For years a Cold Steel Voyager, in 6 inch blade length was my constant companion in many places around the world. The knife was strong, cut like crazy, and was easily replaced if it was lost in the field, or if it needed to “lost” for other reasons. As an added benefit, it was intimidating as hell when opened unexpectedly. The value of the “psychological stop” is not to be underestimated. So with all this personal history with the Voyager, I was VERY disappointed when Cold Steel (CS) discontinued the knife and I stopped carrying my 6 inch Voyager because I could no longer replace it easily.
Now I am perfectly satisfied with a mid sized folder as a defensive blade. However, I really missed my pocket sword and I could not believe that CS would discontinue a series of knives that was so popular. The only logical reason to do so would be to introduce a truly improved product, and did they ever accomplish that goal! The new Voyager XL is a much improved knife compared to its predecessor.
The new version has all off the advantages of the previous model, i.e., blade length, cutting power, and a spectacular price to performance ratio. But the improvements are dramatic.
Grip design: The previous grip was comfortable, but it always was just on the edge of not being secure enough, especially where a strong thrust was concerned. Security in the slash was fine, but there was nothing of a positive nature to keep your hand from running up on the blade when thrusting. The new grip has a deep finger cutout that gives the hand security and comfort. At the same time, alternative finger grooves are placed towards the pommel end that allows the user to extend the reach of the knife by “choking back” on the grip. The new texturing is far superior to the previous version if your hands are covered in blood, mud, and crud.
Blade Design: The blade on the new model is 5.5 inches long, which splits the difference between the 5 and 6 inch bladed variations from the previous product line. It has a full flat grind profile vs. the previous hollow grind, which provides tremendous shearing power on a snap cut and has a clip point that provides a VERY acute point. The blade finish is also improved. It is glass shot tumbled, which according to the designer “smears” the pores of the steel and provides greater rust resistance compared to a polished finish. After a summer of carrying mine constantly in 100+ degree heat, I can confirm that these claims seem to be accurate. It did not spot, where my older versions with the polished blade would do so.
As an added bonus the new slightly shorter blade length is perfectly legal in the Republic of Texas. Would an analysis of sales figures show that Texas has a large share of the pocket sword buying power? It does make one wonder!
Blade Lock: The older edition had a conventional back lock that was very good, it was IMHO, the best of the breed. But compared to the new Tri-Ad lock design it might as well be a slip joint. If you do some searching, you will see the tests that Cold Steel and others have done to knives that use this lock design, but to me the most impressive display is when the designer Andrew Demko hangs 350 pounds of free weight plates off of the handle of a similar sized CS Rajah II and the lock is totally undamaged or even changed. After using 4 types of knives from Cold Steel that use this lock, I feel it is the strongest lock design available in a folding knife.
Overall Design: In general terms it is a much better product than its predecessor. The thumb studs allow much more positive opening and there are now ambidextrous pocket clips instead of right side only. The new clips are also much more discreet than the clip found on the older model. Other improvements include an adjustable pivot pin that is able to be tightened and aluminum liners instead of the straight polymer construction that could swell in high heat and humidity. It is also assembled with torx head screws and can be fully disassembled if needed. The blade stock is also slightly thicker.
There is also another feature of this knife that I would include in the “big medicine” or “motivational juju” category. Take a look at the close up of the handle texturing. It is not checkered; it is actually made up of raised Maltese crosses. When you consider the history of that emblem and those who wore it, I cannot think of a better emblem to be included on a blade that is carried on a daily basis. The pocket sword has returned and is an excellent piece of kit for the modern crusader. As a Suarez International Defensive Knife instructor my suggestion is simple: get one. You will not be disappointed.