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Cold Steel always good for a laugh

Apr 15, 1999
I was checking out knife sites and wandered over to Cold Steel. I strongly recommend any knife buff interested in a good laugh head over and check out the "Read These Articles!" section.

Cold Steel undoubtedly makes a fine knife, at least in terms of raw performance and not aesthetics (which IS a secondary concern). But I hope that I am not alone in finding their grand-standing and endless outrageous and arguably meaningless tests a bit tiresome (does Lynn Thompson dream of battling soldiers whose bodies are 50-gallon drums and whose limbs are manilla rope?) This set of articles highlights that special self-aggrandizing, slightly off-center flair that has gotten Cold Steel where they are today. An enjoyable read if you could use a chuckle to brighten your day.

Let me highlight my favorite, "The Truth About Tactical Folders." After the odd, but not original, notion that tactical knives originated because military leaders disliked their troops carrying sheath knives (?), this article enters into a straightforward discussion of the appeal of tactical folders as small, easily carried defensive items. There are only a few Cold Steel plugs, and things are going fine until we hit the "Disadvantages."

Mr. Thompson begins this section, "While a folder with a short, thin blade can admittedly deliver effective slashes and thrusts, it still leaves a lot to be desired
when used to confront an opponent of equal stature and skill who is armed with a longer, heavier fixed blade knife." Already he has lost much of my interest, as I do not see the role of the tactical folder as engaging in sparring with an individual wielding a Bowie knife. I see the tactical folder as an emergency defensive weapon for sudden use to disable an opponent armed with bare hands, a makeshift weapon, or (in desperation) a gun, allowing me to flee or otherwise end the encounter. In short, I think of being jumped by a criminal with a baton or box-cutter more than facing off against Crocodile Dundee.

Despite this, Mr. Thompson continues to expound upon how much he would rather have a Trail Master Bowie than a tactical folder. Yeah, so would I! Was that the question? He also gives further highly graphic descriptions of the failure of your tactical folder in a violent encounter with Jim Bowie ("...his heavy blade merely smashes
down on top of yours, causing the lock to fail and....cutting off 3 of your fingers!") or perhaps a North Vietnamese regular ("...your point meets stiff resistance from an AK-47 magazine...") before launching into the final, and most bizarre, section of the article.

In "Get Shorty," Mr. Thompson tells us that we know a 4" blade is inadequate to reach some "vital targets buried deep in the human body" because the FBI requires a bullet show 14" of flesh penetration. As if bullet ballistics had anything to do with knife performance! That bullet doesn't NEED to travel 14", it only carries the ENERGY to do so because it may have to go through clothing and/or body armor, and the shot may be from an odd angle like directly below. Given enough force provided by the user, a knife will ALWAYS penetrate its full length, so it doesn't need the extra "distance" of a bullet's penetrative value, and also I am unlikely to try to stab someone's heart up through their pelvis. 4" seems quite sufficient to me, though I could say something about some people having more flesh to penetrate than others (but you know what they say about people in glass houses

The article also spends a great deal of time (and diagrams) illustrating the weaknesses of a tactical folder in parrying a large fixed-blade. That's right, I said "parrying." Others more knowledgeable than I may disagree, but I don't see parrying as a big part of the likely defensive technique of someone weilding a tactical folder. These knives are not for hunkering down in a Sandbar Duel, but for defending oneself against rapid, brutal assault from a dissimilarly-armed opponent!

In the end, Mr. Thompson's main point (aside from "Buy Cold Steel Knives!") seems to be that "the best of the mouse knives are no match for a full-sized fighting knife, not to mention a Bowie or Kukri." Well, um, that's a shocker. Luckily there aren't many Gurkhas waiting to jump me in an alleyway. I suppose I might write an article entitled "Don't Attack AH-64 Apache With A Spear," but I think folks can figure that out for themselves.

Sorry if I waxed a little bitter towards the end there, I just do find Cold Steel's advertising and opinion-slinging tiresome (so I figured I'd sling some of my own.) Once again, they really do make great knives if you can find them through the hype. Check out their site: read the articles for a laugh, then go pick out a nice SRK or Bush Ranger.

All that quoted stuff is copyright Lynn Thompson, Cold Steel is a registered trademark, etc.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
I agree that Cold Steel's advertising is over the edge but I learned a long time ago not to argue with success and the Cold Steel knives have certainly been successful in the marketplace. Take care.

Knife Outlet
You never read any of the old Herter's catalogs did you?

