TTAK Knife Madness 2017: Cold Steel vs. Kizer Cutlery


Facebook users: Click “like” to vote for Cold Steel. Click “love” to vote for Kizer.

Welcome back knife-fans for our penultimate Round 1 matchup in the Import- East division. Today’s contest pits #2 seed Cold Steel against #7 Kizer. This is going to be an interesting matchup. Cold Steel is a heavy favorite, but both the company and its founder Lynn Thompson inspire strong feelings, both pro and con. It is conceivable that some of the negative feelings might leave room for upstart Kizer to eke out a win. I am looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

Just a quick reminder – You can vote twice per day, once in the Comment section below, and once on the Facebook link. 

Cold Steel:

Whether you like Cold Steel or not, it is hard to not be entertained by their frequent antics on their YouTube videos. Many of these are over-the-top, with Lynn Thompson and crew demonstrating their products against combat boots, pig carcasses and other novel test-media.

Less entertaining is the company’s propensity to engage in lawfare. There have been a couple of high profile incidents in recent years. The first lawsuit, filed against CRKT took issue with the latter’s claim that their locks made a folder “like a virtual fixed blade”. A dubious claim for sure, but it is hard to see how Cold Steel had standing as an injured party to sue. The case was settled before trial.

The second instance refers to many makers using the term “san-mai” referring to the Japanese technique of welding a band of harder steel between two softer steel outer pieces to make up the working-edge. Cold Steel had trademarked the term “SAN MAI” (all caps) as well as a stylized “SAN MAI III” logo back in 1987.  As tenuous of a claim as this is, it didn’t stop Cold Steel from trying to bully smaller, artisan makers who used the term “san mai” to describe their blades which exhibited the technique. They sent out dozens of “Cease and Desist” letters. In the case of the CRKT suit, Cold Steel was hamstringing a competitor who could have chosen to spend millions on litigation had they chosen. Smaller makers do not have that option. Cold Steel’s actions had a chilling effect across the custom knife industry. I think it was “dirty-pool”.

That said, Cold Steel does have a lot of positive qualities. Many of their knives, like the Mackinac Hunter which I reviewed, are quite robustly built. They also make a number of swords and esoteric edged weapons that less capitalized manufacturers would not be able too. While not my thing, if someone wants a “Honkin’ Huge Pole-Axe”, Cold Steel has one they will sell you.

We (and our readers) have reviewed several other Cold Steel offerings as well. Click the links to see our reviews of the Lone Star Hunter, Code 4 Spear Point, Norse Hawk, Viking Hand-axe, and Kobun Tanto,

Click here for all of our other Cold Steel tagged content.


Cold Steel, Incorporated was founded in 1980, a company dedicated to making the strongest, sharpest knives in the world. Over the last three decades, Cold Steel has been at the forefront of the many innovations that have helped to define the knife industry as a whole. Progressive accomplishment, including the introduction of the checked Kraton® handles, and the tanto point blade styles have gone from curiously interesting features to industry-wide hallmarks of quality and sophistication. New ground was also broken with the introduction of unique new blade steels like San Mai III® and Tri-Ad™ Lock & locking mechanism for folding knives. Tri-Ad™ Lock for example, has never been equaled by any of Cold Steel’s competitors and nothing they have produced yet has been proven to outperform it. Of course Cold Steel will always look to the future, constantly striving to make the world’s strongest, sharpest knives. That goal as elusive and difficult to achieve as it is, has been the same for the past thirty years.

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YouTube Channel


Kizer Cutlery:

Unlike many of the companies in the Import- East division, which are American companies with offshore manufacturing, Kizer is Chinese-owned. I don’t have a ton of experience with their products, aside from being able to handle several of their offerings at BLADE Show. The knives do have a quality feel, and a heft that does not make one think “cheap, imported folder”. They really seem to be making a sincere effort to turn out products that can compete with more established companies in the knife world. In addition to their in-house designs, they have collaborated with known designers such as Darrel Ralph, Matt Cucchiara, and others in a manner not dissimilar from CRKT or Kershaw.

I would love to review some of their products some time, but my email after BLADE went unreturned. I am a bit bummed as I am willing to give them a fair shot, and see how they stack up against their competition. I will probably make another overture following this post.


KIZER imports the materials from the USA and Japan.

