Sunday, March 06, 2016

The New Cold Steel Voyager XL

I like Cold Steel knives.  I own, have owned, and have given away quite a few of them.  I have even lost a couple in fairly extraordinary circumstances.  They have served me well.  About 15 years ago, I settled on the Cold Steel Voyager XL.  It is a good sized pocket knife with a blade about 5.25 inches long. 

I used it, among other things, as a sort of "worry beads", manipulating it, opening and closing it with one hand, trying different angles and grips, and essentially, getting to know the blade rather intimately.  Over the years, changes have been made.  I broke the composite pocket clip on an early model; they were replaced with the current metal clip, which has worked well.  The early models only had the thumb stud on one side.  They were made ambidextrous.  The edge style can be had in plain, serrated (with the excellent Cold Steel serrations), or half and half.  I settled on the plain blade, but they all worked well.

I have used the knife to dress out deer and pigs, cut rope, open envelopes, whittle kindling, cut bread, slice meat, and chop off branches, mini-machete style.

I have become so comfortable with it that when I need a knife, I draw it from my pocket, open it one handed, perform the task, close it one handed and clip it back in the pocket without hardly thinking about it.  I have a back-up or two, but when I heard that Cold Steel had stopped making them, it was with a little bit of apprehension.

Looking at the Cold Steel site eased my mind.  The XL  Voyager was still there, but the grip was a bit different.  It was also described as seven ounces.  Mine is five.  I found one advertised at a good price ($38.50) and ordered one.  At that price, the only one I found available was the half plain, half serrated blade model.

When it arrived, some thing seemed wrong.  The package seemed too big.  This knife is a considerable departure from the old Cold Steel Voyager XL.  You can see that it is a significantly larger knife.  An extra clip was included.  On this knife, the clip can be changed from one side to the other, a nice touch.

Above are four Cold Steel Knives.  From the bottom up: Kudu, old Voyager XL, new Voyager XL, Bushman.  They are all good knives.  The Kudu can be found for about $6, the Voyagers, about $40, the Bushman, about $10 (with sheath).  You can see that the new Voyager is a considerably bigger knife than the old one.  All of the above are good, easy to use, knives. The Kudu weighs 2.8 ounces and has a 4.25 inch blade, the Bushman with sheath (only fair on a comparison with folders), 13.2 ounces.

The new Voyager has a 5.5 inch blade, .25 inches longer than the old one.  The nice thing about a 5.5 inch blade is that it still is under the legal limit for Texas carry knives. The blade is flat ground, not hollow ground.  It is wider as well as longer, and the pivot pin is bigger to handle the bigger blade.  The lock is tight with no detectable play, and is famously strong.  On my digital scale, my old Voyager weighed 5.2 ounces; the new one 7.4.  The new handle has a rougher and sharper texture than the old blade.  The old blade was strong, the new one is stronger. The finish on the old blade was polished, the new one smooth but non-reflective.

I have not decided if I want to start carrying the new knife.  It has that penalty of a couple of extra ounces. 

But I have started playing with it.  It opens and closes just as easy as the old blade, the lock is at least as positive.  I have found that a larger blade will do almost everything a small blade will do; but a small blade has a hard time doing some things a larger blade does easily.  Try cutting bread with a 2 inch blade.

The blade comes sharp as shipped by Cold Steel.  It is ready for use.  Maybe I will just try it for a day or two...

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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John Dough said...

I had a big Voyager with the serrated blade, and all the little micro-points in the serrated part broke off due to normal usage. I was not favorably impressed. The plain edge version may work fine.

Dean Weingarten said...

I had 1 or 2 break after long usage, but it took a while.

I admit, I favor the plain edge. It is easier to sharpen and do fine work with.