The Cold Steel Finn Wolf has, by a considerable margin, been my most requested knife to review. If you’ve ever checked out this bad boy – this makes perfect sense. I have owned this folder for nearly a year now, and have been mulling what to scribble about it since day one. I’ll start by saying this here – the Finn Wolf is a pretty perfect folder at an absurdly low price point (relative to what you get), and to this day I still have no real qualms or criticisms to levy against it. Unlike a lot of Cold Steel’s designs, this knife has no gimmicks or shock factor. The Finn Wolf is outdoor utility through and through, which coupled with the solid construction and design by Andrew Demko at an unbelievable price point means the knife is a sure recommendation.
So if you were curious about this tool and don’t feel like trawling through my now predictable ravings over the TRI-AD lock and how tough this knife is for its weight, then feel free to just go out and buy it. Seriously.
Cold Steel Finn Wolf Scandi EDC Pocket Knife – Amazon / Blade HQ
My one smidgen of a criticism is the description of the handles as “olive drab green.” In what world, Cold Steel? This is grey with a slight greenish tint. Please let me know in the comments if you think the knife is OD green, cause I just don’t see it.
Beyond that, you have Griv-EX (which is a branded fiberglass reinforced nylon derivative) handles that are 4.38 inches in length, a solid size, and comparable to most full-sized EDC knives. This isn’t a folding sword, but unless your name is Brock Lesnar, you wont have an issue getting all four fingers comfortably around this knife.
For illustrative purposes, I have size L glove hands and I had plenty of room to spare. This is an important point because the Cold Steel Finn Wolf is designed as an outdoor knife and thus ergonomics are paramount.
The scales on the Finn Wolf have a nice, subtle texture. I wouldn’t describe them as grippy (the ergonomics take care of in-hand retention, not the texture), but they are pleasant to the touch. FRN/Grivory/Griv-X etc. vary in quality and Cold Steel chose a good supplier for this model. Maybe it’s the colour or more subtle texture, but I find it higher quality than the Voyager series (Tanto/Vaquero). Maybe it’s a placebo, but in the hand, it feels nicer.
Interestingly, absolutely zero jimping on the Cold Steel Finn Wolf. It’s refreshing to see and reinforces this knife as an outdoor tool – not a tactical option (not that it wouldn’t work in such a scenario).
The main advertising feature of the Cold Steel Finn Wolf is the blade. A 3 mm thick slab of AUS-8A with a total length of 3.5 inches. Very standard, but what makes it stand out is the grind Cold Steel chose to use – a Scandinavian grind. This means it has a single bevel, which in theory is supposed to end in a true zero edge. Sadly, whilst the Finn Wolf is advertised as having a zero ground edge, my example did have a slight secondary (relief) edge. I don’t know if it’s because I had one of the first models, but I think it bares mentioning.
In practice, this blade is truly wonderful. Cold Steel hit the sweet spot with regards to stock thickness, and this feels like a serious tool. I definitely am comfortable in the woods with the Finn Wolf as my only knife – and this is not something I would say easily. The Finn Wolf carves and slices almost as well as a Mora.
Taking into account it comes in a “folding knife” package, and that you can regrind the blade to be a true zero edge, I think the Finn Wolf comes as close to what we have ever seen be a viable folding outdoor knife. The Benchmade Adamas is very tough – but not optimal or ergonomic for working with wood. The Enzo PK70 does have a great blade, but the lock and weight make it less trustworthy and inferior in terms of balance. The Finn Wolf, however, hits the nail on the head.
Speaking of strength: TRI-AD lock. It’s the best. End of.
I am frankly tired of extolling its virtues. It feels like every time I review a Cold Steel folder, I have to think of a new way to lavish praise on this lock and it’s becoming redundant. If you have handled a TRI-AD lock, then you get it. If you haven’t – do so and you will get it. Demko has (in my opinion) designed the perfect lock and all would-be competitors have paled in comparison. Look at the Spyderco Tuff – very expensive – not as tough. How about the notorious Benchmade Adamas? Once again, much more expensive – not as tough.
I feel this point has to be driven home every single time I review a Cold Steel, because frankly, they deserve the praise. Competitors need to up their game and competition is healthy for the market. We should always strive for the strongest lock up on a folder and whilst some may argue that the TRI-AD is redundantly overbuilt – frankly, I’ll take overbuilt over “good enough.” Does that even need to be said?
Fit and finish is as I have come to expect from Taiwanese-made Cold Steels: very, very good. Much better than its price tag would suggest. Handling knives that are tougher, higher performance, and have as good as if not better fit and finish than $100 knives is a sobering experience. I get than marketing can take you far, but (this is just my opinion, put the pitchforks away people!) how could I possibly justify a gold class Benchmade? I just don’t get it. Then again, clearly I am not the target demographic.
