Although Police normally reserves this space for discussions of new or relatively new knives, the editors agreed to let me do something a little different this month: So this is a long-term use article on one of my favorite duty knives.
A few years back when Cold Steel introduced its Gunsite series of folders, it placed ads in the gun magazines that showed a guy cutting a 4-inch thick section of hemp rope. My first thoughts were, "Hey, that's pretty cool. Great ad." Then I got skeptical.
After wondering about that ad for many moons, I finally got a chance to handle this knife during an instruction session at Gunsite Training Academy. And it impressed me right off the bat.
For a knife with a Zytel handle, the Gunsite folder had a really solid feel. There was no side-to-side slop, and when opened and closed the action was secure. I was sold.
Now I've carried that Gunsite folder for a year or so. And I mean I've carried it, subjecting it over and over to all kinds of conditions. To say that my Cold Steel Gunsite has been used would be an understatement. I have carried it in the woods while hunting, to the range for handling all those cutting jobs that pop up on the range, and for just everyday use such as opening mail and pruning small tree branches.
And my Gunsite has endured it all. The stainless steel has never tarnished nor failed to take an edge. That's not bad for a knife with such a low suggested retail price. There are knives that cost twice as much that can't take months of hard use, read, "abuse."
So what makes the Gunsite so good? I would argue that it's Cold Steel's attention to detail and the quality materials that are used in its construction.
The Gunsite's blade is high-quality AUS8 stainless steel. That's really good steel, and its high carbon content is why the cutting edge can be so thin and strong but honed to a very sharp edge. It's also why the Gunsite sharpens so easily.
OK, admittedly, a lot of folding knives have blades made of AUS8 steel. But what they don't have is the Gunsite's unique blade design. The serrations feature numerous small teeth between the larger teeth, permitting the blade to cut smoothly through almost any material. You name it, seatbelts, heavy denim, rubber tubing, the Gunsite cuts through it all quickly in one pass.
Another great feature on the Gunsite is the lock. Cold Steel uses a lever lock for the blade; not the more common liner lock. The lever lock is safer to the user since you are not releasing the lock with your finger between the frame and blade. Trust me on this one, under stress I have inadvertently closed a liner locking knife on the back of my thumb. It hurts. Such carelessness can take you out of action temporarily. And worst case, you could lose a substantial portion of a digit. This is why for rescue work, I prefer the lever lock.
The Cold Steel Gunsite knife has a couple of other great features that make it a standout. For example, it has a low-profile clip. Some knife clips can catch on items other than your pocket and end up on the floor, and, if your luck is like mine, lost. I have yet to have my Gunsite pop out of a hip, front, or cargo pocket.
Another Gunsite feature that I like is the ambidextrous opening stud. Some knives require you to remove the stud and reinstall it on the opposite side of the blade. Two things can happen with that arrangement: you can lose the screw that secures the stud, or you may not tighten the set screw. Either way, you no longer have an easy opening blade; until you get a new screw from the manufacturer. The arrangement on the Gunsite eliminates that problem.
For the price, Cold Steel's Gunsite folder is really hard to beat. It's a great knife.
Gunsite Folding Knife
Blade Length: 4 inches
Overall Length: 91/8 inches
Weight: 3.5 ounces
Blade Material: AUS8A Stainless Steel
Handle Material: Zytel
Scott Smith is a former military policeman and U.S. Army Ranger.