April 20, 2014 at 6:23 am #9858
Cold Steel SRK Carbon V + SpecOps Combat Master Sheath
Mfr: Cold Steel. Made in the USA
Model: SRK (Survival / Rescue Knife) Carbon V (now AUS-8 or VG1 San Mai III)
Length: 10.75″ OAL (6″ blade, 4.75″ Kraton handle)
Blade: 3/16″ thick, sabre ground, clip point (unsharpened false edge), hidden full tang
Weight: 8.2 oz.
Sheath: Black Cordura nylon (now molded Concealex)
My Cold Steel SRK (Survival Rescue Knife) sports a 6″ long (3/16″ thick) clip point blade of Carbon V high carbon steel with a full (hidden) tang and a 4.75″ Kraton handle with a single quillon guard and a brass-lined lanyard hole. The weight is 8.2 oz. This knife was originally equipped with a basic black Cordura nylon sheath with a single snap retention strap and the blade was coated with a black corrosion-resistant finish. This knife was purchased in January 1991, for $39.95 + $10.00 shipping from Cutlery Shoppe in Boise, Idaho, USA.
I originally chose this knife as a general purpose, rugged-use hunting and survival knife, with possible defensive considerations. What drew me to the SRK was its no-B.S. design, Cold Steel’s reputation and I was able to purchase it for a very reasonable price. I haven’t been disappointed…This blade that has served me well for over 23 years.
I recognize the Cold Steel SRK as an extremely well designed blade for its intended purpose. Its a proven standard in the knife industry and I understand that it was/is issued to US Navy SEALS candidates for their BUD/S training. Cold Steel’s website and various YouTube videos show SRK’s being utterly abused -Beaten like a rented mule- But they hold up to it. I’ve not had to subject my knife to such misuse, but I’m comforted to know it can take it.
That said, If I were to “improve” this knife, I would add about 1.5″ of serrations to base of the blade (I know a lot of “purists” don’t like serrations – I do!) and sharpen the false edge of the clip point. I also would allow about 0.25″ of the tang to protrude from the back of the hilt for hammering/prying and as a skull crusher.
My SRK has mostly been used for general camping and hunting purposes. I’ve re-ground it to a convex edge and recently hand-polished it. I’ve used it to chop and baton firewood, cut feather sticks, make shavings and it will slice as well as a 3/16″ thick blade could be expected. The Kraton handle provides a great purchase that is resistant to oils, solvents and blood, while providing a degree of shock absorption. The minimal guard is effective without being obtrusive.
The SRK is not my first choice for skinning purposes, due to its thick blade…But it will do the job if required. The Carbon V steel sharpens well and keeps an edge, but is no longer available from Cold Steel.
Fortunately, I’ve never had to defend myself with a knife, but I’m confident the SRK can handle that role as well.
There were a few aspects of this knife that I was not totally enamored with: The black coating on the blade scratched and scuffed easily, so I removed it by glass-beading; leaving a non-reflective matte finish that I eventually hand-polished. The sheath, while functional and ambidextrous, is butt-ugly and lacks attachment points (grommets, etc.) for carrying basic survival gear.
The current SRK is made in AUS-8 stainless and is coated with an upgraded anti-glare, anti-corrosion, friction-reducing black coating. It now comes with a vastly improved Concealex sheath that is more rugged and useful; as it’s rigid and features lashing slots and grommets and can be attached or removed without taking off your belt.
Cold Steel’s list price of $134.99 is about $95.00 more that I paid for mine, back in ’91- But the actual “street” price hovers around the $80.00 mark. Original Carbon V versions do appear on Ebay, knife forums etc., for about the same price as the current model, so keep your eyes peeled.
Cold Steel also offers a SRK San Mai III with a laminated VG-1 blade that is supposed to offer superior corrosion resistance, combined with the edge retention and strength of high carbon steel.
The SRK San Mai III lists for $199.99, but the “street” price is typically closer to $140.00.
