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Jun 17, 1999

Hello one & all,

I was wondering if, by chance, any of you either owned or had any experience with Cold Steel's (Zytel) Covert Action Tanto.

If so, and your time and enthusiasm permitting of course, then I was hoping for a review of said knife.

What about the over all quality at that price? Blade sharpness? Torque ability (durable)?

Thanks a bunch,

Michael Cedric


"You learn something new every day!"

I own one, I will beat on it for you tonite and tell you how I broke it over the weekend.


(is this begging the question, as my old professor would say?)

Your Parenthesis reminded me of an interesting quote, back from my alma mater days, concerning one of my former department chairs. LOL

'If you knew everything, there is to know, then that would not make you smarter...rather it would make you boring!"

(direct quote from a CSU Sociology professor)

So, all that having been said, thank you for the reply and the near future review, yet please DO NOT break you CS CAT Tanto on MY account!

Thanks a bunch,

Michael Cedric Swiney


"You learn something new every day!"

[This message has been edited by MCSwiney (edited 17 July 1999).]
Okee Dokee, I am finally finding the time to post the results of the Cat tests per request of Mr. McSwiney, and I was actualy surprised in some respects.

The Cat does not cut. Period. It may be sharpenable, but I was attempting to cut both the ever present empty beer and pepsi cases in my basement as well as my now standard paper plate taped to a string. Neither was cut that I could ascertain, although the paper plate and pepsi case were both seriously creased. Boys and Girls, the offending paper plate will simply shrug of such an assault and open a fresh can of whoop-A$$ on you if you do this to it. The edge seriously deforms on these targets and will do so on any other target.

I then began trying to thrust and stap through these targets, with oaky results. The Cat would penetrate to the results if I though an outside to inside thrust every time, but the inside to outside and straight on thrusts were usually not effective. We can chalk that up to lousy technique on my part, except that the ever present spyderco endura which accompanied me and two cans of brew to the sacred testing site did a fine job, despite the paper plate's tendency to act like I would and get the hell out of the blade's path right quick, serrations and all. I do not need to tell any of you about the spyder-edge versus the paper plate and cutting, do I?

I then proceeded to pount the Cat into a 1x6 (pine) to test for functionality of the "skull crusher" pommel and I was reasonably impressed on a couple counts. The pommel was producing 1/2" deep holes in the wood, and will most likely do the same to your skull or any other part of you. I recently purchased a real steel CS Tanto (thanks Gary!) and having owned these before I will attest to the impressive destructive capability of the pommel. This carries over really well into the plastic version and I do have to say that the handle was very warming to the touch, provided and excellent grip and is a reminder of why CS products were at one time the premier factory combat knives available. No slippage in either the ice-pick or the fencing grip on this handle at all and though my hand is not what one might call lady-like and delicate (Sweetie tells me they are gruesome) the grip was at the same time exceedingly comfortable.

The pointy end of the Cat also stabbed well into the wood and the point, which was damaged somewhat by thrusting into pepsi cases (!) was actually reshaped into more or less its actual configuration. It went in about a half inch or so with the pointy (er) end, but given what I discovered it sounds like you would need to find a water buffalo to stab in the head every time you use this thing.

Being a thorough kind of guy, I wanted to know if the Cat would actually shave some of the splinters off the edge of the pine board, which is perhaps evidence I should not drink and play with knives without supervision. The Cat actually did manage to shave a bit off the edge of the board, in the same manner that you could use the edge of a desk to shave wood. This absolutely murdered the edge and this Cat is well into its eighth life currently.

Now Mr. McSwiney did e-mail me asking a few questions that I kept in mind while testing the Cat. The first was along the lines of holding up under normal usage. Normal knife usage will ruin this thing in about thrity two seconds flat (close to my actual using time) and normal usage for this item would be sneaking it past metal detectors for assassination purposes, which is an activity I normally do not participate in actively. However, my general consensus is this: The Cat retains most of the excellent handling characteristics of the CS Original Tanto, but none of the usefulness.

