The Cold Steel Rajah II is by far the largest folding knife I own. Swinging in with a 6 inch (15.24 cm) recurve blade, it’s a pretty fearsome sight. I have been hounded to review some of the big folders from Cold Steel for some time, and whilst many of my preconceptions about the size of the knives were confirmed when I finally held one in my hands for the first time, I did also find a lot to like about carrying what basically amounts to a folding sword. If nothing else, it definitely gets people interested (and talking) about knives, and as far as I am concerned that’s never a bad thing.
Aesthetically the Rajah II is not really my cup of tea. It’s simply humongous and brutish in appearance, but unfortunately doesn’t carry itself with the same aggressive presence that the Benchmade Adamas possesses. Both are beefy folding blades bordering on vulgar but the Adamas has a more refined “oversized everything” feel, whilst the Cold Steel Rajah II is almost clumsy in its proportions with a sense that the knife was designed around its size rather than with it.
This is not to say that it’s not a good looking knife, but rather that it’s almost comical in proportions which can be a bit jarring. I will add that you do get used to it, and even after carrying it for a few weeks, I almost became comfortable with its size and weight, which is something I would never have believed to be possible!
As you can see in this in hand shot, its just insane in terms of sheer size. When you think of a 6 inch blade, mentally it’s just 2 inches more than a large folder, but in practice those 2 extra inches just topple all expectations and really skew the knifes dimensions to a whole new level.
It is the biggest folder I have ever handled, and has the longest handles of any knife (fixed blade or folding) that I own. Absolutely insane.
The 6 inch blade is made of Japanese AUS-8A steel with a stock thickness of 4.8 mm. Frankly, this isn’t too bad taking into account blade length.
The lock utilized is the now legendary Tri-Ad lock designed by Andrew Demko. It’s extremely tough and frankly I wouldn’t be happy with any other lock on a folder of this size and purpose. I really trust the Tri-Ad lock to not fail under duress; Cold Steel has tested this set up for long enough for me to have faith in the real world data to support my own bias.
If I am going to
EDC wield a folding chopper, then I want it to have the strongest lock in the world. Period.
The kukri blade is full flat ground to a very nice edge. I would say that Cold Steel hit the sweet spot in terms of edge angle with regards to balancing the toughness with the biting ability of a very lean blade. I easily used it as a folding machete when gardening and destroying thin saplings with one slash was almost trivial.
The weight makes it a less than optimal tool but that blade is pretty damn perfect in terms of slicing/chopping balance. The tip also tapers to a very nice point. All around, good job Cold Steel.
Build quality was decent taking into account cost and intended purpose. The grivory handles and backspacer are not 100% flush (I would say 98%) and the texturing on the scales does seem a bit cheap at times but centering was dead on and I noticed zero blade play even after batoning with it. With a heavy duty blade, that’s all that matters in my opinion.
The Rajah II features nested liners, which I generally like, but in the Rajah II I think they are pretty much a necessity if you are going to treat this knife abusively.
I put a lot of side-loading pressure on the pivot by prying with it and I noticed a lot of stress being applied to the handles. I did have to tighten the pivot after, but no damage occurred, which is impressive. I am not convinced that this level of toughness would have occurred should the nested liners be removed.
Deploying the blade is a giant pain in the ass. The general design of the thumb plate is very sound with solid implementation, but the sheer size of the blade and amount of distance to travel makes quick deployment a chore. It’s definitely doable, but I never felt that it was intuitive, and I ruled it out as a tactical blade as a consequence of that.
Be warned, the Cold Steel Rajah 2 will quite literally take over your pocket. Don’t even think about slipping this into your EDC set up discreetly – it will dwarf everything else you carry and there is no way to be subtle with this slab of steel in your pockets.
Should you have to explain why you’re carrying this to law enforcement, you may have a hard time rationalizing “office duty.” Something to think about if you live in a country or state with ambiguous knife laws like me (Canada).
The wave feature works well. I’ll admit, it’s pretty horrifying to deploy – both because whipping out a 6 inch recurve blade from your pants is just odd and because anyone near you will quite possibly freak out (it actually makes Elise more-than-a-little uneasy when I wave the Rajah II out of my pocket anywhere near her or the cat; and that’s a lot to say considering she’s obviously pretty damn comfortable around knives).
The pocket clip is enormous but the knife is so large that I almost don’t think of it as disproportionate.
Like a lot of Cold Steel knives, the Rajah II comes with a left and right side clip. Very nice detail that I always appreciate, even if I do only carry my primary cutting EDC in my right pocket (phones goes in the left).
