I can't resist a good knife deal, ya'll know that well. Lynn C. Thompson's prolific Cold Steel knife company recently introduced several great fixed blade knives for the budget-conscious. Around Thanksgiving '07, I spotted the Roach Belly and Finn Bear knives at Sportsman's Warehouse in Lacey, near Olympia, WA. I thought they'd been mismarked, as $14.99 each was a true steal. I went home to find that both blades retailed for a suggested $18.99. Wow. I've been jonesing for them both since, and even bought A Buck Diamondback Guide fixed for $12.00 earlier in the summer to try to scratch that itch.
8/25: I used the Finn Bear around the kitchen last night. For a $15 knife with an MSRP of $18.99, that can be found for as little as $12, this is one hell of a knife. Cold Steel's Finn Bear performs better than many $50-$100 knives I have owned. Its German Krupp 4116 stainless is very stainless. Remember, stainless steel isn't rust-proof, but will Stain, Less. My dad and I cut up vegetables, carrots and tomatoes and the FB handled the chore with ease. The polypro handle is similar to "zytel" or glass filled nylon and the unique handle shape really sticks to the hand.The cool guy at the warehouse store I got it at, was a knife-guy too, which I appreciated, he pointed out that there's no guard for your hand and that's the only reason he wasn't 100% fond of it. The Finn Bear is designed in such a way that a guard would be a moot point. First, the Scandanavian style it's based upon never had a guard, and second, the deep grooves that run the length of the handle dig comfortably into your hand with no "hotspots" or areas of irritation. I have to hand it to Cold Steel founder and president, Lynn Thompson, his company will not quit, they always have something new every 6 months or a year. I used the Finn Bear in lieu of a table steak knife at dinner also. The knife cut the meat effortlessly-I like my steak well done...repeated contact with the dinner plate had near zero effect on the knife's edge, and when I was done, I hand washed it with a drop of dish soap and hot water, though this is one knife, if any that would definitely be suitable to throw in your dishwasher! When my dinner tasks were done, the hair popping edge that the factory had put on the FB was diminished, but not gone. For fun, I broke out my favorite ceramic rod and gave the Bear a few very light strokes on each side, this pleasantly "roughened up" the polished edge and gave it a sort of sharpness I call "grippy", sort of micro-serrated edge.
I proceeded to eviscerate a large box of recycling, including several aluminum cans, I went to town on paper, cardboard and strips of self-stick bandage I'd been using to protect a scabby spot on my foot. The Finn Bear performed like a champ. When I was done, I gave it a few more, slightly harder strokes on the ceramic, then kind of stropped it on the back of an old leather belt, straight-razor style. I'm VERY pleased with my purchase. It was cheaper than buying a CD at retail price, and this knife would still be a great value at $25, or even $35. Take a look on the web to find a good price, or check out your local Cold Steel retailer. I'm excited now, to try my Roach Belly. I may even purchase Cold Steel's larger Finn Wolf, which is still cheap, but looks like a tactical steak knife and has been well-recieved. Their Canadian Belt Knife is based on the classic Grohmann Canadian pattern that's much lauded in the lexicon of knife veterans. They have a couple others too, the Western Hunter and Long Hunter that are based on historical American designs and retail in the neighborhood of $20-something. Cold Steel makes a knife for every budget, from high end folders in the $500 range, to very functional swords, to these inexpensive Taiwan-made Finn Bears, that include a 5 year warranty, like all Cold Steel fixed blades.