The other item he was concerned about was as follows: Is it worth the price? I got mine free with a Shinobu Tanto folder, which I subsequently sold for a profit, but I would think "Yes" is the answer regarding the "cool" factor. ON the other hand, I will never carry this item, feeling that its dismal performance even as a stabbing weapon (its primary function) is not worth the effort to carry. IN my opinion, should you desire to carry a non-magnetic plastic "knife" either go buy a Newt Livesay NRG (or two) or an AG Russel CIA Letter opener. I can cut stuff with my Russell and the Livesay not only can be driven enthusiastically through sheet metal, albeit with a little damage, it can easily be carry ready for quick access in a wonderful kydex quick draw sheath.

I did no put this knife in a vise and pull to the side as in the video "Proof" nor did I do push-ups on it or drive it through a watermelon. These are all cool on video, but i put it through tests I have figured out (with much help thank you Dr. Gyi, Tim, Fred and Jerry Van Cook) will more simulate what I will actually do with such a piece should the worst extreme come to pass. Please let me know what your experience is regarding it if any. Should there be any sort of desire for this, I have several other non-mag pieces in the inexpensive category I will be happy to put to the test.

[This message has been edited by Parker (edited 20 July 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Parker (edited 20 July 1999).]

Mr. M.C. Swiney thanks you for your preliminary review and eagerly looks forward to the conclusion.

Hmmm, maybe you and I should have a word with the "egg-heads" at Cold Steel's R&D div., huh?

Take care & until later,

Michael Cedric Swiney


"You learn something new every day!"

A friend of mine had bought one of the CS CAT's a few years ago. i bought about a dozen of their delta darts(back when they would sell ten of them for about $20). I didnt like the CAT at all, struck me as being quite flimsy. I did like the Delta Dart though. cant really slash with it, but its not too bad at stabbing (if i stabbed anything hard, i would have to re-file the point)
also, it worked great as a tent stake-i forgot or lost mine on a camping trip, and ended up using my deltadarts, and they worked really well, even in rocky ground (i did have to do major refiling of the point)
hope this helps a bit
Don't even bother. I have a few CATS and not one of them is worth the three bucks I paid for them.

Out of all the fiber/glass composition knives around Newt Livesay's NRG is by far the best and the cheapest. Takes an edge, tip is wicked sharp and keeps it through repeated thrusts through pretty much anything. Newt has one at his shop driven through a 2X4 and the tip is intact. All my test confirm the integrity of the tip. 550 Cord wrapped handled is secure, best of all comes with a great kydex carry rig. Run a BB chain through it and forget you have it around your neck. Best part, its 20 bucks! Better than a MD Freq flyer and over 100 bucks cheaper. Newt is a great guy to boot.

[This message has been edited by chrisJohn (edited 20 July 1999).]
So my impressions of the NRG are born out, eh? Perhaps a hardened review of the NRG is in order. I may just have to order three of four more to put thru the paces.

MCM, are you looking for a Cat of your own? I have one slightly used.....
Chris :


Better than a MD Freq flyer

Pretty strong statement. In what respects? While I never handled a FF, assuming its made out of the same composite that the MD grips are, I would have guessed that the FF's are the best out there. Is it the geometry?


Thank you once again for having gone through the trouble of putting the CS CAT tanto "through the paces" and for having posted said observations on this forum.

My thanks also go to ryk and ChrisJohn for their commentary.

It would appear, by all accounts, that the CAT falls way short of CS's glorious praise thereof, huh? Maybe its a case of a little BS by CS! LOL

No, in all seriousness, it would have been nice had CS's noble experiment with plastic composites riveled that of steel, but oh well.

Interesting to note though that none of you (listed above) ever mentioned that the CAT would make an ideal practice weapon (i.e., sparring and the like).

Thanks a bunch,

Michael Cedric Swiney


"You learn something new every day!"

MCS, the Cat DOES penetrate into wood 1/2 an inch. You are much softer than that. Do the math!