THAT was self agrandizing! Not too dissimilar from Lynn T's posturing, but Herter's developed it into a fine art! If you look around auctions and old estate sales, you can occasionally find old catalogs. Great fun and great reading.
(Everything they sold was THE BEST EVER!)

Knife Outlet,
I think Cold Steel's success is actually IN SPITE of their advertising. Wonder how much better they'd do if they quit climbing on top of other makers to look big?
Just let them show us what they've got, and let us decide. If the product is good, we don't need them to tell us so. If it sucks, WE will tell THEM! (by not buying it anymore!)
Like I've said before, I love CS knives, but I wish someone else owned the company.

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!

I too find Cold Steel's approach to marketing annoying. I own several of their knives and I think they are great. The thing that really troubles me is their attacks on other manufacturers, magazines, etc. I even tried to send an email suggesting they stop this nonsense, because it detracts from their image, but could find no email address. I could write a letter, but I am too lazy.

Along similar lines, did any of you read Fighting knives Magazine....when it was around. Their editor Greg Walker behaved similarly. Then the magazine disappeared.

Perhaps the actions of Cold Steel and Fighting Knives are motivated by frustration and desperation. Perhaps Cold Steel is in financial difficulty.
OK, this is not going to make me popular, but here goes.

1. Concerning a "dissimilarly armed opponent," the only time I've come close to seeing anyone attacked with a knife, the weapon was a large chef's knife. At least 8" and razor sharp--I'd used it earlier in the day. People on these forums often deride laws concerning folders by saying that more crimes are committed with kitchen knives, and rightly so, but doesn't that mean Thompson is right? Besides, whether you like his tone, you agree with the article in substance. Your only real gripe was that it stated the obvious.

2. You mention that a more realistic scenario is a "criminal armed with a baton or a box cutter." Isn't a criminal armed with a baton essentially the same as the guy with the large knife in many ways? He has much better reach, a much heavier and more powerful weapon, and the ability to compromise your weapon. If we're talking about thugs with batons, it seems Thompson has another valid point.

3. Yes, the part about the AK-47 magazine is aimed at soldiers. And as far as I can see, it makes sense. Soldiers are constantly covered by all kinds of metal equipment that would snap my Benchmade. The fact that I personally will probably not encounter it doesn't make it wrong.

4. I can't defend that thing with bullets and the FBI--not gonna try. That's goofy.

5. Mr. Thompson arrived at his judgement of his products in a unique way--they were the best in the world for quite awhile and probably still are. Who's better? Busse, who's not delivering very much and charges twice as much when he does (and performs the same crazy tests as Cold Steel?) Mad Dog, who is delivering knives ordered when I was a freshman at this school and charging more than double Cold Steel prices? Gerber--wait, I didn't mean it, don't go. Did you notice that one of Mr. Thompson's articles was a rebuttal of a Gerber ad that claimed one of its folders was "the best tactical folder" you can buy? Why aren't we picking on Gerber?
There'll be more later, maybe. For now, let me know what you thought of this.
gwinnydapooh..i tend to agree with most.
being in one of the most reknown knife seminar you learn the limitation of a small
so basicaly lyn is right.
but on the real world it is a bit difficult
to carry a "10"inch bowie,so we have to do
with less. however if i ever get into a knife fight.. belive me guys you rather
have the bigger knife.preferbly a "hell's
bell"bagwell bowie.
Many people have had a good laugh when reading Lynn's articles, but they do have some valid points, outrageous as it may seem. Going through those tests is merely to show the product's strengths and/or weaknesses.

But they do indeed have great products. I have some Cold Steel knives, and they are one of the best that I own right now. Hype or not, I guess it's up to the buyer eventually to find out, if the buyer wants to put it through the same tests as Lynn did.

Have you guys ever thought of the fact that just merely talking about Cold Steel gives them the upper hand immediately? Free advertising.
Lynn is a good marketing strategist, if I may say so.

Reminds me of a movie I once saw when I was a kid, where this presidential candidate has this logo on his banners that says "Why you should NOT vote for me." ..

Same banana, we find CS articles amusing, sometimes hilarious, but the end justifies the means.

According to one book that quoted forensics, a knife can actually penetrate twice it's blade length in soft tissue when driven by sufficient force, i.e., a 4" blade can cause a wound penetrating 8" deep. Not looking to drag this thread into the gory area, but if Lynn wants to open up that kind of discussion, his statements should be open to rebuttal.

