Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mini AK-47 Blade Review

Weight:    2.9oz
Blade Length:    2 3/4"
Overall Length:    7 1/8"
Handle Length:    4 3/8"
Handle Material:    G10
Thickness:     3mm
Blade Steel:    Aus 8A (Hollow Ground)
Pommel Material:    6061 Aluminum
Price:     $60-$70

I hesitated to do a review on this knife despite having it for well over a year. I've carried this blade quite a bit and it's gotten some use but it hasn't been used hard. I decided to go ahead and give my opinion on what I've seen with this blade and what I haven't had the chance to test.

The first thing that you notice about this Cold Steel blade is the G10 handle material. It's just awesome. It gives extremely good traction. Actually it's the grippiest handle I've seen on a pocket knife. If there is a downside to the G10 scales it's the fact that if you carry this knife a lot you will shred your pocket in between the clip and handle. This is an easy fix with a little sandpaper and an allen wrench.
There is a little non functional jimping on the back of the handle but honestly I don't think that jimping is needed with these G10 scales. When the blade is open you'll find that your thumb rests on the thumb plate and this provides surprisingly good support. 
The shape of the handle is different from most of the other knives on the market. Some might use the word fugly instead of different. The handle really locks your hand in place and I cannot imagine another knife of this size giving such a good grip. The combination of the handle material, handle shape and thumb plate can't be beat.

Moving on to the next thing you'll see.... the blade is very sharp. I have more pocket knives than I know what to do with and this is by far the sharpest one that I own. Cold Steel does a great job in making sure that the blades leave the factory with a fine edge. It sounds like this should be a given but not all of the manufacturers can consistently do this.
I'll go one step further and say that these blades are ridiculously sharp. Until I was given this Mini AK-47 I hadn't been cut by a pocket knife in decades. I've cut myself 3 times with this one and two weeks ago my wife called me to tell me that she cut herself when borrowing this knife. Now it's possible that we are both clumsy and idiots but our Benchmades, Kershaws and CRKTs don't bite us.
Clearly the knife is cursed.
Even though this knife tends to bite it's owners I have nothing but good things to say about the blade. It locks up tight and there is no movement at all when it's deployed.  There is perfect centering when the blade is closed.
Instead of the usual thumb stud or Spyderco style thumb hole there is a thumb plate. I like it. It works well for one handed opening and you can get pretty fast deployment if you flick your wrist while using the thumb plate.  If you want faster deployment you can snag the thumb plate on your pocket as you draw it out. This is extremely quick and if you're interested there's tons of videos on YouTube showing this.
1) If you haven't sanded down the area under the clip you'll shred your pocket while doing this.
2) Um.....have a couple of band aids handy while practicing the wave opening method.          

The blade is blackened with Cold Steel's Tuff-Ex coating which is an aid in corrosion resistance and also reduces friction when cutting.  I don't know how it compares to the coatings on it's competitor's blades but I have no complaints with it.

The pocket clip is reversible for lefties and righties. You only get tip up carry however.  This knife comes with a clip on the right side and the pocket clip has a curve to somewhat match the lines of the grip. A separate left hand clip and extra mini torx screws are included when you buy the knife. Kudos to Cold Steel for not making the customer order a left handed clip if they're wrong handed.
The pocket clip is strong, reasonably attractive and attaches to a recessed portion of the handles. Unfortunately you don't get very deep carry with this clip.
The clip is blackened which is a plus for me when I'm considering a EDC knife. If I'm carrying it with the pocket clip I'm not trying to conceal it but I'd rather not advertise that I have it either. It's amazing how some pocket clips catch the light when they are polished or even have a matte finish.

The Tri-Ad locking system gives a strong, secure lockup. I don't worry about the blade closing while I'm using it. If you haven't seen the videos of Cold Steel showing the strength of their knives it's worth going to their website.

There is a 6061 Aluminum pommel that is drilled for a lanyard if that's your thing.

I usually make it a point to carry this knife when walking or bicycling. It's light enough that you don't feel it in a pocket and the clip is strong enough to ensure that it's not going to be lost. The handle gives great traction even with wet or sweaty hands and the blade can be deployed pretty easily.
The weight and corrosion resistance makes this a good knife to carry when exercising or when it's going to be exposed to moisture.  That's the niche that this occupies for me right's my bicycling knife.
If I needed a strong work knife however I would definitely use this knife and I think that it would make a very good camp knife as well. If heavier knives bother you this is also a good choice. The Mini AK-47 is light enough that it's easy to forget that you're carrying it.

The only criticisms that I have are the positioning of the pocket clip and the blade length. I would like for the knife to carry a little deeper and I would really prefer a 3" blade on this model. I also like a better blade/handle ratio.

I haven't had to resharpen this yet. It's held an edge pretty well so far and I usually find myself carrying this knife when I generally don't need one.

That's it. It's a very good knife and I think that it's worth the money.  I'd recommend it. If I'm carrying a sub 3" pocket knife I usually find myself grabbing a Benchmade Mini Griptilian most of the time. As it's in a different price category than the Mini AK-47 that shouldn't count against the Cold Steel.
Mini AK-47 alongside a Mini Griptilian

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