Cold Steel Knives

Best Cold Steel Knives – Top 5 Picks for 2023

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Your point of view will determine what you think of Best Cold Steel Knives. For some, Cold Steel is the manufacturer of the ninja stars and spikes available in the mall’s medieval blade shop. For some people, Lynn Thompson in a plaid shirt swinging a long sword at an animal part suspended from a rope on YouTube is and always will be Cold Steel. Nonetheless, despite its reputation as a mall ninja, Cold Steel was and still is a company that produces some very high-quality blades.


At the time of writing, Cold Steel has been around for 41 years. Lynn Thompson started the business in California in 1980. In an interview Lynn gave to Deathwish Coffee in 2018, he said that he founded the business after breaking two of his rivals’ knives in a row and realizing that “I could do a better job, and I must do a better job.” Since then, Cold Steel has introduced several advancements to the market, including laminated steel (San Mai III), Kraton handles, and the Tri-Ad lock, possibly the toughest lock in the world. Other developments include the popularization of the American Tanto blade form.

While Andrew has since moved on to launch his own production knife line, many of his designs and influences still remain in the lineup. In recent years, CS began collaborating with renowned custom knifemaker Andrew Demko to create a number of their blades. In the end of 2020, Cold Steel was acquired by GSM (Good Sportsman Marketing, LLC), a conglomerate of hunting and outdoor sports goods companies. Cold Steel’s headquarters then relocated to Irving, Texas, along with the rest of GSM’s brands.

ImageProduct NameEditor's RatingPrice

Cold Steel DEMKO AD-10
Cold Steel DEMKO AD-10

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Cold Steel Code 4 Folding Knife
Cold Steel Code 4 Folding Knife

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Cold Steel MINI RECON-1
Cold Steel MINI RECON-1

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Cold Steel ESPADA XL
Cold Steel ESPADA XL

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Recommended of Top 5 Best Cold Steel Knives

Below, we include some of our top Cold Steel knives along with our favorite features.

1. DCold Steel DEMKO AD-10

The Tri-Ad lock, a modified rear lock that places a stop pin between the blade tang and the lock bar, is what sets Cold Steel folders apart from other brands. As a result, the knife is significantly stronger and more durable since the stress is distributed throughout the pin and the handles rather of being concentrated on the mating surface of the blade and the lock bar. Demko first created it, and Cold Steel put it into action.

The AD-10 is a reproduction of Demko’s bespoke AD-10, and it has a striking resemblance to the costly original. It has the Tri-Ad lock, like the majority of Demko’s knives, and a large (3.625″) drop point blade manufactured of CPM S35VN.

Its open size is 8.5″ and its substantial 6.8 ounce weight is impressive. The AD-10’s large blade is deployed by dual thumb studs, and it has aluminum liners with contoured G10 scales, a forward finger guard, and a flared tail for a tight grip. The AD-10 is an ergonomic home run and may be compared to either a larger or a smaller version of the wacky 4-Max or the well regarded Ultimate Hunter. You may also like some of the WE Knives from our list, so take a moment to check them out.

For a high-end production folder, it’s a distinctively Cold Steel approach that mixes premium materials and construction quality with the company’s notoriously overbuilt character. In addition, it has two pocket clips so you may carry it on either side.

2. Cold Steel Code 4 Folding Knife

The Code 4 is arguably the most underappreciated Cold Steel knife. It’s a great EDC alternative with materials and craftsmanship that are as durable as they come in a very portable, lightweight design. These slender, 0.35″ wide, 4.15 ounce anodized aluminum handles are housed in Demko’s Tri-Ad lock—a term that appears frequently in this piece and with good reason.

It depends on your taste for a tanto, clip point, or spear point blade form because the Code 4 offers all three for the same price and weight. The knife’s choice of steel has evolved over time; it was initially made of AUS-8A, then moved up to CTS-XHP, and is presently made of CPM S35VN.

The Code 4 combines a very small light carry with a serious blade and lock for when the need comes, but it’s not the greatest option if you’re working in a slick area or wearing gloves. The clip point is probably the blade I like out of the three since it has a more usable belly and a more acute tip for piercing than the spear point, but they’re all excellent. For more amazing products like this, check out our guide to the LionSteel Knives.

3. Cold Steel MINI RECON-1

For a very long time, the Recon 1 series has been a pillar of the CS range, giving rise to a wide variety of models and evolutions. While the Recon 1 comes in three sizes—regular (4″), micro (2″), and the Mini (3″)—we chose the Mini because it is the just-right goldilocks model and when people claim that Cold Steel only produces ridiculously extravagant knives, two palms are raised in a confused expression. The epitome of usefulness is the Mini Recon 1.

