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.
Cold Steel Rajah II XL Oversized Folding Knife – Amazon / Blade HQ
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.
James Hilliard says
I carried a Rajah 2 every day for 7 years. I love to camp and travel. It doesn’t matter if I am in the country Building A Fire or in the city needing protection from unknown dangers this knife makes me extremely comfortable in all surroundings. It’s faster then and automatic knife because the blade is opening as it leaves my pocket. The handle has three functioning positions for your hand making detailed work easy and giving plenty of Leverage for chopping. When your hand is in the back decision for chopping there’s a Groove for your little finger that makes it almost impossible to get it out of your hand when using it for a weapon. The trilok makes it a safe as a fixed blade in my opinion. I lost my knife while going through chemo for cancer because it makes you very forgetful it’s called chemo brain. I didn’t replace it because anytime I pulled it out with people around I could see fear in their eyes that didn’t bother me as much as it did my wife but I truly missed my knife. I replaced it with a more expensive Cutco KA-BAR fixed knife that’s awesome but it’s taking me a while to get use to having a knife on my belt. My KA-BAR is lifetime warranty free sharpening for life, but if any of you are dissatisfied with your Rajah 2 I would truley love to have one to use while going through stage 4 cancer recovery.
Thomas Xavier says
All the best with your battle mate, really rooting for you & I hope you find yourself another Rajah 2!
I DO body guard work, unfortunately for two fools who who tried to assault my client I was carrying this awesome chopper,(long story short they got messed up pretty bad) This is a bad ass knife and super in the trained hands, muggers and bad people beware this awesome chopper is your worst nighymare(BLADE)
Eugene Cullen says
I love this blade as I travel some and its comforting to have a big heavy back up blade for JIC scenarios for a low price—lots bang for buck. I have the Rajah 3 for edc use.
Thomas Xavier says
Yup, if you judge it by cutting performance alone, I reckon it tops the table in bang for buck!
Bob Ocean says
Oops, I WAS referring to my Rajah 2.. sorry for any confusion.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take the Rajah series seriously enough to get the alloy/G10 handled one when they were available.
Thomas, I actually “Flick” mine open, as now it is well broken in.
Hope you received those photos of the Canvas Sheath/ Carry bag I’ve sewed up to lug the beast about.. Not a pocket rocket !
Thomas Xavier says
I can imagine flicking out a Rajah 2 in public- I reckon I would have SWAT on me faster than I get say God Save The Queen (here in the UK)!
No idea why I only saw this comment today- better late than never I guess?
Spencer W says
I have carried one for two years and can tell you as a farm hand I could not do without it. One of the best examples of it doing a job no other knife I have can do is when bedding cattle in the winter. With round baled straw it will take at least 30 min a day to bed about 30 cows if the bale is cooperative, now if it is frozen from rain or melting snow it will take at least an 1 hour 15min. With this knife I can just stab and with one of my hands on the back of the blade push to split the bale and crack it open. I even use it when they are not frozen to speed up things so it only takes me 10min for the same job. Then it is awesome when clearing fence lines or brush around fields or clearing roots when digging trenches.
Everyone who claim this knife is “clumsy” or ” uncomfortable”, let carry it for a while! CarrING small knife instead big with more range and secure lock can be difference between life and death. If you think your life cost more than caring a little bit more heavy knife – OK, you decide
Bob Ocean says
Hi Thomas, great Site. well put together with some/lots of pertinent info.
Purhased a Rajah 3 (Aus 8) last year, as a sheeple friendly option to my Busse Battle Mistress. Everybody carries a bushknife here in Fiji. (approx. 28 inch long) Use my R3 for opening coconuts even though Cold Steel say it is NOT a chopper, it does the job effectively even on the brown HARD fibrous ones. Husk
fibre is known as sennit or coir and is VERY abrasion/cut resistant.
The green ones can be opened with a Opinel if a better knife not available.
Have made a canvas sheath/carry bag to transport it in daypack or on belt (folded). Recommend it as a great bush knife with clip removed.
Also used their SRK (carbon V) over last 20 years. People should get over Lynn’s advertising hype (great profile, certainly has got attention) as CS do produce a fantastic range of cutlery/tools, getting better all the time with new steels.
What other Company have such a diverse/bizarre selection of off the wall gear? From a tactical baseball bat to blow guns, got to hand it to them, sure are not boring.. AND their gear hasn’t let me down yet. Love those coconuts!
I ALWAYS close the Rajah 3 two handed now, as it has been opened/closed so many times, it snaps shut when lock is released. Something for users to be aware of.
Keep up the good work.
Thomas Xavier says
Thanks for sharing your experiences Bob! I also own a shocking amount of Cold Steel gear so its clear that I ignore the advertising- Recently snapped up the Finn Wolf and i absolutely love it!
I am trying to think of any practical use that I would have for that blade and almost had one. Then I looked at the price and said ehhh nevermind. My one almost use was around a horizontal offset smoker since something you can quickly use it to carve/chop a bit off of both a piece of wood and/or a piece of fat you missed while prepping a brisket.
Thomas Xavier says
Haha, aye. I attempted to think of a useful reason to own such a “tool” but then gave up and just enjoyed playing around with a folding sword.
Not everything in life makes sense and I am ok with that. ;) Thanks for dropping by William!
Even a fixed-blade knife that long is awkward and tiring to use. The recurve does nothing but make it troublesome to sharpen. This is a knife for Rambo wannabes, not serious users.
Thomas Xavier says
As I mentioned in the review, its not a practical tool (in my opinion) but its hella lot of fun to use in the garden.
Sometimes you just *need* to own a folding sword.
Bob Ocean says
Hi Brad, my Aus 8 has been used for the second season here in Fiji (six months each) with having to only touch up the edge 1x time. That was with a ceramic stick. VERY impressive heat treat.
I use a crock stick on my carbon V CS Kukri ( very heavy) and the carbon V Kukri LTC. (Sadly no longer available.)
I could use the Spyderco Sharpmaker, but the crock stick is easier. You could use a sharpmaker tri stick to sharpen in the field if necessary.
Please don’t let the recurve put you off. The Rajah 3 is not a joke. It is a really handy tool and very ergonomic.
I’m about to order a 2nd one as it would really be a bummer if lost/stolen. A LOT of effective knife for a reasonable price.
Ok, it’s NOT pocket friendly, (Spyderco Tuff is) but very nice to have when going into the scrub/jungle.
Ask around, maybe a mate has one to try out. Be warned though, they are a handful of fun.. no vine is safe from a Rajah!
Yikes! That knife dwarfs your hand, I can imagine what it looks in my hand. Definitely not my cup of tea…
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, its pretty ridiculous. A lot of fun though! ;) Thanks for dropping by Dom!