Medium Clip Point Voyager from Cold Steel / partially serrated edge


Specifications

The medium clip point Voyager from Cold Steel has a three inch blade made from stock removal out of 0.1" AUS 8A stainless steel and weighs 1.8 oz. (50 grams). The blade has a primary hollow grind, which is 0.5 inches high, the maximum blade width is 0.8 inches.

The serration pattern is made up out of small sections of neddle like saw teeth separated by large scallops which are 0.022" thick at back, and ground at an included angle of ~14.5 degrees.

A shot showing the medium serrated Voyager and a large plain edge Voyager:

Stock testing

A few quick tests which allow a decent perspective on blade performance.

sharpness

One Voyager was lightly used (no significant difference in sharpness), the others were basically as new. The sharpness of the large scallops was high on all three blades, average performance on thread was 101 +/- 16 grams. However the little teeth were not nearly as sharp, only 242 +/- 20 grams. Checking under magnification, the reason is obvious, the small teeth are left with the shaping grit finish and have large imperfections left (~0.15 mm deep). The blade was unable to cut 48 lbs hemp under 500 grams of tension, it would just tear/burst the cord if pulled hard enough.

shallow cutting

On a draw, the medium Voyager's serrated edge required 13.7 +/- 1.4 lbs to make a two inch slice on 3/8" hemp. This is not nearly as fluid as the typical Spydedge serraton pattern, which took only 5-7 lbs for the KX06 serrated , about half as much force (note in that review the much higher intial sharpness of the KX06). However the Cold Steel serration pattern is still a lot more fluid than a lot of other patterns such as those used by SOG, and even small shop more expensive blades like the Green Beret .

point penetration

With a 50 lbs push the medium Voyager sank 260 +/- 7 pages into a phone book. Harder vertical stabs gave 689 +/- 21 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 much to thin to take that use more on that below.

General usage

A variety of tasks used to get a feel for scope of work, round out the stock testing profile and examine several aspects of long term use.

kitchen

The serrated edge readily cut soft fruits and vegetables, and thick fats (side pork) however had significant problems with meats, tending to just tear apart a cooked roast and were not effect on softer raw meats like liver and kidney and could not well trim a beef hart or a small chicken. The small teeth could not make slices as much as rip/saw and thus unless the material was really stiff, it was just pulled around instead of being cut.

On vegetables, compared to a Japanese utility knife which took one lbs to slice a potato, the medium serrated Voyager required 7 lbs, the same as the large plain edge Voyager. While the large Voyager should do better as plain edges are more suitable for push cuts, the medium one has a thinner blade stock, and a much more acute edge profile which compensates.

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.

brush work

While the medium Voyagar can neatly lop off a 3/8 inch Alder branch in one light chop, a plain edge tends to start being desired pretty quickly when any serious wood cutting has to be performed, as well even on grasses and other light vegetation. However there are a few type of fairly fiberous and thick stalky weeds which are cut well using the serration pattern as a rough saw. However in general for cutting light and woody vegetation, a much more fluid serration pattern like the SpyderEdge is a better choice for slicing and draw cuts, and a chisel tipped one is better for chopping. Plain edges do better still of course.

On an interesting note, the serrated medium Voyagar did better than the large plain edge Voyagar when cutting large Alders (soft wood, one main trunk 1-3 inches thick, multiple branching secondary stalks less 2 inches thick). The stalks would be bent to put them under tension and then the blade pressed into, and then sliced forward through the stalk. It was easier with the serrated Voyager than the plain edged one. However this was mainly due to the thinner blade stock and more acute edge profile. A much thinner blade with a plain edge such as the Opinel did better still.

miscellaneous

In general the very thin and acute edge on the Voyager makes it a very efficient cutting tool and the thin blade stock allows it to cut even thick materials well like 3/8"+ cardboard. The biggest problem was lack of fluidity which made it difficult to use when cutting fine materials like paper and plastic, it worked best on hard to cut material which were either very rigid or under a lot of tension.

Edge retention

Serrated edges in general have a long edge life, mainly due to the ability to cut when dull by ripping, and the inherently greater slicing ability. The latter effect was not seen strongly with Cold Steels serration pattern nearly as much as with other ones like the SpyderEdge as Cold Steels serrations tended to rip/saw more so than cut.

Ease of Sharpening

This is one of the real drawbacks to the Cold Steel serration pattern. While the large scallops are readily sharpened with any rod device such as a Sharpmaker from Spyderco, the small teeth are too narrow. There are small diamond jewler files which can be used, however the easiest and cheapest way to sharpen them is to wrap a piece of sandpaper around a thin piece of hardwood and use it as a file. After working the serrated side, just hone the back flat on a fine stone to remove any burr.

