Lynn Thompson – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 434)
Lynn Thompson, Cold Steel Knives founder and former President, joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 434 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Lynn grew up the son of a farmer in rural Brazil before moving to the United States, learning English and how to hunt.
In addition to being the founder and public-facing president of Cold Steel, Thompson is martial artist, hunter, survivalist, shooter, and master at arms. In 1980, Lynn founded Cold Steel with the mission to bring the “world’s strongest, sharpest knives” to market.
Lynn is a lifelong martial artist with extensive training in Wing Chun, Jun Fan, JKD, Savate, Silat, BJJ, Muay Thai, as well as Western, Japanese, and Filipino martial arts. Thompson holds the rank of Master at Arms for this martial skill across multiple disciplines: empty hand fighting, edged weapons combatives, and tactical firearms techniques.
After 40+ years of innovating in the edge weapons field, Lynn embarked on a new chapter, selling the company to GSM and carefully ensuring it is in good hands with Keith Beam.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content. You also can support the Knife Junkie channel with your next knife purchase. Find our affiliate links at theknifejunkie.com/knives.Finally! I had the privilege of speaking with Lynn Thompson, Cold Steel Knives founder and former president, on Episode 434 of #theknifejunkie #podcast. This is a 'must watch' episode if you love knives! Click To Tweet
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Welcome to the Knife Junky Podcast to your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the knife junkie Demarco.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the knife junkie podcast. I'm Bob Demarco. On this edition of the show, I have the great honor of speaking with 1 of my knife world heroes, Lynn Thompson. Lynn founded cold steel in 1980 with the goal of creating the world's strongest, sharpest knives. His debut model was the master Tanto, the first American Tanto with a faceted tip to hit the market, and it hit like a ton of bricks. Over the next 40 years, Lynn would leverage his innovative spirit, martial arts training, and love for historical weaponry to grow cold steel into a one stop edged weapon super shop. That's what I'm calling it. Need a tough as nails folder for everyday carry? Cold steel. Need a combat or rescue knife that won't quit? Cold Steel. Need a throwing spear or historically accurate battle ready 2 handed greatsword. Who else, but cold steel? You know I could go on forever about cold steel and its knives, but I'll spare you and let Lynn tell us all about that. But first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, hit the Patient Bell and share the show. Lots of cool fans out cold steel fans out there you could share this show with. And as always, if you wanna help support the show, you can go to Patreon. Quickest way to do that is to scan QR code on your screen or go to the knifejunkie.com/patreon. Again, that's the knifejunkie.com/patreon.
Do you use terms like handle to blade ratio, walk and talk, hair pop and sharp, or tank like? Then you are a dork, and a knife junkie.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:46]:
Lynn, welcome to the Night Junkie podcast. It's a great pleasure to have you, sir. Thanks for having me. It's a joy to be here. Well, You know, it was a it was a great moment meeting you outside Blade Show this year. Blade show 2023 in Atlanta. I was leaving figuring out if I was gonna walk back to my apartment, taking Uber. I was just kind of reeling in that afterglow, and I saw you talking with Lou Fontaine and I came over. It was great meeting you. And, man, I was I was impressed with how open and warm you were.
Lynn Thompson [00:02:18]:
Well, thank you. I I always try to remember that I love all my customers. I do love all my customers, and I I try to be friendly.
Bob DeMarco [00:02:24]:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I would I would imagine, especially, your swamp You know, to to knife collectors and knife junkies such as myself, people such as yourself are rock stars. I mean, So when we we get a chance to meet the people who dream up these things that we love and we love to collect, it's it's it's always a pleasure. I'm gonna start this interview which which could go vast in all directions because of your experience and because of my experience with your knives. But I wanna start with a philosophical question and just ask you, what is it about knives? What is it about knives that turns people into collectors even when they don't have a use for a sword or a machete or a survival knife.
Lynn Thompson [00:03:06]:
Well, if you look back into our history, Our knife is probably one of the oldest weapons or tools we have. So it's embedded in our culture. from 1000 years ago, and it's in every book. It's in every movie. If you go to, like, Barnes And Noble, You'll in the science fiction and fantasy section, you'll see a 1000 several thousand books with a knife or a sword on the cover. It's just everywhere in our society. And a lot of people never get to handle a real sword or knife, but they always dream about it. And then they're always looking for a chance to do that. And then when they do, they're pretty fascinated by it. I think it's the fact that it's both an awesome tool and an awesome weapon. It has the porting to be used for good or for evil. you know, when something's really sharp like that and pointed and slightly heavy and you know it can make big cuts, There's something fascinating about that.
Bob DeMarco [00:04:09]:
I think there's something very appealing about the the ability to be self reliant, and there's nothing You know, there's there's no more foundational tool to self reliance than a knife. And, you know, you can see that play out across the knives that you designed And then and then also looking at them historically, those were survival knives for that that day. Let's let's talk about cold steel and and how you got this started. Tell me a little bit about where you came from and and and how and why you translated this love for knives into such a thriving company.
Lynn Thompson [00:04:45]:
Well, I was born in Fortilays of Brazil, and then we moved into the vast interior of Northeastern Brazil. And we lived about 48 hours by Jeep from the nearest big town in very remote areas. I grew up in a Adobe Hut with a foam leaf and sometimes even clay tiles ceiling just poles though and no running water, no electricity, So that's why I'll go camping. My idea of camping today is a 5 star hotel with 24 hour room service. I've capped plenty, and I'm willing to go and do without anything, like, when I'm hunting and I was hunting in Tanzania one time, and we were on the track of Buffalo. And, I mean, I slept for 3 days on the ground with just my pack, and that was it. So, yeah, I'm willing to do without anything to get what I want. But haven't lived in rural and remote areas without any future comforts. Not even pot potable water yet, but we had to boil all of our water. And, yeah, that's not my idea of a good time anymore. So let's see what else. So I came to Back to the United States and I learned to speak English and Kalamaz in Michigan. Those white kids were pretty hard on me. There was no one that spoke another language in our school system, and so my parents quit speaking Portuguese, so I have a similar quicker. And In hindsight, that was a mistake because I've lost most of my Portuguese, but it did allow us to fit in quicker in school. And that's where I saw snow for the first time, and I had to get acclimated to it. I've I've totally different climate and a totally different diet. And we learned a lot in Michigan, and then we moved to California, and moved to Wilmington, which is next to Long Beach and close to Torrance. And then I moved from there to Chico, California, and then from Chico back to the Bay Area and Richmond area, and then down to the Valley and Los Angeles area.
Bob DeMarco [00:06:57]:
And that's and that's where you founded the company. Right? I remember well, my oldest cold steel here says, made in Japan by cold steel in Ventura, California?
Lynn Thompson [00:07:09]:
Yes. We started the company in Ventura, California. in the my real estate office, and I had a a ten by twelve foot room set. I put the orders in three different boxes. and fill them once a week. So, yeah, started out very small. Most people told me I would never be successful. I remember I was remember the Ventura Health Club, and I was showing my little push tagger. We called it Urban Powell even back then. and had a leather sheath and a key ring. And one of the gals there said that I'll never be successful, but I will never catch on. You're not gonna make me who you think you are. It was kinda depressing a little bit, but one thing I am is tenacious. So I just persevere.
