Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick


  • Weight: 28.2 oz.
  • Head: 2 3/4″
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Overall length: 37″
  • Thickness: 1″ (Base) 1 3/8″ (Neck)
  • Price: $61.99 (Cold Steel), $36.99 (Amazon)

A “walking Stick’ is a fashionable stick that is more than a cane and that is used for balance while walking on gravel or paved roads or fairly easy going trails that is not needed to support body weight but is used more for balance and maybe to ward off a dog or other attacker. The length of “walking stick” should be at least as long as a normal cane but can be an inch or so longer.

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In the early days of Europe, walking sticks were common. Later, and more common to the “gentlemen” of the times, came the walking cane, which was much more than a simple stick, as the standard cane was rattan with a rounded metal grip. The flexibility and durability of rattan canes make them an effective instrument for inflicting pain and as a defensive or offensive weapon. In addition, the walking cane can conceal a knife or sword that the user can draw very quickly. Walking canes with an integrated firearm in its design were once (  available but are no longer common  Some walking canes contained a pint of one’s favorite spirit, should one need a lift during a stroll; these are still available today as a novelty item as is cane “blow guns”.

The Shillelagh; however, was a brute of a walking stick and are traditionally made from blackthorn (sloe) wood (Prunus spinosa) or oak. Originating in Ireland, the Shillelagh was common for settling disputes in a “gentleman-like” manner (like pistols in colonial America or the katana in Japan), and Shillelaghs eventually became a symbol of stereotypical violent Irish behavior.

Modern practitioners of bataireacht study the use of the shillelagh for self-defense and as a martial art. Of the practice, researcher J. W. Hurley writes:

“Methods of shillelagh fighting have evolved over a period of thousands of years, from the spear, staff, axe and sword fighting of the Irish. There is some evidence which suggests that the use of Irish stick weapons may have evolved in a progression from a reliance on long spears and wattles, to shorter spears and wattles, to the shillelagh, alpeen, blackthorn (walking-stick) and short cudgel. By the 19th century Irish shillelagh-fighting had evolved into a practice which involved the use of three basic types of weapons, sticks which were long, medium or short in length.”

Cold Steel has brought its version of the Irish Shillelagh to the marketplace...

Cold Steel has brought its version of the Irish walking stick to the marketplace in a polypropylene copy that weighs in close to the two-pounds of the original Shillelagh thus making it a close reproduction of the original Shillelagh. The shaft is black (the original blackthorn wood was smeared with butter and placed up a chimney to cure, giving the shillelagh its typical black shiny appearance).

The Cold Steel version, as with most Shillelaghs, also has a heavy knob (handle) for striking as well as parrying and disarming an opponent. The texture and color of the handle of the Cold Steel version simulates real wood. It is the root knob and root of the Blackthorn bush that makes the Shillelagh a very handsome and wicked walking stick, as the replica does with the Cold Steel version. For some; however, the knob may be too large for their hands, as it is of substantial girth. Unlike many “real” Shillelaghs; however, a hand strap is not an option.

The beauty of this style of “walking stick” is that virtually all surfaces are highly effective for defensive purposes. The texture of the shaft (a replication of a de-thorned shaft) makes it ideal for blocking, parrying, and trapping a strike from an attacker. The tip should do well in adding BFT (Blunt Force Trauma) to an attacker’s body parts (a rubber 1″ ID cane tip can be attached to help protect the point and to help disperse the impact). The head is large and should readily “knock a knot on the noggin'”. Now the downside; The Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick, apparently, has a styrene head, which is brittle and that is attached to the shaft, and being polypropylene, does not accept glue readily. The combination seems guaranteed to disintegrate; however, the video provided by Cold Steel attest otherwise

Note that a “walking stick” and a “walking staff” are entirely different although they may be made of the same material. The “walking stick” is simply a shorter version of a “walking staff”. As I get older, and for hiking, I prefer a “walking staff”. When crossing marshy areas or streams, I can use a staff to probe for hidden obstructions and deep spots. The staff holds back bushes, stinging plants, spider webs and other things in my path. I can probe, from a distance, areas that could house a poisonous snake. Best of all, the staff can save my energy on long treks. When I lean on it, the staff takes some of the weight off my feet, especially when walking a slope. There are many other uses for a “walking staff” other than those mentioned and include the use as a “shooting rest” where the firearm is rested in the crook of the staff or over the forearm when holding the staff. Metal or other materials instead of wood comprise modern staffs. Foldable staffs can fit in a pocket or backpack. Some have added accessories such as compasses or camera holders. You can also hollow out a long hiking staff of your own making and turn the inside into a very nice “survival” stash, but I digress.

The Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick lends itself well to the martial art of stick fighting such as HanbĹŤjutsu and, of course Shillelagh Stick-Fighting (Bataireacht Sail-Éílle). If you have martial arts training, you will be quick to realize that such use of the “stick” is simply an extension of your natural weapons and; therefore, natural weapons should be included and integrated into your training with the stick. Just because you are wielding a stick against an attacker does not mean that you cannot kick, knee or elbow an opponent when the opportunity presents itself.

The Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick is 37″ in length. To determine if this length will work for you, hold a broom handle at a height that feels comfortable, then measure from the floor to the top of your hand. Add two inches to this measurement to give the length of your stick.

For most people a walking stick feels comfortable when the elbow is at 90 degrees (forearm parallel to the ground) or slightly higher (better a little long than too short).


The Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick is a fine example of a reproduction Irish Shillelagh and may fit your idea of a possible tool for self-defense, if called upon, while trekking the urban jungle or the parks and backwoods of America.

As with any tool capable of martial purposes, training with that tool is essential to utilize its full potential.

As usual, check the laws in your state, city, borough, etc. for legality. In addition, according to the Transportation Security Administration, canes, walkers, and crutches are allowed through airport security checkpoints. You do not need to buy a wooden cane to replace your metal one, because metal and aluminum canes are permitted, but they must be X-rayed first at the checkpoint. Security officers can assist you through the screening process if you need additional help. Since the Cold Steel Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick is, indeed, a “walking stick” and not a “cane”, I would not speculate as to it being allowed by the TSA.

For history behind the shillelagh blackthorn and the Irish culture, view

For some martial arts techniques with this shillelagh:

Recommended Reading:

The “Walking Stick” Method of Self-Defense (

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Paladin Press; 1st Edition (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581604386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581604382

Book Description (from Amazon):
The walking stick is a convenient and formidable weapon in the hands of a man trained to use it. With the carry and use of firearms and knives gradually becoming more restricted by law, the stick is becoming an increasingly viable implement of practical self-defense for ordinary citizens. This book by “an officer of the Indian Police” is an extraordinary example of a practical martial art text of the early 20th century. The entire range of defensive and offensive skills is discussed and demonstrated, including guards, strikes, combinations, counterattacks, feints and tricks, double-handed techniques and training drills.


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About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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