As an upgrade for my SRK, I purchased a SpecOps Combat Master sheath (Coyote Tan, double-layer 1000D Cordura) with a hard plastic liner that is a tremendous improvement over the original Cold Steel offering. The plastic liner is attached to the interior of the sheath with seriously strong hook-n-loop fastener patches- It was VERY difficult to pull out. Once I had it out, I used my heat gun and molded it to friction-fit the SRK. This provided an additional degree of knife retention and eliminated any rattling of the blade. Incidentally, the hard liner features a riveted bottom that provides an opening for drainage.
One advantage of the Combat Master sheath is the large, flapped pouch on the front that will accept a double-stack pistol magazine, or a large multi-tool like my Leatherman CORE. Mine is packed with survival gear, like a Doan Machinery magnesium fire starter, tinder, water bags, etc. In addition to the pouch, there are four metal grommets down each edge of the sheath that come threaded with a diamond-braided cordage for lashing gear onto, etc. and its secured on the back with a spring-loaded cord lock. I removed the supplied cordage from mine and replaced it with a length of Coyote Tan shock-cord that I arranged in a “X” pattern on the back and utilized the existing cord-lock. This allows me to carry additional/larger items (the size of 2- Altoids tins) on the back of the sheath as well. I now have a survival knife system.
Another great feature of the SpecOps sheath is their unique “Split Loop” belt retention system, which utilizes H.D. hook-n-loop fasteners, along with metal snap closures on the two attachment loops.This allows the knife to be mounted on your belt astride a belt loop of your pants, to prevent fore/aft movement and it can be removed or attached without removing the belt. There are additional grommets on the belt attachment loops to add para-cord, etc. for secondary knife retention, so the Combat Master sheath is considered jump-ready and it’s MOLLE/PALS compatible.
Overall, the SpecOps Combat Master sheath is a vast improvement over the original Cold Steel supplied sheath and its available for 4.5″ (mini) , 6″ (short) and 8″ (long) blades up to 1.75″ wide. They make a great upgrade for knives in those size ranges.
Overall, the Cold Steel SRK is a tough knife to exceed. I can honestly say that if I had to go through the rest of my life with only one fixed blade knife, it would want it to be my SRK in Carbon V.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.April 20, 2014 at 10:32 pm #9959
Thanks for the user feedback. Looked at the SRK closely ultimately went with Fallkniven A1. I think Cold Steel had the A1 in mind when they updated the SRK. Lower cost competitor/choice with the SRK.April 23, 2014 at 10:40 am #10387
Thanks for the review Mitch!May 2, 2014 at 6:11 am #12106
<div class=”d4p-bbp-quote-title”>chester wrote:</div>
Thanks for the user feedback. Looked at the SRK closely ultimately went with Fallkniven A1. I think Cold Steel had the A1 in mind when they updated the SRK. Lower cost competitor/choice with the SRK. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001DZM482/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3QS88LXSPPCUO&coliid=I6OE40VN3NU3P
I think Fallkniven had the SRK in mind when designing the A1. The SRK appears in the catalogs since 1993, the A1 was released in 1999.
Nevertheless, both fantastic knives. Benchmade has a (carbon steel) version too, the Benchmade 158BK CSK IIMay 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm #12124
I believe you’re correct Rowan- If you re-read my review, mine was purchased in 1991 and the SRK had been on the market for a while before that. -MitchMay 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm #12223
Midsouth, The oldest Cold Steel catalog online dates from 1988, the SRK isn’t in that one. The following is the one of 1993 where it first showed the SRK.
Good to know it was sold before 1991.May 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm #12229
For those of you that have not been to Cold Steel’s web site , the videos are worth a look at , if for anything else , its entertainment value .May 5, 2014 at 4:06 am #12359
The Cold Steel demo vids definitely entertaining! Cold Steel President Lynn Thompson is a little over the top, but it appears he’s really enjoying life!May 17, 2014 at 4:34 am #14086
Thanks to Selco & Jay and SHTFSchool for the great Spyderco Sharpmaker Knife Sharpener! You guys really made my day! I’ve always wanted one of these, but never seemed to have the spare cash around to purchase one. Thank again! -Mitch
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.May 22, 2014 at 8:42 am #14541
Glad you like it
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")May 22, 2014 at 10:17 am #14567
You are welcome Mitch, I really like your review.
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