Cold Steel Recon 1 Knife Review

Cold Steel is a company that I have always had an affinity for. Their knives are very impressive and have even featured in a number of well known movies. The company was founded in 1980 and is based in California. They are a well known company amongst knife enthusiasts and most of their offerings receive high critical praise. They are known as producing good quality mid-level knives and many of their offerings can be classified as the everyday carry knives (EDC). The Cold Steel Recon 1 is one of the most popular knives released by the company and it is my pleasure to provide this review of the Recon 1 to my readers today.

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Cold Steel Recon 1 with clip point blade

Important Specifications and Features

The most important thing that potential owners need to know is that this knife comes in a wide variety of models. There is the micro, mini, standard and extra large (XL). Each size comes with 3 blade choices; clip, spear or tanto.

Overall Length4.3" (10.9 cm)7.1" (18.03 cm)9.3" (23.6 cm)12.25" (31.1 cm)
Closed Length2.3" (5.8 cm)4.1" (10.4 cm)5.3" (13.4 cm)6.75" (17.1 cm)
Blade Length2" (2.5 cm)3" (7.6 cm)4" (10.1 cm)5.5" (14 cm)
Weight1.2 oz (34 grams)3.6 oz (102 g)5.3 oz (150 g)8 oz (226 g)

Blade material: AUS-8A stainless steel
Approx Price: $40-60

My Impressions and Review


The blade is pretty standard for a knife at this price point. It is made from AUS-8A stainless steel that has been heat treated and quenched. This material is used for many pocket knives and it is certainly not a high quality steel. That being said it is suitable for most everyday applications and means that the knife is a little bit cheaper to purchase. The three blade styles (clip, spear or tanto points) really come down to personal preference, but Cold Steel is best known for the tanto blade. I really like the tanto and the clip point blade and can happily recommend both models. The spear point blade is not really useful for my needs, but it is really good to have the three blade options. The blade edge comes in plain or partially serrated, and again it is good that customers have this level of choice.

Recon 1 with tanto bladeThe blade is coated with a black “Tuff-Ex” finish which the company says will prevent rust and provide lubrication while cutting (I must admit I’m not exactly how this works). This treatment gives the knife a really awesome military look and it is quite pleasing to look at. The treatment is also designed to cut down glare, which would be useful in hunting and military operations. The coating seemed pretty resilient but, and keep in mind I am always concerned about scratching any coating, I did notice some minor scratches after moderate use.


For a mid budget knife it is surprising that Cold Steel offer so many options in the Recon 1. The various sizes offer blade lengths from just 2 inches through to 5.5 inches. The smallest knife, the micro, is not something that interested me, but for a beginners knife or around the house utility knife it would be a perfect choice. I found the XL model a little big for my needs and I found myself drawn to the standard size offering. The weight and size of this model was more comfortable for me and would made a perfect knife for many situations. That being said, the mini offering is also a very capable model in this capacity.


The handle is made from a non-slip material and is ergonomically designed with comfort in mind. I had no trouble with this knife slipping in my sweaty hands and it was also very comfortable to use for all the different tests that I put it through. The handle also features G-10 laminate scales and these are just perfect for increasing grip. This is a really well thought out design and I can see why this knife has been so popular. The knife also features high strength fasteners and spacers, which look well designed and should handle a lifetime of use. The Recon 1 also features an ambidextrous pocket clip and thumb stud. The pocket clip is super strong and I can confirm that it holds on in any situation!


The Recon 1 features a Tri-Ad locking system and this mechanism features a newly designed stop-pin device that is touted by the manufacturer to be immune to failure. This is a bold claim, but I can report that it works really well and the blade is held safely in place without any signs of failure. The only real downside with this new system is that the secure lock can be difficult to disengage when the knife is new. However, I can assure potential buyers that this problem dissipates with use.

Useability and Care

This is a great all round knife in the mini and standard sizes and the choice of blades mean that there is an option for almost any cutting task. There is absolutely no blade play in the model that I have been testing, which is a fantastic result for a knife at this price. Sharpening the blade is relatively easy and it holds an edge to a satisfactory level.
A Cold Steel knife unfolded.


The cost varies between the many different models, but you can expect to pay about $40-60 for a standard model. This is a genuine bargain at this price and Cold Steel could easily be charging in excess of $100 for this premium knife. There have been some compromises to achieve this price, such as the use of AUS-8A steel, but it is a definite buy in our opinion. There is almost nothing else on the market that compares to the style and quality of the Cold Steel Recon 1 in this budget class.

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Conclusion and Rating

The Good: A solid, functional and sturdy knife that performs really well. Heaps of models, styles and blades to choose from. Great handle. Fantastic locking mechanism!
The Bad: AUS-8A steel is only just OK. Lock can be difficult to disengage when new. The blade coating does scratch.
Wrap up: Fantastic knife and if you are looking for a knife in this budget then this needs to be on your short list.

5 / 5 stars      

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