Bob DeMarco [00:07:53]:
Seems like there are a lot of origin stories that have that as an element. You'll never go no way, kid. It's like, what do you know about knives? So at this time, you said Venture Health Club, which makes me think about martial arts. Were you, at this point, taking up martial arts and
Lynn Thompson [00:08:10]:
And then I wanna get back to how you were actually producing these knives even at this early stage. Well, I started boxing in 6th grade. I got Matt Fletcher's book, How to box. It's a new green book. And I studied it constantly, and I used to wear out my shoe shadow boxing. And my mama gets so mad because she just bought me a pair of shoes, and now they were they were trash to them. So I went from that to judo, and from that to water by you karate. And from WaterbyU, Karate, I went into JKT and the Filipino martial arts where I found out I didn't know anything. I had to start over again. There's been a couple of those big start over again things in my martial career. 1983, I went to the colleague camp that Dan and the staff to put on at UC Irvine. And I thought it was a tough guy. I thought it was talented. I thought I knew nothing. There were so many people there that were more talented than me. I mean, I took Bill Wallace. I don't know if you know who he is Super foot. Yeah. I took a stretching class. So I go in there and everyone starts stretching, and I got up, and I left. And he says, where are you going? I said, this is way out of my level. You know, you guys are way too advanced in stretching. For me, I knew that if I kept in there, I've just hurt myself. But I learned an awful lot there, and I learned what I didn't know. So then I really started to pursue the Filipino Marshals part. It's pretty hard. Dan and Asanto came to my business in the 8283 area with Casa Magda, who is his training partner at the time, and he put on a colleague demonstration me that was just unbelievable. He just blew me away. And at that time, he could actually slip knife thrust, and I thought, who can do that? It wasn't till about 1988 that I found out that I could slip into. It's just time and grade. You haven't just persevere, So I don't have as much talent as some other people do, but I have the tenacity and I never quit trying. And that's how I but surpass lots of people in my martial abilities because I just never quit. I just keep training. So I encourage everybody out there that that wants to be a martial artist's the tenacity will overcome talent, skill, of physical abilities. If you just keep going, you'll be surprised at how many people you'll surpass.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:24]:
I also think it's a practice that really goes pretty far in keeping you young because you're always moving your sure on your feet. That's that's one thing I've seen with, you know, family members as they age. Maybe leg coordination starts to flag a little bit. leg strength starts to flag a little bit. But when you're practicing martial arts, especially something like collie that's so footwork dependent, you're moving around your your sure on your feet in a way. And I I think Martial arts can be a sort of fountain of youth too.
Lynn Thompson [00:10:57]:
I 100% agree with you. My doctors say, biologically, I'm about thirteen younger years younger than my age. Now, if you get a good night's rest, which I really promote, you know, you need 8 to 9 hour sleep, especially if you're training a lot. And the constant physical exertion. You know? The bottom you use itself. Don't use it. You lose it.
Bob DeMarco [00:11:18]:
That's for sure. That's that sleep part that's always the sticking point for me. Getting enough sleep is is so hard these days. Alright. So you were you're you're at this at the Ventura Health Club, and you're showing off the Urban Powell push dagger. How at this point were you what was the motto your first knife? And and at this point, how are you making them?
Lynn Thompson [00:11:40]:
The Tanto came out in 1981. In 19 80, I had the Urban Powell and the Urban Skinner, 2 push knives. The owner Patagonia actually helped me. I forget how to say his last name to search in the seat. He was super nice to me, and I went through his headquarters here in Ventura. and he helped me work on the bigger push dagger with the rubber handle, introduced me to some injection molding guys where I found out about a craton. Because Kraton, the the whole knife industry uses today, the first users that I know of was the tachymac golf grip. And I was introduced to that golf grip, and I golfed it. It felt kinda sticky and tacky to the touch. I said, ah, this is this is gonna be the bump. the bomb for a knife grip. And today, crate down on our TPR, whatever you wanna call it, is all over the industry. it all came from that taki Mac Off that no one was using it before me.
Bob DeMarco [00:12:35]:
So how did it come to your mind? I am gonna start this company. And and how did you in that day right now it's relatively easy for someone like myself. If I come up with a design, and the money to prototype it, I can send it to 11 of many great companies, manufacturers in China who can make it for me mock it up for I don't imagine back in 1981 or 79 or whatever that it was that easy. How did it work back then?
Lynn Thompson [00:13:04]:
Well, I had some prototypes made. There was a nightmare cap named Alex Collins. He made a couple push dagger gore types for me that were absolute shit. I mean, I they were the worst quality. I couldn't believe a customer might maybe did that. But anyways, I made some different prototypes, then I tried to get the mate in the United States. One of my friends raced with had a huge machine shop on his ranch, and we tried to make stuff there for about a year, and that was really slow going. and very difficult. And then I found line precision and they started making Really good tantos for me. We didn't have an injection mold, then we had an epoxy mold. So the first handles were out of Kraton, but out of an epoxy, not a steel mold. Because steel molds were, like, I don't know, 7, $8000 back then. That was a tremendous amount of money. I mean, if I'm blanking that cost $7000 back then. and so that was a real reach for me. So I started making stuff in America, and we just struggled horribly. In 1984, when I finally went to Japan, it was about $800,000 of debt. Trying to make stuff in the mirror. So I finally got production in Japan, and by then though, 10th of hit had been knocked up by the Tennessee night mafia.
Bob DeMarco [00:14:32]:
Lynn Thompson [00:14:34]:
Well, I I don't wanna name names, but you can think of all the people that came out of the southeast and that area, that copied much stuff. Well, for instance, Taylor, Taylor Cutler. Mhmm. I mean, they set up a whole factory in Japan, Taylor or Sainto, with another company, just a coffee cold steel. cantas. So in 1984, when I finally got production, there was a fast amount of knives. So my Kansas, I think, cost a $130, and they were selling for, like, 30 bucks with a a cast aluminum handle, a little stuffed tank. that they didn't mean that the lunar handle. Mhmm. So it was the real struggle. So I I really lost the the first TAM to hit to to the knife mafia. It took it took all of cream.
Bob DeMarco [00:15:21]:
So this is this is what we're talking about here. The this in particular, this faceted tip This was something that you pretty much innovated. If if I've if I've got that correct, you most definitely brought it to prominence here in the United States and in the world. Tell tell me about the the design of this and how what the inspiration was. If I'm intellectually
Lynn Thompson [00:15:47]:
accurate and and responsible, I will say Bob Lung probably beat me out with a similar tip like that. But He had a lot of story in his knife. I was working on it at the same time, and this knife had a lot of curve didn't have a guard, didn't have a pommel, there was a lot of things that I thought were lacking when I came out with my account though. And, yes, I I stead vastly promoted that in 1988, I'd spent $3,000,000 promoting that knife. I mean, I went all over the country saying, Why has it got such a funny tip like that? What's that for? What what why does this knife cost a $130? I mean, I broke that over a $100 knife barrier, and everyone followed me. Once I established that you could get a a $130 for a knife, everyone just flooded in after me. but I was the the point of the spear, if you will, or the icebreaker. I've always been the icebreaker.
Bob DeMarco [00:16:44]:
flowing through. So with with me, I had just started a aikido. I was in high school. I just leave you know, just about to graduate high school. And at the same time, I was getting into martial arts, and at first, it was aikido and the the Japanese aesthetic. And then my buddy, who is into knives, told me about this knife, and and he he showed me pictures, and I was like, wow. That looks like a samurai sword. The CIA uses it. They pound it through car doors. It's the real deal. And and the story that my buddy told me about this, I guess he heard some of your marketing. through one of the catalogs at the time. Now I don't remember which one. Maybe US Cavalry or something like that. He he got me hyped about it, and it I saved up. And, yes, it was $130. I remember that. At the Remington Knife store at Randall Park Mall, outside of Cleveland. Who are expensive? Can't do it now. But -- No. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just a So how did you know that you had something? What was the response? I mean, obviously, you took off. So how did that happen?
Lynn Thompson [00:17:51]:
Well, I persevered and used tenacity. I kept going to all the gun shows. Soldier fortune helped me a lot. That advertising that magazine. I went to the conventions. It was a good opportunity for me to demonstrate the Tanto. 1 year, I was on a couple of years, I was on national television because my mom was watching it, and I got some flack from her about it. I'll tell you about that, not my ear, but I was breaking pumpkins with the scope pressure polymer and live demonstrations, showing how how hard it can hit and what you could do with it, the impact forces, and showing how good the grip is, how that it how it fits your hand and it was designed to the the combiature hand was narrow a little narrower at the butt end to to accommodate the shorter fingers, a little bit bigger in the middle, and fully checkered all the way around in a flat and oval shape how you could deliver tremendous downward force with it. There was a martial artist that came by watching me doing this, and he wanted to one up knee. So he said, I'll break one of those with my with my my bare fist, you know, just a hammer fist. So I picked out a nice green pumpkin and set it there, and he got it in his stance, and he loaded it up, and he came down. Ow. With a mighty mighty, mighty hammer fist. He broke his hand. Marco right here on his hand. I knew see, the thing that he had missed out was that skull crushing pommel was breaking through all that hard line was the ice breaker that might just go through. So that's that's the advantage of that screw crushing combo to deliver tremendous blows with it. That's why it's tapered and semi pointed. I don't like too much of a point on a pommel because I don't like digging into me anywhere. Yes. I don't want it to, like, break the skin or anything like that. So so much really sharp pointed pommels I stay away from. But I wanted that tapered shape so that all the force is concentrated in a small area and you can deliver Optimid as close gets soft tissue or even bone.