The Cold Steel Finn Wolf has no liners. I view this as a positive, as in my opinion, liners are superfluous to requirement in 99% of cases. In the Finn Wolf’s case – show me a failure of the knife with the handles as the weak point, and I will promptly edit this review – but it hasn’t happened and I doubt it ever will. Liners add weight and can throw off the balance, so I try to avoid them whenever possible.
The deployment method is the classic thumb stud. Deployment is smooth and easy with the groove cut out into the scales to guide your thumb. Yes, I will always prefer the Spyderhole, but in a blade like this, it’s simply not practical. The thumb stud works, is ambidextrous (both sides), and can be removed using a flat head screwdriver when sharpening for a true zero grind.
Which admittedly, is a downside. I personally have no issues with removing the thumb stud for sharpening, but some of you may. I don’t often have to sharpen my knives, preferring instead to strop them on a regular basis so I don’t find myself obsessing over this detail. Realistically, you have to compromise ease of sharpening when you have this level of size relative to deployment comfort.
Buttery smooth. Never had a single issue with the Finn Wolf.
The pocket clip is utilitarian. No aesthetic flourishes here! You can remove it and have it on the other side of the scales for left handed users, and beyond that I have nothing to add. This ain’t a deep carry option, and the butt of the knife does stick out quite a bit, so if you want to go incognito – you may want to consider a different option. Personally, as an outdoor tool, I like how easy it is to access, especially with a lanyard attached.
No choil of any kind, if the lock fails – sorry, you won’t have digits for much longer! On the flip side, voice recognition software is getting better every year so maybe your life isn’t over! Jokes aside, I have absolute faith in the TRI-AD lock, and wouldn’t hesitate to wield the Finn Wolf in rough use/as a beater knife.
Ergonomics are above average. The groove for the thumb stud works well to lock your pointing finger in, and after nearly a year of EDC-ing this knife (quite obsessively, Elise wants me to add), I never noticed significant hot spots. Obviously, it’s still a folding knife and compromises are made in that regard – the handle will never fill your hand the same way a fixed blade option would, but realistically – who expects that? As far as folders go, very impressed.
Choking up on the Cold Steel Finn Wolf isn’t ideal. The guard gets in the way and I never really bothered using the Finn Wolf in such a grip. The edge of the blade goes so far down that frankly it’s not needed.
As I mentioned earlier, this is clearly not a tactical knife. The styling, ergonomics and lack of jimping/tactical stuff screams utilitarian, and I am 100% find with that. With that said, the lock is rock solid, the blade does have a point (not a needle, but a point nonetheless) and the guard will sorta protect your fingers from sliding onto the blade.
Would I recommend this for defensive carry? No way, but if you only had this knife as an option, I wouldn’t weep – leave that to the bad guys. It’s very sharp out of the box and as far as designs go it’s pretty neutral. I view the Finn Wolf as an outdoors knife based on the blade grind, but realistically it can be put to work in most scenarios/situations with no real loss of performance.
Pinch grip was fine by me. I have never field dressed anything with a lock back/TRI-AD lock, but I imagine it’s less than optimal when it comes to cleaning afterward. If any of you have any experiences on the matter please chime in below!
At 3.4 oz, the Cold Steel Finn Wolf is pretty light for a good sized EDC knife. Obviously, size is relative, and my perspective has been skewed due to blades like the Tanto Voyager XL, but when it comes to balance, the Finn Wolf is very nice in the hand. I wouldn’t say perfect, but it feels very light with no real handle or blade bias, which I believe is only achieved due to the lack of liners. I know people complained about that, but from my perspective, if it had liners the balance would have been worse, or Cold Steel would have had to introduce a longer blade (4 inches+) to make up for it.
I don’t think it’s worth it personally.
So, a very positive review for a very spartan looking knife! I love that Cold Steel is introducing so much variety in their product line. Enormous folding swords? Check. Non-locking gentlemen slip joints? Check.
And now we have what is currently (my two cents) the best folding wilderness blade on the market. I know I am basically a Cold Steel fanboy now, but I think if you look (objectively) at their products over the past few years, it’s really hard not to be.
The Cold Steel Finn Wolf is a fantastic folding knife option for the outdoorsman. It’s remarkable that it took this long for a solid, inexpensive scandi grind folding knife to be brought to the market, and in my opinion it’s long overdue. As someone who owns hundreds of knives, I can only think of a few that really stand out in either design or utility, and this is one of them. Yes, it’s pretty boring looking, but hold it, use it, and you will be a convert, too.
Christopher Graham says
You’re right, this is a fabulous knife! I waited too long to get it. Mine is clearly OD green though , maybe yours had a variance from the factory?
