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Knife Review: TOPS Cali Cobra

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The TOPS California Cobra Knife was designed by Jed Lewis of American Kempo. It is a curved, double-edged design. The longer edge is 2.25 inches, the shorter edge is 1.75 inches. It is full tang, 1095 High Carbon Steel, with G-10 handle scales and Kydex sheath with rotating metal clip. The knife also has a guard/spike for less lethal attacks on pressure points. Weight is 4.4 ounces. Price around $95. Made in USA. This knife was designed with input from a Kempo Karate Police Instructor and comes with an illustrated booklet showing different techniques using it.

24 replies on “Knife Review: TOPS Cali Cobra”

I wish they would stop cheaping out on their defensive knives. I understand that 1095 steel may have it's advantages for knives often used, but there is no good reason to use it for knives that will hardly be used. I don't want to constantly keep rust off of it while it sits in the sheath.

For proper use search “clinch pick” from Warrior Poet Society. Video is titled “Best knife for fighting in confined spaces”

Looks like a karambit with all the retention benefits removed. Everyone is trying to re-invent the wheel.

Not for every body. Not for me, I sold my knife a week later, I find this knife kind useless, IMO off course.

I bought this knife recently but I find it nearly useless. The blade is so curved it makes using it uncomfortable and clumsy. I don't understand why they curved the blade so much. Less curvature would have made the Cali Cobra way more effective. A Clinch Pick, Spyderco P'Kal or Reverse or a Karambit are better choices.

Power slash to groin may be a kill, you could easily hit that femoral artery. Well thought out knife lol. 

I bought the knife simply because of the look (…and because of the fact that I got it cheap…). To me it's a oddity which stays in my display case.
For s/d-purposes I'd rather choose any other knife from my collection, than this one.
The p'kal-style-grip would be the most comfortable for me. But the handle is too small. And IMHO, the curvature of the blade is too extreme to be useful.

only thing I'd love to see on mods to the knife is a kerambit-style ring on there with a thinner profile grip, then I would say it would blow other knives out of the water for edc and general self-defense

Very interesting as an addition to my collection but for practicality forget about it! there are way too many better systems/blades that will be much easier to hold and use, as well built as it looks, it seems too difficult to deploy correctly specially for men like myself that have large hands (6'4 & 275lbs), knives would be my 2nd or 3rd options my 1911's are what I depend on LOL Man I got to stop watching your great reviews, so far I have ordered 3 knives, am going to dog house!!!

Good point man, you are the right it does seem it would be especially good for hooking and trapping with the tip in, reverse

I feel you kinda left out the obvious (and what I believe is the most practical) use of the blade. Reversed grip, BLADE out. You said the curve of the main edge was almost too curved for standard grip slashing. However, in reverse grip blade out (vs tip out) I believe the curved edge would excel at slash cuts. Also, the "karambit" curve could be used for trapping and the pressure point release can still be readily used. Unlike reverse tip out which requires a grip change. Otherwise, good job man

It's definitely is a interesting and unique design, kind of like you said, a hybrid between a karambit and a Persian style dagger.

However, I just think it would be way too confusing for a civilian to use under duress in a self defense scenario. They would probably be more liable to cut themselves trying to handle the the thing, let alone trying to subdue an assailant, lol.

I believe it would take a lot of training to be able to use this confusing knife properly. Interesting design though.

@waydeepinside – I agree. People wonder at its appearance but it's basically a karambit with top-edge and impact point added, and so would be quite useful. I agree, TOPS steel and the traction coating are first rate.

This blade looks very handy and useful for many uses including skinning small to medium game animals …
I have the tops ARLT and find the steel desirable, the coating very good, % overall quality very good…
(the ripping croch cut) … shhhh

@geothr33 – I tried, but the longer edge would be in danger of cutting your hand, also the spike is fairly short.

@TirumphantAce – Hey thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying the vids and finding useful information here and there!

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