Bob DeMarco [00:19:48]:
Well, I think there's a great power in that kind of demonstration. I mean, at this point, in in 2023, it's a it's a form of sedation and entertainment for knife people who are cruising YouTube to watch people doing different kind of cut tests and that kind of thing. But we didn't really see much of that before the proof videos, and I wanna talk about those for a second and and how they impacted your business. But before I do, I just have to give an anecdote. My brother, he's four years older than I am. And and he's he's also a cold steel fan, and I texted him. I'm gonna be talking to Lynn Thompson. You wanna say anything? And he just sent back in all caps. Thank you. And then I and I was like, anything more specific? And he said, yes. Thank you for coming out with Holden Chris Nives. And I said that is a great
Lynn Thompson [00:20:35]:
yeah. So from my brother, thank you for coming out with cold steel Chris Knives. The late Joker Dova is an ice maker to help me so much in my career, and I wanna give him a big shout out. and thank you. He made the first pair of Christmas for me in 1988. I still have one of them. So I've been into Christmas for a long time. You know, I tried with the naga Chris Thorpe, but it didn't catch on. And so I came out with the Chris highlight. and I think that's been pretty successful.
Bob DeMarco [00:21:06]:
Yeah. And the and the Voyager too. I mean, those blades are amazing and I can't imagine they're easy to mass produce and and because I know they're they're not easy to produce one at a time, and they're So I think cold steel does an amazing job with those, Chris. It's very impressive. But what what I was really getting to was I'm remembering 1 Christmas. We're all home, and my brother and I threw in the DVD, the proof DVD, and we're laying there on the ground watching it. Oh, that's so cool. I want a warhammer. Oh, that's so cool, this and that. And my dad walks in and he says, what is this crap? That was his, like that was how he entered the room when we were watching TV. What what is this crap? And then and then 5 minutes later, he's sitting there watching too, you know, the so those proof videos not only were entertaining for kids like me who really wanted those swords couldn't afford them and that kind of thing. But they must have done great for selling your knives because you get to see in real time the kind of real use and abuse these knives can take. It's one thing to say I make the sharpest most durable knives. It's another thing to prove it. Well, you know, they say a picture's worth a thousand words, but a demonstration's worth a thousand pictures.
Lynn Thompson [00:22:18]:
So how could I get that out, our message out? And that was a real roadblock for us from 1980 to about 1996 when I first came out with the first video. In 1988, I was the first one at the shot show. Never used a television to demonstrate products. We had a big product demonstration of the Trail Masterknife with the Master Smith Dan Rabii. And we played that on a TV, and we had just huge crowds around our boot the entire time, and that was the year the trail master really took off. and I sold so many of them. I paid off all of my debt in 1 year to stop that one knife. And from that, I kept looking for ways to actually demonstrate the product when we tried hard in our catalogs to make them as interesting and fill them with photographs. a good photography and stuff, but it wasn't till the DHS videos came out that we could really start to get our message out. And then when DVDs came out, that really made it possible because the DHSs were so expensive to buy that I couldn't afford to give them away a mask. I think they cost 5 or $6 even more per piece even when I bought them a thousands at a time. So I gave away thousands, but I couldn't give away 100 of 1000. Then at night and I think it was somewhere around 19 so close to 2000. Somewhere in
Bob DeMarco [00:23:47]:
Lynn Thompson [00:23:50]:
We came out with another proof DVD, and it was that first one in DVD, and that really gave us a big jump.
Bob DeMarco [00:23:58]:
Great thing about that when you went to DVD, obviously, were the chapters, you know, and well, I guess that was the good thing about DVD, but it was exciting now to see in the menu, all the different knives, cold steel was coming out with that year. Let me ask you this. With all of that testing, you know, you've you you taped it, you filmed it, you made these videos. But, obviously, there's a lot of other testing that happens in the r and d phase before you're ready to show it to the world. Yeah. So how do you what how did you come up with tests and and you know, for the different purposes. Maybe some some knives are more tactical, some knives are more survival oriented,
Lynn Thompson [00:24:39]:
or So how did you come up with these tests? And what was that like? Well, Master Smith Dan Ragini had to begin with with Sony. I met him in 1983, and he actually came to workforce later And the the American blades of this society at that time was doing a lot testing on knives, and I was really interested and fascinated by that too. And I it was always my desire to emulate the quality and the performance of those knives that they were doing. So I was the first, I think, production manufacturer that ever tried to strive to to match the performance of a hand forged custom knives. We took that desire to make the world stronger, sharpest knives into every aspect of our business. So even when I make a kitchen knife, I'm trying to make the strongest, most durable best value kitchen knife that I can. And we do a lot of testing even on those. For instance, I found that if you wanna hard to use kitchen knife, there's a limit to how thin you can grind the edge, and we find that we found the optimum thickness for really hard use. So we did a lot of testing like that. I know that in the very early part of our career with Dan Rag, he was working on a tanto. This is where we learned to take the edge to the point off and not thinking flying out of the bice and cut his thumb off. And Dan was able to take it to the hospital this severed they reattached it perfectly. Oh, nice. use of it again. which was the doctor said that that night that had been that sharp, those tendons and nerves wouldn't have been cut so cleanly, and they couldn't have reattached them as as well. But that's what we learned the hard way. Like that. You take the point off and you take the edge off, especially the edge and the point, from all the way off so that They're blunt, blunt, blunt, and that will save you a little bit. Also, we work start wearing a lot more protective equipment, but Yeah. There was a tremendous amount of testing on everything.
Bob DeMarco [00:26:41]:
How much of that testing once once you had locked into a product design or or or I I guess I should say an idea for a knife. This is gonna be a Tonto. It's combat oriented. This and that. How much did the testing actually change the designs? Is there a feedback that goes back and forth?
Lynn Thompson [00:27:01]:
Well, my my wife always said, why can't we make cool, sexy, dramatic knives like everybody else. I said, because they don't cut, and they don't stab very well. And they just look cool, but you can't do anything with them. So we tried to make them very practical from the very beginning, and I would take almost all the stuff overseas to test. for instance, the ultimate hunter, holding alt 1 under right now. I took that to Australia, for 3 weeks, and I killed the Big Bowl Buffalo. We skinned it entirely all with the same edge. We never sharpened it. We skinned it. We cut its head off. We taped it, and we quartered it all with that ultimate hunt. Now was it dull when I was done? Yes. It was dull. I won't say as dull as a butter knife, but it was dull. But I just wanted to show what the knife can really do in extremis. So you can use that knife to do almost any outdoor activity you could think, especially anything that has to do with hunting and improve that. You know? When you're fiddling through the vertebrae, trying to get the head I want to see if the point would snap off. Lot of knives, you know, you'll snap the point off doing that. There's it's it's just a hard use test. So we did a lot of that. The Trail Boss acts, the Special Forces Shell. I took all those things to Australia, and I used them Hart. I'll tell a story on myself that was pretty embarrassing at the time. I was trying to cut this tree down with a new Trail Boss. acts the new first shipment or first delivery. And I was swinging away and chopping and chopping and chopping and chopping and chopping And finally, I got it down. And I was like, looking at the accent, I was all disgusted, and they said, that's the hardest wood we have in Australia. No. starts with a d, starts with a d g or something like that. Yeah. Remember, but it's a super, super hardwood. And then I felt a little bit better about myself because I am a fair ham with an accent. I thought, why am I laboring to cut this thing down? You know, this is a shirt. I also used it to dispatch a few animals with their I remember there's an old ramp that was tottering along, and one of the ratcheters there said going, put that thing out. Its memory would quickly dispatch them with the drill boss. And so I've tested that thing in lots of ways that other people wouldn't test it. Particularly, I think that almost everything should be a weapon. Everything to me is a weapon first. And if you make it good enough to save your life, or say, your customers like, there's no higher standard than that. So that was the highest standard we always meant to is, you know, if this was that my only weapons would have failed me.
