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San Mai Japanese-made Tanto series and titanium ti lite discussion

Discussion in 'Cold Steel Knives' started by jencarlos, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    Hey guys, I have kind of an odd question that I don't think has been discussed before (or at least, not recently).

    I am not asking about any monetary values, just relative ones, so I hope no one closes this thread. Anyway, I have noticed people who are selling the older Japanese-made classic Tanto knives frequently seem to price the VG-1-core versions higher than the previous AUS-8A-core versions.

    Do you guys think one is more desirable than the other? I am being a little OCD trying to "unify" my collection, and I considered trading a VG-1-core version for the older version (especially if it says Ventura Calif on the one side), so all my Tanto blades would "match".

    What do you guy think? In my opinion it is a lateral move, but I don't want to give up the VG-1 version if it is considered more valuable objectively
     
  2. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    on a similar note, and maybe helpful to what I am asking, I am considering trading a VG-1 titanium ti lite for the older AUS-8A version simply because I find the slightly aesthetic differences in favor of the older knife. For that one it is an easier consideration since looks come into play. However, for both, I am not intending this to be a debate about the merits of each steel type (since the knives I am considering trading are "safe queens")
     
  3. jlauffer

    jlauffer Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    For someone who plans to use them, the VG-1 versions are probably more desirable. But for collecting purposes, the AUS8A versions, especially those that came in the black boxes, may be more desirable, simply because they are older. But in another 30 years, may not matter, cuz they'll all be old.
     
  4. Mike Sastre

    Mike Sastre Custom Crafted Concealex Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 23, 1999
    Keyword: Collection. Keep all versions. I definitely would not get rid of the Titanium Ti Lite.
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  5. The Whip

    The Whip

    560
    Jan 28, 2007
    Those are some tough decisions! I understand fully the need for a "matched set" for the collection. I also understand the desire for a more aesthetically appealing version of the Ti-Lite. (Out of curiosity, what variations do you see between the VG-1 and the AUS-8A titanium models?)

    My initial inclination would be to tell you to get the versions you want. But, having eventually regretted some of my own past sales and trades, I agree with Mike's caution about trading too rashly. Are the knives you want only available via trade? If so, the trades might be worth it. But bear in mind that you might also find those same knives for sale some day (they may be rare, but they're not one-of-a-kinds). If you can manage buying them instead of trading for them, do so. You won't regret it.

    -Steve
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  6. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    Thanks for the replies so far, guys!
     
  7. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    Very slight differences between the Ti Lites. The older AUS-8A ones have a slightly different blade profile that I kinda just like the look of. That “swedge” halfway across the spine of the blade is more sharply creased. The older ones also have a non-volcano thumb stud, a non-polished clip (I believe it may even be matching titanium, since the gray color matches almost perfectly), and it doesn’t say anything on the blade except for “Made in Japan”. Sometimes I like when knives don’t advertise the steel type on the blade (so long as you have another way of knowing what it is lol). The differences between them almost add up to be sort of like the differences you would notice between the original and facelift versions of one generation of a really nice car. The facelift version is usually more “rounded out”, but the pre-facelift original usually has a few cool things about it
     
    The Whip likes this.
  8. The Whip

    The Whip

    560
    Jan 28, 2007
    Good to know, as I never looked that closely. Thanks!

    -Steve
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  9. jlauffer

    jlauffer Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    I have an AUS8 Ti-lite, but have been looking for a VG-1 version, since it was a one year only model. Figure if I'm only gonna have one, might as well be the rarest one.
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  10. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    I have an extra one I may end up selling. If you like, you’ll be the first to know when ;)
     
    The Whip, jux t and jlauffer like this.
  11. jlauffer

    jlauffer Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Thanks!
     
  12. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    Steve, here are the differences between each one if you want to take a look. The differences between each style are the same for both colors. The older knife has the more creased “swedge” (if that’s even a word, or the right word) on the blade. The new ones have a more curved profile. The thumb studs on the older ones go straight up and then taper very quickly to almost a point. The newer thumb studs are volcano shaped. The old knives have color matched pocket clips (probably titanium and not steel). The newer knives have polished steel clips. The old ones have no marking on steel type, just “Made in Japan”. The new ones have “VG-1 Stainless” and “Japan” markings. Those are about the only differences I can see. Also for each generation, the blue knives always seem to have more polished blades than the gray ones.

