The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

10 Best Cold Steel Knives

This article was originally published in July 2018 before being updated with newer models.

We’re continuing our run-through of the best knives from each brand.

Narrowing down the 10 best currently in production is no easy task, but I did the best I could using personal experience, consensus around the internet, reviews, and more. Here are the 10 best Cold Steel knives.

Cold Steel Recon 1

Let’s start with a gimme: the Cold Steel Recon 1.

The Recon series helped usher in a new era for Cold Steel, one that is currently dominated by tough knives with a tactical bent that use Andrew Demko’s famous Tri-Ad locking mechanism.

The Recon 1 uses high-quality material with a 4-inch blade made from S35VN steel (recently changed from CTS-XHP). The handle is a grippy G-10. One of the great things about this flagship model is that it comes in tons of sizes and blade shapes, so you can get exactly what you want.

Cold Steel Ti-Lite

Cold Steel Ti-LiteReminiscent of the switchblades of the 1950s, the Cold Steel Ti-Lite is a thin yet lengthy folder with an eye on self-defense. There’s a 4-inch or 6-inch version — both come in either budget or premium builds.

The larger one is a legend with a long 6-inch blade made from S35VN steel and an aluminum handle. You can pull the knife out of your pocket while engaging it thanks to a protruding quillon that catches the edge of your pants. The reach on this thing is insane, which is why some people opt for the smaller Ti-Lite. We also really like this budget version with AUS 8A steel.

Cold Steel also made a Kris Ti-Lite with a unique wavy blade if you want something even more eye-catching.

Cold Steel Kobun

Cold Steel KobunAn inexpensive fixed blade doesn’t sound like something Cold Steel should excel at, but the brand does surprisingly well in the category.The first of the inexpensive fixed blades on this list is the Kobun.

As a lightweight fixed blade, the Kobun is an easily concealable knife with a 5.5-inch blade made from AUS8A steel. The handle is durable Kray-Ex that keeps the hand firmly in place. It also comes with a Secure-Ex sheath. This is a knife people have raved about all over the internet, so it’s an easy addition.

Cold Steel AD-10

Cold Steel AD-10

The first version of this list from 2018 had the Code 4 here, but an even newer knife knocked that off that list and has become one of Cold Steel’s best knives ever: the AD-10.

The AD-10 shares a lot of similarities with the Code 4 (well probably more like the 4-MAX), but it’s more of an EDC knife that’s strong, durable, and well-made. It is an overbuilt folder with a beefy 3.5-inch S35VN blade. The Tri-Ad lock gives it that extra oomph needed for tough use. The handle is G-10 and boasts some helpful ergonomics.

Despite being large and powerful, it remains surprisingly lightweight. Kudos to Andrew Demko and Cold Steel for this knife.

For those who don’t want to spend the full amount on the standard version, there’s also the Cold Steel AD-10 Lite.

Cold Steel Tuff Lite

Cold Steel Tuff Lite

Although it might seem unlikely, the diminutive Tuff Lite also makes the list of best Cold Steel knives. The design eschews everything we know and love about Cold Steel — massive folders, tactical designs, pricier.Instead, the Tuff Lite is a small folder with a little 2.5-inch Wharncliffe blade.

The blade engages with an oval cutout and locks with the Tri-Ad lock (there’s some Cold Steel DNA).The handle is black Griv-Ex. If you have to have one Cold Steel in your collection and you can’t afford much, opt for this one.

Cold Steel Voyager XL

The Voyager series is a mainstay of Cold Steel.

They come in all sorts of sizes and blade shapes, including the more recent Kris-style blade. However, the extra large variant with tanto blade is often touted as one of the best.

This beast of a knife features a 5.5-inch blade made from AUS-10A steel with a black GFN handle.

Cold Steel SRK

Cold Steel SRK

Could I leave the Cold Steel SRK off this list? Absolutely not. Standing for Survival Rescue Knife, this is one of the best fixed blade knives out there.

If you have followed Survival Lilly on YouTube, you’ll notice she loves this knife and uses it until its destruction (literally). The knife has a 6-inch blade and comes in different steels. There’s even an SRK Compact now too. The handle is Kray-Ex, which can take a beating like few other materials.It also comes with a Secure-Ex sheath.

If you want a fixed blade you can bet your life on, it’s hard to top the SRK.

Cold Steel Luzon

Cold Steel Luzon

The Luzon is another relatively new knife that had to kick another off the list. casinodeguide com(See you later Cold Steel Black Talon II — you still remain one of the best self-defense knives available.) The Luzon is an interesting design that injects modern sensibilities into the balisongs in Cold Steel President Lynn Thompson’s collection. Instead of the butterfly mechanism, this folder is a flipper.

This large version has a long 6-inch blade with a 7.5-inch GFN handle. It’s almost like a folding sword. There is also a medium version if you tend toward smaller knives.

Cold Steel 4-Max Scout

When we first made this list, the 4-Max had barely come out and was only available in an ultra-premium super expensive version. Although it was clearly a beast of a knife with a lot to love, the 4-Max was just a bit too expensive for the common man.

Cold Steel fixed their mistake with the 4-Max Scout.

This huge folder retains the look and feel of the original but at a fraction of the price. When you first see this knife with its 4-inch blade and beefy handle, you’ll probably think it’s over the top. That is until you actually use the knife on a job site.

For those who want something even bigger and with more premium materials, there’s now the Cold Steel 4-Max Elite.

