Review: Cold Steel Finn Wolf Knife

Close your eyes and imagine a knife. It’s got a Scandi grind, a back lock, and a comfortable, green handle perfectly suited for the great outdoors. Whose maker’s mark is on this woodsman’s dream? Open your eyes – It’s Cold Steel.

Shocking, right? That’s the Finn Wolf in a nutshell. Designed by Andrew Demko, this take on a traditional Puukko blade drew my attention as a study in contrast. Normally, we don’t think of Cold Steel as a wilderness brand. But after a few treks into nature with the Wolf at my side, it may be time to reconsider.

Form

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First and foremost, the Finn Wolf came very, very sharp.  And given the leverage afforded by its 7 and 7/8-inch overall length, its potential as a cutting tool was immediately apparent. Centering is perfect on the 3.5-inch blade, which is constructed of Japanese AUS-8A steel. Thickness is a robust 3-milimeters, providing enough strength for batoning kindling. I wouldn’t sic it on a full sized log, but the Wolf should have little difficulty tackling other camp tasks. The Scandi grind is a joy to use, peeling bark and shaving wood with ease.

There are some places, however, where I wish the knife was a bit duller. The underside edges of the Griv-Ex handle feel somewhat sharp against my fingers, causing minor discomfort under an aggressive grip. A little sandpaper may fix the problem, but so would a few minutes of extra care at the factory.

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Initial hotspots aside, the ergonomics on the Finn Wolf are remarkably good. It fits solidly in the hand, with the downward swell of its pommel resting comfortably against the base of my palm. Weight-wise, the knife sits at 3.4-ounces. And given the beefiness of the design, this knife disappears into the pocket in a way I didn’t expect. Over several miles of trail, not once did I feel it weighing me down.

There is one caveat here. The reversible pocket clip offers tip-up carry only, and it rides a little higher than other folders. But, this extra protrusion did allow me to draw, deploy, close, and return the knife to my pocket with ease, even while wearing work gloves.

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During my disassembly and cleaning, I discovered that the Finn Wolf’s blade rides sandwiched between bronze and Teflon washers. This is a nice touch. I can think of several other knives with all-plastic or FRN handles that use no washers at all, some of which cost more than twice as much as the Wolf.

4.5 stars out of 5

Function

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The Finn Wolf is a beast of a cutting tool. From feather sticks to food prep, it shined during its time in the wilderness. While the thickness of its blade detracts slightly from its ability as a fine slicer, there’s no denying the power behind its cuts. Credit to Andrew Demko and his design – He’s created a hell of a knife.

Let’s talk about the TRI-Ad Lock. This is my first Cold Steel knife, but I’ve seen and heard enough about their products to know what to expect. The word around the knife community is that TRI-Ads are very stiff out of the box. I can now confirm this to be true. Over my first evening with the Finn Wolf, I opened and closed the knife dozens of times, working the action and practicing one-handed operation. This took a noticeable toll on my thumb, which was sore throughout the evening and into the next day. As the days went by, however, the lock began to break in. So, I’m reluctant to ding the Finn to much for this issue. It’s a known quantity with the locking mechanism, and it works perfectly after a little use.20170422_120721

Beyond the TRI-Ad, there’s not much to say about the action. It’s smooth, with the thumb studs providing plenty of leverage. You’ll probably want to remove them during sharpening, but this can be accomplished with a standard flathead screwdriver.

Speaking of sharpening, I’d like to touch briefly on the Wolf’s choice of steel. For trail and camp use, AUS-8A is fine. We’ll talk a little more about the financial end of this below, but it’s perfectly acceptable to me on a $35 outdoor knife. It’ll hold an edge long enough to accomplish just about any medium duty task, and it’ll be easy to sharpen in the field.

Overall, the Finn Wolf performed like a champ. It’s earned a spot as my go-to outdoors folder for the foreseeable future.

4.5 stars out of 5

Future

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Having discussed the Finn’s immediate place, let’s look a little more long term. Cold Steel’s warranty states that buyers are covered from “defects in workmanship and materials.” However, the knife is on its own when it comes to “normal wear and tear, damage caused by misuse, lack of normal maintenance, or disassembly.” That’s not exactly the kind of language that’ll give you the warm fuzzies.

Now, I’m not saying I have reason to doubt the knife. I don’t. Construction is solid, and the blade has taken everything I’ve thrown at it thus far. But the lack of clear definition in the terms of use is probably enough to make me reach for a different blade when it’s time for heavier work. And isn’t that kinda the opposite of the image Cold Steel tries to project for their products?

2.5 stars out of 5

Finance

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At around $35, the Finn Wolf is a great bargain, and whatever qualms I have about the warranty largely disappear in light of its affordability. Consider what you’re getting – A Scandi ground, AUS-8A blade riding on decent washers and a strong lock system, spread out over a nearly 8-inch package of ergonomic happiness.  Add in its easy carry and visual appeal and, well, I think that’s pretty good. Don’t you?

5 stars out of 5

Final Thoughts

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In my mind, the Finn Wolf is one of the most complete knives Cold Steel makes. Its excellent blend of form and function make for a compelling package, further buoyed by its quality construction and relatively low price point. If you’re considering adding one to your collection, I’d say, “Go for it.”

Lastly, I’d like to say that I went into this review thinking of the Finn Wolf as a foldable Mora. And the Wolf lived up to it, for the most part. Would I want it to be my only knife on the trail? No, but I can see it being one of two. I’d probably pair it with a strong fixed blade. Perhaps, let’s just say, something like the Mora Companion Heavy Duty we currently have under review…

 

Where to Buy

Cold Steel’s Website

Amazon (Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars over 118 customer reviews as of 4/27/17)

Blade HQ

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