Cold steel knives

Cold steel knives DEFAULT

Cold Steel

American knife and tool company

For other uses, see Cold Steel (disambiguation).

Cold Steel Logo.jpg
Cold Steel smatchet machete

Cold Steel smatchetmachete

Founded1980; 41 years ago (1980)
FounderLynn Thompson (President & Founder)

Irving, TX 75061


United States

Key people

Andrew Demko, Robert Vaughn, Ron Balicki, Luke LaFontaine, Anthony DeLongis
ProductsKnives, swords, tomahawks, pepper spray, machetes, spears, blowguns, axes, martial arts & self defense-related products and training tools

Cold Steel, Inc. is an American retailer of knives/bladed tools, training weapons, swords and other martial artsedged and blunt weapons, based in Irving, Texas. Cold Steel products are manufactured worldwide, including in the United States, Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, India, Italy and South Africa.[1]


Cold Steel Tanto design knife with Black Hills Ammunition Company cartouche. Carbon steel with high chromium content +vanadium. Blade Length: 7 1/2" Length overall: 12 3/4" Steel: U.S. CPM 3-V High Carbon Weight: 13 oz Blade Thickness: .2-inch Handle: 4 3/4" Long G-10 Sheath:Secure-Ex®
Cold Steel "Lucky" Gentleman's pen knife made in Italy of S35VN Steel, with 2 5/8" blades.

The company's products include fixed blade knives, folding knives, swords, machetes, tomahawks, kukris, blowguns, walking sticks, and other martial arts items and training equipment. Their knives are used by military and law-enforcement personnel worldwide.[2][3]

Cold Steel is credited with popularizing the American tantō in 1980.[4][5] Cold Steel marketed knives made for them in the U.S. by Camillus using a carbon steel given the trademarked name "Carbon V" (read "carbon five"). Their imported knives were nearly all made in Seki, Japan using AUS-8 which Cold Steel labelled "400 Series Stainless". They also had two models made in Taiwan, both of which switched to Japan in 2000. In 2007 Camillus New York went bankrupt and Cold Steel was forced to find a new manufacturer for their carbon steel fixed blades. Cold steel first went to Mainland China (People's Republic of China) but allegedly due to quality issues they switched to Taiwan for production. At the same time Cold Steel moved all of their folding knife manufacturing from Seki Japan to Taiwan. The carbon steel was SK5 and stainless was AUS-8 both imported to Taiwan from Japan. However the Sanmai III models remained strictly Seki production.

Today, the knives made in Japan use VG-1 stainless steel and VG1 core Sanmai III, the Taiwan models use German 4116 stainless steel, D2 steel, 1055 high carbon steel, O-1 high carbon, SK-5 high carbon steel, Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel, American CTS XHP and CPM S35VN powder steels and American CPM 3V tool steel. The largest Sanmai III fixed blades are made by Hattori. Cold Steel's folding knives are renowned for their lock strength, due primarily to the introduction of the TRI-AD locking mechanism, designed by custom knife maker Andrew Demko.[6]

Cold Steel's swords are primarily made from 1055 high carbon steel and Damascus steel.[7]

Many of Cold Steel's products are designed by company President Lynn C Thompson and based upon traditional knife designs from all over the world, but Cold Steel has also collaborated with custom knife makers such as Andrew Demko, Phil Boguszewski, Zach Whitson, Steven Likarich, Keith Dehart, Rich McDonald, Bob Koga, Fred Perrin and Lloyd Pendleton on certain designs.[8]


Cold Steel is known for their graphic marketing videos and DVDs (entitled "PROOF") which demonstrate their products' strength, sharpness, edge retention and durability. Featured tests include piercing car hoods, using folding knives as monkey bars, slicing through large free-hanging pieces of meat and animal carcass, stabbing/slashing ballistic gelmannequins, and cutting tatamirolls and free-hanging polyester rope with a single stroke.[9]

In the media[edit]

Cold Steel's products feature heavily in movies, TV shows, games and web series. Their knives have seen prominent use in numerous action movies since the early 1980s.[10]

Many of Cold Steel's employees are martial artists and weapons experts, who feature in their infamous marketing videos. Some of the members of their "crew" are also Hollywoodstunt men, fight choreographers and trainers, most notably Ron Balicki, Luke LaFontaine and Anthony De Longis.[9]

Thompson also writes regular articles regarding the use of knives for self-defense.[9]

Special Projects division[edit]

