Cold Steel

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For other uses, see Cold Steel (disambiguation).
Cold Steel Inc.
Industry Manufacturing
Founded California (1980)
Headquarters Ventura, CA
Key people
Lynn C. Thompson (President & Founder), Andrew Demko, Robert Vaughn, Ron Balicki, Luke LaFontaine, Anthony DeLongis
Products Knives, Swords, Tomahawks, Pepper Spray, Machetes, Spears, Blowguns, Axes, Martial Arts & self defense-related Products and training tools

Cold Steel is a Ventura, California manufacturer of knives, swords and other edged weapons and tools.

Cold Steel's products are manufactured worldwide, including the United States, Japan, People's Republic of China (PRC), Republic of China (Taiwan) and South Africa. Some blades are marked Windlass so India made.[1]


Cold Steel Trailmaster

The company's products include fixed blade knives, folding knives, swords, machetes, tomahawks, kukris, blowguns, walking sticks, and other martial arts items and training equipment. Their knives are used by military and law-enforcement personnel worldwide.[2][3]

Cold Steel is credited with popularizing the American tantō in 1980.[4][5] Cold Steel marketed knives made for them in the U.S. by Camillus using a carbon steel given the trademarked name "Carbon V", read Carbon five. Their imported knives were nearly all made in Seki Japan using Aus8 which Cold Steel labelled "400 Series Stainless". They also had two models made in Taiwan, both of which switched to Japan in 2000. In 2007 Camillus New York went bankrupt and Cold Steel was forced to find a new manufacturer for their carbon steel fixed blades. Cold steel first went to China (People's Republic of China) but allegedly due to quality issues they switched to Taiwan (Republic of China) production. At the same time Cold Steel moved all of their folding knife manufacturing from Seki Japan to Taiwan. The carbon steel was SK5 and stainless was Aus8 both imported to Taiwan from Japan. However the Sanmai III models remained strictly Seki Japan production.

Today the knives made in Japan use VG-1 Stainless Steel and VG1 core Sanmai III, the Taiwan models use German 4116 stainless steel, D2 steel, 1055 high carbon steel, O-1 high carbon, SK-5 high carbon steel, Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel and American CPM 3V tool steel. The largest Sanmai III fixed blades are made by Hattori. Cold Steel's folding knives are renowned for their lock strength, due primarily to the introduction of the TRI-AD locking mechanism, designed by custom knife maker Andrew Demko.[6]

Cold Steel's swords are primarily made from 1055 high carbon steel and Damascus steel.[7]

Many of Cold Steel's products are designed by company President Lynn C Thompson and based upon traditional knife designs from all over the world, but Cold Steel has also collaborated with custom knife makers such as Andrew Demko, Phil Boguszewski, Zach Whitson, Steven Likarich, Keith Dehart, Rich McDonald, Bob Koga, Fred Perrin and Lloyd Pendleton on certain designs.[8]

Cold Steel Tanto design knife with Black Hills Ammunition Company cartouche. Carbon steel with high chromium content +vanadium. Blade Length: 7 1/2" Length overall: 12 3/4" Steel: U.S. CPM 3-V High Carbon Weight: 13 oz Blade Thickness: .2-inch Handle: 4 3/4" Long G-10 Sheath:Secure-Ex®
A bolo machete made in South Africa for the Cold Steel Knife company. It is constructed of 1055 carbon steel with a non slip handle
Cold Steel Smatchet Machete. The 1055 Carbon Steel blade is 13.5 inches long. Length overall is 19 inches. Thickness is .30-inch at the spine
Cold Steel Machete styled as Roman Gladius. 1055 steel synthetic handle


Cold Steel is known for their graphic marketing videos and DVDs (entitled "PROOF") which demonstrate their products' strength, sharpness, edge retention and durability. Featured tests include piercing car hoods, using folding knives as monkey bars, slicing through large free-hanging pieces of meat and bone, and shearing free hanging rope with a single stroke.[9]

In the Media[edit]

Cold Steel's products feature heavily in movies, TV shows, games and web series. Their knives have seen prominent use in numerous action movies since the early 1980s.[10]

Many of Cold Steel's employees are martial artists and weapons experts, who feature in their notorious marketing videos. Some of the members of their "crew" are also Hollywood stunt men, fight choreographers, and trainers, most notably, Ron Balicki, Luke LaFontaine and Anthony DeLongis.[9]

Company President Lynn C Thompson is a martial artist.

Thompson also writes regular articles regarding the use of knives for self-defense.[9]

According to a 2015 survey conducted by KnifeNews, Cold Steel is the 7th most commonly remembered knife brand among knife enthusiasts, out of 167 brands total.[11]

Special Projects division[edit]

Special Projects is a division of Cold Steel Inc. that produces a line of tools and weapons such as Spetsnaz-type shovels, sjamboks, and spears. Additionally a line of tomahawks, axes, and hammers is marketed under the name of The American Tomahawk Company.[12][13]


  1. ^ "FAQ". 
  2. ^ Ahern, Jerry (15 September 2010). Armed for Personal Defense. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. pp. 87–88. ISBN 1-4402-1643-6. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Jack; Campbell, Robert K.; Steele, David (2007). "From Bayonet to Multi-Tool". The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 221–223. ISBN 0-89689-498-3. 
  4. ^ Kertzman, Joe (2001). 2002 Sporting Knives. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-87349-266-9. 
  5. ^ Kertzman, Joe (2002). 2003 Sporting Knives. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-87349-430-4. 
  6. ^ Kertzman, Joe (2012). Knives 2013: The World's Greatest Knife Book. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 553. ISBN 1-4402-3064-1. 
  7. ^ Shackleford, Steve (2010). Spirit Of The Sword: A Celebration of Artistry and Craftsmanship. Iola, Wisconsin: F&W Media. p. 99. ISBN 1-4402-1638-X. 
  8. ^ Winter, Butch (2003). "Collaborations with Custom Knifemakers". Sporting Knives 2003: 154–161. ISBN 0-87349-430-X. 
  9. ^ a b c Barlow, Zeke (2008). "Flamboyant businessman deals in Cold Steel". Ventura County Star. 
  10. ^ "Cold Steel in Movies". 
  11. ^ "Counting Down the Top Knife Brands: #7 Cold Steel »". KnifeNews (in en-US). Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  12. ^ Suermondt, Jan (2004). Illustrated Guide to Knives. Grange Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-84013-694-4. 
  13. ^ Branton, Bobby (2010). "Throwing Knives". In Steve Shackleford. Blade's Guide to Knives & Their Values. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 558. ISBN 1-4402-1505-7. 

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