On a lighter note, the cat does teach one the essential mechanics of a tanto style blade that despite Snickesnee's apparent virulent hatred of the design, it is going to be around for a while. The tanto does make for a differnt angle of thrust both overhand and underhand, so praticing with this may help your steel tanto a lot, but you can also get excellent practice with it by asking Bram Frank (e-mail at Arnisman@aol.com) to make you a tanto trainer, like the one he sent me. He will charge in the vicinity of $15-20 bucks for it and it is made of a nice urethane plastic that is fairly rigid, a blunted point, but the main interest is that he casts it directly from the knife, the blade is virtually identical to the real deal and the handle is identical in feel and texture. Excellent trainers Bram makes, I own three and love them. He can be a little slow to respond, due to his travel and training / seminar schedule, but the wait is worth it. Tell him Parker sent you.

Once you train with Bram's toys you may not like others so much.

Ryk & ChrisJohn,

Thank you for your input!

What can I say other then I stand corrected? Shesh, how much more often is this gonna happen to me on these forums! <just kidding>

I dunno maybe its because I'm a blond or possibly it has something to do with to much California sunshine, yet either way I goofed (regarding the penetration, rather then cutting, ability of the CAT).

I shall, however, be sure to give credit "where credit is do" once/if I contact Bram Frank (and be sure to mention your name), okay?


Have a great weekend one & all,

Michael Cedric


"You learn something new every day!"

Cliff here is a pic, hopefully it will clear up some of your questions.



The blade is a flat grind, on the left side, when orienting the blade in the right hand. The tip is what is really sharp, but the edge will slice through paper, not as easily as the MD FF, but well enough for a polymer/fiber knife, and takes a superior edge to the so called CIA Letter Openers I have seen. The MD FF is has a much high glass content than the NRG, and thus takes a some what keener edge, but is brittle as hell. A buddy of mine broke one of mine in half screwing around with it. He slammed it down in a desk, horizontally, and it fractured roughly in the center of the blade.

The NRG has a little more flex, but only enough to keep it from shattering easily. I have driven mine through plenty of wood, even a formica table counter top without major deformation or fracturing. As you can see from the picture the handle is somewhat similiar in so much that the NRG has an indexing notch, but the handle is wrapped in 550 that is epoxied fast. The NRG is almost identical in size to the FF Micro.

[This message has been edited by chrisJohn (edited 22 July 1999).]

[This message has been edited by chrisJohn (edited 22 July 1999).]

[This message has been edited by chrisJohn (edited 22 July 1999).]
Chris, thanks for the shots. That is actually a synthetic that looks pretty much like functional knife. The handle looks much more ergonomic that a FF but the neck (under the index finger notch) looks a little thin. However since it stood up to what you have done with it, its obviously strong enough. Based on your comments the price of the NRG seems really low, however in terms of performance / cost ratio most comments on Newt's work rate it really high.

The FF breaking under the strain you described is interesting, I never would have guessed that would happen. Then again the handle I was pounding on is a lot thicker and of much stronger geometry than a FF.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 23 July 1999).]
Yes, it is synthetic. Newt told me the fiber/synthetic goo ratio and stated it was for maximum strength. A card that comes with the NRG states that it is designed to break off into flesh, maximizing the wound. I can't possibly see this occuring unless one really hits bone. I'll try to rig something to take a picture of the piece of oak I penetrated with a NRG.

As for the index notch weakening the knife, it is full width, just has the notch machined out of the bottom. I feel more secure stabbing with it than a MD FF as far a breakage is concerned.

Hmm ... the idea of deliberately designing a knive to break off strikes me as incredibly stupid (even if there's only one attacker are you sure you're only going to need to stab him once?). When I saw that advertised as a feature on Newt's own website as well as on a dealer's I crossed the NRG off the list of knives I've been stretching my neck out at ... now I wonder if I should reconsider that.

Did your buddy try to get Mad Dog to replace the broken Frequent Flier? If so what response did he get? Mad Dog knives come with a two-part guarantee, you know....

