Cold Steel has a reputation for making solid knives at a reasonable price. They tend to skew toward tactical applications, but not the Lone Star Hunter. With its more traditional look, this big pocketknife is a bit odd for a company more famous for chopping pigs in half with katanas.
But not everyone needs a sword, and the Lone Star Hunter may appeal for those people: folks who want a nostalgic utility pocket knife.
Let’s start with the defining features: the Lone Star Hunter is a solid lock-back knife with a four inch AUS 8A blade. The Delrin handle is dressed up to look like stag. The flat-ground clip-point blade is emblazoned with a sheriff’s star on one side and “Made in Taiwan” on the other. [Now there’s an awkward segue!–Ed]
And that’s about as high as you should set your expectations with the knife. Faux stag, nice stainless steel. It is a quality import with modest aspirations, and it isn’t likely to become a collector’s item. That said, you aren’t likely to baby it either. This is a knife that is more than capable of breaking down cardboard boxes, cutting the moldy sisal off square bails, and cleaning out the grime from beneath your fingernails. It is ideal for peeling an apple or gelding a horse. In fact, it will do whatever you ask of it.
Except any serious use as a screwdriver. The point is fine enough for tightening up a pair of eyeglasses, but not quite fine enough for removing a splinter. And it won’t handle anything other than basic prying. Some of Cold Steel’s knives can take serious abuse, but this isn’t one of them. Holding the knife with the blade in one hand, and the handle in the other, and giving it a bit of force with the thumbs, you can feel it give a little.
The blade is sufficiently sharp from the factory, but nothing to crow about. The finish on both the blade and cutting edge is striated; there’s been no attempt to polish anything on the blade. This gives it a bit of tooth when cutting through paper, but the flat-ground blade makes sharpening easier.
The Tri-ad lock on the Lone Star Hunter snaps closed with a pleasing pop, but it takes some muscle to get the lock free. The central position of the lock in the handle reduces the amount of leverage available when you’re pressing on it. After opening and closing the knife maybe fifty times, it stayed stiff. I can just barely get it closed one handed. On the bright side, there’s absolutely no play in the lock and it is a solid connection.
The knife is available in two styles, and this one has a thumb stud for one handed opening. The other has a simple nail nick. I prefer thumb studs, though the Lone Star hunter is almost too large for smooth one handed opening. Or, more accurately, the pocket clip is too short to help with one-handed opening. A longer clip would allow for a more secure grip, and allow you to apply more force to the stud when you’re levering it open.
The short clip is great for pocket carry. It isn’t too conspicuous, and the faux stag and stainless of the handles looks good with jeans and khakis. It also doesn’t make too big of an impression in your pocket.
For a knife with a four inch blade, the handle is surpassingly slim.
The Lone Star Hunter is what it is out of the box, and I could tell it wasn’t going to break any records. It didn’t.
The Lone Star Hunter sliced newsprint, but not gracefully. It was more prone to catch than many knives in the same price range. It’s no Exacto, but it would suffice for cutting out an article or a page from a magazine.
The Lone Star Hunter eats up rope. 3/4″ manila rope cuts easily beneath the blade, and it’s even better with a slight back and forth sawing motion. The factory edge cuts like a saw. With a loop in the rope, the Lone Star hunter required two passes.
The factory edge didn’t hold up well to cardboard. It cut well enough at first, and cut through plastic tape and duct tape with ease. But after the first twenty-one feet of linear cardboard cuts, the edge started to catch and grab. After a thorough lapping on a fine Norton whetstone, it was back in fighting condition.
AUS 8A is supposed to have better edge retaining abilities than more utilitarian stainless steels. As this is a knife that’s meant to see some honest use, I wouldn’t hesitate to run it through a kitchen grinder when it needed an overhaul, or give it a lap or two on the old belt sander.
But for those purists out there, proper honing will put a razor sharp edge on the blade. Just keep up with it, and don’t let the blade get so dulled that it begins to round over. After that, getting the edge back can be a bear.
I’m a big fan of the flat grind on the blade, and I like the traditional shape. It reminds me of the pocket knives my grandmother carried, like Schrade Old Timers and Case Trappers, only with a solid lock.
I’m not a fan of the faux stag. Stag yes, but faux is faux and I’d rather have something that didn’t pretend to be something else.
Ratings (out of five stars)
Styling: * * * 1/2
I took off some points for the stiff lock and half a star for the faux stag.
Blade: * * * *
No complaints about the blade. The AUS 8A should wear well, and will hold its edge better than softer stainless.
Ergonomics: * * * *
I like the size of the Lone Star Hunter, but I could use some more texture, jimping maybe, on the handle. But the slim frame rides well in the pocket. What may be sacrificed in strength is made up for in the ease of carry.
Ruggedness/Durability * * *
The knife should stand up to abuse well. Prying would be my only hesitation.
Overall Rating: * * * *
In the end, I respect the Lone Star Hunter. It is a solid, unpretentious, blue-collar knife.
Type: Locking folding knife.
Opening mechanism: Thumb stud or nail nick.
Blade dimensions: 4″ length, .137″ thickness.
Blade material: AUS 8A.
Locking mechanism: Cold Steel Tri-Ad.
Carry clip: Deep carry pocket clip, reversible for left/right side tip-up carry.
Construction: stainless steel frame, faux stag scales.
Overall dimensions: 5.25″ closed, 9.25″ open, .5″ thick.
Weight: 6.6 oz.
MSRP: $79.99 ($45 street)