Bob DeMarco [00:29:44]:
That is that's part of how I view it too. Everything is a weapon, especially when it comes to knives. And your Never unarmed mantra has always rung in my head. You know, even when I'm at home with my family, especially when I'm at home with my family, I make sure that I'm ready to go. So I I I do appreciate that philosophy. There are not too many knife companies that are willing to who who have that philosophy or are willing to admit it. But but your your whole story about about beheading quartering capping that buffalo with the 1 knife made me think of steels and heat treat and how people like myself who are so deep into the realm of collecting knives and how we get wrapped up in in steel you know, steel names and numbers. And and and I will readily admit there are plenty of people who use their knives way more than I do and are more qualified talk about heat treating steels than I, especially considering I like like you consider it a weapon first, you might not need that sort of durability. But cold steel has always been known for taking steels like a u s 8 a, which was kinda people look down their nose at, but the way cold steel handled it. He treated it. It was always performing amazingly.
Lynn Thompson [00:31:11]:
Well, let's talk about 88. That's interesting you say that. Okay.
Lynn Thompson [00:31:16]:
was the premium seal that you could get in Japan and the eighties. And I've heard about 10 a, but they wouldn't work with it because they said it was too hard. Too hard to grind, too hard to polish. It wasn't till later, they were actually forced into using these better skills. The Japanese resisted that because they wanted something that was more manufacturing friendly. But It was a really good steel. It's this properly heat treated. It holds a pretty decent edge. It's very, very tough, very resistant to breaking. And there was a there's a famous nightmare. I won't say their name that wrecked the reputation of 8 a. They've told that their products for About 7 year period were 8 a steel when they were only 420 j. Mhmm. The 420 j, the maximum hardness is from 5455. And that's where this thing about a a won't hold an edge. Didn't come from people using cold steels a a. It came from others. I won't say their names because Yeah. I have other better other things to do with being lawsuits. Although I've just won my 17th lawsuit, Horacio. Oh my god.
Bob DeMarco [00:32:24]:
Wow. So that's interesting because yes. Steele's it's it's a tricky thing because you you want to, as a collector, will say, you or as a user, you want the best deal you can get for your money. But, really, if you're like me, you're relying on what other people are telling you is the best deal and the best he treats because I'm not taking all of these knives and banging on them outside and surviving with them. That's part of why I collect them because I know they're capable of it. You know? That's part of my little internal thing. But but we wanna know that we're getting the most for our money. There was a time I don't know, maybe 10 years ago when you switched to XHP and then a little bit to s 35. Yeah. And then all s 35. Yeah. Tell me about what went into that decision to upgrade the steels.
Lynn Thompson [00:33:15]:
Well, we were getting a lot of comments about not using the higher end powder and steels, and I tested them and found that they had real advantages, decided to make the jump. from mostly 8 a to xhp and then s 35vn. I I like xhp really well. but I couldn't get it. It was a 9 month, sometimes 12 month delivery cycle, and that was really, really hard to work with. So we switched to s 35 p n, which had like a 4 to 5 months in the recycle, and it's locked or manufacturing friendly. Yeah. Yeah. I remember that thing. I think it was around 2013 or so that we made that switch, and we sold off all of the 88 inventory and We still use 88. It's still awesome, but we use it on knives that we think are more appropriate for. If the knife has a roll, high edge retention expectation, we wanna use, you know, a better hotter steel. When three v came around and I got to see what three v could do, I will assume on that too.
Bob DeMarco [00:34:23]:
I remember feeling it was a very bittersweet move when he moved because I was like, now I have to get everything in the new steel. I'm not getting rid of the old stuff, but now I gotta get it all back, but in the new steel. And I didn't too much. There's so many things I wanna ask you, but here's something that's -- That's where -- that is so central to why I love cold steel and and and you at at the helm was this kind of thing. And I'm not just talking about the audacious size, which is awesome. It's the fact that you are responsible for making my favorite historical folder in a modernized version. You you take the Navajo, you turn it into a 3 knife series, a 6 knife series, because you've got the the g 10 versions. You you make reproductions of historical swords. Everything that you do, like like the Bowie's, the Laredo and the and the nachas based in historical designs, that is what Keith always brought me back to cold steel. were these amazing historical designs. Tell me about your love of historical blades. Do you have a collection of them and how you would decide for the next product year, I'm gonna make a Navajo or I'm gonna make a Chris or how that work. Well, I bought my I built my first Nevada in 1984.
Lynn Thompson [00:35:47]:
was the first night that I made in Japan, first full night. And I tested and it failed. The lock wasn't strong enough for my test. So I never put it in production. If you're going to make a knife that big, you have to have a lot that matches the levers that you can yet with that blade, and you have to have a lock that can stand up to the hard use of something that's, you know, 14, 16 inches long when it's open. And people think that that seven half inch is spot as big, but, actually, a lot of navonghaus are much bigger than that. And traditionally, they were quite often worn at the Sash or the cummerbund. And they they would wear One's when they're open, they were 2 feet long sometimes. And I'm glad that you enjoy the Nubaha because I've studied the Nubaha for a long time at quite a few books on it. And I finally wanted I always looking for a gap in the market. No one made a good Nevada. except some of the guys in Spain -- Mhmm. -- and I gave them credit. They were making them modern ones go back in the eighties. I think I bought my First one at the Soldier Fortune convention is 8283, someone there. I remember I had a white handle and a nickel silver bolster And when I tested, I broke it too. I'm always most disappointed that I I break this stuff. But, yeah, I've been interested in that for a long time. there's been a couple books out. Forget what the guy's name is, but he's a little shorter guy, and he came out with a book on fighting with the
Bob DeMarco [00:37:24]:
Lynn Thompson [00:37:25]:
Yes. Yeah. I remember that book. So I bought I buy every book that I can find on night fighting. See, when I started cold steel, And I started making fighting knives. I said, I'm gonna become an expert to fight with knives. I'm not gonna be a phony like all of my competitors and make all these tactical knives. I didn't know how to use them. I always say the only thing that my competitors can use a knife for is to butter their bread with. They don't have any I just am amazed that all these people going around all the shows, they're they're pumping and peacocking like they're all tactical knife fighting experts now have all this vast experience, and they were all the special operator close. You know, I've got the pants, blouses to their boots sometimes, and I just laugh because none of them have paid the price for me to learn how to fight with knife. And there is, as you know, a huge price to pay. Well, yeah. -- have you broken? How many bruises all over your body? many times have you had your lip smashed? How many times have you had your nose busted? You know? I've had it all.
Bob DeMarco [00:38:32]:
At least you get to tell people this this you should see the other guy. This happened during knife fighting class. And people are like, okay.
Lynn Thompson [00:38:39]:
I I was fighting yesterday, and I usually just wear jacket glasses because if I don't mind saying so, I have a super defense. And I was I don't know where I was, but I moved into the blade and hit me right in the mouth, smashed this lip into that tooth, I was moving kind of away from it so I didn't get to full force, but it just reminded me again, hey, there's a price you'd pay to learn all this stuff and be good at it. Yeah. Yeah. No doubt. -- with just aluminum knives. There's I don't need a shot nice to know if I've been hit. If you get hit with aluminum, there's no doubt where whether you got stabbed or cut or whatever. You know? The proof of you'll see in the shower the next day in the produce Yeah. That and that's your badge of honor that you get to you know, that that shows that you put a little bit of that time in. They don't understand that that there's there's a huge price to be paid. I would say, I'm not arrogant. I know. I talk like like I deal with authority because I paid the price to really learn. What what works and what doesn't work? There's a price to be paid.
