Cold Steel’s Roach Belly Fixed Blade Knife

Cold Steel Roach BellyThe Roach Belly was an 18th Century knife pattern used by British, French, and Colonial American traders of that era.  Generally, the blade consisted of a straight-spine, acute point, and a pronounced curve, or belly, along the cutting edge.  Cold Steel Knives makes a really inexpensive modern version that cuts like mad.  Really!

I bought a Cold Steel Roach Belly for several reasons.  I liked its sleek fighter looks.  There is enough metal at the choil to act as a lower finger guard for serious work.  The $12.95 price meant I could take it on a trip to Zion without worrying about losing it from my luggage.  A 2.6 ounce weight made for extremely light carry in my hiking pack.

Roach Belly’s 4 1/2″ Krupps 4116 stainless steel blade can pass for a kitchen knife.  And I have used it as such.  The hollow grind has an effective edge geometry.  It cuts meat, veggies, or cardboard equally well.  A Rockwell hardness of 56-57 makes for ease of sharpening.

Cold Steel Roach Belly Reverse Cold Steel Roach Belly1 IMG_2218 Roach Belly JimpingThe rounded polypropylene handle of the knife sits nicely in the palm.  Its material has small horizontal striations.  Some have said it is a bit slick, but I do not find it objectionable.  Like some of my Escrima sticks, a little paraffin on the surface adds grippiness.  A lanyard hole is present on the end.

For twelve bucks, you do not get a wonder sheath of gizmo plastic and MOLLE/PALS compatible clicky-clips.  CS’s Roach Belly sells with a very usable deep nylon pouch with a plain old 2 1/2″ belt loop.  Your own needs will dictate whether you should make or buy an upscale sheath.

After trimming a flank steak for dinner one night, I attacked a cardboard box with my Roach.  The Krupps steel remained sharp cut after cut until I became bored and hungry.  It was not phased by either material.  Well, there’s that hardwood aged 2 X 4 in the garage.  Whack, whack, whack.  This is a lightweight knife that would require a baton for making a substantial dent in thick strata.

Roach Belly Cuts Roach Belly Sheath Roach Belly Sheath Reverse Roach Belly BalanceThe Roach Belly is pointy for piercing, but has plenty of edge for cutting.  Knives that can double as a utility and defensive blade will attract my credit card numbers, whether the knives are fixed or folders.  This knife has the blade length and ergonomics to perform many tasks.

I remember reading a magazine article a long time ago where the author advocated traveling abroad with a kitchen-style knife (in his Samsonite) that would attract little in the way of attention, but serve to provide protection if necessary.  I thought of that article when I saw the Roach Belly.  Check the applicable laws before packing your bags, though.

As I said, the Cold Steel Roach Belly is an unassuming knife in its nylon pouch sheath.  If you desire a user that is superbly functional, yet expendable, then this is a great knife.  You won’t put it in a display case, but you will unsheathed at a moment’s notice for your chores.  I guess that is a rousing compliment.

by Wilson

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