Friday, April 13, 2007

Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife - UPDATE

I promised a report as soon as I got the knives and they came in April 12, just 6 days after I submitted my order. To say that I'm impressed is an understatement.

Look at the photo. The Cold Steel (CS) copy of the Russell Canadian Belt knife is directly next to my 1972-3 made knife. Let's go point by point.

While the original is a full tang knife, the CS isn't. At least you can't see the tang hidden in the molded polypropylene handle. The original has a nice wood grip but I was impressed by the CS handle which seems much denser than I expected. At least that's the impression despite the weight of the knife, much less than the original even though the dimensions are so close that the CS knife can use the original's sheath. However, the CS knife's handle is just a shade larger which is only apparent when the knives are side-by-side. The original does lack one thing the CS knife has, a lanyard hole.

Comparing the blades is interesting. The CS version is clearly a stamped blade and the major shaping of the blade was obviously done in the stamping. This includes the gimping on the back of the blade. There is also a bit of waviness in the grind not apparent on the original. Still, the CS blade is VERY sharp. The blades have nearly the exact same dimensions, the working portions of the blades being nearly identically ground, except... The transition at the heel (ricasso) is angled on the original and perpendicular to the blade edge on the CS knife. One other obvious difference is that the CS knife has a noticeably sharper point.

Frankly, I had to work to get the edge on my original to be as good as the CS knife edge was out of the box. I can't yet speak as to how durable the CS knife edge is but the original's will hold up very well in normal hunting duties.

You might note that the famous Russell elliptical blade, which has won awards for design, is really just a single edge spearpoint blade (the handle off-set gives it added functionality). One can easily stick "things" with it. Note also that the butt has a nice striking point and the grip won't slip in your hand. Gives one thoughts that it might be a bit more versatile than first thought.

The sheaths are different as one would expect for the price difference. My original sheath is a well-crafted leather pouch and the CS knife comes with a nylon pouch that is just good enough for carrying the knife. One could invest in a Kydex pouch but unless one makes it oneself the cost would be more than the knife. As it is this is a good inexpensive knife that should do a fine job for the outdoorsman.

One thing that is clear is that the CS knife is made in Taiwan. This may be important to some users. As to purchasing the knife, I just did a search for "cold steel canadian belt knife" on Froogle and sorted by price. Only because the knife was out of stock at the cheapest provider did I pay $9.31 per knife. Compared to the $16-something MSRP, this is a great price.

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