Black Bear Classic first appears in the 1995 catalog, although it may have been introduced earlier.There are literally hundreds of versions of this classic knife made by many custom knife makers but Cold Steel introduced this model as an affordable version of the famous W.R. Loveless subhilt fighter.
The first model designated 14BBC was made in Taiwan and marked “400 Series Stainless”. However the catalog description stated that the blade was made with steel imported from Japan, and the technical description states: ” Blade Length 8 1/4″ Overall length 13 1/2″ Thickness 3/16″ Weight 12.7oz. Aus8A Stainless Steel Blade, 300 Series Stainless Guard, Black Linen Micarta Handle. ” It came with a black leather dangler sheath with a sharpening stone pocket and a Norton Fine India Stone.
In 1996 a version with the top of the blade unsharpened was introduced as the 14BCCCUT but lasted only one or two years.
In 1997 production was changed to Seki Japan and became model 14BBCJ. The ricasso was then marked “Aus8A Made in Japan”. This model remained unchanged until 2005 when the leather sheath was replaced by a synthetic secure-ex sheath.
The following year in 2006 Black Bear Classic became a VG1 core Sanmai III model and has remained in production unchanged since with the same designation 14BBCJ.
The Cold Steel Black Bear Classic made by Hattori, Seki.
The R1 Military Classic
Another well know homage model offered by Cold Steel was the R1 Military Classic, which was based on the Randall Model 1-7 Fighting Knife.
Introduced in 1993 as the Model 14R1, it was manufactured in Taiwan alongside the Black Bear Classic and likewise marked “400 Series Stainless Made in Taiwan” on the right side of the blade. The guard was 300 Series Stainless and the handle was black linen micarta. It came with a classic brown leather sheath with a sharpening stone pocket, a feature which was retained throughout the life of the model.
Overall length 11 5/8″ Blade Length 7″ Blade Thickness 3/16″ Weight 9 1/4oz.
In 2000, the production changed from Taiwan to Seki Japan and was re-designated Model 14R1J. The blade was now marked “Aus8A Stainless, Made in Japan” on the right side of the blade.
In 2006 the Aus8 model was replaced by the VG1 core Sanmai III model, retaining the 14R1J model number designation. Production of this last version ended in 2012.
With the Cold Steel R1 having been discontinued, this design remains available as the original Randall Model 1-7, as well as the Blackjack Model 7. Whereas the R1 was available only with the black linen micarta handle and VG1 core laminated blade, the Randall 1-7 is offered in 01 tool steel and 440B Stainless, and the Blackjack Model 7 is offered in A2 tool steel. Both offer a wide varieties of handle material and style options, whereas the R1 did not.
The Cold Steel Tai Pan
The Tai Pan was introduced as a dagger version of the successful Tanto in 1995 as the model 13D. The unusually wide blade of the Tai Pan reflected Lynn Thompson’s observation that the traditional dagger design, such as the Fairburn-Sykes had such a narrowed tip that under stress it lent itself to breakage, The Tai Pan was designed to overcome this weak point in the dagger design..
Overall length 13″ Blade length 7 1/2″ Weight 10.8 oz Aus8 steel Made in Japan.
In 1998 in addition to the model 13D, the Imperial Tai Pan was introduced.
Instead of the standard Kraton handle it used a traditional Japanese styled handle using Samegawa (shark or rayskin) with cross patterned silkcord. The blade was a 161 layer damascus, with 80 layers on each side. The core is presumed to be Aus8. The guard, bolsters and pommel was polished 300 series stainless.
In 2007 the Aus8 Tai Pan was discontinued and replaced with the VG1 Sanmai version and produced until 2015.
Tai Pan construction.