In this review, we’re going to help you better understand the Cold Steem Medium Voyager knife by examining its blade steel, handle, ergonomics, and overall effectiveness. We’ll also compare this knife to blades like the Mini- AK-47, the Recon 1, and the Endura.
The Voyager has been in the Cold Steel lineup for many years. The original Voyagers were slimmer, with narrower blades, but the design philosophy—tough, simple, aggressive—was the same. In 2011, the current design was released. Here’s a forum discussion with good pictures of the old and new Voyagers.
Below, please take a moment to compare the Cold Steel Medium Voyager to a variety of blades that are definitely worth considering, as well:
$ = $1 – $30 | $$ = $31 – $60 | $$$ = $61 and above
|Cold Steel Voyager Medium||VG-1 San Mai III steel||3” blade||$||4.5/5|
|Cold Steel Voyager Large||AUS 8A Stainless||4” blade||$$||4.6/5|
|Cold Steel Espada||Japanese AUS 8A Stainless||5-1/2” blade||$$$||4.6/5|
|Cold Steel Recon I Tanto||Aus 8A stainless||4” blade||$$$||4.7/5|
|Spyderco Endura 4||VG-10||3.75” blade||$$||4.8/5|
|Cold Steel Spartan||Carpenter CTS Bd1 Alloy||4.5" blade||$$$||4.9/5|
Now, the Medium Clip Point Voyager is the model under review, but the complete lineup is as follows:
- Voyager with a tanto blade shape
- Voyager with a clip point blade shape
- Voyager with a curved “Vaquero” blade shape
- Serrated and plain edge configurations of all the above models
- Medium, Large, and XL sizes of all the above models
Cold Steel should be lauded for giving their customers so many options. The Medium Voyager, although not without its obligatory Cold Steel tacticool characteristics, seems to be the best all-arounder in the group.
Ergonomics of the Cold Steel Medium Voyager
The Voyager’s ergonomics are not great. There are two major issues here. The first is the way the handle brackets your hand: bracketing isn’t universally a bad thing, but here it makes the already small handle feel really cramped. I’m glad that Cold Steel didn’t go overboard with the finger grooves, but this is almost as bad.
The second issue is the bulky area around the pivot. If you look at it, you can see that there is a lot of plastic between where your index finger rests and where the blade begin. Basically, your hand is being put way behind the blade, and so a lot of control is lost.
This is a common issue amongst Cold Steel knives: the Mini AK-47 and the Recon 1 have similarly bulky pivots. To a degree it is a design concession for the Tri-Ad Lock, which has a stop pin that needs to be above the backspring and covered up, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s also just an attempt to make these knives look ‘cool’ at the cost of performance.
There are Tri-Ad lock knives that don’t have this problem, like the Code 4. The Endura, a knife I’m not tremendously fond of but that is designed with similar hard-use tasks in mind, has a much cleaner pivot area: your index finger rests basically right behind the blade, as it should.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
The clip point Voyager has a decent blade shape. There is a good amount of belly, a stretch of straight edge, and an aggressive tip. That tip is my only concern: I worry about accidentally piercing material beyond what I’m cutting with such a pointy, pronounced tip. I understand that a tip like this is preferable for tactical or self-defense roles, but really, if you were going for self-defense, you’d want a bigger knife than the Medium Voyager.
The Mini AK-47, with its nearly-traditional drop point, and Recon 1 in the spear point configuration both have better blade shapes for every day utility. The Endura, by elongating the Delica’s blade, gains cutting ability and sacrifices virtually nothing in reasonable piercing ability.
In 2015, Cold Steel rereleased many of their best-selling models, including the larger Voyagers and the Recon 1, with CTS-XHP steel instead of their standard AUS-8. The jump in performance between AUS-8 and CTS-XHP is huge. CTS-XHP holds a razor edge for a long time, sharpens without hassle, and is very stain- and rust-resistant.
There really isn’t any comparison here: CTS-XHP is a genuine super steel.
However, as of yet the Medium Voyager is still only available in AUS-8A. I don’t know if it is scheduled to get rereleased with the better steel or not, but the good news is that, while it’s no super steel, AUS-8 is not terrible in a utility pocket knife. In fact, it’s easy to sharpen, and partially because of the stonewash finish on the blade, it’s fairly resistant to rust. I prefer it to the Endura’s VG-10, which is rust-resistant but not much else.
The Mini AK-47 has AUS-8 as well, but I give the edge to the Voyager because its blade isn’t coated in Cold Steel’s Godawful Tuff-Ex coating; this is a terrible, flaky black paint that Cold Steel tried to pass off as a blade coating for years; another huge improvement they made in 2015 (as well as another sign that they listen to their customers) was to switch to a real DLC for the rereleased versions of their blades.
The Voyager is very thick for a knife of its size. It’s thicker than the Mini AK-47, the Recon 1, and the Endura. To a certain degree this is forgivable, because the thickness is mainly an attempt to make the knife comfortable in hand—an attempt that is thwarted by the actual handle design, but nevertheless understandable.
But the issue is compounded by the fact that the width of the blade makes the knife wide in the pocket as well as thick. Add to this a mediocre clip and you have a really underwhelming carry package with the Voyager.
Cold Steel struggles with pocket carry in general. The Recon 1 and Mini AK-47 have ludicrously coarse G10 handle scales, meaning that if you want to carry either of them daily, your pants are forfeit. I’ll take the Voyager’s chunkiness over these two knives’ destructiveness any day. The Endura is wide, but not thick, and its FRN scales behave themselves, so it carries better than any of these Cold Steel offerings.
The Tri-Ad lock is one of the biggest selling points of any Cold Steel knife. Essentially a modified lockback, the Tri-Ad lock is ridiculously strong—certainly stronger than any folding pocket knife lock needs to be, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it doesn’t add unnecessary weight or mechanical complexity, which it doesn’t.
I have really used the Voyager hard, trying to get the lock to relent and it wouldn’t. Although you should never be batoning with a knife this small, I did it just to see what would happen, and the Tri-Ad lock was as secure after as it was before. Really incredible.
This is the same lock on all Cold Steel knives, including the Mini AK-47 and Recon 1. The Endura’s standard lockback, though unremarkably nice in the way that all Spyderco lockbacks tend to be, is without a doubt weaker than the Tri-Ad lock. Again, this is more of a theoretical weakness than anything you should be concerned about, but I’ll always take a Tri-Ad lock over a standard lockback.
It seems like a lot of this review has been spent beating up on the Voyager. For all that it does wrong (and there is a fair amount), it is still a very good knife. What is most frustrating about it is that it looks, feels, and works like it’s one iteration away from being a true classic. Cold Steel, for all its flaws as a company, pays attention to what people say about their products. Hopefully all that listening and learning will help them make the next Voyager the knife it so nearly is.
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