Cold Steel American Lawman knife - First Impressions | Carolina Shooters Club

Cold Steel American Lawman knife - First Impressions

Discussion in 'Dealer & Firearm Reviews | Critiques' started by rje58, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. rje58

    rje58 Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    North Carolina
    Cold Steel American Lawman
    review by rje58

    Let me start out this review by saying that I don’t have a lot of experience with Cold Steel knives. While I own multiples of several brands, the only Cold Steel knife in my collection before the purchase of this American Lawman is a used AK47 Gen 1 Ultralock that I got in a multi-trade.

    This one came boxed, which I always prefer over the dreaded clam shell packaging. The first thing I noticed was the warranty on the back of the box:

    “At Cold Steel we stand behind our knives 100%. Our folding knives have a one year warranty to the original owner against defects in materials or workmanship. If you have a problem with this knife, please return it with your original receipt and a short note and we will be happy to evaluate the problem and resolve it.”

    So… not a great warranty, but better than no warranty. If you have actual experience with Cold Steel warranty issues - good, bad or indifferent - feel free to chime in.


    Inside the box, the knife came enclosed in a bubble wrap sleeve, along with an extra clip for the opposite side of the knife. Each clip is designed to fit one side of the knife, and the scales are drilled only for tip-up carry.

    On first handling the American Lawman, the two earliest impressions I got were: it feels solid, and the texturing on the G10 scales is pretty aggressive. This thing is not going to slip out of your hand, even if it’s wet.

    The pocket clip is fairly tight - combined with the aggressive G10 scales, this could be an issue - wearing out your pants pockets in a hurry? I’m not concerned about carrying it in jeans or carpenter pants, but there’s no way I’m going to use this clip on slacks or dress pants. Which is a moot point for me, because if I’m in slacks or dress pants I’m going to want to carry something a little lighter, anyway.

    There are dual thumb studs, and I can quickly and easily open the knife with either hand. There is a fairly large finger choil to help prevent your hand from sliding up onto the blade. Right out of the box, it had no vertical play, and very minor side-to-side play. A slight turn with a T8 Torx wrench completely eliminated the side-to-side play, without noticeably changing the way the knife opens and closes, so it’s all good - for now.

    One complaint that I heard about this knife before purchasing it was that it could be difficult to close with one hand. I don’t know how the Cold Steel Tri-Ad lock differs from the normal 'lock back' that it looks like, but I was able to close it with either hand. I agree, however, that it requires more pressure than most, and it was easier to close one handed with my right (strong) hand than with my left. It isn’t difficult enough to close one handed that it is an issue for me, but I can see where it could be for some.

    Normally, I prefer uncoated blades. The black blade on this one is coated with the CS “Tuff-Ex” finish, whatever that is. It seems to have a poor reputation, I've seen/heard it referred to as “glorified Teflon” or “one step above latex house paint”. Time will tell, I suppose, but I won’t be surprised if I end up having to strip it to the metal.

    The AUS8A blade is quite sharp out of the box. Not “scary sharp”, but sharper than the vast majority of new production knives I’ve tried - at least cutting paper - the most common test and the only one I’ve given it so far.

    Cold Steel lists the overall length at 8.125 inches and that is what I measured it as well. However, they list the blade at 3.5 inches and I get just a tad over 3.4 inches. The most puzzling spec is the weight: Cold Steel lists it as 5.4 oz but on my scale it’s just 4.7 oz. I use this scale for postage and food and have never known it to be off by more than 1 or at most 2 tenths of an ounce. Who knows?

    I like the way it feels in the hand, for the most part. Trying an assortment of normal and reverse grips, I’m not finding it awkward or uncomfortable in any position - but two things are worth noting: The finger choil prevents a grip that is very close to the blade, if you prefer a very forward grip for detail cutting. In general, the finger choil may take a little getting used to. Also, I haven’t put this knife to hard use yet, but I’m not sure how comfortable the relatively aggressive G10 scales would be in hard, extended use without gloves. Not a concern for me, again, as I don’t typically put folders to hard, extended use - and it’s more important to me to have the firm, secure grip that the aggressive texturing provides.

    There’s no jimping on the blade, but there are some small, almost invisible grooves in the scales, near where jimping usually goes, that might provide a little enhanced grip - that is certainly their intended purpose - not sure how effective that will be? The finger choil that I keep referring to may lessen the need for jimping, but I’d still prefer that it had some.

    Personally, I like the way this knife looks, even though it may be a little plain and understated.


    Yes, both above pictures are of the same knife, just different lighting and shadows.

    American Lawman is made in Taiwan, not China - or the U.S. “Taiwanese Lawman”? Seriously though - I prefer U.S. made knives, but there are far worse things a knife can be than “Made in Taiwan”.

    Pricing seems to be all over the board on this knife - MSRP is $99 and I've seen it online for as little as $48 and as much as $89. I picked this one up NIB for less than $50 OTD.

    Overall, I like this knife on first impressions. Time will tell...
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015

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