Customer Reviews: Cold Steel Laredo Bowie Faux Cocobolo Handle
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on June 23, 2011
I'm a big fan of bowie knives, especially Cold Steel's. The first CS bowie I acquired was a Trailmaster. I bought my TM back when CS was still making their knives in the US and using Carbon V steel. I'm not exactly an expert on types of steel, but the Carbon V TM was an outstanding knife with incredible strength and edge retention. After carrying it for about five years I decided to try another Cold Steel bowie knife. I'd heard nothing but good things about the Laredos and I really liked their more traditional styling, but when I saw that CS had switched to the new SK-5 steel and was manufacturing out of Taiwan, I was a bit skeptical. Still, I've never bought a CS product that I didn't like, and so decided to give it a go. I wasn't disappointed.

BLADE: SK-5 Steel - At 10&1/2 inches this is one big blade. It is elegantly shaped and flat ground with a beautiful satin finish. It comes out of the box quite sharp, passing both the paper slicing test and the arm shaving test with ease. The blade isn't quite as sharp as my Cold Steel Ti-Lite or Hatamoto, but that makes sense considering this is a large fixed blade meant for heavier work like chopping and batoning (two things it does very well), however a few minutes with a fine stone and this thing could be ready for surgery. One of my biggest questions when I acquired this knife was whether or not the new SK-5 steel could stand up to the same rigors as the old Carbon V. After carrying the Laredo for over a year now, I'd say that the new steel measures up. It doesn't *quite* have the same resilience and edge retention of the old Carbon V knives, but for all intents and purposes, at least my intents and purposes, the difference is negligible.
One of my favorite features of this blade is the long false edge. That thing can really do some damage on a back cut. Cold Steel advertises the false edge as sharpened, and it will definitely take a chunk out of whatever you decide to whack with it, be it flesh, wood, or otherwise, but isn't sharp enough for actual cutting. Still, if so inclined, one could easily put a fully functional cutting edge on it with minimal effort. In my opinion it's fine as is, but it's nice to have the option.
The spine of the blade is quite thick at 5/16", making for one hefty chunk of steel, however the main edge and the false edge meet to form a very sharp point, so despite its weight this knife is far from dull or clunky, with excellent piercing power. The considerable heft makes it a good chopper, and the thickness of the blade makes it strong enough for some rough batoning.

GUARD: The beautiful brass guard both adds to the traditional look and feel of the Laredo, and does a good job of keeping your fingers safe from the cutting edge. Unless you're willing to spend a good amount of time polishing it every week, it will eventually aqcuire a patina, but personally I find this aesthetically pleasing.

HANDLE: Here we find a place where aesthetics and practicality are somewhat at odds with each other. The Laredo's wooden handle is gorgeous, but its smooth finish makes it less than ideal in the grip department, especially when wet. This problem is easily solved with hockey tape or something similar, but such an addition would detract from the overall look of the knife. Fortunately, the brass guard provides a good measure of protection. I suppose one could carve out some grooves and re-finish the handle, but for my purposes it's fine the way it is.

SHEATH: The Laredo's sheath is the one aspect of the whole package that doesn't thrill me. Don't get me wrong, it's well made, and matches the knife's look and feel, but it's just so bulky. The thickness of the sheath is especially problematic considering that the Laredo is meant for IWB carry. You might find yourself having to loosen your belt a notch just to fit it in. I was fortunate enough have my Laredo fitted with a custom concealex sheath from an expert sheath maker (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to drop names in a review, but anyone who is interested please drop me a line and I'll point you in his direction). With the thin, light concealex sheath I'm able to slip the Laredo into my belt easily, making concealed carry a breeze.