(( edit - I would much rather read information from someone others consider a master yet considers himself still a student, one who acknowleges his experience is limited, but that what he does know is this..., than to have to spend time sorting through hypebole and self-aggrandizing puffery. If I buy from Cold Steel, I support Lynn's posting of questionable information some poor dumb sucker may know no better than to try to use in extremis. I don't think so. ))

[This message has been edited by Rusty (edited 25 April 1999).]

I concede the logic of all of your points. I did not intend this as a serious review of Mr. Thompson's statements, most of which are correct, but wanted to point out that I found it humorous that he should dwell on things so far removed from the realistic role of tactical folders. I feel that he is suffering from a "Sandbar Duel" mentality (and needs to promote his own product line), and while his reasoning is sound I feel it is also largely irrelevant.

It does seem as if a lot of knife crimes largely involve kitchen cutlery. These are often domestic violence situations, however, and more often it seems cheap folders are used in robberies and similar "street" crimes. No matter what the knife is, however, I would argue that an actual drawn-out "knife fight" such as Mr. Thompson describes is unlikely to occur. And even if it did, kitchen knives do not carry the heft so critical to many of Mr. Thompson's arguments about Bowies.

You are correct that a baton or similar object is a highly effective counter to a knife. I'd argue it was pretty effective against a large knife, too. One might be better off without a larger, slower blade that your assailant could strike at more easily, but basically, yeah, his arguments do hold for batons. Again I feel this applies more to a "fight" than the brief, violent emergencies I think tactical folders are suited for (outside of their enormous utility value).

I realize that Mr. Thompson is considering the needs of soldiers, but I am highly skeptical of tactical folders being used in this role. If, by incredibly bad luck or very special mission parameters, a soldier does not have the option of killing the enemy with his or her GUN, I strongly hope that they would do it with the sheath knife that they are undoubtedly carrying. This is a very unlikely scenario to begin with for 99% of the armed services, and I assume the other 1% know to use their Randalls and not their CQC-7s without Mr. Thompson telling them so. Or if they do choose to kill someone with a folding knife, it's probably because they know what they're doing and could accomplish the same feat with a shoelace or pointy twig.

It all comes down to what you consider the role of tactical folders to be. Mr. Thompson is rebutting the idea that they are the "ultimate fighting blade." I think this is silly, as few people would claim that they were. Aside form the utility role in which nearly all tactical folders normally serve, I see them as rapidly-deployed instruments of defense against sudden, unexpected attack in a civilian setting. As Mr. Thompson says himself, they're a lot better than fingernails.

If I (God forbid) should find myself squaring off with an assailant in one of Mr. Thompson's "knife fights," I would want one of the following items, in this order:
1) A very fast car.
2) A handgun.
3) The 10" fighter I made (thoughtfully albeit a bit whimsically) for exactly such an encounter.

I would also want a good lawyer, because if I use 2 or 3 in this kind of confrontation I'll likely go to jail.

But this is planning for an extraordinarily unlikely event. To be responsible, I try to confine my planning to only the highly unlikely. To that end, I have a Spyderco Civilian. It can be in my hand very rapidly and in even the most wild, panicked swing, a strike with that tip will likely get an assailant's attention quite long enough for me to run away. It will also most likely NOT kill them, which is a plus both legally and morally.

I apologize if this came off as an attack on Cold Steel in general. I tried to make clear that they make some exceptional products (they also make Bushmen, synthetic elephant whips, and throwing torpedoes, but...) and I hold them in high regard as a knife company. My object was to express that their advertising, and the views espoused by the progenitor of all these great things, often walk a fine line between comical and infuriating.

I became nostalgic reading Mr. Thompson's articles and thinking of the days I'd sit around with my pals who worked at a knife store, just reading Cold Steel catalogs and hooting with laughter. At the same time, though, it does tick me off, because Mr. Thompson not only speaks as an authority, but he attacks the authority of others. His claims about his products are valid, but that does not mean that the same holds for all of his views and opinions.

In short (about time), I feel that Lynn Thompson looked at the average knife and said "that's a 50, we can do better than that," and made a knife that was a 100. Unfortunately, he acts as if his knives were a 200 and claims that even the best of anyone else's work is a 25. I like to laugh at this. It keeps me from getting too angry.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
One of my constant gripes is that I can show somebody a knife, a very versatile tool for all sorts of mundane and not so mundane uses, the universal tool upon which all other technology depends, and the only use somebody will think of is "weapon." The reaction may be "Wow! Cool weapon!" or "Poo! Nasty weapon!", but all they see is a weapon.

