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Request: Cold Steel SRK

I had one and ended up trading it away. I found it way too much on the heavy duty side. Of course I never plan on being trapped in the forest 1000 miles from anything and needing to pry and hack my way out of a downed aircraft and having to build a log cabin and start a new life with only my knife.....
That said, I carry a Kellam puukko as my outdoor knife..because it works. Try searching for srk here and in the wilderness and survival forums.

I have mixed feelings about the SRK. It's in a class of knives that I really have little if any use for: medium-sized (5"-7") stout knives. For my uses, I find this size too big for most jobs, and too small for chopping type jobs. BUT...

For what it is, I like it. Inexpensive, but made with very good steel and overall very very tough. The edge is sharpened well from Cold Steel, but I found it too thick, and re-sharpened it thinner. Somehow or other, the square kraton handle is comfortable for me, although I wouldn't have guessed that just from looking at it.

If you're looking for a not-too-expensive knife in this class, I have no problem recommending it. Since you didn't state your use, I can't say whether you'd be better served by another knife.

Jeff Randall did a review of it :


A common perspective however from many people was that the profile was too thick and it cut and chopped poorly. It is often regarded as a sharpened pry bar, meaning that it gives up a lot of cutting ability for brute strength. Joe Talmadge wrote an article on how he improved its cutting ability with a file and a couple of large Diamond hones - but it was wrote long ago and searches could not turn it up.

I have used a couple of CS fixed blades and the Kraton handles degrade quickly and the sheaths are far from durable. The ones I used had more acute profiles than the SRK and they cut decently well (Trailmaster and Recon Scout), but had fairly weak tips. I will agree rather strongly with Randalls comment about throwing, the handles make for easy grip release throwing intentional and otherwise. I saw the Trailmaster slip during a chop and become a very dangerous projectile. There was no one in the flight path thankfully.

I think I probably responded to an earlier post on the SRK. Here are some opinions.
This is a very rugged knife and it would do if you only had one choice for a survival knife. The steel, Carbon V, is very good, albeit it will rust where the epoxy coating doesn't cover (the epoxy goes over the tang, too, I understand, if you have concerns about rusting under the kraton grip). Mine came with an edge too thick so I worked it back with a hand file and now have a shaving sharp convex edge. There is enough belly so it works OK as a skinner. I appreciate the kraton grip's utility under slippery conditions or when your hands are cold; I don't usually use my knives for chopping so I have no opinions there. You would really have to do something drastic to damage it. There are more elegant knives around, but for getting the job done... maybe call it the Chevy truck of knives (or GMC, if you like).
I've had excellent results with my SRK, which I've used when canoeing remote rivers. I wouldn't pay what Cold Steel wants for one, but you can get one from Midsouth Shooters Supply(1-800-272-3000) for $56.32. The SRK and the BK&T Campanion are best buys IMO for this type/size of knife. I also like the old USMC FUK by Ka-Bar or Camillus.
if you decide to get a srk as a user buy one of the cold steel seconds directly from cold steel...they are 100% functional and are seconds because of some cosmetic flaw that you often cant even detect...some quality control person said they were off cosmetic specs and cant be sold as firsts....you can go to their web site at www.coldsteel.com and look in the online catalogue which showed the srk second selling for 34.95 or 39.95 or something like that the last time i checked....sometimes these prices fluctuate..not a bad deal if you are into the srk...i have bought several of the seconds of other models and the srk and all performed well for their intended purpose....i was able to buy the user i needed at the time and didnt feel bad about really using it hard as they were "cheap" compared to suggested retail price...hope this helps....feverdoc
Note that I didn't do any real testing of handle durability. And because I don't carry knives in this class very often, I don't have any real-world data on how the handle holds up. But I have heard concerns about kraton handles from people who use their knives hard. Cliff, could you remind us what you've seen to merit your caution about the SRK's handle durability?

Joe Talmadge:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">what you've seen to merit your caution about the SRK's handle durability?</font>

NIB the Kraton is covered in nobs that give it decent security. However since the wear resistance is very low they go smooth fairly rapidly. After a few months the Trailmaster I had was knob-free in the hig pressure grip points. Basically you now have a smooth rubber grip on a tapered handle, security is rather low. As well after awhile the Kraton loses its bond to the handle. At the same time mine went smooth I could stick the blade in a log, grip the handle and rotate the Kraton grip around.

I have also seen numerous rips and tears in such grips. It is *leagues* below something like Micarta in terms of durability. A lot of the wood I chop up is construction scrap and thus there are nails, sheet metal and such that can scrape along the handle during prying, chopping or even an accidently drop. These will do little to Micarta, G10 etc., except scratch it, but the same will easily rip Kraton wide open which will widen with use. The same will also happen to the rubber grips on the Busse Combat Basic line but you can heat-seal them.

If interested in the SRK, I would suggest having a look at the Companion from BK&T. It is a similar tasked blade, with many advantages. It has a more durable and ergonomic handle which can easily be made very secure. The sheath is light years ahead of the sheaths I have seen on CS's blades, it is much more durable and reversable. The grinds are similar, flat sabre, as is the stock thickness. The SRK is I think a little longer and heavier though.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 12-20-2000).]
The Campanion is an excellent knife. The SRK weighs in at 8.2 ounces, which is almost half the weight of the Campanion, which weighs about 15 ounces. I've had my SRK for 4 years now and I've used it alot, with no problems with the handle. The SRK now comes in a Concealex sheath from Blade-Tec. I personally like the SRK more than the Campanion. It feels better to me and I think it cuts and chops about as well as the Campanion, for alot less weight to carry around. To each his own. Regards, Clayton
I own a small cutlery dtore in Fairbanks Alaska and am an avid hunter & trapper. I did not start hunting until I was an adult, and knowing nothing about knives, I went to the store on the way into the hills on that first trip and stumbled into a SRK. That was in 1989. I still own the knife and have done everything wrong to it that you could do to a knife. Obviously, it's not a hunting knife but the first few deer and elk I skinned didn't know it! That knife's been through hell, especially in Alaska and really gives alot of bang for the buck as a camp or survival knife. Good Luck! Mike
I bought an SRK several years ago, primarily because I wanted to see what kind of edge I could produce with the Carbon V steel.

Even with the very thick blade, after some stoning and stropping, that knife is the sharpest edge in my home. None of my Spyderco or Benchmade folders, regardless of effort, can match that steel for final edge.

I've never taken this blade in the field, so I can't comment on other aspects of this knife.

A nation that limits Freedom in the name of Security will have neither. (Thomas Jefferson)
Hi Mike
I still need to get to your shop...I'm a big procrastinator...The SRK is hell for stout, but my cutting needs call for a sharp knife....My Randalls are the ticket for good camp knives...