Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Cold Steel - Gladius

At the same time I picked up my United Cutlery M48 walking-axe I also managed to scoop up my second Cold Steel piece, via the folks at Global Gear. I have had the Cold Steel Boar Spear for years, and have purchased several of their knives for people in the past, but have now added their Gladius to my collection.

I've known the Cold Steel products to be no nonsense pieces, and this is no exception. Styled after the Pompeii style standard sword of Roman Legionaries the Cold Steel version is referred to as a machete, and it certainly functions in this role.

The piece is double edged, and features a 48cm (19") blade, being 68cm (27") overall, and I thought the waisted head of the blade was was a nice touch, giving it an elegant line. Made of 2.8mm thick 1055 carbon steel with a baked on rust-protecting matte black finish, it is both light in the hand, at 510g (18oz), and with the large polypropylene handle, it is a well balanced piece.

When I un-boxed it, I found (as several other reviewers have noted) that the edge was a little rough, some burrs from the grinding process still apparent, which was a bit disappointing.  With a few passes with my DMT sharpeners, these cleared nicely. I have used it for clearing brush, and some test cutting, and found it to have good resistance to shock, and the finger groves to offer good purchase for the hand.  Here it is lined up against my wall-hanger gladius, which is much closer to the 1.5kg of the ancient pieces, but not the utility.

The pommel is drilled, to accept a lanyard, should that he desirable, which I think might be, as I felt the polypropylene finish to be a bit slick. Stippling could also help solve this.

I also wanted to compare this visually, up against the Ontario BlackWind, which is almost 400g heavier, and two-handed, but I was surprised to feel how much livelier the Gladius was. Interesting. Being thinner, it slices nicely, but I wonder about its resilience to stiffer abuse.

The sheath is made of Cor-Ex, which is to say some kind of nylon, with a hard plastic liner to protect it from the edges and stabbing point of the blade. With a simple belt loop, it wouldn't be a problem to wear this in Legionnaire style, but I'd also like to have some other means of strapping it to me. That said, for all my jungle-clearing action I think a belt-carry for this would be just fine.

I've also included a clip of me waving it about in a manly yet practical fashion, to give you an idea how it handles, and how it cuts.

Given its relative low cost, and solid construction I'd say this was a very good option for those who want more than just a simple a chopper in their machete collection. 

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