So I argue. I say things like "It's painful to watch somebody opening a package with their car keys!" or "Don't like knives? Don't you like food, clothing, and shelter?" Sometimes I break through, and sometimes I don't, but the last thing I want to have on the table at that point is a Cold Steel Catalog.

Now I know that Cold Steel makes useful knives for many a non-violent cutting chore. And I know that self defense in the gravest extreme is also a life-sustaining purpose. I also know that sex between husband and wife is a good thing and not a sin, and nothing to be ashamed of, but we still close the curtains.

So I wonder how much on the use of a knife for self defense with lethal force one should discuss in front of strangers, and how much is more wisely discussed privately with people one knows. I would be the last to propose censoring such material, as the UK has done, but I can still find it in bad taste.

You can say what you want about Lynn's knives but I'll tell ya what, his folding knives are strong, the steel is good and the locks don't fold.

His knives are priced so the average guy can afford them and still get a knife that will hold up to, or is even better than knives costing twice as much.

I use to carry a CQC7 but now I carry Voyager 5 inch tanto or the new Scimitar(what a knife). These knives are light weight, and the locks will not break in time of need !!

As for his advertising, well his knife Co. has been the one everyone else has been following for years, and even though the advertising is bragadocious(sic), his ideas are sound.

He is the one who made the tanto blade popular, he is the one who brought you good quality fighting knives at a price you could afford, he is the FIRST to bring the Megafolder to the public eye (no one else had the vision or took the RISK and DID IT).

Yes their may have been other knive makers who had these designs, but Lynn is the one who had the Guts to take them to the public and push them.

I'm in business myself making archery stabilization rods and I know how hard it is bringing a totally new concept to the market. Its real easy to criticize, all the followers do it, but it takes a lot of hard work and determination to come up with the money, design your products and then hopfully sell your products and concepts to the public.

Just a note .. I am not affiliated with Cold Steel in any way, I just get upset with people that nock others. If you don,t like the way a company is doing something, buy from someone else, or put your money where your mouth is and start your own business.

Thank you for your time

I agree with James. While a bowie knife can be a great weapon, 99% of the time it will not be, and the same goes for just about every knife. Even america's choise knife for killing, the kitchen knife.

No I personally belive that Lynn should be advertising more of the utility cutting chores that everyone does daily more than the self-defence scenario's. But OTOH it is more fun to read.

Also, as for getting the "Oh! An evil weapon" and "Knives kill people" crap, my simple answer that my anti-knife friends have yet to come up with a good come back for is "Call me Old Fashion, but I don’t hold inanimate objects responsible for peoples actions"


PS Reading articles on CS's website always did give me a good chuckle
I love my CS knives, so far all Voyagers (tried to find a XL clip point Voyager in plainedge at a gun show yesterday. All they had was serrated so I didn't buy...grrrr!) >

I enjoy reading their catalogs, and I can see everyone's point. At a time when we are trying to get knives to be accepted by the general public as indispensable tools and avoid (more) restrictive knife carry laws, it can feel uncomfortable reading some of the graphic articles. I have a lot of fun with them, but most "PC" people would be disgusted and full of self-righteous indignation about the evils of knives (while thinking nothing themselves of preparing dinner with an 8-inch butcher knife).
I do find the new article vs. the Gerber Covert folder raising good points. OTOH, it's funny when Cold Steel says of Gerber, "Talk about boasting!"

Nevertheless, I will continue to buy and use CS knives, along with the few other manufacturers I buy from. They're great, aside from their serration pattern. >

This is another subject that has been beaten to death.

excellent knives

Big Mouths
I suppose that I am not going to say anything that's too different than already posted, but I'd throw in my 2 cents anyway.

Yes, Lynn Thompson is a bit grandiose when it comes to advertisement. But yes, his knives delivered. I don't own anything; except for a Swiss Army and a Spyderco Endura, but Cold Steel knives. There are excellent blades out there, but Cold Steel gives the best value for the price.

Now I'm going to address the touchie subject of "tactical folder." I am like-minded with Thompson on this one. Tactical folder is an oxymoron as far as I'm concerned. If I were to pack something that the law enforcement agencies might consider as a deadly weapon, I might as well take the hassle and pack a handgun. It has no value as a military sidearm, either. You can get a Swiss Army or an el cheapo folding knife for the light cutting tool and pack a fixed-blade for fighting knife--which is an affectation anyway. How many soldiers throughout the modern ages have fought hand-to-hand using knives? It happened and will happen, but really, what are the probability of an average grunt getting into a knife fight? Even then the issued bayonet would do just fine.

