Camillus CUDA 2S Tanto


Jul 19, 1999
This is the knife that I won from the Bladeforums trivia contests. I think it was the 3rd or 4th knife to be given away. Let me first say that prior to me winning this knife, I had never heard of Camillus and had only vaguely seen the magazine ads of the 7 or so CUDA's in black and white drawings. Besides that, that was all the Camillus knowledge I had. It's a good thing all of that has changed with this CUDA.

Let me also say that I am by no means a professional knife reviewer. My current collection includes mainly Zytel folders from Spyderco and Cold Steel with my Spyderco Military being my most high-grade knife. My uses for knives are mainly around the house and yard such as cutting down cardboard, rope, weeds, letters and plastic packages that prevent me from nutrition.
I carry at least one folder on me daily for self-defense but have never had to use them for such a purpose. (Let's hope that trend continues) So here goes:

The exact knife is the CUDA 2S Tanto with a partially serrated, bead blasted blade. Upon first looks and handling, hefty and tough is the best way to describe it. It weighs in at 4.5 oz compared to the larger Military which is only 4 oz. The profile of the knife is fairly thick as well allowing for secure grip. It looks rather tough with but what Tanto point with some serrations doesn't? The whole knife also feels very rough. The G-10, the bead blasted blade, the opening device, the ridges in the index finger choil and the thumb rest all have this sandpaper/file feel to it.

HANDLE: The grayish-black G-10 is very rough on the top side that your fingers rest on but smoother on the back side where the clip is. This seems to be done deliberately to give better grip. I would have preferred both sides to be smooth for comfort but I guess if you have gloves on, rough G-10 is what you want. The handle is also fairly thick allowing for a secure grip. The handle also has this choiled out area (is that a word?) for your index finger to rest in. The thumb rest is a ramped section of the blade and both have ridges on them to again give good grip. The grip itself feels very natural as all your fingers fall into place perfectly. Feels rough but ergonomically correct.

CLIP: It's a standard black clip with 3 Philips screws at the top. Nothing special, does it's job. I would have liked to see the CUDA text and logo on the clip like the Spyderco spider. Makes it more ownership-friendly I think. Y'know, proud to be a CUDA owner or something like that. :p The clip is placed higher than the Military allowing for a deeper pocket carry. Wonder if they have stainless steel clips because I can't stand the black ones once the paint starts to wear at the edges. But it does its job I guess.

LINER LOCK: Previously, I have heard of problems with the liner locks of other CUDA owners but upon testing mine, it's perfect. Very solid. I belive Camillus has fixed this early problem. No problems anymore.

BLADE: 3.875", ATS-34 and very sharp out of the box. I was easily able to shave hair with it. The Tanto is not quite the Americanized Tanto like Cold Steel's which clearly have that second point. It's sort of a cross between the Americanized Tanto and the traditional Japanese Tanto. Thick blade at 0.16" which is about the same as the Military. Upon cutting tasks, no problems whatsoever. Did all my cardboard, weeds, plastic packaging and such just fine.

BUTTON OPENING DEVICE: This is what the CUDA is so popular for. It has this button that you put your thumb on and press forward along it's groove in the G-10. It's not an automatic but might be considered one in certain jurisdictions I suppose. (I dunno, I'm not a lawyer either but I got it shipped to Toronto and customs even opened up the package so I guess it's legal in Canada) The button is extremely fun to play with. Blade open, blade close, blade open, blade close ... hehehe
It's also very smooth to open but concern might be expressed over what happens if dirt gets into it. I'm not too sure either, but I'll let you know if that happens. I have also heard of numerous recommendations for Camillus to build a manual opening device like a thumbstud or disk onto the blade and I have to agree with this uprising. If you have this knife in your left hand, it's very difficult to get it open. I can do it by using my index finger to press on the button a little and then using my thumb on the blade to open the rest of the way but it's hard to do. Fun device but a manual action could be very beneficial.

FINAL WORDS: This is one great knife with one fun opening device. I believe it won the 1998 Blade magazine award for the most Innovative American Design and for obvious reasons. I will be carrying this knife on me as a backup to my Military as I believe it fits the role of a defense knife better than a utility one. (At least the Tanto version does) The CUDA also comes in a bunch of other models. There's spear points, a rescue version, hawksbill, left-handed types and smaller versions of it as well. Personally though, I'm not sure I would buy it. Yes, it is an excellent knife but when you convert American prices to Canadian, it's surprising there are even Canadian knife-nuts around. I looked up the price of the CUDA at a Toronto retailer and it went for $210. Very pricey compared to my Military that I got for under $170. Add to the CUDA, our crazy federal and provincial taxes totalling 15% and you have to shell out a little over $240. But I won this excellent knife and didn't have to pay a single penny. Lucky me I suppose. Finally, thank you Mike Turber, Bladeforums and Camillus for this great knife. Blade open, blade close, blade open, blade close ...