and his money. Who am I to criticize his methods? If he keeps making great products, I'll keep buying them.
It's hard to characterize Cold Steel's product line because it has no uniform character or standard of quality. It includes everything from cheap (and IMO useless) plastic knives (Delta Dart, CAT Tanto) to several-hundred dollar pieces with fantastic workmanship (Imperial Tai Pan). It includes unique, innovative pieces like the Vaquero series and simple copies like the Randall and Loveless designs. In the line are well-considered, well-priced pieces like the Bush Ranger, and ill-designed, grossly over-priced pieces like the Triple-Action folders.

So who are Cold Steel? How can we characterize their products? They are importers of anything and everything they feel they can sell, either by value or by bluster. Certainly there are other companies taht import knives, such as Spyderco, but these companies maintain a uniform product line with a universal standard of quality and immediately obvious company "character" in each piece. Cold Steel, in contrast, could stock an entire knife store with their products, from the "top shelf" fixed-blades and folders to the "bottom shelf" junk that is sold to less discriminating customers. Shovels, swords, canes, etc... they'll put their name on anything they feel they might sell, regardless of design or construction.

Now, I'm not denying that hidden in this massive catalog are some of the best bang-for-the-buck fixed-blades available, some passable Zytel folders, and a number of other odd but interesting items. But the "Cold Steel" name itself stands for nothing when we weigh all their myriad products as a whole.

Coupled to this ambiguous name is one of the nastiest and most misinforming ad campaigns in their industry. Nasty because it attacks the products of competitors with unfair comparisons and "straw man" tactics, misinforming because it presents one-sided arguments and commits many logical errors.

Examples (from the CS website):

Unfair comparisons - in "The Truth About Tactical Folders," Mr. Thompson questions the ability of tactical folders as defensive implements because they are unsuitable for parrying a large bowie or Kukri. My concept of a "defensive scenario" is generally being surprised by an individual armed with a boxcutter, small knife, or bare hands. It is not squaring off with Jim Bowie or a Gurkha.

"Straw Man" Tactics - In "Riposte," Mr. Thompson seeks to pump up his own series of Zytel folders as the "ultimate" tactical knives by attacking a similar claim made by Gerber about the Applegate folder. The Gerber is a specialized folding dagger that is mis-advertized as a "tactical" (defense/utility) piece, has a notoriously poor lock, and is grossly over-priced by the standards of Zytel knives. Mr. Thompson singles it out clearly because comparisons between his knives and knives of less-specialized design and better construction (e.g. many Benchmade and Spyderco designs) would not reflect well on his products.

One-sided Arguments - the "Riposte" article is also an example of a very one-sided argument. Not only is Gerber given no opportunity to respond, but no mention is made of the Applegate's very unique attributes, such as the ability to take a double-edge and still fold safely. A similar situation is Mr. Thompson's attacks on Jerry Busse, where they criticize his extremely slow delivery times but make no mention of the fact that he seriously injured his hand and was unable to do any work.

Logical Errors - A logical error common in CS advertising is the presumption that twice the money should buy twice the knife (with CS always occupying the low end of this price comparison). Quality does not work that way! In the most extreme case, CS claimed that the Bushman was superior to a Chris Reeve survival knife because both cut, had hollow handles, and one could buy 15-20 Bushmen for the price of one CRK. This ignores that in some situations (wilderness survival is a fine example), a person wants the best item available. The best always costs more, and people are only going to use one knife, not 15-20. I wonder how CS would like a comparison between 10 cheap chinese knockoffs and one of their Voyager folders - is it really 10x better?

I don't like CS. By now, that should be obvious. They make some good knives (and some junk), but so do many other companies. Why buy from jerks that seek to delude the buying public and unscrupulously trash their competitors? There are companies with better business practices, better products, and much better customer service who are ready to take your money and put it towards developing a better product instead of grandstanding about the ones they already make.

Thanks for the input, ya'll. My thoughts on Cold steel follow: The CS knives I own are respectable pieces but nothing extraordinary for the work I've put them to. The high end products are out of my reach so I am not qualified to comment. It occurs to me that there are alot of good knifemakers out there and L. Thompson's ad techniques don't allow that possibility thus insulting some of his audience. I've been getting CS mailings for some years. I used to check them out carefully and even read them...more recently I scan them quickly for new products and trash them before I'm tempted to read the riposte section and see what L.T. is whining about lately. I guess it shouldn't bother me but it does. For that reason I probably won't buy anymore CS knives. I don't think I am cutting off my nose to spite my face(heh, heh!!) There are plenty of other high quality knifemakers who don't need to build themselves up by tearing down the competition. Call me easily irritated but I've heard enough from Cold Steel. Thanks for listening to me whine.
I have some CS knives and they are well-made. The lockbacks are strong and solid. I do NOT feel they are the best folders, but they make excellent "beater" knives. It seems their folders are made in the same Seki plant that builds the Japanese-made Spyderco, SOG, Outdoor Edge, Al Mar, etc., folders. I find, though, mostly I prefer to carry a Spyderco, Benchmade, or CRKT as a main folder more often.
My main problem is I've heard on the forums that CS's customer service can be spotty...sometimes good and often very poor. Compare this to BM or Spyderco.

Regarding Lynn Thompson's tactics...I have fun reading his catalogs. I take it for what it is...product hype. I try to see the humor in it (intended or not), and if you do that, it really is quite fun(ny) reading.

I do plan sometime in the future to purchase a CS SRK for a fixed-blade.

Ok, I'll split my responce into 2 different parts. What I think about thier knives, and what I think of the way they conduct themselves.