Bob DeMarco [00:39:43]:
I think that before now I'm going out on a limb here because The cold steel folders that I had, the Voyagers that I had before you brought Andrew Demko on and the triadlock, were amazingly strong, like my Elombre and my Vacaero Grande and all the and all the the pretrial ad lock backlogs were very, very strong. And then you bring in Andrew Demko, who also has a love of historical knives and and a martial arts background.
Lynn Thompson [00:40:11]:
Is it genius?
Bob DeMarco [00:40:12]:
And and yeah. And and he brings, like, an incredible lock to the company and some just absolutely beautiful designs.
Lynn Thompson [00:40:21]:
My commission that lock. I was gonna I was gonna ask you about the lock. I didn't decide it, but I had it work on it. I said, we need a lock that beats what we have now. Because we've gone as far as we could with the rock a lot. Although Andrew and his geniuses has improved the rock a lot quite a bit, for instance, cold seals double safe hunter. Under my watch, deadlock would pass all of our tests without him engaging the safety. So he's approved the rocker lot. quite a bit. But at that time, I remember our 5 inch blade would hold about 90 to Â£110. and most of the holders would need to hold 30 to Â£40. So it was probably twice as strong as any other lock on the market. but did pitch me came out with their lock, axis lock, and that was pretty badass. And I I was driven to try to surpass them.
Bob DeMarco [00:41:16]:
And you did.
Lynn Thompson [00:41:18]:
Well, these fingers, these are precious. that pressures me after the precious view. This finger here, this trigger finger, I spent probably a quarter $1,000,000 educating this finger, just an ammunition. And I know there's pianists and guitarists and musicians and carpenters and all kinds of people that use their hands every day, and you lose your finger or have it disabled because your folding life folds when you're doing something, that's no good. Don't wait on. So I've always been conscious about cutting your fingers off with the mic. Because especially when you're fighting with a folder, I talk about this all the time. The side is used. The back of the plate is used. The edge is used. So I'll take pressure here. Sometimes people actually hit it. Well, actually move things aside with it because sometimes I can't turn the edge from this side. fast enough to gauge on that side. So I'll just took my wrist that way as I step. Sometimes I'll I'll get caught and I'll have to lip with it, sometimes off the slack with it. So how strong this connection is and how strong that lock is is vitally, vitally, vitally important. especially when you post fixed plates. So there's a it's a there's a really big deal. Now, most people don't give a crap about that because Fighting with the nicest last thing they ever think about doing, and it should be the last thing you should do if you could possibly avoid it. It's just enormously dangerous, but When you when you're down to using your folding knife to defend yourself with, it better be the best that you can get. It better have the highest performance the the best strength, the weight ratio, all those things, it better be the best. If you value your life.
Bob DeMarco [00:42:59]:
Well, I I okay. Just I feel like the advent of the triadlock to the market itself changed the market a little bit, and this is something I'm thinking about only now as speaking about it, but it makes sense to me. And that is that before the triadlock, every it was the overbuilt thing was happening people were building overbuilt knives, and and and that tends towards the tactical. So there was this kinda loose bin of what is a tactical folder And then and then the triad lot comes around comes around, and it's kind of proven indisputably that it is so incredibly strong that if you're actually gonna use a folder as a as a fighting knife. It should probably be one of these triads. And and at that point, I feel like people started saying, okay. Well, we're kinda EDC, actually. We're we're we're not really tactical. We we use some of those aesthetics, but, you know, hey. Hey. We're not fighting, you know, we're not there there seemed to be a big distancing for some of the market from the tactical self defense side of things.
Lynn Thompson [00:44:02]:
I agree. But you you'll see companies that have this EDC line or I would call the a less aggressive or milder looking line of knives, but then they still try to enter the tactical market. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the thought of having to use a knife or soft defense. So they want to gravitate towards that. I got a lot of pushback in the knife industry from always being the point of the spear. And I'll tell you where it really came out and promised we're we're talking about this. softer approach in 1996 at the inaugural meeting of the knife and tool instead of what is American knife and tool institute. Yeah. Institute. Right. That was haven't hit the blade show. So I was at the front row with my wife, and unless the assist was there from Mitch made, and sound blazer, and we're talking about the direction. And I believe it was less the assistant said, well, we don't wanna be like the NRA We don't want all these fighting knives. We don't wanna present ourselves for self defense and all this stuff, and everyone bagged on fighting knives. a police officer pitched in too. And finally, I got up and said, hey. Wait a minute. I said, you go out there on that show floor. and look at all the knives that are double edged, they're boeys, they're clippets, they're tenders. They're all these fighting knots. If you take those out of the knife and the shape, it'll collapse. there won't be any because people will pay more for a weapon than they will for a tool. So I stood up for that and I was really pillared for it Yeah. At one time, South Glasser even told me I was the Black Hat in the knife industry. If there's you said, busted by the federal government. Right? You had to pay a $400,000 fine, which I've never even been arrested. So who's the black hat?
Bob DeMarco [00:45:52]:
Wow. Well, a lot of us, on on our end of things, the knife industry, the knife world, the knife community is a very open and friendly place, but We don't see the business side. We're not in the business side, most of us. So I think it's probably just, you know, like any other business. as as far as that goes. But when you stood up for fighting knives and What was it was it more about people not was it more about the knife industry trying to be accepted in a more broad way? And that's
Lynn Thompson [00:46:24]:
okay. See, the thing I was tactical and tactical wasn't cool. And then like I said, I've been to the point of the skier for a long time. I took a lot of the the religion and the hate, if you will -- Mhmm. -- that people had. about me presenting knives as tactical, but that's what they are. I don't care what your EDC folder is. if you're pressed in the corner and it's gonna be a lot better than figuring out, so you will use it if you have to use it. There's no other choice. And I guess, I didn't put some food around it, and that's what they didn't like. I didn't put a lot of sugar and frosting on my product, the way I marked it.
Bob DeMarco [00:47:10]:
And people didn't like that. And and I think you know, while we were talking about the proof videos a little bit earlier, those were out at least 15 years before forged and fire. one of the greatest shows ever. Thank you. Thank you. I love that show. But, you know, that show made it Deragher to see a a a dead pig bean cut. That's that's how you test the blade. But but when you were doing it, I feel like a lot of that controversy surrounding you for a a time. It melted away from my perspective, but a lot of the controversy surrounding you was oh, you know, cutting pigs and and, you know, smashing cars. This isn't what we use knives for. You know? Like, stop at mal Ninja. And I was like, yeah, this guy could mal Ninja you, like
Lynn Thompson [00:47:58]:
anyway. I love that one. Someone calls me a Mal Ninja. Yeah. Come to my gym and let's see who's the mall named John.
Bob DeMarco [00:48:06]:
But I think some of that controversy was around those proof videos, and Now that is a totally accepted form of testing and showing people how you do the testing. Well, it's interesting you brought that up because
Lynn Thompson [00:48:19]:
Again, I was the icebreaker going before all the other ships. The proof videos of spawn 5 TV shows, and I get to get a check from any of them. For instance, the cutting the the pigs and stuff like that, I got a lot of crap from that in Europe, I've got a lot of crap in the United States about it. For instance, smoking mountain night works My friend, Kevin Pipes there. He was a good friend of mine. I really like him. He helped me a lot in the 2 1000 We've sent him 400,000 DVDs to distribute with everyone that ordered a knife of him won't fall. but there was a stipulation. I hadn't take out all the meat and pig cutting from the DVDs to edit them because they thought it was gonna be too offensive. clear back then. So all those DVDs went out there, desensitized enough people for the deadliest warrior and fortune fire to use my stuff. For instance, most people don't know that when that deadliest warrior came out, I sent them my catalog. I I made all the offers to help them with weapons. They ended up using all my training partners. All through that series is anti Delaunches Loop La Fontaine, Jason Het, all kinds of my regular training partners who are in that. Same thing with deadliest warrior, Dave Baker. He used to I'll be in our videos. He used to do prototypes and work with us all the time. Yeah. Where do you think all this stuff came from? Did you see a forged fire? It all started with me. I know that sounds bragging, but it's it's just ir irrefutably true.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:01]:
Yeah. I mean, you know, it it it's a fact as a fact as a fact. Tell me a little bit about your ranch. I I have I have grown Jealous, not envious. I'm happy you have it, but I'd love to a ranch just like that too. Cold steel ranch looks like an amazing place. for you to unwind and get your, you know, really practice your craft and and do the things you love. If people don't know what I'm talking about, there are many, many videos now online of testing of various cold steel products. at Aetland's gorgeous ranch, and just lots of beautiful space and and targets set up and cutting stations and everything. That's like a playground. Tell me about that.
