I have a love/hate relationship with hollow handle knives. As a teenager I saw “First Blood” and wanted the knife from that movie more than anything. Of course my only income at the time was a weekly allowance and the occasional job mowing a neighbor’s lawn. A custom knife from Jimmy Lile was not going to happen. So instead I bought some cheap hollow handle knife. The compass on the pommel cap looked like it should be on a car dashboard. The handle was not waterproof and the stuff in there got wet. The final straw came when I had a piece of the blade break off using the bottle opener. But that was many years ago so I figured it was time to give them another shot.
My first impression of the Cold Steel Survival Knife was that it reminded me of my Mora knives. Since I really like my Mora knives, this was a good start. The blade is 5 inches of German 4116 stainless steel with a scandi-edge. The edge was not as sharp as I like so I decided to touch it up. Using my medium grit Spyderco stone it took no time to put a nice shaving sharp edge on the blade. The hollow handle of the Cold Steel Survival Edge is made from polypropylene and around 4 ¼ inches long. Round in shape, it has five evenly spaces O-rings to help improve your grip. It has an integral double guard with slots for lashing. Unscrewing the pommel cap reveals a hollow interior that is around 3 inches deep and 1 inch in diameter. Stuffing it with tissue paper I then sealed it up and held in underwater in my kitchen sink for several minutes. When I opened it up the tissue paper was still dry. The Cold Steel Survival Edge’s sheath is ambidextrous and attaches via a belt loop/clip. Made from Secure-ex, it comes with an integral slot for the included Ferro Rod. The knife is held securely in the sheath by an integral tab that clips over the double guard. To unsheathe the Cold Steel Survival Edge you simply push out on the tab while pulling up. In addition to black, you can also get it in a high visibility orange.
When I received the Cold Steel Survival Edge our Boy Scout Troop had just finished working on some merit badges. One of them was Wilderness Survival with an emphasis on the Rules of Threes: Three hours without shelter, Three days without water, and Three weeks without food. So with that framework in mind, I headed out to the Hidden Creek area of John’s Mountain WMA. My intention was to try and accomplish the Rule of Threes using just the Cold Steel Survival Edge.
Priority number one was shelter. Looking around the spot I was in I decided to build a mixture of a lean-to with a debris shelter. Grabbing an eight foot limb, I propped it up on a low hanging branch about three feet off the ground. I then started gathering more limbs to build a frame along the central limb. The central limb slipped a few times so I used the Cold Steel Survival edge to carve a notch in it to catch on the low hanging limb. Unfortunately there were only a few pine trees with branches I could reach. Most of the pine boughs were used inside my shelter. Once I had a good framework in place I proceeded to cover it in leaves. I kept piling them on until you could not see daylight from the inside.
My next task was to build a fire. Finding dry tinder was going to be a challenge as it had rained quite a bit earlier in the week. Gathering only downed limbs that were off the ground I built up my firewood pile. Grabbing one of the thicker pieces I proceeded to shave a nice pile of wood shavings with the Cold Steel Survival Edge. I then took some of the smaller sticks and made some feather sticks. Pulling a Hexamine tablet out of the hollow handle, I placed it on the pile of wood shavings. Taking the ferro rod out of the sheath I positioned it near the Hexamine tablet. Scraping the sharp edge of the blade spine on the ferro rod produced a nice shower of sparks. After a couple of tries I was able to get the Hexamine tablet burning. Using the tinder I had prepared I was able to get a small fire going.
With my shelter built, and a fire going, my next priority was water. The area I was in is called Hidden Creek not because the creek is hard to find, but because most times the creek is non-existent. Only when there is sufficient rain does a small creek form from the runoff of the surrounding hills. Though it had rained for several days prior, the creek was dry when I checked it. The creek bed was damp so I decided to play a hunch. Picking a low point in the creek bed I started digging with the Cold Steel Survival Edge. At around a foot down my hunch paid off. Ever so slowly, water started to trickle into the bottom of the hole. Taking the pommel cap off the Cold Steel Survival Edge I removed a folded up piece of aluminum foil. A little bit of fiddling around & I had a passable cup to hold my water. Grabbing a bandana I placed it in the hole until it was soaked through. Removing it, I squeezed it out over the improvised aluminum foil cup. Rinse & repeat a few times & I had a full cup.
In a survival scenario hydration is more important that water purification. This was not a survival situation, and I’d rather not suffer the effects of giardia ever again. Boiling the water was one option, but instead I chose to use the water purification tablet I’d stored in the Cold Steel Survival Edge. While I waited for the tablets to purify the water I figured I’d work on the last of my Rule of Threes priorities – Food. Since I had the necessary material at hand, I decided to make a rabbit stick. Grabbing a piece of white oak I used the Cold Steel Survival Edge to shave away a handle, leaving a section of bark at one end. In hardly any time at all, I had my rabbit stick.
Over the course of my testing, the Cold Steel Survival Edge held up fine. There were a couple of dings from digging in the rocky soil & it would no longer shave paper. I consider that a non-issue really as it did not take long once home to profile out the dings and get it shaving sharp again. About my only complaint is the double guard. A couple of times while working with the Cold Steel Survival Edge I went to put my thumb on the spine for some added pressure to my cuts. The upper guard was in the way & made it feel awkward to work around it. I think the Cold Steel Survival Edge would be a fine knife for go-bags, hunting packs, or tackle boxes. Added insurance for those times Murphy throws a wrench into your outdoor adventures. Looking around online I was able to find several vendors selling the Cold Steel Survival Edge for $26.95. A little more than a Mora, but not bad when you consider it comes with a ferro rod too.
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