Cold Steel Urban Edge

Cold Steel Urban Edge

Finally, there’s the Urban Edge.To be honest, I’m really confused by the naming of this series of knives.It seems like there’s the Urban Pal, Best Pal, and Mini Pal — then there’s also the Urban Edge. Either way, the Urban Edge is the best version. The push dagger is described as a versatile and useful everyday carry tool.

Push daggers are historically self-defense tools, but the version with the combo edge (one side serrated and one side straight) allows you to use it for everyday tasks like opening boxes or self-defense. The blade is only 2.5 inches and is made from AUS8A steel. The handle is Kray-Ex like many others on this list. I would just be mindful about your local laws when carrying this little guy because it would likely be considered a dagger.

Honorable Mentions:

I’m adding this section of honorable mentions to our posts on the best knives because there are so many that just missed the mark. For Cold Steel, other great knives include the Cold Steel Voyager series, Cold Steel AK-47, Cold Steel Finn Wolf, and Cold Steel Range Boss.


  1. wondering why the “mini” recon 1 is no longer available?

  2. Douglas DiToro, RN

    September 3, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Great knives but getting the upward price creep. Was informed that the company was sold and these are the new changes. Is there a chance that these newer versions and models are sold at a discount by other large knife distributors and sellers ?

  3. Don’t forget the opinel.

  4. The Cold Steel Pocket Bushman should be considered as it is an inexpensive no nonsense easy carry , that though a folder seldom opens up when carried in the pocket. I use one as a daily carry in the hip pocket and prefer it to other liner lock knives.

  5. Having put a couple hundred miles on the old Recon Scout I can honestly testify that this knife can do everything I needed as long as the edge is kept sharp and clean you should never have to switch out between small chores and big chores.

  6. Patrick O'Toole

    October 6, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Look. The fixed blade knives listed here are combat fighting knives designed for knife fighting (don’t care what you say about the SRK it’s a combat fighting knife, with the exception of the Finn. If you end up in a knife fight with a push knife, the Talon, or the Ti Light, you are going to get burried by the prosecutor regardless of justification, as an FYI. If you cary a Kris, a Vaqueso, or anything that looks like a switchblade you are going to get fuKed if you ever use them, since there is ZERO work they are designed to do other than for knife fighting. The Recon 1 and the AD10 are amazing knives, with the super strong cold steel TRI-AD lock and excellent materials for handles and blades. Just my thoughts…

    • Observation that a lot of reviewed knives are actually both old and new combat styles is valid. The Bowie was exactly that – never intended for bush use or camp, it was a ripping recurve clip with long straight blade for depth of penetration. It was even outlawed because of its over use by some thick headed boys more interested in honor rather than being civilized – and survives to this day as the Buck fixed blades touted as being “hunting blades”, which they most certainly are not. Popular, yes, the best knife for dressing out game, not so much.

      At that point all the hideout knives for “get off me” step in as the next duplicity. Absent them, then tacticool combat blades, after that, some variation of overbuilt pioneering tool on steroids which begs the question, didn’t they carry axes and hatchets? Lewis and Clark certainly did, nobody batoned firewood until it became a popular game to pretend being a downed pilot trying to survive. Yet, Canada requires an axe be carried by every bush pilot – which brings up the observation that a fighter pilot ejecting from an aircraft isn’t going to carry an axe. If he survived the initial missile strike disabling his aircraft, then ejection, then landing by parachute without injury, then avoids detection by 500 enemy soldiers triangulating his parachute drop zone, or the local villagers who know there is a cash bounty, his rescue by a crew is still problematic.

      But his knife, omg, it’s a devastating tool of power! So are articles hyping all the specialist edged weapons which are basically the wrong tool in the field for doing the common jobs, field dressing game, prepping food, helping to start a fire, etc. The result is a boring 4″ blade flat ground drop point with no choil, fixed blade, simple handle that works reversed, middle of the road carbon steel or maybe even D2 at most that holds an edge and takes one without too much work.

      $45 will usually cover it. Drop Forged Hunter with Talon DIY Moss grip panels and done. No screws to come loose, no scales to rot or break, no spacers to loosen and rattle, no leather to soak and corrode the blade then shrink up.

      Most knives in the marketplace just churn juvenile fantasies and create an image the owner is somehow accomplished – I know because I’ve been doing it, too, for over 50 years. I’ve learned you pick a knife by it’s shape, it’s features, it’s grind and alloy, because what it is determines what it does best – match that like you would a bullet to the game you hunt, or the vehicle you need to take to the lumberyard. A Citation isn’t going to haul a pallet of sheet rock, a .22 isn’t your best choice for elephant, a 7″ bowie isn’t a real good fish knife for making supper. Get the hype out of the decision making process and you will find simple and plain work best. It’s all Lewis and Clark had, or George Kephardt, or Davy Crockett. As for Bowie, well, his knife was his “firearm” of the day, always loaded and would always fire – no flintlock could do that. Riverboat or riverbank, it was his answer for self defense, not scrapple in a skillet. He carried a 4″ clasp for that.

  7. Ad10
    Silver eye
    Okayan limited

    • Tim

      September 9, 2022 at 2:22 pm

      The Silver Eye is a really interesting design, but it’s price to value ratio in my opinion isn’t great. It looks way better than the Golden Eye though.

      The Oyabun Limited (and budget version) are still pretty new, so I’d need more time with them before adding them to this list. But so far they are well received.

  8. Great article! I’ve been trying to look for the best cold steel knives. Is the Cold Steel 4-Max Scout really worth it for its price?

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