Lynn Thompson [00:50:45]:
Well, I bought the ranch 5 years ago for my wife. My wife is followed my star for our whole married life, and she's been a very good equestrian. She shows in western disciplines, and she's a really good writer. And she'd boarded at this ranch for 23 years, and she really wanted to buy it and own it. So I decided to give her a dream and I bought it for her. That's pretty nice. About 20 two acres, it's totally flat, which in our area, flat, round, is precious. I could have bought 6000 acres for the same price just about, but it's all hillside -- Right. -- hill. Yeah. grays a few cattle, you know, the the carrying capacity isn't super high here. So there's not much I could do with hillsides. But with flat wing, the flat ground was important to us, and it has 22 enormous big houses on it and a bunch of rentals and What I like about it is to have a really nice gymnasium that's about 24100 square feet, and I also have a ninja cap. What I call my ninja cap where, like you mentioned, we have a lot of targets set up, and I could throw my spear and shoot my bows. shoot air guns, shoot pro guns, and do outside fighting with pull arms and big swords.
Bob DeMarco [00:52:07]:
It it seems to me like the kind of place where ideas are likely to germinate just because of the nature of what you're doing. I've always had a gym in
Lynn Thompson [00:52:18]:
cold steel since since yesterday. I think I put my first 2 days in in the 1983 or 84. I had a small gym in my building. And as I moved up in sides of buildings, my gym expanded to where my last building on Nicole Street. I had a really big two and a half story. Gym was all set up for DVDs, had wall to wall mats, had graph with mats. It had every kind of training apparatus you could have. It had $80,000 worth of handmade aluminum swords and knives and daggers and stuff to dream with. So out of that gymnasium comes lots of ideas. I I read constantly. I have the largest library in the knife industry, almost about 26100 volumes of knives and swords and martial arts and stuff like that. out of the reading and out of the watching and and and movies and stuff, I constantly get inspired to to to to try something new So I'll make aluminum prototypes and we'll fight with them and see how they perform and see if we want to make that or not. So things I read and things I I see inspire me all the time. I'm always thinking about it and I don't think other people think the same way I do.
Bob DeMarco [00:53:35]:
There is people that I know that I've known in life who are focused on something and they think about it all the time. Like, you know, my martial arts teachers, for instance, they're that's that's what they do, and that's what what's in their head all the time, and it shows in their movement.
Lynn Thompson [00:53:54]:
That's you. You, Ron Blickie. my trading partner for many years. If he's standing still, he'll be doing jack hook prominent nations. He'll be moving. he's constantly even his his martial arts focus is still, I would say, ten times higher than mine. The mine's pretty high. but he is like totally throwing in that narrow plane like this, and That's why he has such vast abilities and expertise. It's just like Andrew Demko. Don't ask him how to spell anything. But in his area, he's up here. He's like and I'm down here. So we have some of the interest, but I don't have he's he's has a genius talent. And I recognize that early on, and we've become very, very close friends.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:46]:
So you've done that a lot in your career. Recognize talent, bring them in for various designs, like, I'm thinking of the highlight, for instance. I can't remember the gentleman he designed. -- is this key. Okay. Yes. And and Andrew Demcoaster. -- on that? Yeah.
Lynn Thompson [00:55:04]:
Okay. So I'm at the blade show, and I see this blueish purplish looking switchblade with a knife, and I bought it with my film. And I thought that's the closest liner lock that I've seen that looks like a switchblade and the full is up good and all that stuff. So I contacted film, made arrangement and license it from him, and we put it in production. So I give him he's passed away now, but I give him full creds for that, he was the I've changed the highlight around a little bit since then, but he was the real inspiration. That's cool. Lot of the stuff that I've that I've had success in cold steel, I owe it to the genius of other custom light makers that I've worked with. So that's why I buy so many knives. I always have some part of an idea in me, and I'll buy a night that I think has this part. I'll buy a night another night that has that part. I'll buy another night and that's that part, and then I'll add in the parts that aren't available and try to create something different.
Bob DeMarco [00:56:07]:
I just wanna double back a little bit on the question I asked earlier, and that is relevant to what you're just saying. And and that is from model year to model year, what was it like for you balancing what you think was gonna sell and what your personal interest is like. I really am into this style knife right now, and I wanna make a bunch of cold steel models. How did you do that balance?
Lynn Thompson [00:56:32]:
Well, that's interesting you say that. I could have made a lot more money if I made more things just for the market, but mostly I've made the things that I liked and hope that the market would like them to. I've built things that I thought should be built or were needed or were left out or the things that I was interested in. I did again, I'll come back to Kevin Plates. He helped me a lot in the mid 2 1000 he said to me when we're talking about the around 2008 when we had the big crash. And I was making the sixties series then, and they were quite expensive. And people the demand for that fell off very rapidly when we had that big economic crash. And he said to me, when we're talking about, I said, lean, You gotta have a cushion for every size ass. And, you know, then I realized that I needed to diversicate my lineup a little bit more. and make stuff that was more affordable for lots of people. So I started to do that, but always in the back of my mind was no matter what we make, no matter what price, it's gotta be worth more than the money asked. It's gotta be a huge value for the money. And so whenever I make anything, I would put the the knife of the object down. Next to it, I'd put in green dollar bills, the money that I'm asking for, and ask myself, is this worth that money? If I worked Like, I I put myself through school working in the teaching unit in the Bay Area, and it's the I'll pick this up guys. Something low local 320 or 180 or something like that, but I give the teachers a lot of credit because they help me get through college. I made enough money working for them that I could actually pay for my education. What was I gonna say? It just starts that.
Bob DeMarco [00:58:22]:
You were you were getting that
Lynn Thompson [00:58:26]:
Oh, value. Okay. That's right. The value. So I know what it's like to work. with my hands and pick things up all day long, I would pick up my average thing that I would list would be between 45,080 of pounds a day by hand. So I know what it's like to pick up and do hard physical work. And so I earned my money the hard way. So I always think about that. If you're working there in a warehouse, or a machine shop or out on on oil rig or whatever whatever you're doing, and you're spinning your your your muscular strength in sweat and blood sometimes and you're taking risk to earn a living, and then you're paying your hard earned money for my knife. Is it worth it? Is it worth it? Am I getting value for that? And so sometimes, I've even discontinued stuff that I didn't think was good enough.
Bob DeMarco [00:59:16]:
Well, so did you were you ever surprised? Did you have something that you thought was gonna be a blockbuster and flopped or vice versa? Something that was totally unexpected success?
Lynn Thompson [00:59:26]:
Well, I'll tell you the tire. Pilot was a huge success I didn't expect because there's a story that goes with that. We have one I won't say they're staying, but he just retired from Delta Forest. He was a captain, came to work for us, and He was telling my wife that the highlight that I was coming out with is gonna flop. Why were we investing it? It's gonna be a disaster. It's a horrible knife you'll never sell. So my wife came to me, and says, you know, blank is telling me that this knife you're making is gonna be a horrible flops It's never gonna sell. It's this is that. It's that. And I said, just wait and see. We'll see who's right. And it was a huge success for us. And At one time, I don't know today, but at one time, what's the best selling folder that pools you'll ever have? You're in and out. Everyone loves the Switchblade, man. And here's the thing, it's been massively copied. Oh, yeah. Massively copied. And and very closely and and slightly differently in many, many different shapes and forms. All those gas station night guys, all the Tennessee night mafia, and all those guys They all copied it. Even poker? Oh, so well.