Handle

The Zytel handle has an ergonomic shape with no sharp corners except the inside of the handle slabs could be rounded. It was comfortable and secure even in extended heavy cutting. The checkering pattern is fairly abrasive though and could irritate some grips in heavy stabbing.

Lock

The Voyager is a standard lock back design. The lock engages securely, and passes "spine whack" tests, both light and fast and moderately hard. It also withstands heavy stabs and thrusts into hard targets. 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 [more of an issue with the large Voyager] . Neither of the two grips are common working ones however and thus these are not likely to be actual functional problems.

A direct comparison

As this folder was being used, a very similar knife was on hand, the lightweight Calpyso Jr. from Spyderco. A brief comparison :

handle :
the Calypso Jr. has a slightly wider grip, which was found to be more ergonomic, and has a choil which flows into the main body of the grip augmenting its length, and a thumb ramp which adds control and precision to tip work
initial sharpness :
very high for both companies, with Spyderco having the advantage over blades personally handled especially with respect to the serrated ones
opening :
the Spyderhole was easier and more efficient to use
lock :
both blades had solid and secure locks, no play after significant use
cutting ability :
Both blades have thin and acute edges and thin blade stock with high grinds so cut well in general, for the serrated pattern though, Spyderco is significantly better as it is much more durable, fluid and easier to sharpen
edge retention :
VG-10 is harder and more wear resistant than AUS-8a so Spyderco has the advantage there for most materials unless durability is a concern

Thus the biggest differences are the higher grade of steel in the Spyderco, better serrations and opener and more versatile grip.

breaking out the heavy equipment

The folder was now heavily stressed to examine its behavior in extreme situations as well as to determine its scope of work.

removing the edge

A piece of old used carpet was cut, two foot long slices. This didn't damage the small teeth, but readily blunted the large scallops so no fine cutting ability remained.

Four Coke cans were cut in half with slices, with six cuts made vertically in each, half with a slice and half with a push. No damage to the edge. An attempt was made to slice through the bottom of a can which cracked the small teeth off readily.

A TV cable was cut by making a loop and pulling the blade through. Two cuts were made and small teeth were broken on each pull.

A piece of one millimeter thick copper wire was attempted to be cut in the same manner. The cut failed and broke off all the teeth in one section of edge.

A food can (peas) was stabbed into, the tip was now bent for half a centemeter, about two millimeters to the right (could have been from the earlier phone book stabs), and the very tip slightly impacted. The can was stabbed into the side of the can and push cuts made vertically through the large scallops which damaged them visually. An attempt was made to cut the top rim of the can which broke off an entire section of teeth.

A heavy belt buckle was cut into on a hard slash which damaged extensively the large scallops and knocked off the few of the remaining small teeth. (the buckle was wrapped around an old coat which was wrapped around a fence post).

The edge was now ground off.

working the lock

In reverse grip, the blade was slashed across the waist (at waist height), so the tip hit against a 4x4 pine post (two foot length of swing). After six impacts the lock had developed significant play, but was still functional. After 12 more impacts the play had now extended to the lock release which would move readily as the blade was jiggled up/down.

The blade was now held in the left hand, and the spine struck with a piece of 2x2 (one foot long). After six impacts the blade play had increased, but the lock was still functional. The knife was then hammered point first to the stud depth into a piece of 4x4 and then to the height of its hollow grind in the same wood using the 2x2 mallet. The lock was still functional, but by this time fairly loose.

prying

The tip was inserted half a centemeter into the 4x4 and leveraged sideways. It had no ability to remove the wood. Locking it in a vice at this point, it had little spring and would take a set readily at about 25 degrees, breaking at about 40 degrees, with a little spring back and a lot of permanent bend.

The blade was then pounded point first back into the 4x4 and force applied to the end of the handle until the lock gave out. At about 25 +/- 5 lbs the lock started to visibly open, at 35 +/- 5 lbs the lock bar cracked off (0.15" x 0.1"). The Voyager was then removed and pounded back in point first and leveraged sideways to the half way point on the knife.

Like the tip it took a permanent bend readily, and snapped at about 40 degrees. It broke right at the point where the lock bar engages (0.1" x 0.5") which has a very sharp corner. It broke in half at about 45 +/- 5 lbs.

All the prying was done just with wrist torque, done sitting down with the knife at about knee level. During the prying the handle would flex significantly adding to the total angle of deflection. The pins also sheared/impacted the Zytel prematurely loosening the lock.

Modifications

The basic blade design could be altered in several ways to enhance functionality as noted in the above comparions against the Spyderco Calpyso Jr. . The biggest area of improvement is that the serration pattern is simply not very smooth on a slice, rather fragile, and very difficult to sharpen - remove the small needle like teeth.

Comments and references

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 : Fri Aug 6 00:55:13 NDT 2004
Originally written: Fri Aug 6 00:55:13 NDT 2004

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