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The historical Roach Belly knife was a short blade with a pronounced upswept curve and a sharp point. It was most likely named after the common Roach Fish, which had a similarly round curving belly. It was known in 17th century Britain and quite common in the American Colonies because it was inexpensive and versatile.

The Cold Steel interpretation of this knife is a nod to the Black Powder Community, which has continued to appreciate the Roach Bellyís economy, versatility and effectiveness. The Cold Steel Roach Belly retains the profile of the original but incorporates the latest in modern materials for its construction. The hollow ground blade is made of 4116 Krupp Stainless, expertly heat treated to Rc 56-57, and given a fine sharp edge thatís easy to maintain.

Instead of the traditional wood handle, the Cold Steel Roach Belly is made of tough Polypropylene, so itís impervious to the elements and wonít swell, shrink, rot or crack the way wood does.

The Roach Belly comes with a deep pouch style black Cordura sheath. It has a generously sized belt loop and also converts readily to being worn as a neck knife.

Blade: 4 1/2"
Overall: 8 1/2"
Thick: 2.5mm
Weight: 2.6 oz
Sheath: Cordura

See the Roach Belly review below!



Cold Steel Roach Belly




also available:


Cold Steel Finn BearCold Steel Finn Bear


Cold Steel Kukri MacheteCold Steel Kukri Machete


Joezilla in the Field


 A modernized, economized version of a historic classic!

 I recently acquired the Cold Steel Roach Belly knife from the folks at Two Wolves Outdoor, and I must say, I wasnít prepared for how impressed I was wasn't the half of it.

 This knife is one of the new inexpensive models of functional knives that Cold Steel is offering to consumers.  It seems that they are reaching out for a new market: the economical yet reliable fixed blade niche that only a few other makers have dared step foot in.  The scandi style mora made knife of legend comes to mind, notably. I love my moras to death and could talk a huge mess about Ďem, but cold steel has brought up a line that may give them a run for their money. Some people just don't like the scandi style. Itís true that Cold Steel has some very noteworthy blades that have found themselves in the hands of skilled outdoorsmen in the past, the SRK for sure, and their Hudson Bay line they used to make is very well respected.  But how will the new models fare in the ultra-economical, po-boy market? 

Letís take a look at the specifications:

Blade: 4 1/2"
Overall: 8 1/2"
Thick: 2.5mm
Weight: 2.6 oz.

This knife design pays homage to the Hudson bay region roach belly knife, a style with a large belly and classic looks that is very popular with the muzzleloading/blackpowder community and period knifemakers. The design has stood the test of time; no doubt that this would do very well in any fur bearer skin with itís slim blade. The knife design boasts a fine point at the end that proved itself very useful and resilient as far as tip styles go. I was able to drill a tiny hole completely through a green piece of sapling and make a broiler. No doubt that it would be great in making notches to start your bow drill as well. And trap trigger carving would be a breeze. The fine point held up very well despite the blatant abuse I subjected it to while trying to open up a rotten log to check out a marbled salamander. I was very pleased rigidity and durability of the point: score one for roach bellys.

Speaking of rigidity, despite my anti-baton preaching, I did conduct such a practice with this knife... I know; Iím surprised too. I was able to baton this lightweight knife through an extra tough piece of wood with no handle cracking and no abuse to the edge. Needless to say, I was very impressed. No white marks on the black handle to show of inner wear, warping or twisting of polymer handle, and no rattling or clicking either, it held up far beyond that of many knives in its price range, especially in handle rigidity aspect.  The edge grind held up extremely well too, with no nicks or dings or imperfections to the edge.  I also was able to use lightly baton it through smaller pieces of sapling to accommodate the more ďpreciseĒ measurements I needed to construct some gadgets.  


Choking up on the tip of the blade proved second nature, especially for more finite tasks like digging out splinters and a stubborn honey bee lancet left after the stinger was scraped. This is where that lightweight aspect really shined through, as trying to do this with heavier hafted blades can bee a little awkward.  It proved itself to be quite  the woods kniven. I was able to construct a broiler in a manner I had not tried before, and I was very pleased with the results. No doubt that this would find itself a very useful woods knife, a great knife for a minimalist backpacker to consider along with the cast iron toting voyageur.