Special Projects is a division of Cold Steel Inc. that produces a line of tools and weapons such as Spetsnaz-type shovels, sjamboks, and spears. Additionally a line of tomahawks, axes, and hammers is marketed under the name of The American Tomahawk Company.[11][12]


  1. ^"FAQ".
  2. ^Ahern, Jerry (15 September 2010). Armed for Personal Defense. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. pp. 87–88. ISBN .
  3. ^Lewis, Jack; Campbell, Robert K.; Steele, David (2007). "From Bayonet to Multi-Tool". The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 221–223. ISBN .
  4. ^Kertzman, Joe (2001). 2002 Sporting Knives. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 99. ISBN .
  5. ^Kertzman, Joe (2002). 2003 Sporting Knives. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 29. ISBN .
  6. ^Kertzman, Joe (2012). Knives 2013: The World's Greatest Knife Book. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 553. ISBN .
  7. ^Shackleford, Steve (2010). Spirit Of The Sword: A Celebration of Artistry and Craftsmanship. Iola, Wisconsin: F&W Media. p. 99. ISBN .
  8. ^Winter, Butch (2003). "Collaborations with Custom Knifemakers". Sporting Knives 2003: 154–161. ISBN .
  9. ^ abcBarlow, Zeke (2008). "Flamboyant businessman deals in Cold Steel". Ventura County Star.
  10. ^"Cold Steel in film". Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  11. ^Suermondt, Jan (2004). Illustrated Guide to Knives. Grange Books. p. 24. ISBN .
  12. ^Branton, Bobby (2010). "Throwing Knives". In Steve Shackleford (ed.). Blade's Guide to Knives & Their Values. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 558. ISBN .

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cold Steel.

Shear Necessity: A Closer Look at Cold Steel Knives

It only takes a moment to know that this man means business. He’s barrel-chested and powerfully built, and all 5 feet, 9 inches of him convey determination and direct purpose. If his mere physical presence wasn’t daunting enough, there are the knives, one in each hand, the glint off of their shiny steel blades flashing a warning that at any instant they can be unleashed in a hailstorm of misery and death.

Confronted by such a man in a dark alley or lonely parking lot would possibly trigger a fight-or-flight response. But this man is one of the good guys. In an emergency situation, he is one person you’d want on your side. He is Lynn C. Thompson, president and founder of Cold Steel, Inc., a California-based business that is one of the premier manufacturers of edged weapons in the world.


Choose your weapons. Lynn Thompson selects a kukri for a sparring exhibition at this year’s NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis.

Choose your weapons. Lynn Thompson selects a kukri for a sparring exhibition at this year’s NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis.

Thompson is also an expert hunter and marksman with both conventional firearms and primitive weapons. He is a recognized Master at Arms, a lifelong student of several martial arts disciplines and an expert in fighting techniques, especially involving anything with a blade. Knife, tomahawk, machete, sword, you name it; Thompson can use it to slice you and dice you with the speed of the best food processor available on the market.

Thompson got into the knife business after he broke a knife from another manufacturer while training.

“I went in the house and got another one and broke it too,” he said. “I was so disgusted, I decided to make my own knives. That was the catalyst for Cold Steel.”

Thompson started Cold Steel in 1980 and built the company around his now-famous series of tanto blade fighting knives and large Bowie designs, such as his Trail Master. He boldly marketed his knives as being intended primarily as weapons and that made the rest of the knife industry uncomfortable.

“We’ve always been a warrior company,” Thompson said. “We were tactical when tactical wasn’t cool. And now you see all of my competitors have opened tactical divisions. These are the same people that criticized me in the 1980s and ‘90s for being too aggressive and too fighting-oriented, and now they’re all making fighting knives.”


What makes a good survival knife?

“When you think about a survival knife,” said Thompson, “the first thing you think about is, is this your only knife? If it’s your only knife, you can’t break it. That’s the most important thing. I think it needs to have enough blade length and weight to be able to help you to cut down saplings or at least cut into them so you can break them off to build a shelter. It should be long enough to be able to stab something or somebody with and kill him.”

Thompson firmly believes a survival knife has to be able to serve as a weapon. As an example, he used the movie The Grey, where survivors of a plane crash are forced to fight off a pack of wolves. “You’ll never watch that movie again and not think you’d want to have a big, bad knife in your suitcase, especially when flying over a forest. Even though it was fiction and you know it probably wouldn’t happen in a million years, it was very primal. I think your survival knife has to double as a fighting knife.”

Ready for anything. Lynn Thompson believes in a multidiscipline approach to self-defense and is ready to fight hand-to-hand, with firearms and edged weapons.

