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Gold Member
Dec 23, 1998

Well, there has been talk of comparing the Trailmaster against the BM, but I don't consider this a fair test after having seen what the BM can do from two independent testers. So I think instead, the better comparison is of the Trailmaster against a TUSK. I know all of the MD people are going to say that there is no comparison. Why? The following is why I think this would be an excellent comparison:

1. They are about the same size.

2. 0-1 steel has 0.85%-1%C, 1%Mn, .6%Cr, .3%Ni and 0.3%V.
Carbon V(50100-B) has 1.1%C, 0.4%Mn, 0.5%Cr and undisclosed Vanadium content.
It's obvious that these steels both boast very similar qualities and are good carbon steels.

3. Both manufacturers claim excellent heat treating and machining processes.

4. MD knives are hard chromed and CS knives are not. This increases wear rsistance but not corrosion resistance or toughness, so it is not a plus in my opinion.

5. I think both knives are flat ground and boast excellent edge geometry. I know CS knives almost always come razor sharp. I assume that so do the MD knives.

6. The CS trailmaster is 5/16 inches thick, which is considerably thicker than the MD. This is definitelly a plus for CS.

7. The MD has an extremely tough grip which is probably longer lasting than the CS(no doubt that it is, actually). The CS is, however, a full tang knife. Again both have plusses and negatives here.

I think that both of these knives have enough plusses and negatives to be quite comparable. This would be an excellent comparison and test. Will it ever be done?

Cliff Stamp has a Mad Dog Tusk that he will be comparing to some other knives. Does anyone with a Trailmaster want to see if it is up to the task. Cliff can test it along with the Tusk and compare both equally.

For those interested:

Tusk ($905):


Trailmaster ($130 - $160):


There are a couple of aspects of the TUSK's geometry which are not that visible on the above picture. It has elements of a khukuri design which should give it an edge in cutting. I do have a couple of concerns about the TUSK's durability which hopefully will be unwarrented and in any case will be determined in about a week when Craig's khukuri arrives and I run them against one another.

One of the bigger questions concerns edge hardness. One light utility knives I like my edges thin and ultra hard. However on knives that will see heavier work I like them a bit softer as even the hardest edges will impact upon bone and such, and getting a dent out of a very hard edge can be a bit of a chore. The TUSK should impact a lot less than the Trailmaster but the Trailmaster should be a lot easier to touchup.

As for reviews, keep an eye out for one by Joe as he will be getting a 15" Ang Khola (HI) from me after I finish comparing it to the Gurkha House khukuri.

Well, it looks like the Cold Steel Trailmaster along with another possible CS knife, is going to be on the way to Cliff directly from CS. They don't just talk it, they are willing to back it up. This says alot for CS in my opinion.
Cliff, what knives are going to go into the test? I've lost count. Assume the CS Ghurka and Trailmaster will be there?
Several knives from Ontario including some bowies and large blades such as a bolo and khukuri. Add to that the HI khukuris that I have and the one Craig (of Gurkha House) is sending plus whatever CS wants to send. Furthermore I will include a folding hatchet (the Uluchet) as well as a TUSK from Mad Dog knives. And finally some common reference points like an Estwing campers axe and a small utility hatchet.

All these tools are not designed to perform the same chores however it should be interesting to see how they each perform over a broad range of tasks and some interesting questions could be answered. For example can a TUSK/Trailmaster chop well enough so that you don't need a hatchet? Can the Uluchet slice well enough so that you don't need a knife?


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 24 March 1999).]
I'd sure like to see Steve Mullins Pack River Camp Knife in that group of tests. A seven inch blade of D2 steel for $175 begs to be looked at. (Steve's "Pack River" line is his "production" stuff, in the same light as his 440V folder that Joe Talmadge rated so highly.)
Hey Cobalt, RE your #4 point:

Since chrome doesn't rust, it seems to me that the hard-chroming of the blade *will* increase corrosion resistance (except for the edge, where the chrome is sharpened off).

