I am a sucker for survival knives and secret compartments and the Cold Steel Survival Edge is both. I was a little skeptical when I first got it, because it is so lightweight that it feels insubstantial. I was pleasantly surprised.
In the box you get what's pictured in the top photo (stock photo); the knife, a ferrocerium striking rod and a molded plastic sheath. It goes for about $30 - $40 retail.
First, the sheath. It's awful. I don't like it at all. The only thing it has going for it is that it covers the blade without touching it. It has a molded-in belt clip which can be hung on a belt or a lanyard around your neck. that's it for mounting options. The only other possible choice is to just stuff it directly in your pack. The clip is, however, wide enough to attach to ALICE webbing and fits pretty snugly behind the tunneled pocket of a medium ALICE pack. I prefer a nylon sheath like this one from Spec Ops Brand.
There's not much to say about the striking rod except that it works well. Striking it with the back of the knife blade produces a huge, hot spark. It takes very little effort to light a pile of dry tinder.
The knife is what surprised me. It's very light weight and has a hollow handle, which means that the blade has a short tang. Given that, I was really wary about the strength of the bond between the handle and the blade. It turns out that it feels really strong and solid, though a little unbalanced.
I carved this hard stick and the knife performed flawlessly. It bit in hard and felt solid and sure. The blade seems to hold its edge quite well. I like how the round handle allowed me to "roll" the blade around. This plus the striking rod gives it a thumbs-up for fire starting.
I gave it a brief go at cooking and it did an OK job. Not great, but it would be sufficient for use in the field. The crossguard prevents the blade from being brought all the way down, so the last part of every cut has to be drawn. still, I cut this potato into quarter-inch slices with no trouble. I then cut them into tiny cubes just as easily. It didn't work quite as well with an onion. It took a bit of concentration to slice all the way through. Small stuff like jalapenos are a breeze. This knife is also good for cooking because getting it wet won't hurt it. (That's why I don't use wood-handled kitchen knives).
The hollow handle is part of the reason I bought this knife. I've always loved hidden pockets and secret compartments and stuff like that. The space inside the handle is about three inches deep and a little less than an inch in diameter. That would be a good place for a small survival or fire-starting kit except for one thing; it's not waterproof. I read one review which claimed that his knife was waterproof, but mine is not. I tested it twice by putting a small piece of toilet paper inside and submerging it in a pitcher of water and the paper came out soaked both times. There are five O-rings around it which help the grip, but don't help the seal. Also, the handle floats, but not well enough to keep from losing it if you dropped in a lake or whatever. It would just sink point-down. Maybe the orange handle would help you find it.
Among the drawbacks previously mentioned, it's just a bit too small. The video on the product page demonstrates the knife being used for batoning (splitting) wood, but it's not big enough to chop with. It doesn't feel substantial enough for heavy work.
Overall, I would give this knife a 3 out of 5 stars. I like it and it would make a good backup, but I wouldn't choose it as my primary knife.