Ready for anything. Lynn Thompson believes in a multidiscipline approach to self-defense and is ready to fight hand-to-hand, with firearms and edged weapons.

“I’m always bemused by people who want to hammer on the back of their blades,” he said. “You don’t risk batoning with your survival knife. The chance of breaking your survival knife negates any benefit of batoning you could possibly have. You can cut a wedge to use to split things. You can carve around a sapling and snap it off or you can burn through it. There are lots of ways besides batoning. I’ve never agreed with that. I think it’s stupid, unless you have multiple knives.”

As far as blade configuration, Thompson said he recommends a clip point blade rather than a drop point preferred by others. “A drop point doesn’t stab as well and it doesn’t do finesse as well,” he said. “Your blade gets narrower at the tip with a clip point so you can do more finesse work. It is a slightly weaker point than a drop point, but with a lot of the drop points I see on survival knives, you have to put too much pressure to stab anybody with it. And a lot of people aren’t interested in that. They don’t think you’re ever going to have to stab anybody. But I make everything as a weapon first and as a tool second because there’s no higher standard than as a weapon.

Thompson also prefers a survival knife with a double guard to protect his hands. “A large knife can be pressed into a smaller knife’s role. But small knives, not visa versa. “There are so many scenarios where you might need to lay down fire, that I can’t deny the superiority of the semiautomatic.”


Lynn Thompson produces DVDs showing cutting tests on Cold Steel knives.

Lynn Thompson produces DVDs showing cutting tests on Cold Steel knives.

Thompson says that what separates Cold Steel from the competition is that he’s willing to put his knives through extreme, abusive torture tests. He has showcased the results first through his “Solid Proof” DVD and now his “Apocalypse Proof” DVD that accompanies each Cold Steel catalog.


The company has produced numerous instructional DVDs, many featuring Thompson, covering edged-weapon techniques. In this six-DVD set, Never Unarmed, Thompson takes you through the hunting and self-defense capabilities and limitations of every type of firearm, from pocket pistols to the largest double rifles. Thompson believes in a multi-discipline approach to self-defense.

So what would he suggest to a person who’s just getting started? “I’d send him to a Filipino martial arts school,” he said. “If I had kids, I would start my kids boxing and wrestling. I would start them out on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or shoot fighting, which came out of professional wrestling in Japan.”



• Trail Master Bowie—91⁄2-inch blade, double guard, the ultimate survival knife according to Lynn Thompson, that can handle any chore from cutting to chopping to stabbing.

• Recon Scout—71⁄2-inch blade (basically a smaller version of the Trail Master).

• SRK (Survival Rescue Knife)— 6-inch blade (my personal favorite all-around knife), big
enough to handle big jobs, small enough for finer, detail work.

The Cold Steel Trail Master with its 9½-inch blade embodies Thompson’s idea of what a survival knife should be.
Improvised weapons might be necessary in an emergency survival situation. It helps to have a Cold Steel Bushman, which can easily be fitted to a wooden shaft to make a spear or lance.

• Gurkha Kukri Plus—12-inch blade, really a curved machete with excellent chopping properties, the “Plus” is for the guard between the blade and handle to protect the hand.

• Bushman—7-inch blade, economical, tubular handle extends from blade in one continuous piece of steel. Handle can be fitted onto wooden shaft to become a spear or lance.

• XL Recon 1—51⁄2-inch blade, the only folding knife on my list.  Normally you want your survival knife to be a fixed blade for strength, but there may be times when it’s inconvenient tot carry a fixed blade knife. This extra-large Recon 1 is a huge folding knife.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.

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If you're not familiar with Cold Steel Knives then your missing out. For years Cold Steel company has vigourously tested their knives and self-defense tools to prove their strength and effectiveness in amazing videos that we love to watch. OsoGrandeKnives stocks the full line of Cold Steel Knives at the unbeatable low prices! GUARANTEED! Cold Steel is dedicated to making the strongest, sharpest knives in the world. Over the last three decades, Cold Steel has been at the forefront of the many innovations that have helped to define the knife industry as a whole. Virtually all of the Cold Steel line of knives, including the original Tanto, Trailmaster Bowie, and Master Hunter have been torture tested. It is our opinion that you will be pleased with any Cold Steel product you may choose.

I ordered the Cold Steel Frontier Bowie through you today by phone. I just wanted to say "thanks" for being so polite and helpful. Look forward to doing more business in the future.
--MrBillybrown66 - OsoGrandeKnives Youtube Channel

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