Yes? No?
Walker, that's easy enough to see.

Note on the above knives from CS, as Cougar stated before I don't keep any of the knives I get for reviewing, usually I either send them back to the dealers or give them to a friend. If I kept them it would be too likely for me to be biased (give a good review and get another one) and would probably consider going too light on the blade (save it for personal use) and both of these factors and others would compromise the testing. If Cold Steel does not want the knives back and they survive the testing intact I will donate them to BladeForums and Mike/Spark can either auction/sell them or just give them away as prizes.

Joel, the Chrome does not provide a vapour barrier. You can get rusting underneath it. This is a concern for me as I can't judge how much protection it needs. For example if the knife was uncoated then I would immediately notice any staining and realize that I need to apply oil more frequently or whatever. But since it is coated I find myself being overprotective - quite the opposite of what was intended. The Chrome does however have the advantage of preventing the blade from cosmetic damage and makes it easier to clean up.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 23 March 1999).]
Hmmm . . . interesting, but I'd say the TUSK <font size=3>BETTER</font> win or Mad Dog's gonna have problems with new business. If I can get a better or comparable knife for $750 less, hard chroming starts to sound less important . . .
But does anyone really think that's likely?

Personally, I doubt the Trailmaster will hang with the TUSK, though. But again, it's not like it matters to me. If I save my pennies a long time and attend the Bill Clinton School of Thinking You're Telling the Truth According to Your Personal Definition of the Word Truth, (BCSTYTTTAYPDT) I might be able to convince my fiancee and myself that I need a $145 Trailmaster. A $905 TUSK? I better be on a mission to land on a killer asteroid and drill into it and destroy it before it can destroy Liv Tyler.
But don't think I won't be reading with interest. People hit the lottery all the time. I may spill my coffee at McDonald's.
Walker, it would be nice to see a knife like that in the mix as well as many more highly touted "TOUGH" knives, but the chances are slight for the simple reason that getting one for review from a maker is slight and a privately owned one may break which puts the owner of the knife in the position of having to ask for a replacement that may not have been guarantedd in the first place. I called my contact at Cold Steel and was able to get their knives for this test. They are willing to back their claims up with a non partial test.

Joel, Hard chrome is a plating or surface bonding process that produces a surface hardness all the way up to 74 on the Rc scale. This provides excellent abrasion resistance, so that if you drop the part that is chromed chances are it will not even be marked. However, moisture can still penetrate through chrome bonding, although considerably slower than if there was no chrome there, but moisture will penetrate. The problem is that once this has happened, Cliffs fear of not being able to remove the corrosion is quite real since the corrosion is now underneath the super hard chrome. This will spread throughout the underside of the chrome before it even becomes visible. I cannot say how long it takes as that all depends on the environment. There actuall much better coatings for corrosion resistance, but they do not offer much abrasion resistance. Most of the teflon coatings offer excellent corrosion resistance.

Gwinny, I agree that a $900.00 knife should not loose to an under $200.00 knife in any of the testing that Cliff will be doing, but testing is the only true way to find out.

It will be interesting to see how the Ontario knives fair in this test. Who knows, there may be an increase in Ontario's sales after this test.
I would love to see through testing exactly what an extra $750.00 get you! (Other than several nights on the couch and the silent treatment!

I`m sure the TUSK is a really spiffy knife and all but $900!? C`mon for that you could buy two Trailmasters,a BM Axislock,a chainsaw and still have some left over to buy a little something for the missus and take her out someplace nice so she doesn`t throw a fit over all the money you just spent on toys! I really doubt there`s any single knife that`ll out do a combo like that. Hmmmm, sounds like a no brainer to me.
Marcus, there must be something to the knife if people are willing to buy it. If I know that there is a knife out there that can possibly be the best and toughest, well, what price do you put on your life, if this thing can save it some day.

