San Mai III steel quality?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by knifechucker333, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. knifechucker333


    Mar 22, 2010
    Is San Mai III steel actually as good as Cold Steel says it is, or is it just kind of average?
  2. redisburning


    Dec 6, 2009
    it's just a VG-1 core laminated steel. there's nothing magical about it and I'd imagine it performs like you would expect it to; increased strength over the blade length but not the edge.

    San Mai is just japanese for 3 layers anyway.
  3. 3Guardsmen


    Mar 16, 2005
    San Mai III has a core steel of AUS-8.
  4. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Platinum Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    The older SM III was as you said, but the newer SM III is the VG-1 SM III that has VG-1 core.
  5. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    I don't have one, but have read posts by gents that do. They have been impressed with its ability to chop and yet maintain an edge. I have not read a negative post from anyone who actually has one. I have only read negative posts from those that don't.

    The point of laminated steel is to get a tough blade that has good edge retention. VG1 holds an edge on the order of 440C or 154CM, neither of which has the toughness needed for a good chopper. By laminating the VG1 with softer steel, Cold Steel has apparently ended up with a blade that holds an edge well and is still tough enough to chop.

    Whether this combination of properties is worth the high price is up to the user.
    StrangeDaze likes this.
  6. iyn


    Mar 27, 2007
    how rust resistant is VG1? I was thinking of getting the recon scout in VG1.
    I live in Hawaii surrounded by salt air, high humidity and rain.
  7. PsyDoc


    Mar 10, 2010
    I own a few Cold Steel San Mai knives...some from back in the early 90's. My oldest is a Master Tanto from 1992 and shows no rust or anything. After each use, I just wiped it down. The knife has "lived" in two states in the southeast with pretty high humidity. From what others have posted, San Mai appears to be "...highly resistant to rusting/corrosion and also requires little maintenance other than making sure it has a good cleaning." I used this quote because this has been my experience with San Mai.
  8. Confederate


    Sep 5, 2005
    VG-1 is just a three-quarters step up from AUS8, which Cold Steel uses in its Rajah choppers. In other words, VG-1 is tough and retains an edge reasonably well without laminations, which is a gimmick. If you had VG-10 or a true premium steel like 154CM/ATS-34, laminating it might make it significantly tougher; however, as someone pointed out above, before this Cold Steel was laminating AUS8, which was a joke. Many people have batoned knives with these steels without incident, so I hardly think they need laminating with cheaper steels.

    Research other laminated steels and you'll find that Cold Steel's San Mai is at the bottom of the barrel. Having said that, the San Mai is beautifully polished and the lamination gives the blade a distinctive, luxurious look. But don't expect much in the way of a performance boost.



    The craftsmanship on the Konjos is outstanding. These knives
    went on sale for a hundred dollars each last year, so I bought
    two of them. I haven't regretted it. I also don't know if the VG-1
    core steel is heat treated any differently than the VG-1 in Cold
    Steel's other knives, so it's possible that it is hardened to be
    more brittle than regular VG-1. Only Cold Steel knows!


    This Cold Steel Gunsite has a VG-1 blade and sports both
    plain and serrated edges, so the steel has to be tough enough
    to punch through a car hood and then flexed back and forth,
    and cut through fibrous materials with the fine serrated teeth
    without leaving them all over the floor.

  9. thedemonbeast


    May 8, 2011
    I just bought my very first VG1 San Mai III stainless steel blade knife, the Cold Steel Knives Trail Master Bowie. I already have one made with SK-5 high carbon steel, and it is a true workhorse, I tell ya!!

    My new TM San Mai III came horror scary right from the box!! And the blade is just super Beautiful!! I wonder how they got that knife so sharp, yet the edge part has the same identical finish as the rest of the blade. Meaning that it doesn't even look like it has an edge on it!!

    I have been wanting one these TM knives with VG1 steel ever since I read awesome reviews about it. And I tell ya, couldn't beat the super low price I got it for either... $220!! And the same day right below it, I saw a Gorgeous handmade leather multi-tool, multi- carry sheath for it too!! I heard the VG1 TM comes with the crappiest made sheath ever sent with a knife, so I thought "What better way to house such a beautiful, superior quality made knife than to have a gorgeous handmade sheath for it.

    Well, that post was Right, LOL!! Crappiest sheath I have ever seen came with this beautiful knife. Cold Steel Knives outta have their asses beat for sending such a freaking Chinese-low quality crappy made sheath which such a beautiful, high-end quality made knife.

    Anyway, turns out the sheath, custom fitted Specifically for the Cold Steel Trail Master Bowie Knife, was a brand new handmade leather sheath from Rhondo!!! This guy I tell ya, makes some of the most beautiful, best quality sheaths ever!!! He has a Superior string of online reviews. I could of bid on the sheath but chose the Buy It Now Option!! His amazing sheath work really deserved the $109 asking price. The edges and sewing is enforced by actual real solid brass grommets and tabs. Not that cheap pathetic hollow brass and not that even cheaper brass-colored aluminum or brass-colored stainless steel. These tabs are actual high end heavy solid Brass tabs. And you can really tell the difference between the good stuff and that fake painted crap.

    My Andrew Clifford handmade survival knives, which are by far the Best Handmade knives and sheaths I have ever Owned, come with solid Brass hand guards And Andy also uses solid brass grommets and tabs. But now, if he makes Black color sheaths and at request of customers, Andy sometimes uses the solid stainless steel grommets too. Bottom line here guys: Andy uses nothing but the best materials on his knives and sheaths...Nothing But The Best!!

    And when a knife maker such as Andy is sooo self-conscious about the things that bare his name and/or maker mark, you can bet your last dollar that you are getting nothing but the Best Of The Best when you buy his knives/sheaths.

    I will also say the same for Ray Matton, Newt Martin, Gil Hibben, Spry Knives, Bob Schrap Sheaths, and now I am adding Rhondo Leather Works to my list of Favorites.

    I have recently removed a few mames from my Favorites after personal issues with them has caused me to reconsider their work and business tactics. But that will be kept under my lips' lock and key because it is strictly Personal and not Professional!!

    Anyway, as I got way off subject here...But my new CS VG1 TM Bowie Knife and custom fitted Rhondo leather sheath look absolutely Brilliant together...And I am talking Showroom Display Extravagant!!!

    I am absolutely point-blank Satisfied with my brand new TM VG1 knife/sheath combo. They just look Beautiful together!! Thanks for reading!!
  10. KenHash


    Sep 11, 2014
    Before someone tells you that you just necroed a 4-5 year old thread, allow me to comment on your commnts regarding the CS Sanmai TM. That knife, which I own is made by the same maker as the Fallkniven Northern Light Thor, which I also own. The CS TM has a Kraton handle a very minimalist sheath as you pointed out. The FK Thor has a stacked leather handle, pommel and comes with a luxurious black leather sheath made in Spain. Both are first class knives in that category, the CS using VG1 and FK using VG10 for the core of the laminate. Both knives are made by Hattori of Seki Japan.
    Now, if you go look up the prices of these two models, you can see how CS is able to offer the TM for the price it does.
    Basically you get a cheesy handle and sheath. The CS SM TM is a knife that, if you are so inclined may even want to get
    re-handled, and re-sheathed.

    BD_01 likes this.

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