Cold Steel has really been making a statement in 2011 with their new and improved lines of lightweight and ultra strong folders. Their updated series of Cold Steel Voyagers has really built up some buzz, and rightfully so. But keep in mind that the Cold Steel 2011 roster runs much deeper than that. Today I’d like to share another one of their light weight high value folders – the Holdout II.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Hold Out II sports a 4″ blade, has an overall length of 9″ and weighs 4.2 ounces. This folder could work as a large EDC or tactical folder. Cold Steel also makes a smaller version, the Hold Out III. This knife has a 3 inch blade and weighs a mere 2.5 ounces. This would make a really sturdy EDC option/emergency tactical.
The blade on the Hold Out II is 3.5mm thick and tapers into a nice fine tip. It’s a simple drop point design and has been given a full flat grind. Thanks to the offset tip there is a good amount of belly on this knife and the Hold Out works well for a variety of tasks. The edge is beautifully ground and out of the box sharpness on my knife was excellent.
Cold Steel selected AUS 8A for the blade material, a mid range stainless steel that they use on a lot of their folders. I like AUS 8 alright as it is easy to sharpen and it helps keep the cost down. That said, I often wonder if Cold Steel would consider upgrading to something like 154CM. It would add some cost but I’d love to see the option of slightly better steel for improved edge retention.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
Modeled after Skean Dhu knives carried by ancient Scottish warriors, the Hold Out has a long and slender handle. The handle is a linerless design made of two thick pieces of G10 bolted into steel and aluminum backspacers. The G10 feels very solid and I can just barely flex the handles when pressing down hard on them. This is a strong and lightweight handle design that I can really appreciate – especially after lugging around some heavy folders.
Ergonomics on the Hold Out II are good. It’s a big handle so you have plenty of room to position your fingers in a variety of grips. The G10 is very rough and provides a lot of traction. There is a small choil and the knife has neither a hilt nor a thumb ramp. Fairly sharp jimping has been applied to the bottom of the handle and less aggressive jimping has been applied to the top. Beterjimping could have been applied to the top of the knife and spine, but for such a large knife I don’t see it as a big downside.
At first, the lack of a thumb ramp or really aggressive choils was seen as something of a negative. But I noticed that when you consider Cold Steel’s entire lineup of knives (including the aforementioned Voyager series) there are a ton of blades in Cold Steel’s catalog that have much more aggressive and ergonomics. So instead of knocking the knife for this, I’m going to note that it’s simply different. I will say I love the look of this handle, and the overall look of the knife. It’s a real sleek design and crazy ergonomic features would definitely spoil the look.
The pocket clip on the Hold Out II is excellent. This is a simple polished clip but it allows for ambidextrous tip up carry. It rides deep and provides a good amount of retention. I like the clip a lot.
Deployment and Lockup
Deployment of the Hold Out is accomplished through a large thumb stud. This thumb stud is not 100% ambidextrous, but it is reversible with a flat head driver. I need to first mention here that the Tri-ad lock requires a good amount of force to overcome the spring tension and get the knife open. With that in mind, at first I found the thumb stud to be kind of slick and it took quite a bit of effort to flick the knife open quickly.
As the lock broke in (and I got some practice) it became easier to open the knife. Today I can flick the blade open pretty much every time. I still think some improvements could be made to the thumb stud to catch your thumb a little better, but I was happy with the way the lock broke in and the knife ended up deploying.
The Hold Out II uses Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad lock, which is just a beast of a lock (and I discussed it in many of my previous Cold Steel reviews). In a nutshell, this is an improved back lock that is able to withstand a ton of force. I regard this as the strongest locking mechanism on the market. So naturally lock-up on this knife was rock solid with no blade play at all.
I noticed some reviews on Amazon where people were saying it was very hard to disengage the lock. It will take a little force, but as the lock breaks in it becomes much easier. Compared to my Cold Steel Spartan, this lock was a piece of cake.
Cold Steel Hold Out II – Final Thoughts
There is a lot to like about the Hold Out II. First of all, it’s a really sweet looking knife. The gently sloping shape of the blade and handle has timeless appeal. I like the overall size and proportions and have no complaints with the strength of construction or the materials themselves. That said, I did find deployment to be somewhat difficult with the shape of the thumb studs and the powerful spring on the Tri-Ad lock. A version with upgraded blade steel would be really cool too (and I think it would sell well).
All in all, this is a very solid offering from Cold Steel. For folks wanting something a little smaller I think the Hold Out III will be a very attractive option too. If you like rock solid folders, the Hold Out II is very deserving of your consideration.