KA-BAR is a classic American knife manufacturer. We’ve written about them on several occasions, and are some of our favorite fixed blade knives (see a complete breakdown of our favorite fixed blade knives right here).
KA-BAR has many different designs, with their most popular models being frequently used by servicemen and women in the United States Military and other branches of local law enforcement. Cold steel on the other hand, has a less storied history and matches up well against the veteran KA-BAR offering similar fixed and folding blades that radiate craftsmanship.
KA-BAR may have the edge over several manufacturers, but Cold Steel has a strong brand following and lots of people that trust their knives for both EDC and outdoor tasks.
1. About KA-BAR
We’ve talked about KA-BAR in a number of different articles. You can see some of their history both here and here. Long story short – they are a stalwart as a US Knife Manufacturer and have been making knives for well over a century.
There are few knife makers in today’s marketplace that boast both the history and longevity that KA-BAR does.
2. KA-BAR Specifications
KA-BAR has a wide selection of different knives, and here are some of our favorites:
Jarosz Turok: The Jarosz Turok is made from Cro-Van steel and has an overall length of 11.5”. The blade length is 6.25”
TDI Hinderer Hellfire: The TDI/Hinderer Hell Fire is an impressive knife co-designed by a seasoned police lieutenant. This fixed blade knife is 7.25” in overall length with a blade of 3.56”. It is manufactured from 1095 Cro-Van steel
Neck Knife: The KA-BAR Neck Knife comes with a skeleton handle and is designed to wear around the neck. It is made from Cro-Van steel and has a blade length of 3.87”
Folding Hunter Knife: The Folding Hunter Knife is a lightweight product with a popular design. It is 8.87” in length with a blade of 3.87”. This knife is made from stainless steel
EK/Jarosz Boot Knife: The EK/Jarosz Boot knife is made for carrying in your boot, and is manufactured with a 4.25” blade. Made from S35VN steel, this is a sturdy yet lightweight knife with a double-edged blade.
Dozier Folding Spear: The Dozier Folding Spear is an excellent choice, as it weighs just 0.14 lb., and has a blade length of 3”. Made from stainless steel, this is a sturdy knife but is also easy to carry around. The spear point blade can be attached to a long stick or branch to manufacture a rudimentary spear.
3. About Cold Steel
Cold Steel is a newer manufacturer when you compare them to KA-BAR. With that being said, they still have managed to produce some very reliable, sturdy products.
Cold Steel started in 1980 and have built up a solid reputation with outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists and regular Joes during that timeframe.
4. Cold Steel Specifications
Some of our top picks from Cold Steel include:
The Finn Wolf: The Finn Wolf is fitted with a Tri-Ad lock for additional safety. It has a Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel blade, which is 3.5” in length. It weighs in at 3.4 oz. with a thickness of 3mm. You can also opt for one of the Broken Skull folding knife series, which has been designed in collaboration with Steve Austin.
The Secret Edge: The innovative Secret Edge is a fixed blade knife that’s known for its superior power when it comes to cutting. Made from stainless steel, the blade length is 3.5” and the overall length is 6.5”
Micro Recon 1 Spear Point: If you are looking for a smaller knife that’s a folder with a spear point blade, then look no further. THe handle is made of G-10, and the small blade is only 2 inches long. Power comes in small packages though, and this knife can be affixed to a longer stick or branch to serve as the end of a spear in a pinch.
Machetes: Cold Steel has a number of machetes. One of their top models is the Black Bear Bowie Machete. The Black Bear Bowie Machete is made from 1055 carbon steel. It has a blade length of 12” and an overall length of 17.75”
Trench Hawk Axe: Cold Steel isn’t just a knife company. They manufacture a number of different cutting tools and also dip into the survival niche with their tactical tomahawks. While they didn’t crack our top list, the Trench Hawk Axe was viewed very highly by our editorial staff.
5. Choosing the Right One
When it comes to deciding whether to go for KA-BAR or Cold Steel, you need to take a range of factors into consideration. KA-BAR has far more experience in this industry compared to Cold Steel, which is a relatively young manufacturer in comparison.
However, both have a good choice of products and offer high-quality knives suited for different purposes. Cold Steel seems to offer the most competitive pricing but its range of knives is not quite as extensive as KA-BAR.
Overall, it’s hard to make a wrong pick with either manufacturer. KA-Bar tends to be a little more on the expensive side as most of their products are made in the United States. If budget is an issue, then Cold Steel may have something more in your price range.