    Old style gray
    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/cold-steel-ti-lite-26s-titanium-1858653355
    Old style blue
    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/cold-steel-titanium-blue-anodized-ti-20534022

    New style gray
    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/cold-steel-ti-lite-4-vg-stainless-1912361983
    New style blue
    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/cold-steel-ti-lite-blue-titanium-110485566

    I neither own nor have sold any of the knives on here. Also I hope it’s ok that they link to worthpoint (doesn’t show monetary values unless you have a subscription)
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
    jux t and The Whip like this.
  13. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    Also, since Jlauffer brought up that the VG-1 variety was only around for 1 year, it is possible that the aesthetic changes, such as the pocket clip, the blade profile, and the thumb stud, might have been available before the VG-1 variety came to be. i.e there may have been AUS-8A versions with both styles of blade, clip, and thumb stud
     
    The Whip likes this.
  14. KenHash

    KenHash Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    The Aus8 Titanium Ti-Lites made in 2005-2006 also showed the "old" and "new" styles.
    The photos below show Aus8 models I used to have.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When I first discovered the two different styles I contacted CS and and enquired if the Newer Type was authentic, as all the pictures of Titanium Ti Lites in their catalogs show the Older type. These are the photos I sent to CS. I got a reply confirming that both styles were made during 2005-2007 when the contract with the original OEM maker in Seki Japan was coming to and end, and CS was establishing manufacturing sources in Taiwan. My "guess" is that the long time CS Seki OEM Maker, G.Sakai likely subcontracted within Seki City for some of the Ti Lites resulting in this difference. This carried over into 2007 the last of the Seki made Ti Lites and the only year of the VG1 models.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
    jux t, The Whip and nephron like this.
  15. nephron

    nephron Gold Member Gold Member

    494
    Aug 3, 2017
    This subject would make a good jlauffer "history of".
    a.jpg c.jpg d.jpg b.JPG e.jpg
     
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  16. KenHash

    KenHash Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    nephron,
    Is that the original finish on the anodized one?
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  17. The Whip

    The Whip

    560
    Jan 28, 2007
    Great information/photos, jencarlos, and I thank you for the research! Those pictures, along with Ken's, definitely distinguish between the two iterations. I had never noticed the change in swedge before. For what it's worth, I also always preferred the Gen 1 thumb stud over the "volcano" style of Gen 2.

    Nephron, great pictures of both Gen 2 titanium Ti-Lites!

    This thread has been quite enlightening. But what happened to the original title?

    -Steve
     
    jencarlos likes this.
  18. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    :D I guess we ended up off topic. Really the only question I had about the tanto knives was whether or not VG-1 San Mai was more desirable than the original San Mai. Which was pretty much answered. I should probably change the title to reflect that it is a ti lite discussion too
     
    The Whip likes this.
  19. jencarlos

    jencarlos

    108
    Sep 23, 2016
    You are probably talking about the blue one. However, both versions of the knives have anodized titanium scales. the color and whether or not the handle is polished is all that is different.

    Titanium is a pretty ugly looking metal when bare ;)
     
  20. KenHash

    KenHash Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Really? Then CS catalog's wording is rather misleading. I've only heard the term "anodized" when referring to the blue handle.

    From the 2006 Cold Steel Catalog on the Titanium Ti Lites:

    "THE HANDLES, MADE OF FORGED TITANIUM, ARE AVAILABLE WITH OUR ORIGINAL FINISH OR WITH A POLISHED, BLUE ANODIZED FINISH. THEY HAVE BEEN CNC MILLED FOR A VISUALLY APPEALING LOOK, AND FOR MAXIMUM STRENGTH AND SAFETY, WE HAVE EQUIPPED OUR TILITES™ WITH FULL LENGTH TITANIUM LEAF SPRING LOCKS (PROVEN, IN OUR TESTS, TO HOLD 100 LBS)."

    https://sales.coldsteel.com/cs_images/2006catalog.pdf
     
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