The name “Cold Steel” conjures up visions of knife fighting and expert practitioners of the art like Jim Bowie. Cold Steel specializes in such designs, but they also offer a range of excellent hunting knives.
THE PRESIDENT OF COLD Steel, Lynn Thompson has been involved in the martial arts for over three decades. So it has become his avocation as well as his occupation. In 1979 Lynn Thompson accidently broke the tip off two commercially manufactured combat knives during a routine martial arts training session. Each knife carried the name of a well-known cutlery manufacturer and Thompson was shocked to discover how fragile they were.
Right there and then he decided that there had to be a way to make stronger, more functional knives that would also be affordable. So he formed his own company called Cold Steel a year later. Adopting a knife design that originated in medieval Japan, Thompson introduced the angle-pointed Tanto in 1981. The knife featured a forge-welded, double-layer (hard, high-carbon stainless core sandwiched between two layers of lower-carbon steel along the sides for flexibility. The hard steel in the middle provides a keen, long-lasting edge while the tougher, lower-carbon steel along the sides provides flexibility. The design eventually evolved into the present San Mai III. San Mai means “three layers” and is the term given to traditional laminated blades used by the Japanese for swords and daggers.
The knife handle was as unique as the blade. Ergonomically designed and covered with Kraton, (a space-age molded rubber) which afforded a non-slip grip and resiliency and remained unaffected by environmental and climatic conditions. The Mai Lai knife along with the reinforced point of the Tanto blade design, immediately drew a lot of interest from military and law enforcement bodies.