Tip up only, as you would expect due to the wave feature.
Warning stickers on giant beefy knives always make me laugh. It’s obviously designed as a folding chopper/machete and to define it within the parameters of a cheese knife is frankly ridiculous, but I do understand that Cold Steel has to include such disclaimers for legal/liability reasons.
Needless to say, I ignored it completely, however.
The Tri-Ad lock means I don’t worry about losing my digits, but the lack of a choil on such a beefy blade does mean that should the lock fail (I feel very comfortable in saying it won’t regardless of what you do to it) you will lose all your fingers.
The grivory handles have a deep-finger choil under the pivot, comfort is surprisingly comfortable and secure with good balance – albeit a touch handle heavy.
Pinch grip with a knife of this caliber is absurd. The Cold Steel Rajah 2 weighs a ton, and thus dexterity is limited.
Rear choke maximizes your chopping power and the pocket clip does not get in the way to a significant degree. I am generally happy with the in-hand ergonomics.
Choking up on the Rajah II is quite excellent for detail carving. The bias is clearly towards the handle in terms of weight distribution, and the thumb plate does dig into the fat of one’s hand, but ultimately, it’s a viable option.
And finally, reverse grip. Comfortable, but frankly – why would you? A kukri blade is not optimized for anything other than chopping.
As I mentioned before, the balance point on the Cold Steel Rajah 2 is not quite neutral (but still decently distributed) with a nudge going to the handle. The Rajah 2 weighs 13 ounces (0.81 pounds), so balance is important to minimize fatigue when actually using it. I think Cold Steel did a good enough job in that respect.
Stripping bark was trivial with the Rajah II. Recurve blades offer a lot of slicing power relative to length, and this folding kukri is no exception.
Long powerful movements. Really odd to do those kinda tasks using a folding knife, especially one with a 1:1 handle/blade ratio. Very peculiar feeling, and I can’t say that I like it. Maybe it’s something you have to get used to, but personally I prefer sticking to scandi ground bushcraft knives or machetes for such tasks.
Pull cuts were not comfortable. The finger choil under the pivot of the Rajah II is so aggressive that it digs into the fat of your palms, making it very uncomfortable should you grip the knife securely.
Now on to my biggest complaint – and the core issue with this folding slab of steel. Chopping is not optimal. With gloves, it’s bearable, but shock travels through the blade to the handle and whilst the knife bites in fine, the vibrations are jarring meaning I quite frankly would not use the Rajah II to chop with without gloves.
In a survival situation, if for some reason the Cold Steel Rajah II is the only knife available to me, I would wrap the handles in tape or inner bicycle tire if at all possible. Basically anything to mitigate the shocks.
It’s really unpleasant, and that’s a shame, because the actual chopping performance is what you would expect of a 6 inch kukri blade with an oversized sweet spot: it pulverizes 2-3 inch diameter limbs in a couple of strikes with no issues what so ever!
Unfortunately, the discomfort made me hesitant to use full power chopping strikes, and consequently I don’t think I got the best performance out of this knife. Again, a damn shame.
I think it’s important to mention collect-ability too. When this knife eventually ceases to be in production, it will leave a gap in the marketplace that will likely not be filled. A true monster folding knife is a rarity outside of customs, and this bares keeping in mind should you want to have a couple for the future as an investment.
At the end of the day, some people will really want to have such a unique knife (much like the Spyderco Dodo) and will pay a premium for something that has no true alternative.
The Cold Steel Rajah II is the perfect example of what happens when a designer has a, “Why not?” approach to knife design. It is in every respect an absurd knife to behold, with questionable viability as an outdoor tool and debatable comfort when segued as a fixed blade, but realistically speaking – no one would buy this for anything other than novelty, sheer wow factor, and to mess around with in the garden.
It’s not as good as a fixed blade, and its not as pocket-able as a true (mainstream) folding knife. But did you really expect it to be? Doubtful. What it is, however – well, it’s just damn cool.
Regardless of where you stand with regards to these ridiculous folding swords, it’s only right to give kudos to Cold Steel for continuing to experiment with designs that other manufactures would never for a second consider. Say what you want about Lynn Thompson, but he has never shied away from pushing the status quo to new (and frequently impractical) heights. We can talk all day about the Cold Steel Rajah II’s relative worth as a tool, but frankly – it’s heavy, cumbersome, and yet you will still inevitably fall in love with that monster even if you don’t have a use for it.