The Cold Steel SK-5 Laredo Bowie is a 5-star knife, no doubt about it. The sheath system might be a little bulky for some, but the knife itself is a thing of beauty, and a great tool. Get it, you won't regret it.
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on December 27, 2012
If you want a large knife that was primarily designed as a fighting bowie but can double as a large outdoor knife then look know further. I bought one of these back in 2008 when I first got in to training with knives. It was originally bought to be a training knife that I could use on anything from pell training to tatami mats. But I got to really liking having it around and since that time I have used it for some of the following tasks and then some: Clearing walking trails, building shelters, batoning fire wood, and I have even used it to clean squirrels, rabbits, and fish. It has a few scratches on it but it still performs flawlessly to this day. Both the blade and the hand guard remained tight with neither loosening over time (My ka-bar has both of these problems after the same amount of usage time and ka-bars are good knives). The faux wood handle does not scratch easily and still retains color to this day. The blade came moderately sharp but can be made to be much sharper. After I put a convex edge on it I found it difficult to do a shave test without the knife biting me and bringing blood. Since I believe this knife was designed more as a fighting bowie the trail master is probably a better choice for someone wanting a bowie knife for strictly survival/outdoor activities. The sheath is well made and conceals very well despite the knife's large size. However, fore maximum comfort during extended periods of carry I would recommend a regular belt sheath or belt attachment. I did not deduct a star for this since the knife was designed more to mimic the designs used back during the earlier frontier days when the bowie used as a back up weapon. In summary, this knife has and continues to serve me well and if it got lost tomorrow I would pay the $160 all over again to get a new one. It has been worth every penny.
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on August 11, 2013
I have collected Bowies for a long time. I recently started adding to my collection. Having owned several Cold Steel knives I counted on the Laredo Bowie by Cold Steel to be a quality knife. When I opened the box and unwrapped the knife and sheath I was delighted with both. The knife comes razor sharp!! It has a great feel with good heft. You feel like you could slice it through anything. The sheath is of excellent quality also but it does not come with a belt loop. That's the only thing I miss. I keep this knife on my coffee table where I can always reach it or just look at how well made it is. I often pick it up and take it out of its sheath to feel how sharp it is or to show it to friends who drop by. They are impressed by how well made this knife is and how heavy and solid the feel of it is. Right now I feel that I will use it only as a collection piece or for self protection. I would like to have two. One to keep pristine and one to use every day. This knife will get any job done. I love it!!!!
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on December 30, 2009
A very well built knife. Super performance and edge holding easy to sharpen a great value. A large Bowie Knife and not for everyone make sure you want a knife this big first. Great wood chopping and splitting the steel does not chip easily and the geometry is very good for these tasks. A good value for sure.
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on November 17, 2014
Bought this unit, advertised as sk5 steel with leather sheath. Got product, uses o1 steel with the Secure-Ex sheath. Was going to return it, but o1 steel seems to handle edges better (per reviews of o1 vs. sk5 steels). Concerning the sheath, would have preferred the leather, however, I can easily modify the sheath to use a similar button stud.

I already have the Natchez sk5 bowie, which has the Secure-Ex sheath.

This is the newer version of this model - would have given 5, but due to "non-updated" description of knife, knocked off one point.
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on July 9, 2013
This is a great Knife right out of the box!! It is Very sharp!! The false edge they say is sharp but it is very dull and will not cut paper but it can be sharpen! This Knife is for fighting and is not for bush craft!! Over all i am very happy with this knife and will buy more of them! This is one very Nice Bowie!! If you are looking for a very Good Bowie with a great price,then this is it!!
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on September 17, 2010
If you like edged weapons, this is a beauty. Uncommonly well-made, nice balance, awesome cutting edges and-- given its history--- very American. The "faux cocobolo" handle cuts the price in half from comparable knives without hurting the utility. I gave it as a gift to a male relative who had helped me with a project. He was delighted as it was not something he would have bought himself but immediately fell in love with it.
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on January 31, 2013
Knife OK, but handle had small cracks. The item from private seller was also overpriced. After contacting Amazon I returned to to private seller. I bought another one directly from Amazon, alas the cracks were there again. Still, I think the knife will last so I kept it. Other than that the knife seems to be OK.
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on April 5, 2013
This is a nice hunk of steel--technicaly the san mai in stronger, but not for any practical purposes. Also, there is the slight but real possibility of a fault in the laminated welds causing the layers to seperate--that is not a good thing. That can't happen with a homogenous blade.

In the Cold Steel product box, the knife came seperate from the sheath, blade covered by a thing cardboard cover--thats pretty usual for sheath knives. Beware, there's a little bit of tissue paper stuck down the shealth--fish it out with a bit of wire before sheathing it (I didnt and I'm slowly having to work out the paper).

The knife balances as advertised: 3/4" inch forward of the guard. That is EXCELLENT balance for a fighting and survival Bowie. While heavier than my Ontario Frontiersman Bowie, I think with just a little bit of practice I or anyone else can get up to frightening speed with the Laredo--and the thicker blade means more mass to deliver devastating cuts and chops with.

If I had my druthers, I wish the guard was a wee bit larger--but as is, it is much less likely to hang up on clothing during the draw.

I like the leather, "post-stud" sheath but it will take some breaking in to draw the knife out from cross-draw carry WITHOUT the sheath coming along with it--that would be embarassing in an actual combat encounter to say the least!. Treat the blade w/ neatsfoot oil or saddlesoap (I use the latter) and do a LOT of draws and resheaths, refreshing the treatment as necessary.

Of course one could get a kydex sheath if one can afford it, but I'm partial to natural materials for aesthetics--also, I've always been impressed by the logic of the (late) holster maker Milt Sparks who only worked with leather because in a fire situation (like on an aircraft) leather doesnt melt.

Course this Laredo has a plastic grip, but it feels nice and looks nice--you can't have everything for less than $200. Maybe in the future I'll replace it with stag or desert ironwood!
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on March 19, 2015
I consider the Laredo blade a first class design but I find the grip a bit slick for my taste. A short leather wrap behind the guard solved that and also I found the sheath a bit too tight for an easy withdrawal. Other than that it's a good blade for the woods to companion a good pocket knife . I bought it as both a tool and weapon for in the woods these days there are two legged animals to worry about and also for when I travel to off the beaten track in Asia. Customs doesn't seem to care about blades being brought in, just guns. When you need a blade, this is a good one to reach for.
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