Since 1980, Cold Steel has been making high-quality knives for sportsmen, collectors, and even cooks, made of top-end steels and handle materials, in a wide range of unique designs, some of them inspired by historical patterns, like the Canadian Belt Knife.
Love or hate Cold Steel’s aggressive marketing tactics (which often feature videos of Lynn Thompson and crew hacking through large slabs of meat), the company’s products are quality, and they’re often quite affordable, too.
But what’s the best Cold Steel knife? Here are 5 good picks, representing both the fixed and folding categories.
Cold Steel 4-Max Scout
This is one of the best Cold Steel folders, and indeed one of the top-selling Cold Steel knives of all time.
It is a behemoth among folders, 10” overall with a 4” blade of AUS10A steel. The blade itself is 4.8mm thick – almost a full half a centimeter.
It also features an extremely tough Griv-Ex handle with stainless steel spacers and a bombproof lockback locking mechanism.
There are few tougher folder knives on the market – as Cold Steel’s videos of this knife will attest.
Cold Steel Air Lite Lockback
The Cold Steel Air Lite is a little bit more manageable than the 4-Max Scout, with more reasonable dimensions.
This one is 8” overall, with a 3.5” blade (3mm thick), also of AUS10A steel. The handles are black G10 and the lockback is the same design as the 4-Max Scout.
This one is more of a traditionally sized pocket knife, but with a steel and handle materials that will buck the elements with ease.
In terms of durability and steel chemistry, it’s about the same as the 4-Max Scout, just smaller – so if you love the former but it’s just a little too big, this is the best Cold Steel knife for you.
Cold Steel 1911
The Cold Steel 1911, styled after the grips of the venerable Colt M1911, has a lot going for it.
For one, it’s a great size for EDC, only 7” overall with a 3” blade. It’s also fairly compact and light.
Blade steel is an affordable stainless alloy, 4034SS – nothing like a super steel, but extremely corrosion resistant, easy to care for, and easy to resharpen.
Deployment and lock type are what really make the 1911 shine, though. It features an easy to use flipper mechanism and a liner lock, along with a “double-safe) lock that locks the liner open, preventing accidental disengagement.
The price is another thing to love – no matter where you shop, you’ll find this knife at reasonable prices.
Cold Steel SRK in SK-5
Now let’s pivot to fixed blades. The Cold Steel SRK in SK-5 is without a doubt one of the best of these.
With a 4mm thick, 5” blade of SK-5 steel, this is a tough piece of steel.. SK-5 is a Japanese alloy that’s similar in chemistry to 1085 carbon steel. It takes a good hardness rating, giving it really good edge retention, but this alloy is more corrosion-resistant, unlike 1085.
It also comes with a black Kray-Ex handle and a MOLLE-compatible sheath, so it’s easy to mount and carry in whatever way is most convenient for you.
Cold Steel Bird and Trout
This tiny little Cold Steel knife makes the list because it is highly versatile for sportsmen and is a true featherweight.
Less than an ounce, the Cold Steel Bird and Trout is one piece of AUS8A steel with a drop point blade that is about 1” long.
The steel is easy to care for, serviceably corrosion resistant, and able to take an unbelievably sharp edge (although it does wear rather quickly).
The lack of scales and simplicity of design means that this knife is extremely easy to care for, and the ring at the end improves retention when your hands are wet, cold, greasy, or bloody.
It’s also easy to carry, thanks to its MOLLE-compatible sheath which features a locking tab that prevents the blade from being pulled loose except by an intentional action.
It’s excellent for cleaning trout and game birds – hence the name.
What’s the Best Cold Steel Knife Addition to Your Collection?
Any of these (or countless others) might be called the best Cold Steel knife. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
To check out more Cold Steel knives like these, such as the Cold Steel Recon with a tanto blade or the Cold Steel Ti-Lite (among countless others) visit White Mountain Knives.
They carry plenty of others like these, offer competitive prices, and free shipping in the United States.