The Cold Steel 49HTF is Durable, Functional and Fun
The Cold Steel Mini Tac Tanto has been out for over five years, so this is probably a bit late to do a review. Up till now I have ignored the Mini Tac series from Cold Steel, because I am not a big fan of neck knives. I spend a lot of time hiking in the woods, and it is too easy to get neck knives caught on branches, and I have always found having a knife necklace bouncing around on my chest or stomach a bit annoying. However, a friend just gave me a Mini Tac Tanto, and I have to admit it was a mistake to ignore this knife just because it was intended to be worn around the neck. It is well designed, lightweight and more practical than many other neck knives.
- Overall Length: 6 3/4″
- Blade Length: 3 3/4″″
- Blade Steel: AUS 8 Stainless Steel
- Blade Thickness: 2.5mm
- Blade Type: Tanto
- Pocket Clip: No
- Sheath: Secure-Ex Neck Sheath
- Handle Material: G-10 Griv-Ex Style Handle Scales
- Weight: 2.7 ounces
- Full Tang
The 3.5 inch blade on this knife is a little bigger than most neck knives which I think is great, because it makes it possible to use the knife for a variety of applications. However many people prefer their neck knives to be smaller which is understandable if you are going to be carrying it around your neck all day. The fact the the Mini Tac Tanto is only 2.7 ounces in is an added bonus if you do decide to carry it for extended periods of time.e. The mini Tac Tanto has a Western style tanto blade which means it is a little easier to sharpen than the traditional Japanese style Tanto blades which are curved.
The blade is made of AUS 8 steel which is a high chromium, Japanese made stainless steel that is highly regarded. It takes an edge better than most other stainless steels used in knives like 440C or 8Cr. It is also fairly stain resistant and easier to sharpen than some of the harder carbon steels. It does not have the edge retention of ATS-34 steel, but it is easier to sharpen which is important with a tanto blade, because they are harder to sharpen than the more conventional drop point blades.
My favorite feature of the Mini Tac Tanto blade is the thumb jimping on the spine. Cold Steel was generous with the jimping texture on this knife. The jimping is deep and the spine of the blade is relatively wide, so you can actually get a good grip with your thumb. I appreciate Cold Steel including thumb jimping that was more than a poorly designed afterthought which is certainly the case with a lot of tactical knife designs.
The Mini Tac Tanto’s blade is impressive, but the handle is what really sets this knife a part. The Griv-Ex handle is a subhilt design which means it partially locks the index finger in place. This feature combined with the spine jimping and the faux G10 texture make the Mini Tac Tanto much easier to grip than other tactical knives with thin handles. This handle feels secure in your hand even when it is wet in spite of the fact that it’s relatively short size means it only fills half your hand.
It would be nice if the Mini Tac Tanto came with a real G10 handle, but the faux G10 handle that Cold Steel calls Griv-Ex feels real sturdy and it is easy to grip. This Grive-Ex material is what Cold Steel uses in it’s Voyager series of knives which is what I use for my EDC, and I can vouch for the fact that they can take a lot of abuse. The Griv-Ex Handles are attached to the tang with two hex screws that remained tight and free of wiggle after two weeks of consistent use. If was was going to use this knife as my primary EDC I would probably remove the screws and apply some Loctite 242 to make sure they stayed in place for the long haul.
The sheath that ships with the Mini Tac Tanto is made of heavy plastic and held together with plastic rivets. Cold Steel calls this series of sheaths Secure-Ex, and my initial reaction was that it looked liked it would not stand up to much wear and tear, but myself and several others have put put the Mini Tanto and it’s sheath through a bit of a gauntlet over the last two weeks and it has held up really well. The tightness of the sheath has diminished just a little, but it still holds the knife in tight enough to withstand a fall or rough jolt. If I were going to make this my EDC I would have a custom kydex sheath made that allowed me to adjust the tightness, but I think Cold Steel has turned out a pretty decent sheath considering this knife generally sells for less than $30.
As you can see in the above video the knife was initially a little difficult to remove quickly, because the sheath covers half of the short handle, but after a few dozen draws I was able to get the hang of it, and I felt pretty confident in my ability to remove it quickly without dropping it. Ideally the handle would be an inch or two longer to allow for a more secure draw, but that would add weight, and I understand why Cold Steel wanted to keep this knife really light. Once you get the hang of it drawing and sheathing the knife is pretty fun.
Unless you are like really tall you will probably need to remove quite a few of the links from the sheath neck chain, so the knife hangs at chest level instead of stomach level, but that is pretty easy to do. The chain itself is much sturdier than it looks and has survived multiple people yanking on it dozens of times over the course of the last two weeks.
Overall I was impressed with the Mini Tac Tanto Neck Knife especially at it’s sub $30 price-point. The handle is especially impressive from a tactical standpoint, because it is so easy to grip, and it would be very difficult for someone to knock this knife out of your hand. The situation where this knife will really shine is in the car. That is the one place I think neck knives have a serious advantage over pocket clip EDC knives or fixed blade knives in a belt sheath, because it is so much easier to get a neck knife out quickly when you are sitting down in a relatively tight space.
It would be nice if Cold Steel included a belt clip option on this sheath, and I wish the handle were a bit longer to make drawing the knife quickly and securely a little easier, but overall this is an excellent knife for the money and I highly recommend it, especially as car knife. If you want a neck knife, but you are not a big fan of the tanto blade, Cold Steel offers two other options in the Mini Tac series: the Skinner and the Beaver Tail.