Bob DeMarco [01:00:37]:
Yeah. Yeah. Even even poker got their little slice of the highlight pie. And I love poker. I'm not trying to call them out, but That's that's interesting because I could see you know, if if I were in your shoes, I could see myself thinking This this knife is gonna be a hit because I'm into it. Everyone's gonna be into it, and then it comes out and people are like, not so into barongs, but up, and it's like, That that but that right there, I mentioned the barang. That's another thing you did for a lot of Filipino martial artists. There are a lot of Filipino martial artists out there. bringing some of these weapons that we train with in aluminum form to reel ready, battle ready form. As a matter of fact, you just came out with the what cold steel came out with the Chris last year. I know that was your design. I mean, I think people have a lot to be grateful for in that realm. What was your favorite cold steel design that you presided over? What was the one that just Makes you feel the best about your efforts?
Lynn Thompson [01:01:40]:
Well, of course, I did the original Santos, and those are all my designs. And the SRK, which is one one of the best, you know, all around survival or poison knives that you can buy today, I designed that entirely myself, and I'm pretty proud of that. It's got a great handle. It's really, really hard to beat that handle. I mean, even lately, there is a gal called Survival Lilly. Yes. He carried Germany -- Years, and then she decided to knock it off. And the Dutch Bushcraft guys did a test and said, Sorry, Lowing. Yes. Our skate is still better than your knife and their test. So I wasn't too chapped about that, haven't it? But I'm kinda used to people knocking off my stuff because they don't have any of their ideas. Well, that's true. I'll give you, for instance, the best day in Clint Caddell's life But k is when the new cold steel lineup comes out or the catalog, and he can see what he's gonna make next year.
Bob DeMarco [01:02:37]:
Oh, yeah. Bud k. You
Lynn Thompson [01:02:39]:
Bud k. I know about Bud k. Fuck about so many copying me closely. Man.
Bob DeMarco [01:02:44]:
But I'm used to it. It's it's nice to have such devoted fans, Lynn.
Lynn Thompson [01:02:49]:
Bob DeMarco [01:02:50]:
This s r k. This is an old older one. This is carbon v, carbon 5, carbon v I bought this for my wife in 2006 because she was this is before we were married. She she was spending over a year in Great Britain opening up an office for the company she was working for. So I built her a bug out bag and put probably the most illegal knife you could in the bag from for Great Britain. But just knowing that she had this and if she had to bug out of London and survive on the Moores, I mean, I don't know what the hell that would be like, but at least she would have that knife. And that -- -- percent. Yeah. Now the last thing I would abandon, if I had to
Lynn Thompson [01:03:29]:
jump all my equipment to to to try to escape, as fast as I could. The last thing I'd probably leave is a knife. I'd I'd keep the knife to the very, very end. That'd be the last thing I'd shed.
Bob DeMarco [01:03:39]:
And it's usually the first thing people select in a in a survival you know, any of these survival shows. You can take three items. They always take a knife if they know it's if they know it's up.
Lynn Thompson [01:03:51]:
Tom, thanks. We'll beat the castaways. The greatest marketing tool for knives ever made ever. Yes. I mean, What would that guy have done if he'd had an SRK? He just moved it. Yeah. If you hadn't watched the Castaway movie? Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I remember, as the plane is crashing -- Trying to to to to improvise with an old pair of ice skates -- Ice skates. -- on their rack, you know? I mean, if you did an SRK, or a a machete or a trail master boy knife, he could have smooth it -- Yep. -- compared to the story we went through.
Bob DeMarco [01:04:24]:
So I I got I got one more question for you here. And then we're gonna have a little bit of a conversation for the patrons. and, you know, a little bit of exclusive content. But I wanna before I get to that question, this is this is my trail master. It's slightly less bellied. I've sharpened it a lot and used it a lot. This knife, I got shortly after it came out or probably a couple years after it came out. And I was wearing the first time I I carried this on my belt, I got lost unexpectedly in in Northern New York, in the woods, and we were trying to get out in the dark. No light. It was a it was a a mess. And no light, but I did have that knife. Put it on my belt, and as we were leaving, I swear we were being stocked out by something. And the whole time, I had my hand on that blade. I felt like, alright. You know, my Filipino martial arts and this cold steel, like, I can take on anything. And you know, thank god, my naivete, got out. And that knife got me out of out those woods, but I always always think of this knife. This is always one of my favorites. all time knives for not only survival, but I feel like it's probably the best of the fighting the best fighter of probably almost all of the cold steels I have. And I have a lot of them, and they're all really, really good. But every time I get that trail master in hand, There was a lot of thought that went into that Trail Master. I designed that at the peer front end on the back of a place mat, and
Lynn Thompson [01:06:01]:
I think it was 87, somewhere in there. And I drew it and drew it and drew it and drew it. I was drawing it constantly. And I was really interested because Bill Bagwall had a battle played column and sold to Fortune Magazine where he's really touting all the advantage of the voting knife. And the more I read, the more I started to agree with them. And the more I became my interest in Boys, but there wasn't really anybody making boys outside of Western at that time. Maybe there was a couple other small manufacturers, but it wasn't it wasn't much of a choice. and especially not in a high performance bowie. So, the the biggest problem with the bowie is the coin is quite fragile on many of them. And I wanted a point that would pierce well who would have a lot of resistance of bending and breaking, and that's where that point came on the trumaster. I know Joe Cordova have in my collection probably for sale now.
Lynn Thompson [01:06:56]:
trailmaster prototypes he made, and both of them had points of a too narrow at the front. And I kept working on it till I got one that I thought was optimum it had enough belly, but with the false edge, it was still acute enough to pierce well. And I took some crap from that from people in the eighties. I think it was BRQs that said that, I don't know if he said it to me in person or if he said it in writing. He said it, I thought it would give you more of a push that pierce. And I thought, have you not ever stabbed anything with the ProMaster? I mean, I took it to Australia
Lynn Thompson [01:07:34]:
and I stabbed everything with it. I mean, that's that's again where I know I always talk like, people say, oh, that guy's such asshole, be so arrogant. You know, I'm sorry I come across like that. It's because I know what I'm talking about, and I know what's true, and I know what's false, because I paid the money went to places and did it. And some of it's very horrific. It's unpleasant. but we've lost all that knowledge, and I'm trying to get it back, and I was trying to get all that knowledge back. So I know that what throw a master will personally well. because I dispatch a lot of animals with it. So, yeah, you have a reason for saying it. The only thing that I would do different about that is make the guard Wider. Oh. So if I remade that knife today, I'd probably make the blade an inch longer you know, I've often copied it for years -- Right. -- groceries. They changed around a little bit. Yeah. That's where another company got all their best ideas from gold steel. And I could tell you all about the history of that too because I know all history. But I would make that guard a little bit longer. Now why didn't make the guard the wider the guard is, the more likely it gets snapped by brushing stuff when you're moving through bush and thick foil foliage and stuff. So that always is a problem with a d guard or a wide guard, you know, it catches on stuff. But James Heating pioneered for me anyway, the the use of the guard and boy night fight it. And I watched his tapes. I know James a little bit. I I consider him my friend. but he inspired me to really research and use of the guard. And Ron and I sparied with that guard for, like, 2 years, and I can't tell you how many thumb fingers I got before I really know how to use that guard. But once you know how to use it, it's it's a miracle thing or knife fight.
