I love it when knife companies refine their existing designs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for new and exciting models, but I’m almost more excited when a “good” knife turns into a “great” one. Cold Steel did just that with their latest version of the Cold Steel Recon 1. The new version (released in 2010) of the Recon 1 is lighter, has a stronger lock and a smarter design. What that leaves us with is a refined hard-use folding knife at a price almost anyone can afford.
The Recon 1 is a large folding tactical knife or utility knife. Many people will not want to EDC the Recon 1, but I’ll say for a larger knife it is an extremely strong and relatively light EDC option. This could also be a decent trail knife/backup knife – I’ve seen people actually baton wood with this thing. Obviously these weren’t huge logs, but it’s still pretty incredible for a folder.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Recon 1 has an overall length of 9.75″, a 4″ blade, weighs 5.3 ounces, and is made in Taiwan. This is a large folding knife geared towards hard use and self defense applications. Certainly this could be used for every day carry (EDC) if you can swing carrying a knife of this size.
As far as the blade is concerned you have the option of either a clip point (bowie) blade shape or an American tanto blade shape. Both blade shapes come hollow ground and have the option of plain or partially serrated edges. All of the Recon 1s come with a black semi-glossy teflon coating. This teflon coating is ok, but it will definitely wear with use. I wish they had a “clean” version because this knife looks sharp polished up (which you could always do yourself). Of course, this knife isn’t designed to sit in a display case, this is a rugged user so I’m guessing most people won’t mind when it starts showing wear.
Cold Steel chose Aus 8A for the blade steel here. I like how easy Aus 8 is to sharpen, it resists chipping well and it will take a very nice edge. For this kind of knife and when you consider the price, I think AUS8 was a good choice.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
Cold Steel did an excellent job updating the Recon 1’s handle. They went with a linerless design and used two thick slabs of G10 for the handle. Some might find the lack of steel liners troubling on a hard use folding knife, but let me tell you – there is nothing to worry about. This is a very strong handle design (more on that below) and it has a 6061 aluminum backspacer. Everything is bolted together and there is a good size lanyard hole for added security.
The Recon 1 has great ergonomics. A major feature is the deep double choil. This fits my hand like a glove. The handle is thick enough so that it fills the hand adequately and the edges have been rounded for comfort. The roughly textured handle helps to ensure a firm grip under a variety of conditions. Note that there is no jimping on the thumb ramp. In this case, I don’t think the Recon 1 needs jimping, your hand is not going anywhere with this handle design. That said, it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Due to the curvature of this handle design Cold Steel sells this knife with 2 pocket clips. This is so both left and right handed users can carry this knife comfortably. As a leftie, this sort of thing brings a tear to my eye (almost). I suspect some manufacturers don’t make clips reversible to keep costs down, but to see CS go so far as to make a second clip – well, that is really a statement and doesn’t go unnoticed here. Note that the clips allow for tip up carry only (fine by me) and that the clips has been given the same teflon coating as the blade so expect it to show wear.
Deployment and Lockup
The Recon 1 is deployed with a single thumb stud. The thumb stud is easily reversed with a screw driver, but in a perfect world I’d rather see ambidextrous thumb studs right out of the box. The Recon 1 has a powerful backspring, so it isn’t the easiest knife to deploy, but with a little wrist action I have no problems at all snapping this blade out. And it does snap out, with a loud and authoritative crack. This is a knife that deploys with confidence thanks to a smart design and phosphor bronze washers.
The Recon 1 has the Andrew Demko designed Tri-ad Lock. This lock is phenomenal and is the strongest lock currently on the market. It’s a beefed up backlock with the inclusion of a stop pin. The stop pin takes all the force of heavy duty tasks rather than the locking mechanism. What this means is that this lock will take more stress and punishment than anything else on the market. I’ve tested these locks extensively myself and my results match everyone else’s conclusions – that the Tri-ad lock is nearly bullet-proof.
Recon1 vs. the AK-47 or the American Lawman?
Chances are, if you are interested in the Recon 1, you may also be interested in the AK-47 or the American Lawman. If that is the case, I recorded a video where I do a detailed comparison of these 3 models that you may find useful.
If you still have any questions or are interested in another comparison feel free to leave a comment or contact me.
Cold Steel Recon 1: Final Thoughts
The Recon 1 is an absolute beast of a knife. If you are looking for an inexpensive hard use folder, you really can’t do better than this Recon 1 folder with the Triad lock. The Recon 1 is very similar to the Cold Steel Ak-47 and American Lawman, 2 knives I have previously reviewed. If you are having trouble deciding between the three it really comes down to which knife you like the look of the most. They have minor functional differences but they are all tough as nails and ready for any task.
If this is a knife you are looking to buy, I suggest purchasing it at Amazon.