Monday, May 3, 2021

Buck Knives releases S35VN version of the Classic 119 Special

 
Photo credit: Buck Knives ©2021

Buck Knives has just released a super groovy version of their classic 119 Special in S35VN Supersteel. Called the 119 Special Pro, the knife includes an eye-pleasing green canvas micarta handle, black leather sheath, and a polished nickel silver guard and pommel. 

Photo credits: Buck Knives ©2021

For more information visit: https://www.buckknives.com/product/119-special-pro-knife/0119GRS1-B/

Cold Steel Discontinues the Outdoorsman Lite Knife

 

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

Right as Cold Steel perfects the Outdoorsman Lite, they discontinue it....


Sad news for fans of Cold Steel's Outdoorsman Lite. Cold Steel has discontinued the knife and removed it from their website. I was able to confirm this directly from Cold Steel's customer service department recently.

This is a shame, because in its most recent iteration (the 2021 model), Cold Steel finally perfected the Outdoorsman Lite, turning it into one of the best wilderness survival blades on the market for the money.

Photo credits: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

With an average street price of just $28.00, the Outdoorsman Lite is packed with cool features that make it wilderness-friendly. 

It sports a 6" long, 4mm thick blade, full tang construction, an exposed tang at the butt end of the grip, a robust tip capable of handling bushcraft and wilderness survival tasks, a 90 degree spine capable of striking a firesteel, a comfortable and secure rubberized grip, and a sub-zero cryo quenched German 4116 Stainless blade (a fine-grained stainless that is similar to Mora's 12c27 Stainless in performance). All in a package that weighs just 8.3 ounces total with the sheath. 

(Photo courtesy of Cold Steel)

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

The evolution of the Outdoorsman Lite -- 2011 to 2015

When Cold Steel first released the Outdoorsman Lite back in 2011, it came with a thinner 3mm thick blade and weighed only 5.2 ounces without the sheath. The original sheath consisted of cordura nylon. Although it was capable of being used for survival purposes, this lack of blade thickness made some Cold Steel fans shy away from buying it for serious wilderness use.

Vintage photo courtesy of eBay

2016 - New Polymer Sheath

Starting in 2016, Cold Steel replaced the original cordura nylon sheath with a Mora-esque polymer sheath:

Photo credits: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, this sheath, which has been used on the Outdoorsman Lite until this year, was too secure and lacked a thumb ramp, making the knife difficult to draw from the sheath. Thankfully, this issue was fixed in the 2021 model (see below).

2019 -- Blade Thickness Increased from 3mm to 4mm

In 2019, Cold Steel increased the thickness of the Outdoorsman Lite's blade from a thinner 3mm wide to a very respectable 4mm, roughly the same thickness as a Marine Kabar Knife. The tip was also widened during this change. 

Photo credits: Juraj Čikkel from the Cold Steel Nation Facebook Forum. All Rights Reserved. © Juraj Čikkel 2021

This is also resulted in a tip that is more robust than Cold Steel's SRK model (SRK on the right, Outdoors Lite on left):

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

This change also increased the weight of the blade itself from 5.2 ounces to 6.5 ounces.

Here is a comparison of the 2021 4116 Stainless Outdoorsman Lite and 2020 4034SS Stainless Outdoorsman Lite next to a Kabar Marine Fighting Knife and a vintage Cold Steel SRK in AUS8:

From Left to Right: Marine Kabar, 2021 Outdoorsman Lite in 4116, Cold Steel SRK, 2020 Outdoorsman Lite in 4034SS. 

Note that the tip is thicker on the 2020 model 4034SS Outdoorsman Lite than on the 2021 4116 Stainless version. 

 2020 -- Blade Steel changed from German 4116 Stainless to Japanese 4034SS Stainless

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

In 2020, Cold Steel changed the steel from German 4116 to 4034SS Stainless, a steel that Cold Steel describes as "A Japanese made medium grade stainless steel that admirably resists corrosion due to its higher Chromium content. It is also relatively easy to sharpen and features a moderate degree of wear resistance. Often it is used for kitchen cutlery or for smaller knives that are of a generally good quality but are economically price."

One of the curious differences between the 2020 4034SS Outdoorsman Lite and the 2021 4116 version is the level on polish between the two. The 4116 Outdoorsman Lite is (bottom) clearly more polished and with darker lettering than the 4034SS Outdoorsman Lite (top):

Photo credits: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

The 4034SS version has more of a polished matte finish whereas the 4116 has a bright, mirror polish that is even more noticeable in person. 

Because Cold Steel only changed to 4034SS for one year and then went back to 4116, most online knife stores have had difficulty in correctly labeling their listings for this knife. From my recent experience, anything that is labeled as either steel will actually be the 2021 4116 German Stainless version, not the 4034SS. 

The only place to my knowledge that is still selling the 4034SS version is Midway USA, which is selling the factory second version of it. These were probably sold in low numbers, so if you can still find one, they may become collectible at some point. 

Changes to the 2021 Outdoorsman Lite - Perfection at last

For 2021, Cold Steel corrected the sheath problem by making it easier to draw. I would compare the draw of the 2021 sheath to be similar to my Mora knife sheaths. In other words -- very good overall. 

The other major change for 2021 was switching back to German 4116 Stainless and giving the blade a mirror polish. 

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2021 All Rights Reserved

The edge geometry is also excellent on the 2021 Outdoorsman Lite. I did a direct comparison of its wood carving capabilities next to a 2021 Cold Steel SRK in SK-5 Steel recently. I found the Outdoorsman Lite to be notably superior to the SRK. Whereas the SRK was only adequate for wood carving, the Outdoorsman Lite excelled. So good that I would compare it as being close in performance to some of the Swedish Mora knives in my collection.

Final Thoughts

I don't think the cat is out of the bag yet that the Outdoorsman Lite has been discontinued. If I were you, I would grab up one of these cool and unique knives while you can. With its features and light weight, and a tip that's thicker than Cold Steel's SRK, this knife would make an excellent mountain survival, bushcrafting and hunting knife. 

4.5 out of 5 Stars -- Highly recommended

So what do you think? Was it the right time for Cold Steel to discontinue the Outdoorsman Lite? Will other classic Cold Steel knives end up on the chopping block soon? Leave a comment below!


About the author
Jason Schwartz is the Founder and Senior Editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is an Army veteran, former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and the author of Edible & Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains Pocket Guides. Jason has also written articles on bushcraft and survival for The New Pioneer and Backpacker Magazine Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)