A shot showing the medium serrated Voyager and a large plain edge Voyager:
The large clip point Voyager from Cold Steel has a four inch blade made from stock removal out of 0.125" AUS 8A stainless steel and weighs 3.6 oz. (110 grams). The Zytel handle is 5 1/16" long, the overall length is 9 1/16". The blade has a primary hollow grind, which is 0.6 inches high, the maximum blade width is one inch. The edge is v-ground and both thin (0.018-0.020") and acute (15.4 +/- 1.1 degrees).
Push cutting the 3/8" hemp required 33.0 (4.3) lbs with the Voyager, very solid performance .
With a 50 lbs push the Voyager sank 193 (6) pages into a phone book, harder vertical stabs gave 625 (11) pages. Very high penetration in both cases showing the effect of a slim and tapered tip. Heavy wood digging was not performed as the tip is too thin and would readily break.
Once properly honed, the Voyager could readily cut soft fruits and vegetables, slice meats and trim fats. The blade stock is also fairly slim, on par with many kitchen knives, and as edge is thin and acute so it can cut most vegetables efficiently as well. Of course when compared to a truely optomized kitchen knife, the performance is lacking. Specifically where a Japanese utility knife took about one lbs to slice a potato, the Voyager required seven lbs . On thicker vegetables the difference was more pronounced, with the Japanese knife taking 5-7 lbs to slice a turnip and the Voyager 26-29 lbs. In regards to corrosion, the steel handled even acidic vegetables like onions well. The Voyager could slice up onions for stews/stir frys and resist corrosion while the rest of the food was being prepared (~10 minutes) without rinsing or drying.
With a decent blade length and some heft, the Voyager can be used readily to trim small branches and clear light brush. A few hundred chops were made into small Alders (soft wood, softer than pine), about 3/8" thick and less. The Voyager readily trimmed the branches and sticks and the lock didn't significantly loosen.
In general the very thin and acute edge on the Voyager made it an efficient cutting tool and the thin blade stock allows it to cut even thick materials well like 3/8"+ cardboard.
The Voyager was compared against the U2 over a variety of materials to examine its edge retention in detail. The U2 had significantly better edge retention in regards to slicing cardboard and hemp and push cutting pine which is to be expected as the U2 is made from SPGS and is harder and a higher wear resistant steel.
To continue however, with the primary grind tapering to such a thin edge, the ease of sharpening of the Voyager is greatly increased and the steel is easily machined so touching it up usually required just a few passes on some ceramic rods. It also responded well to use of a smooth steel. The biggest problem with sharpening the Voyager tendancy to form a large burr and/or wire edge.
In general the Zytel handle was found to have an ergonomic shape with no sharp corners, aside from the inside of the handle slabs which could be rounded. It was comfortable and secure even in extended heavy cutting. Since it does not have any highly specific shapes (finger cutouts) it works very well in a large number of grips. Since the Voyager is tip up carry, when used for stabbing the hand doesn't tend to grate over the front of the clip like it can with tip down folders and thus ergonomics are significantly improved. It is comfortable and secure with blade both turned out and towards the palm. However there is no significant guard on the Voyager and while it was secure for the phonebook stabs for heavier point first slams into woods, with a compromised grip (blood, lots of sweat, oil / fats etc.) it would be very difficult to prevent the hand from moving forward onto the blade in such use.
The Voyager is a standard lock back design. The lock engages securely, and passes "spine whack" tests, both light and fast and moderately hard. White knuckling can cause the lock to be depressed but only in two specific grips. The first is thumb along the back of the handle right above the lock release - that is an obvious one. The second grip has the blade held point up, with the edge towards the palm. If the middle finger can make secure contact with the lock release, in a heavy grip it can be disengaged. Neither of the two grips are common working ones however and thus these are not likely to be actual functional problems.
With the tip 1/4" in a piece of spruce lumber, the Voyager could not clear the wood and went flat to the surface taking a bend in the blade. When inserted 1/2" deep it again went flat to the surface and now had a huge bend, 45 degrees in about an inch of blade.
To look at main body strength, a piece of 1x4 was nailed to two over head 2x4 studs with four 2.5" nails. The Voyager was inserted underneath the board until full thickness and width would take the load and then with 210 lbs applied easily drew out the nails. The knife didn't flex significantly, while it is only 1/8" it is only sabre ground and thus a lot of the blade is left at full thickness.
The tip was worked back and forth in the wood until it broke. It took multiple back and forther bends far past 45 degrees to get fracture. It was reground it to a snub point :
With light impacts (11-13 ft.lbs) the Voyager batoned through some small woods. The lock engagement was effected, it opened about half a millimeter. The lockup is still stable under torques and impacts. The opening stud gets in the way when batoning, it reduces the effective blade length that can be used on the wood. Moving up to 23-27 ft.lbs impacts the lock starts to open up readily. After two dozen impacts on larger wood the lock is still stable however the point of the blade when folded into the handle extends above the slabs.
The blade can be forced into the handle fully by hand which pops the lack back 1/8" above the handle. Moving up to heavy impacts at 48-52 ft.lbs with a 16" and 22 oz framing hammer, it took two dozen heavy impacts before the lock gave while trying to chisel cut a thick knot. The blade would now again collapse into the handle and the lock would still engage, however there was no security, it would close with a light impact off of the palm.
This is a very solid overall blade at its price point. It has an efficient cutting profile, ergonomic handle and reasonablely strong and secure lock. The steel is a bit on the lower end in regards to edge retention when influenced by hardness and wear resistance however this isn't an expensive knife and ease of sharpening is high due to the profile and ease of grindability of the steel, which also offers high corrosion resistance.
Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting in the following thread on Bladeforums :
More information can be obtained through the Cold Steel Website.
|Last updated :||04 : 07 : 2005|
|Originally written:||Tue Aug 17 03:41:57 NDT 2004|