Cold Steel Large Sanmai Knives

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

RabdalMOd1-7 Randall Model 1-7

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

BJmodel1 Blackjack Model 7 with pommel.

The Cold Steel Tai Pan

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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.

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In 1998 in addition to the model 13D, the Imperial Tai Pan was introduced.

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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.

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In 2007 the Aus8 Tai Pan was discontinued and replaced with the VG1 Sanmai version and produced until 2015.

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Tai Pan construction.

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VG1 Sanmai Tai Pan

The Outdoorsman –

Believed introduced in 1985/86, the Outdoorsman is often considered the highly overlooked great “hunting knife”. The first version designated Model 18 had jimping along the latter part of the spine and no bone breaker section.

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The second generation which appeared in the 1988 catalog retained the jimping but added a “bone breaker” section to the middle of the spine.

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2nd gen Outdoorsman

Second Generation Outdoorsman.

The Outdoorsman was discontinued sometime in the 1990s and did not appear again until 2001 as the third verssion designated model 18H. It keptt the bone breaker but the jimping was reduced to the side jimping just before the guard. The blade was solid Aus8.

18H aus8

Overall length was 11 inches with a 3/16″ thick 6 inch blade. Total weight 9.9 oz.

The fourth version introduced in 2007 was the same as the previous but the blade was changed from solid Aus8 to VG1 core Sanmai.

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4 thoughts on “Cold Steel Large Sanmai Knives”

  1. Hello

    I want to purchase a Cold Steel Black Bear Classic 400 series but I can not find a way to get directed to purchase the knife

    Can you please let me know how to go about getting one and also what I am going to pay for it.

    I want to purchase Asa’s. So if you could direct me on how to purchase please do

    Thank you

    Dan Johnston

    1. Up until about 6 months ago you could still find the SM BBC as existing inventory in some stores. Plus a few were available on eat for about $375-425. Now they are impossible to find. Best bet would be to watch ebay. Be careful as many sellers are pushing the older non-SM version at high prices as well.

    1. Not all Cold Steel VG1 Sanmai models are made by Hattori. As far as I am aware the Sanmai Laredo is
      made by Kinryu Corp, Seki who also makes the VG1 Sanmai SRK and Recon Tanto for Cold Steel.

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