Last Updated: February 22, 2018
The AK-47 rifle was designed by Russian Gunsmith Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1946. These guns were designed to be simple and rugged, and for these reasons the AK-47 design has enjoyed much popularity for over 60 years. The Cold Steel AK-47 was designed with similar intentions. The original Cold Steel AKs were solid knives, but they received some severe criticism about their weight and durability.
A second generation of the knife has appeared on the scene and both AKs has received a complete overhaul with a new beefier Triad lock, a slimmed down handle and a solid aluminum glass breaker / striker to replace the old pommel made of Grivory, a type of engineered plastic from Switzerland, that was the subject of many complaints. It seems that Cold Steel has given us an entirely new knife so I am interested to see how the second generation of measures up with a Cold Steel AK-47 review.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The full size Cold Steel AK-47 has an overall length of 9″, features a 3.5″ blade, and weighs 5.5 ounces. This is a large folder, suitable for work as a tough EDC knife and perhaps suitable in more tactical / self defense roles.
The AK-47 has a large clip point blade. What I find especially attractive about this knife is that it is pretty much all belly. From the choil to the tip, the blade arcs out providing tons of practical space to get work done. Speaking of tips, the tip is reinforced with a swedge, and allows for excellent penetration while still being fairly durable. Furthermore, the inclusion of a high hollow grind makes for a great slicer. This is a well thought out and functional blade design, that works well in a wide variety of situations.
Originally, this knife was offered in AUS-8 steel with a teflon blade coating. That’s the version shown in the pictures. In 2016 Cold Steel upgraded their entire line, and now their premium blades all come in CTS-XHP. The previously teflon coated blades now come with a black DLC coating. While this increased the price of the knives, the upgrades are well worth it. CTS-XHP is a superior steel, and DLC coatings are the best in the business. That, combined with this knife’s excellent deep hollow grind, make it a capable slicer.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle on the AK-47 is completely linerless, and features thick slabs of G10 that bolt into an aluminum backspacer. Some people (myself included) would immediately question the strength and durability of a linerless folding knife handle. I can assure you that the handle design is extremely solid. These knives were made to take a ton of abuse, and I can’t make the G10 budge a millimeter, even when pushing on the handle with all my strength. Everything is very well finished, with all the corners rounded off and the parts lining up perfectly.
The AK-47 feels great in hand. The knife was designed to provide an extremely secure grip, and to maximize reach. Unlike say, the American Lawman, you are not going to be able to easily choke up on this handle, but if you need to use the knife for a lot of slashing, it’s going to be almost impossible to take it out of your hand. The G10 is exceptionally grippy, but I will say that the thumb ramp is pretty smooth. The design couple probably benefit from some better jimping. However, because of the way the handle is shaped, I really don’t see the absence of jimping as a huge deal. It is going to be nearly impossible to slide forward on this knife.
The it is also worth mentioning that the AK-47 features an exaggerated pommel. This time the pommel is made of 6061 aluminum and is a big step up from the old plastic version. Not only is it light and strong, but it serves as a solid anchor point for the handle screws. This is what allows the knife to be linerless and so lightweight. Naturally, this pommel could be used as a glass breaker, a hammer, or some sort of non-lethal defensive option.
Rounding out our handle is the pocket clip. Cold Steel actually gives you two pocket clips; one for either side. The position of clip doesn’t allow for deep carry, and is instead optimized for easy of deployment. Also, this knife only allows for tip up carry. I have found retention to be very good with these clips, with the only downside being that the strong clip and rough G10 can tear up your pockets a little. Despite these perceived negatives I have found this to be a very sturdy and reliable clip. The AK actually carries really well for its size and the strong clip keeps the knife in place.
Deployment and Lock
To open the knife, the AK-47 utilizes a thumb plate and phosphor bronze washers. The thumb plate allows for ambidextrous opening of the knife. It is possible to flick this knife open, but it takes some skill and wrist action, because the backspring for the lock requires a good amount of force to overcome. If you really want to open this knife fast your best bet is to use the thumb ramp as a wave feature. By far this is the easiest way to quickly and consistently open the knife.
Now arguably the biggest change between this AK-47 and the old version is the brand new Triad lock. The Triad lock is a type of modified lock back designed by Andrew Demko. It includes beefier hardware and a stop pin, so force gets placed on the pin instead of the locking mechanism. In practice the lock on this knife is extremely strong and is capable of withstanding repeated spine whacks, batoning, and other common torture tests. The only issue with the Triad lock is that sometimes the spring can be too strong to use the knife comfortably. I will say that once you get the hang of it, disengaging the Triad lock isn’t bad (it also gets easier as the knife breaks in).
AK-47 vs. the Recon1 or the American Lawman?
Chances are, if you are interested in the AK-47, you may also be interested in the Cold Steel Recon 1 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 AK-47 Review – Final Thoughts
I was very by these new versions of the Cold Steel AK-47. It’s great to see how CS listened to feedback and responded with a highly improved knife. In fact, since I originally published this review in 2011, Cold Steel continued the upgrade path and bumped up the blade steel from AUS-8 to CTS-XHP. A solid knife has kept getting better and better.
The relatively lightweight design, the improved handle and lock, the better pomel and pocket clip – it’s all been fixed up, and still at a good price. In the past, people would gripe about the the cheap AUS-8 steel, but now that the steel has been upgraded there is little to complain about. Some wont care for the aggressive styling of the AK-47 design, and for those folks I might recommend the American Lawman or the Recon 1.
- Blade thickness: 3.5 mm
- Blade length: 3 1/2 inch
- Steel: carpenter CTS xhp alloy with DLC coating
I recommend purchasing the Cold Steel AK-47 at Amazon and BladeHQ. Please consider that buying anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.