-Cougar Allen :{)
Newt told me that the breaking off in flesh is purely a marketing gimmick. Something about marginalizing the knife also. As previously stated, it would take some pretty hard "flesh" for this knife to break. I don't sell them, but I wish I did. If more folks tried them out, the NRG would fly off off the shelf.

Ahh, the MD FF that was broken was mine, and actually it occured after I tried to get a MD ATAK with a blunted tip fixed, yes I am that guy, so I never tried getting the FF replaced, as I didn't have any decent excuse other than the guy who broke the FF was a thrice divorced E6, not some SF operator, Navy SEAL, Delta Spook, just a 96B30P.
No offense intended to divorcess or E6's.
Hey Cougar, I never bought it for the express purpose of "fighting multiple attackers," mainly for its cover ability and if it does break of i someone, i still have the juju of bad guy bleding profusely and mysteriously from my empty hand...i any case I do not want to fight multiple bad guys with a seven inch knife regardless if it is plastic or a light saber.

NRG is not for anything but "sneak it in make him dead and walk away" type stuff. If I am thinking about multiples, I'll bring my USP or perhaps a shotgun to the party, or maybe not even go, but I do think you miss the point here. Steel will never get past the metal detector...no offense, but open up a little. Lots of people have been de-animated over the years with sharp sticks and broken branches, so a purpose designed pointy stick canot be bad for intended purpose.

Sorry about the box, I'll give someone else the crate I mean floor.

There's so much confusion here I hardly know where to begin....

Here in Massachusetts no one but courthouse security are allowed to bring weapons into a courthouse, and no one but LEOs are allowed to check weapons at the door, license to carry or not. There's no measuring blade lengths; all detected knives are proscribed weapons no matter how small. The detectors are set to high sensitivity; last time I went to court I had to take off my belt before I could get through the detector -- it wasn't a big redneck belt buckle, either, just an ordinary little brass buckle. I had to strip down to no metal but the zipper on my pants and the eyelets on my shoes before I could get through.

There's some security inside the courthouses but none whatever outside. People like witnesses and plaintiffs and jury members have to park at least a couple of blocks away.

Imagine you are subpoenaed as a witness in a trial ... or you sue someone in small claims court ... or your enemy sues you just to place you in a known place at a known time and unarmed (sound farfetched? It has happened.) Your enemies have been notified in advance exactly when and where you can be found unarmed -- possibly the only time in years you've been outside your house without a pistol. If they don't choose to take that opportunity they can always change their minds after they hear your testimony ... you and they will be leaving the courthouse at the same time.... Violence occurs inside courthouses, too, regularly.

Do you still think you can choose not to fight multiple attackers, or bring a shotgun, or not go?

Stabbing somebody and breaking off the blade and standing there grinning at him mysteriously bleeding sounds like a good scene for a movie, where everybody who gets stabbed once lies right down and stops fighting, and the hero never has to face more attackers than the scriptwriter wrote in. In real life you can do the same trick with a palmed knife; I call it the invisible knife trick.

Using an undetectable knife for an assassination sounds like a good movie scene, too. As far as I know it's never been done in real life; there are better ways to do assassinations.

I've lost count of how many times I've dealt with multiple prospective attackers with nothing but a small knife (or a ball-peen hammer). I've never had to cut anyone in gang interviews but it's come close ... some people are not smart enough or sober enough to be intimidated very easily....

-Cougar Allen :{)
Cougar, obviously you are LEO. Fair enough, I am not. As far as standing around watching someone bleed to death with a big grin...sorry pal, if my lfe has disintegrated this far I am not going to wait around for the outcome. I have had some rather unusual material tossed in my direction and wil tell you that if the folks pasing it to me tell me it works, then it does and i have no need to question the material but myself instead. Heard from an OSS Type spook about the Officer in the philipines on the wrong side who was killed with a sharp stick right in front of hi men and the widow who killed him was never even suspected. I guess our opinions dffer on this matter and I fully well get your point of view, but I di thiink you miss mine perhaps. No matter, your information and opinion can only serve to make us all a little smarter and stronger.

Incidentally, courthouse security sucks here too.