Joshua Fields says
I own the Finn Wolf and Benchmade Griptillian. Lemme clue you in on a few reasons Benchmade make a better knife. Their Axis lock is close to Tri Ad lock strength and jet is easier to disengage and use either hand. Not to mention easier to keep dirt and grime out. My Benchmade blade is the entry level 154 cm compared to Aus8. And it will stay razor sharp a lot longer. You also get a better warranty with BM. And no you do not need a Gold Class to have a good knife. My Grip is a Blue Class and around $100. Oh and the handle is way more comfortable on my Griptillian than on my Finn Wolf. The Finn Wolf is harder to open 1 handed and has horrible thumb studs that have to be removed when sharpening which can be easily lost if outdoors or not careful. Also lack of steel liners in the handle. Trying to say your Finn Wolf is a better knife because of the lock being a bit stronger is pretty much denial on your part. I have and use both knives and I love my Finn Wolf. But my Griptillian smokes it in 9 out of 10 areas. You seem to have a biased opinion of Benchmade. I will admit I do. I hate that they will not offer their lifetime sharpening warranty to their serrated blades and instead try to sell you a replacement blade. But Benchmade knives have better quality steel and handle material. I just dropped my griptillian really hard on a sidewalk trying to open it left handed my weaker hand and slung it hard tip first into concrete sidewalk. All my fault. I broke off 1/16 or less of the tip. Sent it back to BM and they did new handle scales, cleaned, fixed clip, fixed tip, sharpened,adjusted pivot screw, and tuned blade on top of paying shipping back to me. Good luck getting that kind of service with Cold Steel. I am still waiting on those Finn Wolf thumb studs and spear shaft I had under warranty they never sent me lol.
Thomas Xavier says
I love my grip too but you gotta look at things from the perspective of bang for buck. On sale, I have seen the Finn Wolf for under $30. I also never found any use for steel liners and the opening/closing action whilst better on the BM, isn’t particularly bothersome on the Cold Steel.
At the end of the day, both are excellent folders, but when comparing them I have to look at value. Not just feel. Because for a lot of people, an extra $70 ain’t chump change.
I had one and carried it as my EDC. It did everything I asked of it at home and in the field.
I only had an issue with the handle being to slick for my liking. I never actually slipped, I just wasn’t comfortable with it. So I added stippling to the front that took from the looks but made it more grippy.
As far as self defense it slashes, cuts, and stabs. What else do I need? I am not carry multiple knives.
Sadly I lost mine somewhere at home and haven’t replaced it yet.
Thomas Xavier says
Better get yourself another Bill ;) Never had an issue with the slickness personally but your solution sounds solid for those who want to really have a secure grip.
Thanks for dropping by!
Just received one of these for Christmas. I’d asked for it because of this review and it’s certainly worth it. I even sent along the Amazon link from this article so hopefully you’d get the commission ;)
That said, I think it’s worth mentioning that with a couple tries, the blade and handle near the joint function well as a bottle opener when the knife is closed. Works well when my keys are out of reach and I have a Mexican Coke that needs opening.
Thomas Xavier says
Glad you liked it mate, its definitely ridiculous bang for buck. Never heard of that bottle opening trick with it but now that I look at it, makes sense. I wonder if that was done on purpose or not…
Thanks for the support Zenon, much appreciated.
Itamar Eshet says
I bought this knife few weeks ago…
The blade is fine.
To my disappointment the handle is made of a cheap plastic.
I wouldn’t dare putting any bending force on the blade.
I’m afraid that the handle will break on me.
If they decided to give up on the metal liner,
they could at least embed in the plastic metal bushings for the blade hinges.
It would more add more support for the blade.
On the other hand, you get what you pay for.
Thomas Xavier says
Howdy Itamar, the handle is made of glass reinforced nylon (Griv-ex), its shockingly tough and can withstand an extreme amount of damage. Steel liners are not needed I promise (feel free to abuse it, you will see).
You shouldn’t be using any strong bending force on a folding knife. For that you need a prybar or a fixed blade knife like a Ka-Bar BK2/BK22 or Schrade SCHF51/SCHF52.
The plastic handles are adequate for what this knife is designed to do. The Finn Hawk fixed blade uses the same material, but with a better texture. I wish the Finn Wolf handles had that texture. When I try to thumb flick it open, the knife flys out ouf my hand. Also, the thumb stud is not needed — I can open the knife one handed without it, but not without some concetrated effort. I am thinking about filling the hole with some JB Weld and make a thumb dot. No more thumb stud interference with cutting or sharpening.
I find the handle slightly uncomfortable, especially the peak between the finger groove and the thumb stud scallop. It creates a hot spot on the edge of my finger. I am thinking about rounding it down to make one large finger groove. To me, many Cold Steel knife handle designs look uncomforatable.
Thomas, one thing you forgot to mention was the built in bottle cap lifter. ;-)
Thomas Xavier says
Interesting points Greg, I found it comfy with solid in hand retention but everyone has different experiences on the matter, and aye- I forgot to mention the bottle cap opener ;) or maybe I was testing my readers to see if they would chime in? Yeah, I’ll use that as an excuse!