Oh, and as far as the wife is concerned, just tell her that you need to spend that much money because it's for her safety. "Imagine being in an accident and not being able to cut yourself out, honey!". Of course my wife comes back with," a lot of good your knife is going to do me when it's in the safe all the time". But of course the knife is already in hand.
Walker, how thick is the D-2 blade on that Pack River Camp knife?
I dunno Cobalt,maybe it`s just me,I`m not much for "intangibles". Do you really think that the actual performance difference between a $130 Trailmaster and a $900 TUSK is gonna save your life? IMO you get to the point of diminishing returns at about this point. I can`t imagine doing anything in the field that would break a Trailmaster or cause me to loose my life where a TUSK would save it. Besides if we`re talking about saving ones life in the field I`d sooner have a $130 knife,a bunch of survival equipment and a good rifle for that $900 than just a knife, any knife. BTW I`m not a big CS fan, the above would still apply with a $35 SpecPlus bowie vs. $900 TUSK. Of course if I had $900 burning a hole in my pocket and nothing better to spend it on than a knife then I suppose a MD would be a good choice.
YMMV Marcus
Guys, I have to let you know, that I TRULY appreciate what you're about to do. It would help me decide which bowie knife I'll eventually get (for my dad).

Cliff, better be careful with the testing, and make sure you have all the safety gears on hand!

Cobalt, been some time, but I've been wondering how come Coldsteel doesn't have any email address where people could write to them either for inquiry, or for other related stuffs?

Hmmm... this would really be interesting. Just wondering, why the MD Tusk, and not the ATAK? How about the CS Recon Scout? isn't it that except for the length difference, and the black finish, everything else is the same with the Trailmaster, right?

Oh, and the TUSK has a serrated edge? That would give it some advantage is slashing things, I guess.. it depends, though.

Good luck guys. This is one thread I won't be missing out on.
It would be interesting to find out who will come out on top, once and for all.


Dannyc, its a TUSK not an ATAK that will be tested just becuase I have a TUSK and not an ATAK. The TUSK I am evaluating is not fully serrated, it has a couple of inches of serrations at the base. The TUSK in the picture is from one of the Mad Dog dealers websites (its either Earl or Shannon).

Marcus / Canis, the TUSK has several advantages over the Trailmaster, for example ergonomic and durability issues with the handle (chemical, heat, impacts). As for performance, the positive included angle and the downward sloping spine should raise performance considerably over a more traditional geometry like a Busse or Trailmaster. As well as Jim March comments in:


all of MD's knives are combat class, even the heavy utility models like the ATAK and TUSK. Note the $905 price tag on the TUSK is a bit misleading, the ATAK for example is only $355.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 24 March 1999).]
Marcus, I'm just playing devils advocate. I really don't know if the Tusk is worth the $900.00 price tag, but there are many who think so. I guess we will find out.

DannyC-You are going to believe this, but in this modern day and age, CS does not have an Email address. If you want information that is not on their site, write them or call them. They are a friendly bunch. As for your decision, there will be many other good bowie style blades that won't be tested, but are worthy of your consideration. However, in the price range of the CS Recon Scout or Trailmaster, I don't think there is any competition. Also, the Tusk and the Trailmaster are equal in size or close to equall. I could have asked for a recon scout, but that would not have been fair to the Tusk since a shorter knife means a stiffer knife at the same thickness. Apples to Apples, I hope. But the Recon Scout is one heck of a knife.

Cliff, is there anyway to post pics of the competition on here?
Cobalt as I get the knives I'll put the pictures up. Anyone that already had pictures just email them to me and I can put them up as well.

Here are the three HI khukuris that will be included (the first three on the left):


From left to right - 20" Ang Khola, 15" Ang Khola, 20" Sirupati (15" and 12" Sirupati follow).

Cliff, are these the same khukuri's that you have been working with for a long time now? If so, they have already been to H#$L and back. Well, they are definitely built to take punishment.