Friday, March 29, 2013

Cold Steel Vaquero XL 51/2" Recurved Blade

For many years now I’ve written about the virtues of the recurved blade. The “S” shape works in such way that it catches within its curve the material you are slashing at and forces it into the edge rather than letting it slip as you would see in straight or simple curved blades. With the Nogales tip that Cold Steel uses in their Vaquero, you still have a narrow tip that penetrates well.
The latest Cold Steel Vaquero XL has several improvements over the previous models.

Cold Steel Voyager XL Vaquero Plain Edge Knife $50.97
The blade in the Vaquero XL is indeed large for a folder, 5 ½” inches long and 4mm thick. The steel is Aus8A, which Cold Steel knows how to heat treat well and achieves satisfactory results in terms of toughness, edge retention and ease of sharpening.
The grip is without a doubt one of the greatest improvements from previous models. It feels comfortable with space to spare even for big hands. A deep depression where the index finger rests makes for a generous finger guard, which is something that adds security and confidence for defensive use and heavy duty tasks. The clip is smaller than it used to be which is a good thing. Its only as big as it needs to be, and it comes with a spare clip for left hand carry. It only allows for tip up carry though.

The “Grivory” handle is strong, reinforced on the inside with aluminum liners. The handle has an aggressive cross pattern texture for better retention. The locking mechanism, a back lock system called TriAd, is one of the strongest in the market. Bronze washers make for a fast and effortless opening.

In spite of the size the big folder carries well. Even when carrying it on normal jeans, walking around, driving or sitting,  you simply forget abut it.
This is a big knife, especially effective for defensive purposes. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s as intimidating as few knives out there, which is something I got to personally test a few years ago. Where and when legal to carry, and when looking for a knife specifically for defensive purposes, this is what I would carry. I did in fact carry the old Vaquero for several years in Argentina.
The knife costs around 50 USD and for that price it has to be one of the best deals around these days. If defense isn’t the main role you have in mind for the knife, then the more classic Clip Point version may suit you better and will be easier to sharpen.
 Check out my video Review:



Don Williams said...

1) Something that would be interesting to know is your (Ferfal) views on how to use the Vaquero --and knifefighting in general.

2) I am not very knowledgable about knifefighting but it seems to me that Most Pocket knife blades are inherently too short to use the thrust for other than the kidney, throat or eyes.

3) Obviously Vaquero would be excellent for slashing attacks on muscles -- of the arms, legs and abdomen. But it seems to me strong slashes are circular and hence can be blocked whereas elongated, thrust-like slashes (flicks?) have limited force and stopping power.

The threat of a kukri is that it's slashes not only have the near power of an axe but that it can also be twisted in mid-strike into a deep thrust.

4) The large blade of the XL vaquero would make it highly dangerous since it would allow deep thrusts as well but I think the smaller 3" model would have limitations.

5) The Spyderco Tenacious that you have mentioned is a very compact knife yet with a decent sized blade (3 3/8"). (It has one of the best handle to blade length ratios out there.)

It seems to me that with such knives, you would hold the grip in a hammer --vice saber --grip and first thrust it deeply then rip downward. A deeper attack than slashing the surface.

It also seems to me that the different uses of the Tenacious vs Vaquero XL accounts for their different grip designs. Why the Tenacious, for example, does not have the deep indentation for the index finger held in a saber grip.

Such index finger indentations do not work well for the hammer grip. For some reason, the vast majority of American pocket knives have grips designed for the saber --versus hammer -grip. The Tenacious is the rare exception.

Don Williams said...

I also noticed that the grip of the original Emerson CQC knife was similar in design to that of the Tenacious and designed to support a hammer grip -- whereas later models (e.g., like the Commander you displayed in an earlier post ) now have the popular indentation for the index finger (held in the saber grip).

Don Williams said...

PS The other thing that is dangerous about the Vaquero XL is that it is big and heavy enough to cut tendons --not just slash muscles.

It looks like a good slash to the wrist would bit deep enough to cut the artery as well as make the arm useless by cutting the tendons for the forearm muscles.

I don't think the small 3" Vaquero would be as effective.

Anonymous said...

I have the serrated version of this knife. The serrations further the effect of the curve, driving the knife deeper when pulling on it. Resting this knife on a surface and pulling is sufficient to embed it firmly.

ODG said...

I bought the serrated XL Vaquero a few weeks ago on your recommendation (in a previous post, obviously). This is one massive knife, and super sharp out of the box.
My only complaint is that the sheer size of it makes manipulating the thumbstud awkward. I've had fairly good success with a wrist flick motion to open it.