Mark B says
Hey Thomas, I bought a Finn wolf after reading your review and a few others and I must say it’s a really great folder. I have several and usually carry a Spyderco delica 4, because it just disappears in your pocket. This knife is simaler in that it carries very well for being a bigger blade.. so far so good, it’s tops for now!
Thomas Xavier says
Glad you are enjoying it mate!
Geoff Roughton says
a great review of a great knife……but you should have a look at the Real Steel Bushcraft Folder. One of the best knives I’ve owned in 45 years of using knives of all types at ANY price. Keep up the great reviews and love your site.
Thomas Xavier says
Looks good, reminds me of an Enzo! Can’t promise anything but i’ll see if I can snap one up.
Thanks for the recommendation Geoff.
I bought the Finn Wolf while at a military surplus store along with the Finn Hawk.
I have been carrying it everyday since.I am a lefty but carry it opposite of my SAK Farmer.
I have made an Altoids tin stropping kit and strop the knives every so often and have had no issues.
I find the knife to be very durable if used for what it was made for.I won’t get into torture tests if you really want to know if a knife will work use it to prepare a meal in your kitchen,that is a realistic test [Finn Hawk is awesome].
I had been wanting a lightweight but rugged folder and the Finn Wolf fits my needs.
My handle is OD green.lol
Thomas Xavier says
Thanks for the feedback Matt, do you think its possible that I have one of the earlier batches of Finn Wolf’s and thus the coloration is different? Mine is legit grey with a hint of green. :/
Art Wray says
I’m sold ! Was kinda wonderin’ if there was a ” if I could choose only one ” folder worth considerin’ for backpacking . Love that color . I’d call it ” Serious Teal ” but it seems closer to ” Field Gray ” which was the description of the paint color used by military miniature modelers in the ‘ 60’s for WW II German Army uniforms . Takin’ off on the AT again soon and the Cold Steel Finn Wolf might just accompany me . Thanks
Thomas Xavier says
Definitely number 1 on my “if I could only choose one folder” list. Let me know how you find it!
Dan Schwemin says
Great review TOM! I must be the ONLY person not impressed by the triad lock. I mean, it’s great and all, and it’s strong, but I keep asking myself one thing… Why? When would someone ever find themselves in a situation that calls for them to put SO MUCH negative pressure on a folding knife that would require a lock THAT overbuilt? It just seems foolish to me. As if they were simply creating a solution to a problem that didn’t exist in the first place. Like I said, I think the triad lock is cool, and certainly wouldn’t turn it away, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t choose to look poorly upon any knife with a different locking mechanism, or even a simple slip joint for that matter. Because the bottom line is that you shouldn’t ever be putting negative pressure on a folding knife anyways….
As for the thumb studs and Scandinavian grind… That’s a different story. As a lefty dealing with companies like Cold Steel, who in recent times have decided to start putting unevenly sized thumb studs on their new folders instead of equally sized ambi thumb studs, caused me to now have to resort to attempting to swap thumb studs around (which I find absurd considering there’s no legitimate reason for not providing equally sized thumb studs from the beginning as they always have in the past! But I digress). Unfortunately, most people (right handers in particular) think it’s easy and simply a matter of unscrewing the studs and switching them around and screwing them back in… What they fail to realize is that you have to anchor one of the thumb studs from spinning while you tighten the other one… Eventually you can no longer hold one of the thumb studs in place, and then what inevitably happens is the studs spin in place as you attempt to tighten them down… Therefore I can’t completely tighten the studs down, and it ultimately just enrages me because all I can wonder is “why the hell didn’t the company just put equally sized ambi thumb studs on the knife!?” So for those that have never attempted to remove thumb studs, I’ll save you all the aggravation and tell you right now, it’s a major pain in the ass, and it’s very frustrating! Which brings me to my point – Cold Steel should have either gone with a thumb hole, or nail nick method of opening the knife if they knew the thumb studs would impede sharpening… I believe that to be a poor choice on their part. Just my 2 cents.
After reading the review, I just thought these points were worth mentioning. Thanks Tom. I hope you guys are adjusting to England well! I hear the knife law over there are absurd! Good luck with that man!
Thomas Xavier says
Knife laws are crazy but what can you do! Completely agree with you with regards to the thumbstuds- it doesn’t bother me but it seems like an easy fix so I wonder why Cold Steel didn’t do it.
About the TRIAD lock, for me its the feeling of security. I trust it *almost* absolutely. Its as close to a folding fixed blade platform as I could ever envision- will I ever abuse a knife to the point that TRIAD is necessary? Doubtful- but I like knowing that I *could*.
Thanks for dropping by Dan, always enjoy your comments- sorry about the late response.