PINT-SIZED POWERHOUSES THAT WON’T MAKE YOU PINCH PENNIES
Cold Steel always has a robust catalog of new items every year, often consisting of big folders, swords, and machetes. Good things don’t always have to be big though, and the company’s new Mini Leatherneck series is proof of that. These pint-sized powerhouses won’t make you pinch pennies.
Cold Steel has taken its popular Leatherneck series combat utility knife and pared it down to create a trio of pint-sized but functional blades suitable for EDC, backpacking, or even tactical use for folks who don’t want to take up a lot of space or add weight to their tac vests.
“I’d put these as handy, lightweight utility blades, with the possible exception of the double-edge model, which would make a pretty good boot knife.”
The Mini Leathernecks are available in a clip point, a tanto, and a double-edge pattern. They all feature 3.5-inch blades of 3-mm-thick 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and a broad stainless steel double-quillon guard.
The 3.25-inch-long handle is made of grooved and textured Kray-Ex, which is firm but has a slightly “grippy,” rubbery feel to it. The handle is styled like the full-sized Leatherneck, which in turn is based on the stacked leather handles of the Marine Corp combat knife.
The overall length is 6.75 inches and weight is only 3.3 ounces, with the double-edge model coming in a wee bit less at 3.1 ounces. The knives come with sturdy Secure-Ex sheaths that are well molded to the blades and offer excellent retention without making it difficult to remove the knives when needed.
You can carry the knives on a lanyard or beaded chain of your choosing or use a Cold Steel C-Clip (not provided) to clip the knives to your belt, pack, or vest. You could also easily zip tie or 100 MPH tape the sheath to your gear as well.
I did try them with a small Tek-Lok and Bawidamann PUP MOLLE plate, but the rivet holes are too small for the screws that come with those, so you should probably stick to the Cold Steel C-Clip.
Cold Steel Mini Leatherneck
Blade Style: Clip point, tanto, or double edge
Blade Thickness: 3.0 millimeters
Length of Blade: 3.50 inches
Handle: 3.25 inches
Material of Handle: Kray-Ex
Overall Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces (3.1 for the double edge)
Steel: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
LOTS OF UTILITY
Now, despite being based on the Leatherneck, I wouldn’t classify these as combat knives by any means, although obviously any blade can be pressed into service in a pinch. I’d put these as handy, lightweight utility blades, with the possible exception of the double-edge model, which would make a pretty good boot knife.
The factory edge wasn’t hair-popping sharp, but it would cleanly slice free-hanging paper. I suspect it’ll touch up quickly on a strop too. 8Cr13MoV isn’t a miracle steel, but it sharpens easily and typically holds a decent edge.
The handles on these aren’t huge. I can just get my medium-sized hand on them with just a touch of overhang by my pinky. A larger hand will probably be getting a three-finger grip and wrapping the pinky along the pommel. That’s OK for the nature of the work that these will likely be doing.
They’ll handle EDC cutting chores with no issue and light camp chores, such as cutting open meal packets or MREs, ammo boxes, cordage, or tinder prep just fine. I tested the spine of the clip-point model with a ferro rod and found that the unsharpened false swedge on the spine worked quite well for throwing sparks.
Probably the best thing about the Mini is the price. The MSRP on these is only $29.99, and street prices tend to knock a few more bucks off of that.
At that price you can afford to grab the whole set or grab multiples of your favorite model and drop one in your daypack, one in the glovebox of your car, and keep one handy for EDC or use around the shop. With the size and the affordable price, they’d also make a great starter blade for kids too.
“…being so affordable, you can grab a Kyoto and a Mini Leatherneck of your choice and see what works best for you.”
Kyoto Mini Japanese I & II
Blade Style: Traditional reinforced point, Western-style tanto point
Weight: 3.2 ounces
Blade Thickness: 3 millimeters
Handle Length: 3 3/8 inches
Material of Handle: Kray-Ex
Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Length of Blade: 3 3/8 inches
Overall Length: 6 ¾ inches
ANOTHER OPTION IS THE KYOTO MINI JAPANESE
If you like the size of the Mini Leatherneck but want something with a little more Asian influence, Cold Steel also offers the Kyoto Mini Japanese in both a traditional reinforced point and a Western-style tanto point.
The general size and material specs are similar to the Mini Leathernecks, but the Kyoto’s have a Japanese Tsumami Maki style handle, like a Katana wrap, although the handle is still made out of Kray-Ex. It’s a good looking handle though, and quite comfortable. It also affords a very positive grip between the material and the wrap style texture.
The guard on the Kyoto’s a bit thicker and much smaller than the Leatherneck’s. I like the blade styles on the Kyoto’s quite a bit, and for me the handles are a little more comfortable than the Mini Leathernecks. They’re priced the same though, so being so affordable, you can grab a Kyoto and a Mini Leatherneck of your choice and see what works best for you.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Sep-Oct 2021 print issue of Knives Illustrated.