The handle is constructed of polypropylene, a lightweight thermoplastic polymer that is very resistant to acids, stiffness and fatigue.  Despite the sound of it, the texture of the handle is well done, a  modest wood grain feel that still holds, even when cutting a greasy turkey or washing the knife with soap in the sink. The shape of the handle has no odd edges, ridges or irrelevant nooks that are designed to "hold it" under slick conditions. All those crazy notches and grips I see on handles just seems to lead to blisters when I'm actually using the knife to do heavy carving for a long time. The fingers curl around the tapered handle for a very natural feel.  The roach belly also has a handy lanyard hole that will fit paracord.  The handle is approximately four inches long, a very good size for both small and large hands, and the taper accommodates it very well. The bottom of the handle is rounded, and proved itself handy for grinding up some finer tinder particles much like you would a mortar and pestle.

I was initially concerned about the joint where the finger hits the handle and the blade, but this worry proved to be superfluous after some heavy use. It would be good to point out that that little spot where the finger rubs on the blade isnít sharp or ground at any angle, its smooth, something that you wouldnít expect on any production knife.  Even the spine didnít have any 90 degree angles! Would it spark then? You bet, even with the smoother spine edges.  Even the thumb grooves were well done, and didnít abrade or agitate the thumb during push cuts in the cold.


The Krupps stainless steel held up well to the elements, and didnít rust or discolor at all in any of my day to day activities. The edge held up fantastic,  the low Rockwell made it an ease to re-sharpen, and went from shaving sharp to scary sharp in a second on the ceramic rod that came with the Spyderco Sharpmaker. This knife was a breeze to re-sharpen, though it hardly needed it. I was very impressed and happy with the edge retention of this modest steel. As mentioned earlier, it even threw sparks on the spine. Now I donít know much about 4116 Krupp Stainless, but I will say that it is a breeze to maintain, as apposed to other stainless steels, which raises more than a few eyebrows from the field aspect (think using rocks to re-sharpen).

The sheath is of the same material and construction as the Finn Bear of the same line (another great and noteworthy knife).  It rides deep on the belt, and didnít snag in the catbriers or the grape vines during excursions into brush. I love that feature in a sheath, knives that have a lot of handle sticking out seem to get caught on barb wire fences when I kneel to go through them.  The sheath is expedient, and holds the knife securely. The webbing that makes up the large loop feels a bit substandard, and the nylon on the front of the sheath did abrade a bit while I wore it working on my vehicle.


Vegetables were first on the kill list, with a skillet of stir-fry on the order. Fresh vegetables of all type were needed to make this fine Asian concoction. Over at the Missesí house, the Cold Steel Roach Belly really outdid itself. It made short work of peppers, cucumbers, and even mushrooms. I let my girlfriend use it for half a second before she said: ďWOW Joe!!! This is really cutting the peppers better than my other knives!Ē She wasnít even being sarcastic this time! After prying it from her and her roommates, I brought the Roach Belly to the parentsí house for Thanksgiving. It cut summer sausage and cheese very well, and was able to precisely cube cheese and cut bologna rounds for a fancy finger food entrťe we ate while watching football (the dish didnít last long enough to get a picture). Acorn squash, a quite resilient cucurbit, fell prey to the edge where Momís cutco pairing knife failed. Put it in writing when I say this is one of the most impressive non-kitchen kitchen knives I have ever used.  I need to go grab that Finn Bear and try it too.


 This would be a great user knife for dozens of reasons. It would be a great knife to throw in the kayak or canoe, tackle box or glove box. Give it a kydex sheath and now you are really cooking. The economical design and rugged yet easy to maintain aspect of the steel would make it a great knife to loan on a camping, hunting or scouting trip, heck, you could recommend it to some of students on the next class you teach, or better yet, bring a few as users for people to try out.  Cold Steel has turned out some great knives, but the Roach Belly and the Finn Bear really stand out in my eyes. You canít go wrong with either model. Some more economical knives like these are sure ways to make both myself and my wallet jump for joy. If this is any hint of what we can see from Cold Steel in the future, you can bet your beehive theyíll be here to stay. 

Review by Joe Flowers (aka Joezilla).
Used with permission.
Thank you Joe!


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