Those who carry blades may find themselves gravitating to different styles of knives for different purposes. That is why I first began considering the petite Mini Tuff Lite. Some knives are better suited for heavy labor, some for self defense, while others are handy for small everyday tasks. This reviewer often finds herself carrying more than one knife with specific purposes. For example, I carry one knife for self defense, and another for small daily tasks. In this specific purpose, I’ve lately employed the Mini Tuff Lite. It may not seem like much, but its small size is a large part of what makes it a prime candidate for a discreet EDC blade. The 2 inch edge is honed razor sharp and is composed of hardy Japanese AUS 8A steel. The combination of the contoured grip, strong steel, and sturdy locking mechanism make for a functional blade in a low aggro package.
Oftentimes, at work or around weapon-sensitive people, it is frowned upon to carry anything that “looks dangerous,” yet opening plastic packaging, breaking down boxes, or other simple cutting tasks may be everyday responsibilities. This lead me to seek knife options that are more easily concealed than my 4″ self defense Hold Out II, but that would still be large enough to be functional. For these tasks, the Mini Tuff Lite is well suited. The hollow grind edge is razor sharp straight from the factory, which makes quick work of whatever it’s slicing. The 2″ blade is Japanese AUS 8A steel, which gives it great edge retention and overall strength with reasonable resistance to corrosion. However, once the edge has been dulled, it takes a little extra effort on the sharpener to hone again. The wharnecliffe blade shape allows the user to apply great pressure to the backside of the knife to cut through tough materials while retaining a point for puncturing (unlike the similar sheepsfoot blade, which has a rounded back – like the wharnecliff – but is without a fine point). In this way, the blade lends itself to surprisingly hard use, despite its small length.
The grip is constructed of Cold Steel’s polymer “Grivory,” which is very lightweight, but somewhat smooth. What makes the grip more useful, however, are the contours on the underside of the grip and on the choil of the blade. This, and the jimping along the back edge of the blade and grip provides the wielder with a firm [traditional] grip. The grip shape is effective for keeping a hold of the blade while applying great cutting pressure while maintaining a great degree of control while cutting. However, it does not accommodate for use in reverse grip (although, the stubby blade length is enough not to recommend this knife purely as a self-defense tool, grip qualms aside). At 5in, fully deployed, the small size of the Mini Tuff Lite may not offer as functional of a grip for those with larger hands. But, for those who aren’t hindered by its size, the butt of the grip features a half inch cutout for a lanyard, which increases its carrying convenience; grab some paracord and tie it up wherever convenient.
Deploy and Locking Mechanisms
This Cold Steel deploys via the use of a thumb hole and functions ambidextrously with reasonably quick presentation. The Tri-Ad locking mechanism that holds the blade in place is very strong. Once engaged, the Mini Tuff Lite performs as though it were a fixed blade (no blade play or wobble whatsoever). As the Tri-Ad is a type of lockback mechanism, it requires two hands to close.
The Mini Tuff Lite is not an all-purpose folder. The short blade and fine point do not lend themselves to hardy chopping or prying tasks. Two inches of edge and a sharp point may help in a self defense scenario, but would not be recommended for that use, except as a last resort. But, if you’re looking for a small, light folder that is highly concealable, the 1.7oz Mini Tuff Lite might be right up your alley. The contoured grip and razor’s edge are enough to make quick work of many simple everyday chores. The steel clip, although not adjustable, allows the blade to be inconspicuously tucked into a pocket. Or, the lanyard hole may be used to keep the small knife on a keychain or attached to a pack. It doesn’t hurt that it’ll only set you back $40 (it can be found even cheaper – in the $30 range, if you’re willing to shop around).
If given the option between an undersized knife, or none at all, I will always choose the former. In those circumstances, like in the working environments outside the military, firearms, or law enforcement realms, the tiny Mini Tuff Lite has proven to be surprisingly useful. The fine edge can be used with a great degree of control, due to the ergonomic grip shape and wharnecliffe style blade, bakced up by the tough Tri-Ad lock. When you don’t want to deny ourself a helpful cutting tool, but must maintain low aggro while keeping your self defense blade as sharp as possible, the Mini Tuff Lite is a functional little blade you won’t even notice you’re carrying – and neither will anyone else.