KIZER is committed to design and manufacture world-class knives

Kizer Knives uses:

  • High grade materials
  • High quality workmanship
  • High speed CNC Milling machines
  • Wire EDM cutting tools.

Our professional grade knives are our pride and joy.

Kizer uses high tech wire EDM machines to cut our parts. This is a slower method than laser or water jet but we feel quality is worth waiting for.

Each component in Kizer knives are precision machined and engineered to the finest tolerances. The final fit, finish, action, and sharpness of each knife is achieved entirely by hand, employing the irreplaceable craftsmanship developed by generations of cutler masters.

Dedicated craftsman honoring the long term goal of making the best knives possible is what we bring to you.

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Instagram: @kizer_knives
Facebook Page
YouTube Channel: N/A


There wasn’t much drama in yesterday’s match. CRKT easily defeated SOG by a score of 17-6. Reader Stuart B had the best comment: “I own 3 SOGs, so I vote CRKT”. That one made me laugh out loud.

As always, I encourage you to vote both in the comments here, and at this Facebook link.

Please feel free to leave any feedback on the tournament in general. Are you all enjoying this? What would you do differently and how would you improve it next year?

You can see the complete brackets here.

You can see all of our TTAK Knife Madness content including the previous days’ matchups here.


  1. Joleolsen says:

    I am registering a vote against Cold Steel mostly on principal. Plus I have heard good things about Kizer. I even have a Kizer in my Blade HQ.

    1. William Burke says:

      It’s PRINCIPLE.

  2. Cubbie says:

    Hmmm. Never heard of Kizer. What I just saw looks a little flashy but they use some good steels. Who hasn’t heard of Cold steel? Some of their stuff looks practical. Some I’d expect to see behind the counter in a mini mart.

    I’ll take Kizer for at least looking like they desire to make well-designed and quality knives.

    1. William Burke says:

      “Some I’d expect to see behind the counter in a mini mart.”

      I concur with this observation.


  3. Sam L. says:

    I have the Cold Steel low-priced version of the Canadian Belt Knife, and I rather like it, Don’t like the company, though, and don’t know Kizer at all, so I’m sitting this one out.

    No vote.

  4. Peter Kennedy says:


  5. stuartb says:

    Cold Steel. Dirty tactics but they do bring some game to the court

  6. Jon says:

    Kizer, for a gore-less product sales pitch. Nothing says “buy this knife” like pig carcasses and blood splatter simulations.

    1. Ed says:

      Cold Steel…because some of us dig the gore!

  7. Jon says:

    I’ll change my vote if anyone can confirm that the Cold Steel crew had a BBQ after filming that ad. Nothing beats a good BBQ.

  8. Willie Pfisterbottom says:

    Definitely COLD STEEL all the way. Lynn’s a #Yooper and it’s enough for my #UP vote. Though I think there newest line is rather overboard with celebrity endorsements. What does “Broken-Skull” really mean anyway/ The knife has no pommel. Had enough of the attack of the Stevens. The Sjambok’s a lovely tool. It kills snakes, herds livestock & is good at repelling those nasty-assed gangs of bipedal walking-snakes found nearly everywhere these days.

  9. Chase M says:

    I’ve bought a good number of Cold Steel knives over the years for myself and friends. I use knives to cut, but my friends use knives to replace any tools they might not have with them. None of the Cold Steel knives have failed from this abuse. I vote Cold Steel.

  10. JSC says:

    Kizer, fo sho.

  11. Bob Rakovich says:

    This is a really bad comparison. It barely incorporates any personal experiences.

    With Cold Steel, you spend half the time talking about legal business issues, which is completely separate from the knives and how they perform. You don’t even mention some of the most popular Cold Steel knives such as Code 4, Voyagers, Recon, American Lawman…. etc.

    I literally took nothing away from the Kizer part except they’re made in China, and won’t return your emails.

    I vote for Cold Steel 100%. High value, strongest lock on the market, great designs and cutting performance. Recent upgrades to steels on many popular knives as mentioned above.

    G10 + XHP from Spyderco = discontinued or ~$200
    G10 + XHP from Cold Steel = $75 (Broken Skull)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond Bob. This tournament had some odd matchups but they were random draws.

      It all came down to reader engagement and perception. It was never meant to be anything but completely subjective

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TTAK Knife Madness 2017: Cold Steel vs. Kizer Cutlery

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