Recently, while on a wild boar hunting trip with Lynn Thompson, President of Cold Steel, I had the opportunity to examine and test his new line of lock-back Shinobu Folding Tantos. Unique for a hunting knife, the classic tanto blade point offers maximum resistance to breakage. While using the large tanto folder for both field dressing and skinning, I noted that the chisel-shaped blade design was quite adequately pointed for delicate assignments and the slightly curved blade proved to be suitable for demanding chores.
About Cold steel
What Cold Steel accomplished with their three new folding tantos is to incorporate the strength of this unique blade design into an efficient utility knife with remarkable cross-over potential in the hunting field. At the heart of these new lock blade folders is the handcrafted San Mai III laminated stainless steel blade. If you closely examine any Cold Steel blade, you will see a thin line running the full length of the blade just behind the sharpened edge. This line is the forge point where the hard (RC-57) stainless core meets the ductile spring (RC-54) stainless steel sides. Forge welded into one inseparable unit, this San Mai III laminated blade offers both central core edge retention and the ability to withstand side load pressures twice that of other stainless steel blades.
Folding hunting knife
Small, medium and large folders with blade lengths of 1 3/4, 2 3/4 and 3 1/2 inches long, respectively, are offered in Cold Steel’s new line of folding tantos. The smallest of this knife series comes with a removable lanyard ring that can be used to attach a set of keys (great idea for those of us who always seem to misplace pocket knives) or to connect the knife to the zipper pull on a jacket or coat. Weighing only 0.9 ozs., this tiny wonder gives big knife performance in a bantamweight package. The medium folder weighs 2.6 ozs. and is as easily carried in the pocket as it is worn on the belt. The largest of this knife trio weighs in at a hefty 5.5 ozs. and was my choice as an all-purpose big-game knife.
Not only do these new folders possess incredible blade strength, they also have reinforced pivot pins that increase the metal-to-metal engagement at the critical tang area. When you open and close the knife, the movement of the tang as it slides along the spring is perfectly smooth, with a slight hesitation at the midpoint. When opened, the blade locks in place solidly with the audible “snap” so characteristic of quality cutlery manufacture.
Equally as functional as the tanto blade shape are the molded Kraton knife handles used on these handy folders. Even under the most demanding of circumstances, this resilient gripping surface seems to “stick” to the hand. Permanently bonded to the handle scales without screws or rivets, the black Kraton handles are checkered for a positive grip. You will also note that there is an absence of sharp edges or other potential points of abrasion to cut into your hand or wear a hole in your pocket. Quite obviously, the thoughtful design went into the creation of these remarkable folders. If one phrase could describe the construction philosophy behind these new folders, it would be “uncompromised quality.”
While the tanto blade design may have been born in the forges of medieval Japan, this ancient knife concept has distinct applications for today’s world. Built with uncommon quality to withstand abuse that would damage other knives, this trio of folding lock blade tantos from Cold Steel deserves closer examination.