Bob DeMarco [01:09:23]:
Something I've always appreciated about your Bowie, almost all of them, is that the switches come to a sort of a zero ground edge. It's it's oblique. It's not a it's not a cheese slicing edge. But for a back cut or or any sort of strike using it, you're gonna get a tear gouge, gash,
Lynn Thompson [01:09:42]:
you know, it's gonna be nasty on the back cut and that sort of reverse Bowie knife fighting that that Well, here's the problem with big default edge too sharp. When I make it really sharp, right, then I bend the point out too much. So then I'm worried about the point bending or break. We did an experiment in the eighties. And if you break even it starts about 3 16ths an inch. You break 3 16ths off the tip of your knife, and you're gonna your stabbing power goes in half. or less. It makes a big difference to break the tip-off your knife. That's why people should use a Tanto, especially a cold steel Tanto. If they have any hard use when you combat mine because your tip can run into all kinds of things on an opponent on his body on his body turnout, like, whatever made. He has magazines, he has videos, he has stuff all over the spot, and your staff can impact something that could blunt or break your chip. So your chip's really important. So when I make too sharp of false touch, then I imperil the strength integrity of the tip. But what I would try to do is to get it cut all the way through cut all the way through down to 0 edge. And with that, when you do your backset, especially on exposed fingers, you'll you'll chop to either the bone, and if you have a glove or something on, you'll break because it concentrates a force more. and that narrow area so you can break the metacarpals in the hand, especially the thumb or the fingers. So it's a great change up I didn't use it a lot until heating's influence on me, and now it's a part of all my boy knife's bar is It's a it's a great chunt change up also allows you to avoid a credit this hand by the thing you're elbow, the tray you wrist over, and so you can make that back cut. As you vacate your space, you can engage with that part as It's an invasion that they hit at the same time, and it's it's it's a nice change up stroke, costly people are always at work. So Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Understand on the back. One thing I don't like about a tent, I just have one, but it has a lot of other advantages in me.
Bob DeMarco [01:11:48]:
So just in wrapping up, I I wanna I wanna ask you this. A lot of people were bitter sweet about the GSM sale and I also I I wouldn't say I was clutching my pearls, but I was like, oh, I hope I hope they maintain, you know, I hope Hope when is still involved in all this. And so what what has your experience been with this? First of all, I say congratulations to you. for working your ass off your whole life, creating this amazing company with a with a full catalog of of amazing stuff that if you weren't making, no one would make them. And so I wanna congratulate you for that, but also for selling this company. and and I don't wanna say unburdening yourself, but moving on, I think that's worthy of congratulations.
Lynn Thompson [01:12:40]:
Well, my friend, Doctor Wells, retired when he was seventy seven years old. He worked way too long. He retired with broken health. He spent the next 10 years in and out of complex hospitals and stuff like that. And he was a brilliant, awesome guy. And I thought, I don't wanna make that mistake. I don't want to work myself to the bone and not enjoy any part of life. and just have a lifetime of work. Sometimes I regret selling because I still have so many ideas and so many things that I'd like to see done. But, you know, when you sell a company, you can't tell them what to do. If I bought a company, I wouldn't want anyone telling me what to do. If they buy my company, I really can't tell them what So I tried to use what little influence I have, but that's the best I could do. And I never liked it when Richard Gee, my friend bought gun site, and the late Mister Cooper interfered in that business and I thought it was so unfair. If you sell your business, right? The new guys have a right to run that business as they see fit. And then, of course, Buzz bought a gunsight, and it's just going forward with guns, and I'm really happy for their success. But
Bob DeMarco [01:13:59]:
yeah. Well, I'm I gotta say with my limited, you know, we're we're all limited by by the time we've had, but GSM seems so far to be holding holding the standard. and I'm excited about that. And -- I'm trying really hard to encourage in that. I know all the manufacturers
Lynn Thompson [01:14:19]:
that they use around the world, and they're all my dear friends and I've asked them privately to continue that to deliver the quality that we insisted on for a year and for years, and I think for the most part, they really are I just hope that GSM will be really diligent in that because it's only by constantly testing your deliveries. Will you ever keep that up and we used to test every single delivery. And you can ask a lot of our distributors. They tell you that things would be go out of stock because I sent them back. especially when we first started to try a lot. We battled the pitch. Perfect that thing. And there was a number of shipments of a return that just weren't gonna be did pass our test.
Bob DeMarco [01:15:02]:
And then that's what created a company worth selling, worth buying, and worth worth seeing into the future. Lynn Thompson, I can't thank you enough for coming on the knife junky podcast. It's been a real pleasure talking with you. I look forward to asking you a few more questions in this exclusive, but also to avail ourselves here at the knife junkie podcast that you I feel like we got a lot more to talk about and
Lynn Thompson [01:15:27]:
We need one. We are always here to talk with you, have you here. I just hope people take me in the right vein today because I've just tried to be myself and honest and and sometimes that offends a few people. It's a little too direct for them.
Bob DeMarco [01:15:41]:
Well, I I think those people probably aren't here, a, and b, the offended class has no place here. And and and see, I I feel like there there may have been a time where people are like, oh, Lynn Thompson, he's doing all these kind of but now I just think people have mass respect for you. I think that I always have respected you, but I think I think everyone just kinda likes you. You're Lynn Thompson. Look at what you did for us. So like I said, I I love my customers,
Lynn Thompson [01:16:09]:
and I I never I always look at business as a war. which offended a lot of my competitors. But they're my competitors. I'm not there to win their love. I'm there when you're love and your appreciation and your business. And so you're either winning or losing a business. And if you're not going up, you're going down. You know, standing still is an option. So Yeah. I always try hard for my customers. I really appreciate my customers. I wanna say it again. Thank you for for all your love and all your support and I really appreciate you to this day. Well, I'm sure we'll get a lot of commentary on this on this podcast and video of people
Bob DeMarco [01:16:46]:
sending their thing. a Pax game? I was gonna talk about that in our exclusive, but let's let's talk about this right here so people far and wide can know. and then we can dig into that on the other side.
Lynn Thompson [01:16:58]:
Tell me about the axe gang. Well, the axe gang is still just being formulated now. But I own the trademark axe gang, and I went for knives and swords and all that kind of stuff and for clothing, the axe gang is really a concept of martial people that are interested in promoting and learning more about all the different martial arts and wanna be good guys until it's time not to be a good guy. And that's I love that saying saying from Roadhouse. We're gonna be nice. We're gonna be nice. We're gonna be nice. We're gonna be nice. We're gonna be nice until it's time not to be nice. and that's what we wanna personaify in the axe game is that we promote all the things that that you and I love all the edged weapons, all the firearms, all this stuff, but we're also not ever gonna be thugs. So we're we're gonna be nice, nice, nice, nice, but we're gonna be the pillar of our communities and never the pillar. Sure. That's one of my favorite sayings is that A warrior should be the pillar of his community. He should be the stock supporter. He should be the one that uplifts it and reinforces it and people go to or help and stuff. He should never be the one that abuses his power, his training, or his wealth, or any of those things. He should always be the support the good guy if you would.
Bob DeMarco [01:18:17]:
I couldn't agree more. There's nothing more despicable than a person who has that ability and uses it for wrong. So I look forward to actually digging in more to the axe gang as time goes on. I wanna find out more about it. I feel like I and many of our listeners kinda fit into that category.
Lynn Thompson [01:18:33]:
I've been promoting throwing axes and knives since the eighties. You know, this new phenomenon that's come out, which I'm happy for, throwing axes. The only thing I Luke, shaped my head a lot about it. Beer and alcohol and throwing access. What are we Vikings? What is this? Yes. But, yeah, I've been doing this for years, and I'm the axe game is gonna really promote that because I do I do my axe game hatches just about every day. So I haven't shown a lot of my throwing, but I probably will in the future.
Bob DeMarco [01:19:02]:
Well, we'll all watch, and we'll all learn and have fun. Lynn Thompson, thank you so much for coming on the knife junks and patterns. privilege to be here. It really has, and I really enjoyed it. I think that you're doing a great job, and I I really enjoyed it today. Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate it. You bet. Take care, sir. You bet. Visit the knife junkie at the knifejunkie.com to catch all of our podcast episodes, videos, photos and more. There he goes, ladies and gentlemen, the great and powerful Lyn Thompson. So glad to finally have him on this show. You know, I guess I would say if you were ever considering becoming a patron, now would be the time so you can check out the other couple couple extra minutes of conversation we're gonna have. But, you know, if you watch the show for any length of time, you know how much. It meant to me to be able to talk to Lynne and and to reflect on all of his work, which I have arrayed all around me. Alright. Stay tuned for another great interview next Sunday right here on the knife junking podcast. Also, Wednesday for the supplemental where you get to see the new knives that are coming in here. And don't forget Thursday night knives live 10 PM Eastern Standard Time right here on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. For Jim, working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time, don't take dull for an answer. Thanks for listening to the 9th junky podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and review it review the podcast .com.
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