Part 1. The knives they sell: I think that CS sells good knives for the price. Not the best steel, not the best handle material. But at a low price no-the-less. I also think they have good fit and finish. They don't bead blast thier knives, so thats a major plus with me(Bead blasted knives look plain cheap. I'll agree with them on that, they also rust faster). I also like how they offer different stuff than knives. I think thier spears and throwing knives look like a great value and alot of fun.

Part 2. My opinion on how they conduct themselves: Oh boy, get ready for a rant from me, because I can't stand people/companies who brag non-stop about thier work. Thier "Proof" video was utterly stupid. The only reason I still keep one around the house is because its really funny to watch
, it gives Dumb and Dumber a run for its money as the cheeseist video known to man. I mean, Puh-lease! How does sliceing apart a cardboard cut-out of a man tell you how well it slashes? The music also reminds me of a Rocky movie.

I continue but most everything has been covered by the guys already.


Self improvement is a hobby of mine :).

Well, the knives are good for what they are. It does seem that EVERYBODY hates the way CS mouths off. Lynn Thompson chose a very loud approach to advertising. It's a good way to piss people off. BUT, on the other hand, you honestly don't see too many companies going to the extent CS does to back their products. Maybe it's just how one chooses to interpret things.

One consistent thing I have found about CS is that they always use the WORST handle materials!
CS goes to great extent to back their products?

I spent the last week in Colorado, much of it visiting the Spyderco factory. They have a machine which uses pressure sensors with computer interpretation to measure the force necessary to cause lock failure in their own products and as many others as they can test. Another machine cuts materials at a controlled pressure to measure initial cutting performance and edge retention on uniform blades in various steels. A laser is used to check bevel angles precisely. Nowhere did I see a knife in a vise with a bunch of gorillas jumping on it.

The difference is that Spyderco's info is gathered in a scientific manner, not by haphazard exhibitions. Liability issues and a more respectable advertising approach are why Spyderco doesn't issue this data publicly. CS can issue their "Proof" precisely because it is mere hype and entertainment, with no liability concerns.

Or by "back their products" did you mean customer service?

Ever try to send a knife back to CS for resharpening? They'll charge you $7 for a plain folder, $10 for a plain fixed blade. If the knife's serrated, they won't even touch it, no matter how much cash you send. You can read this info on their website. Compare this with free sharpening and repair of plain and serrated knives by Spyderco.

I'm using Spyderco as an example here because of my recent trip and because I feel they are a model for the industry. There are many companies, however, that I believe offer better testing and customer service than CS.

It would be better to say "CS goes to great extent to endorse their products."


[This message has been edited by Corduroy (edited 06 September 1999).]
Back their products??? ROFLMAO! anyone who's read any of my posts concerning customer service and CS knows how i feel, cause i've been through heck and back with them. no apologies, no help, no compromises, they have in my opinion absolutely no set rules for helping customers out. i have a large amount of money put into Mr. Thompson's company. never again. and that's a shame cause i took at least two of my friends with me when they saw the ridiculous crap i was being put through. a much smaller company had to help me out by taking one of his Light Kukris back from me when CS exchanged it and then sold me, for the difference in price and a bit of a profit for them, the CS heavy kukri. could CS have done this? exchange a defective (admitted by them) knife for a more expensive knife? Nooooooo. so i had to pay shipping to send it back to CS and then send shipping to send it to the company that helped me out by ordering a CS heavy kukri for me. this is repugnant customer service and i'll never get shagged again by his chopshop. sorry so serious. BTW welcome to the Forums; these guys, and girls, are great and are encyclopedic in their knowledge of all things sharp and beautiful...
I have to agree with DonG....... though I like the overall appearance of some of their products, they do use some lame handle materials.

Clay G.

The Cold Steel SRK is one fine knife. I was about to order another one to replace the one I just lost, but now I pause. A pal just got a Voyager folder, and it is pretty much useless, as far as I'm concerned. It didn't hold an edge long, and my SharpMaker wouldn't touch it. Several other locals who have done well on serrated edges with files couldn't do anything with it either.

I've always thought that the advertising was obnoxious, but I didn't know about the lousy customer service and the great diversity of products (if it will sell, they'll sell it???).

So, anyone got a suggestion for a knife similar to the SRK? This is for a general purpose belt knife that will be used for cutting, light chopping, and dressing the occasional critter. I'm fresh out of sentries that need eliminating...

Well I guess I am not alone in my feelings about CS advertising. I've never seen the "proof" video...sounds hilarious....good point Drew...scientific testing is not the same as a dog and pony show. Still I have to remind myself how well my $25-$30 master hunter second takes an edge and what an easy job it makes of the annual deer dressing/skinning ritual. Plus, at $25 I don't worry too much about the possibility of loss, damage or the need for customer service. I've got a Puma White Hunter I bought nearly 30 years ago that I do hesitate to use as freely. Steve, if the SRK is one fine knife then I wouldn't let obnoxious advertising keep me from getting a decent value..even if it hurts to give Mr. Thompson my money. Hearing about the poor customer service did give me pause, though. I guess we learn as we go. Phil
The Fallkniven A1 is quite similar in appearance to the SRK but IMO it is a better knife for the money. Sure you'll spend a little more, but I think that the price difference is well worth it. I keep an SRK factory second in the tool box and the other one is in my collection.
This is not to say the SRK is not a good knife. It is wellll worth the money you pay for it. I just think the A1 is better because it is tank tough and it's stainless VG10 steel has more to offer.

Hope this helps.
If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 07 September 1999).]