Back to the "tactical folder" issue a bit, if the people that actually pack these things and watch a video or two, or maybe even go to a knife course think that they could take on a streetwise thug who is more versed in fighting and scuffle with fists and edged weapons, then they better have a reality check and pack a gun.
Mr. Mattis,

I understand where you are coming from regarding the open discussion of knives and their use in potentially lethal encounters.
As I enjoy designing knives (and making them, when I have time and shop space available), it's easy for me to get wrapped up in the technical problems of how a knife could be designed as a weapon, and forget about the "big picture" of what such a terrible act (even in defense) means. When I made the 10" fighter I mentioned, it was for the challenge in design and construction. It was only later that my father asked me, "So, do you ever think you would use that?" and I realized that this was the last thing I would want to do. It was just a project, a question to be answered, so I answered it without thought to the meaning or purpose. I hope that it always remains just a large, useless reminder of an interesting knifemaking experience.

I apologize for discussing the Civilian's use and design so openly here and in the "fighting knife" thread, as if it were just another tool. I'll try to keep my comments to "I think it has good defensive potential" or suchlike in the future.


Did you miss the irony of spending your entire post defending CS and Lynn T and then finishing up your statement with the comment,
"I just get upset with people who knock others." ?
Uh, have you actually READ the CS articles?
This is my problem with them. I don't mind sombody saying "Mine is the best." Any manufacturer worth doing business honestly thinks HIS is the best. If he doesn't, then why is he making it?
My problem is when a company feels compelled to make insinuations and thinly veiled insults towards any who dare to compare.
Sure, CS is good, but are they the only knives worth buying? No, but Lynn T will try to make you think so!
He trashes Busse for being slow to deliver with the Battle Mistress, but doesn't bother to mention that Jerry Busse, who makes the (high end)Battle Mistresses in question, was seriously injured some time ago and is only now getting back into shape to do the work.
That's just sleazy.

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!

Ken Cook,

You’re right. Lynn Thompson has not yet reached the level of literary bravado that old George Herter had. But I hold great hope for Lynn if he can get over his timidity.

I have a vintage copy of George Herter’s “Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices” open here in front of me. If you want to know how St. Thomas Aquinas cooked robins, Gengis Khan’s recipe for duck, or prepare prairie dog Bat Masterson, you’ll find it here. If old George was still writing I think he could do another great book in the “combat knife” genre. I would love to read about the secret Bowie knife techniques of Joan of Arc.

By the way, I just found an old Herter’s Improved Bowie in an antique store. I love those old knives. You can surely conquer the world with one. George Herter said so.

[This message has been edited by Howard Wallace (edited 25 April 1999).]

You are right, I did miss the irony of my last statement, it should have included Lynn's statements about others as well.

Anyone who has read my opinions on CS before knows exactly what I'm gonna say now, so I'll keep it short.

1. They make excellent, economical stuff. Not the best out there, but quite possibly the best for the money. I am, however, no expert, so don't give my opinions any special weight.

2. No doubt they are innovative as well. I have jumped on the knife business fairly recently, so I have no first-hand knowledge of how CS has shaped the industry.

3. I find their advertising to be hucksterish and offensive, for all of the reasons mentioned above. I dislike it intensely when someone deliberately insults the intelligence of consumers, so much so that I have never owned a CS product myself, and I have reservations about buying one now...I might go somewhere else and pay more to avoid feeding the CS Promotional Machine.

A consumer is a voter who votes with his $$$. CS has alienated me with their ad campaigns. They don't get my money. Yes, yes...not everyone is so informed as forumites, so CS is targeting a less informed audience. Thats fine...but its a trade-off. CS lost me, but they probably gained multiple people who read their catalogues. Its a win for them, and that's fine. They can do business as they wish. It obviously works.


PS BTW, the combat folder v. fixed blade bowie (or whatever big arse knife)... sure, he's right. Know what? Give me a pattern 1908 British cavalry saber (or a US Patton saber) and I'll slice and dice anyone carrying a bowie. So, obviously the CS Trailmaster Bowie has no place in a combat environment, right?

Hey! Uncle Sam!

(_!_) Nyah nyah nyah!

Refund! You lose! :)