Cold Steel, Spec Plus, or Kabar?


May 28, 1999
Okay, now that I've found myself a great folder (AFCK), I need to get a fixed blade knife. I don't have much money right now, so $75 is about as much as I can afford. I've narrowed down my choices to the Cold Steel SRK, Kabar, or one of the knives in Ontario's Spec Plus line. What I could use is some advice from you guys. Any suggestions or comments would really be appreciated. The knife will be for general utility work, I don't plan on getting in any knife fights anytime soon. Thanks.
The SRK is a nice knife. One of my friend's owns one and he likes it quite a bit. Cold Steel makes some pretty good knives for the money. I have an Ontario Spec Plus Fighter. Not too sharp, and not enough mass for chopping. I wish I could've seen it before buying. Ontario has less quality control than Cold Steel, and you usually have to smooth out or rebevel the edge on their knives. They are tough, though.
I would also consider a Fallkniven if you can find them at a decent price. They are much like Cold Steel in terms of design and construction, with the added benefit of VG-10 steel, which is awesome stuff. I am looking at an S1 that was sent to me for a new Kydex sheath and it is a boring looking knife, but well-made and comfortable to hold. Reviews have been very good for Fallkniven.

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
I carried a Cold Steel SRK while overseas in the military and it performed well for me. The blade is fairly thick and it can be used for some chopping. It's now my "do it all" knife while camping or hiking. The price is fair as well. Not that I don't like the K-Bar; I do. However, the blade is thinner, and on the one I had the tip was broken off by my brother. I really don't see that happening to the SRK. Also, I don't like the sheath that came with the SRK. I'm looking into getting a kydex sheath made for it. Just my humble opinion.

[This message has been edited by Rhyno (edited 28 July 1999).]
I've handled all three and have to admit that they're all solid knives and good values (IMHO). Some of the Ontario products (i.e., the Marine Raider or Survival Bowies) have more than enough mass to be excellent choppers; I'm just not a huge fan of the plastic (?) handles on the Spec Plus line. They're very strong and durable, but become very uncomfortable after extended use. The Ka-Bar is a great knife, but I think it may be a little small for effective chopping. My pick of the three would be the Cold Steel SRK. I may despise CS's obnoxious hucksterism, but there's no doubt that the SRK is a lot of knife for the money.


[This message has been edited by UglyJim (edited 28 July 1999).]
I would definetly go with the KaBar over the Spec Plus, but I've never handled a CRK, so I can't really say if its better than a KaBar. I will tell you that the finish on a KaBar isn't extremely durable, I took some of it off near the edge today from chopping for about 10 mins. I've heard that CS's finish isn't extremely durable either, so its kind of a tossup. I pesonally like my Ka-Bar quite a bit. It'll take a wicked edge very easily.

Just because I talk to myself doesn't mean I'm crazy. What's wrong with getting a second opinion?

Cold Steel SRK. It's in a higher class than the other two (IMHO). For the price you listed though I would reccomend a Recon Tanto or even a Recon Scout. They have come down to that price range and the Recon Tanto is without a doubt a great knife. I owned one for several years until it was stolen out of my truck. About two days after getting it I was putting it back in the sheath (had the nice Ballistic Nylon with leather liner sheath) and it locked up (stiff sheath when new) and I slid my index finger the full length of the blade. Let me tell you, I will NEVER forget that experience (and not just 'cause of the permanent scar on my trigger finger either!!). Cold Steel puts a scary edge on their knives from the factory. Hope you enjoy whichever knife you decide on though!!