It is reasonably priced at only $68. It is strong and repairable thanks to the G10 scales and AUS-10A steel. While it has an open length of 7.125″ and a full four finger grip, it is very lightweight at just 3.6 ounces.

In addition to having ambidextrous thumb studs and ergonomic finger grooves, it also incorporates the incredibly durable Tri-Ad lock for security. The pocket clip may be set up for left- or right-handed tip-up carrying.

Similarly to the Code 4 above, you can choose between a clip point, an American Tanto, or a spear point. Since Cold Steel’s clip points are so attractive, I would probably choose a spear point for its thinner profile in a pocket.

4. Cold Steel ESPADA XL

Recall how we stated in the previous paragraph that some people believe Cold Steel only produces outrageously expensive knives? I’ll tell you why now.

The Espada family is referred to as “folding swords” by Cold Steel, and they are not mistaken. Espada, which translates to “sword” in Spanish, is the same name as my favorite vintage Lamborghini, a front-engined 2+2 GT coupe with a V12 engine that has a low top speed and is also fairly huge by Lamborghini standards.

Furthermore, with a 7.5″ blade length, the Espada XL is substantial by the standards of rational beings. So, when the blade is fully extended, it is longer than a Mini Recon 1. When opened, the entire thing measures 16.75″ from tip to butt, requiring two hands to hold the handle.

The nicer Espada XL has a polished satin CPM S35VN steel blade with a hollow grind and a striking trailing point blade form because why would you want a plain one? Integral slabs of 7075 aluminum, polished to a mirror finish and dovetailed with contoured G10 scales, serve as the handle frames and bolsters.

Finger grooves and a prominent sub-hilt allow for a variety of grips on the handles. It is remarkable that the Espada XL weighs a little over a pound considering how much it appears to weigh. It features a conventional lockback and a pocket clip, demonstrating that CS never lost their sense of humor. Guys, I’m not sure what pocket it will fit in.


To balance the cosmos, the Espada XL has to be bookended by another absolute master class in useful EDC knives. The one drawback to the American Lawman, which is a very fantastic daily carry knife, is that the G10 scales and pocket clip will tear up your pockets, in my opinion.

The American Lawman, like the Code 4, switched from AUS-8 to CTS-XHP and then to CPM S35VN steel, which is only available in one variation: a 3.5″ drop point in black DLC.

The American Lawman is so wonderful, why? It cuts like a lightsaber because of the blade’s neutral drop point and deep hollow grind, as well as the comparatively thin 0.13″ blade stock. The G10 scales of the knife, which have no liners and measure just 0.39″ across, are similarly quite thin in the pocket.

Hence, it weighs little less than four ounces. With a solid palm swell, a rearward finger groove with a guard for a back grip, a well-defined forward finger choil, and curved edges to the G10, it also offers excellent ergonomics. It has mirrored pocket clips for ambidextrous tip-up carry and the incredibly durable Tri-Ad lock.

Three seconds spent handling the American Lawman will make it clear if you were under the impression that CS just produced knives for memes. An outstanding user knife without a doubt.

Competitor Brands

Best Cold Steel Knives

Given that their folding knives range in price from the $7 Kudu to the $425 4-Max Elite, it is difficult to identify companies with which Cold Steel directly competes.

Moreover, they produce a comprehensive line of fixed blades with an enormous price range (from $8 to $699, no joke), as well as a variety of other items that we won’t discuss, such as baseball bats, spetnaz shovels, throwing stars, etc.

Then there are the blatantly ridiculously large folding knives—or folding swords—like the Spartan Kopis, Voyager XL, and Espada.

Gerber’s product line does offer some variation because they also produce a full range of multitools in addition to folding and fixed blades, however most of their folding knives are more affordable.

Moreover, SOG is producing additional knives in the same price range as Cold Steels, which is the mid-level segment (around $80-$100 for folders). Of course, few manufacturing companies can compete with the spectacular catalog spread now offered by WE/Civivi, who likely manufactures knives they forgot they still made.

But the Espada XL, a high-end folder, a baseball bat, a folding bush knife, and everything in between? Baby, that’s just Cold Steel.


You owe it to yourself to test out one of Best Cold Steel Knives models with the Tri-Ad lock if you’ve always thought of the company as producing just silly items for the mall ninja crowd. There’s sure to be something in the Cold Steel catalog that will catch your eye if you like items that place a strong focus on function above form.

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