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

Reminiscent 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.

Cold Steel Kobun

An 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

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.

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 AK-47

The AK-47 is related to the Recon family, except for a few main differences. The blade is slightly smaller at 3.5 inches and it has a thumb plate that allows the knife to be engaged by pulling it out of the pocket in one smooth motion.

A pommel at the handle also keeps the knife from flying out of your hand. It has aggressive G-10 for an even more secure grip, though some have complained about pocket wear from sliding it into the pocket.

Aside from those differences, this folder is designed for hard-use and uses the Tri-Ad lock and a quality build. The previous versions were CTS-XHP, but the newer ones have S35VN steel.

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, including 3V and VG-10 San Mai. 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 Black Talon II

Bear with me on this one. Not only is the Cold Steel Black Talon II a specialty knife (self-defense) but it’s a direct take on the existing Spyderco Civilian (with permission from Spyderco, I believe). So how is this one of Cold Steel’s best?

Just look at it.

The Black Talon II takes the few bad things about the Civilian and eliminates them. The Talon has a stronger point that won’t break easily under duress as some have complained with the Civilian. There is also a thumb plate that acts as a Wave-like mechanism to open the knife in one swift motion.

Unlike the Civilian’s standard backlock, the Talon uses the stronger Tri-Ad lock. Another plus is that you can get it in serrated or plain, just in case you want to use it for other things.

Now with S35VN steel, the Black Talon II is one of Cold Steel’s finest.

Cold Steel Finn Bear

If you want to EDC a fixed blade without breaking the bank, the Finn Bear should be on the shortlist of options. Somehow Cold Steel was able to pack a big punch in a little (and inexpensive) package.

The blade is a small 4 inches made from German 4116 stainless cryo quenched steel. The handle is nearly indestructible high impact polypropylene. The Secure-Ex sheath is small and unobtrusive.

The best part is that you can typically find this for around $20. When you combine design, materials, and value, the Finn Bear is a big win for Cold Steel.

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.


  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 The Cutting Edge

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