- Kim.
Ranger, where can you get a Recon Scout for under 75 unless you are talking about factory seconds? I have the Ka-Bar and it is a great knife for 40 dollars. What I don't like about it is that it has a saber grind rather than a hollow one. The grind width is so short that I imagen after resharpening a number of times the blade will not slice well at all. A ka-bar tanto has a better grind and sheath. Or go with the SRK for about 8 dollars more than the original Ka-bar.
If I had to choose only one knife for a survival exercise I'd probably take my SRK. It's a great all-around tool. Used it to skin and quarter a moose a couple of years ago and it did fine as a skinner. I don't care for CS's sheaths, however, so I made one of good latigo leather. Tried making a pouch type sheath once for a Master Hunter but the Kraton grip (which is terrific) was just too thick. As far as steel, has anyone compared VG-10 with Carbon V.
Go with Cold Steel I have many of there knives and I like them a lot. I would go with the Recon Tanto over the S.R.K the Recon Scout is probably good I have never handled one but there are more expensive than your price range inless you get a second. Go with Cold Steel.
Hey, Rhyno, contact me if you want to order a Kydex or Concealex sheath for that SRK. Best thing is my friend has one, so I could borrow his to mold the sheath. That would save you time and a few bucks, and you wouldn't be without the knife. Let me know. Price with shipping would be $34.

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
Thanks for the advice everyone. It looks like I'll be checking out the prices on the various Cold Steel models. I'm curious why some of you reccomend the Recon Tanto over the SRK. I'd always read that the tanto blade is great for a fighting knife, but for a working knife it's just not that great a design. Am I wrong?

The Cold Steel like will serve you well, but do try to check out Fallkniven as well. I've read lots of good things about it, and am contemplating on getting one as well.

I have a recon scout on order, and will probably be getting an SRK, too, for light tasks. Newer recon scouts come with a kydex sheath already, if I'm not mistaken. If you get the one with the leather sheath, you can always go for Steve Agoc's (Chiro75) handmade Kydex custom sheath.
Seen them in pics, and they are really a work of art.

Oh yeah, almost forgot... Try checking out the Cold Steel Bushmaster as well. It has a very comfortable handle, terrific grind, and is quite comparable to the Recon Scout for a lot less. I think it will fit your budget as well.

Three good choices, definitely. I promised myself I wasn't going to back CS because of their attutude and ad practices, but I will say that you should check out the Bush Ranger. Ignore the Recon Tanto, IMO. It's got a little reach over the SRK, but I firml believe that tantos offer no advantages over a "standard" shape, and you'll really miss that belly. With the Bush Ranger you get the reach, more belly, and great fully-flat ground geometry.

Dang... sounds like I'm pulling for CS... um, their ads suck... they won't resharpen their serrations... their line is padded with shameless junk...

Aw heck, they make some of the best "using" fixed-blades on the market. Just don't tell Lynn Thompson I said so...


I think the SRK is the best of them.

But, are you looking for cutting performance or a prybar?

Pry bars are cheap, about 5 bucks at K Mart.

Cutting instruments like the Bush Ranger are not prybars.

The SRK looks and feels like a sharpened prybar.

Of course that is just my opinion.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at

When I quoted th rpice for the Recon Scout I wasn't refering to 2nds I was thinking of the Bush Ranger. sorry, guess I should have double checked my price info......
If you've got the money for a Fallkniven A1, go for it! Awesome knife for the money! Or spend less and get the Cold Steel SRK. Also an awesome knife for the money! I have them both and it causes a real decision dillema for me when it's time to take one out for a spin. BTW, Corduroy, I second that emotion about Cold Steel's ad campaign. I thought it was great fun when CS and Busse started butting heads in their ads, but now it has grown so annoying I think they should both be put in "time out" and put in the corner. So if you two are listening, ENOUGH ALREADY!! GIVE IT A REST!
SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK, SRK,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I've got four of them, and I use them all the time, this is a great knife, and at the price, I can afford to really punish them(avid camper, I've done almost every thing I can think of to this knife)! I've chopped through 6" trees for use as a shelter, and I can still clean fish without sharpening it!!!

Cord's suggestion of the Bush Ranger is a very very good one. Consider that knife carefully, JMB. It loses some of the SRK's robustness (but still likely be robust enough), but gains a lot in *performance*. It'll easily outchop, out penetrate, and out slice the SRK, and the other knives you're considering also.

If you could collect a few more pennies, turn in some aluminum cans or something, I'd also suggest checking out the Fallkniven line. The SRK-sized one seems to be SRK-ish in robustness, but it excels the SRK in performance due to better edge geometry, at least according to the people I've talked to who have used both knives.