Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife Review

By | January 26, 2016

Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife Few can match the marketing efforts of Cold Steel. This California based company has some of the most brutal marketing videos in the industry. I personally like them because they show just how tough their knives are in tough situations.

The SRK (Survival Rescue Knife) has been a staple in Cold Steel’s catalog for well over a decade.The Cold Steel SRK is a solid knife with a 6-inch blade allowing you to take on some of the toughest and biggest tasks around. This knife is designed to be a Survival and Rescue knife and is currently carried by many in the Armed Forces. This knife measures in at 10 3/4 inches and weighs 8.2 ounces. The SRK is made in Japan from the famous VG-1 San Mai III steel. This steel is proven to be tough and will definitely hold an edge for a long time. The San Mai III steel to this day remains the most proven performer in the world for stainless steel.

This is a full tange straight blade knife that is ready for almost anything. This is a knife you will want to consider if you are looking for a super tough steel. It has a good feel, its tough, and comes in good blade length.

Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife

Read the feature of Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife Review:

  • 10 3/4″ overall length
  • 6″ blade
  • VG-1 San Mai III steel
  • Hand forged in Japan
  • Kraton handle
  • SecureEx sheath w/drain hole
  • Cold Steel lifetime warranty

The blade on the SRK is a classic clip point. Cold Steel started with a 3/16″ (4.75mm) thick piece of steel, gave the knife a hollow grind starting 2/3 of the way up the blade, and added a swedge to form a very fine tip. Cold Steel has applied a black coating to the blade. The coating comes off easily under use, and is not included on their laminated stainless San Mai III version of the knife.

While the blade lacks the weight and refinement of something like the Fallkniven A1, it did cut pretty well. I wasn’t blown away by the SRK’s performance, but I found I was able to get through a variety of tasks without too much trouble.


The SRK is just perfectly designed. It’s really hard to explain until you feel the knife in your hand. The kraton handle, has that perfect rubbery grip, but yet its super durable, it just feels perfect in the hand. The balance of the knife is amazing. It feels like it has about a 50/50 weight distribution right in the center of the knife which just feels great in the hand.

The handle is comfortable – even after extended use. Kraton is nice because it’s rubbery qualities help absorb shock. The straightforward handle design didn’t form any hot spots. I found the texturing struck a nice balance between being practical for use with bare hands (even wet/sweaty ones) without being irritating.


One thing I noticed about the SRK is that after batoning and chopping the handle is ever so slightly loose around the blade now. This is a pretty common occurrence on the SRK, and is something to consider before purchasing. Some people inject epoxy into the handle when this happens – my handle hasn’t gotten that loose yet, but I may decide to go this route eventually.

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Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife

Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife Customer Reviews

Average Amazon Rating: 4.8

Very few products are rated as highly as the Cold Steel SRK San Mai III. It has an average rating on of 4.8 out of 5 with over 60 5 star reviews. A lot of people say this is hands down the best survival knife on the planet.

Many people comment that San Mai III is the best steel for a survival knife. One man even stated he took his SRK on over 100 trail expeditions and it’s still going strong.

Some people complain about the sheath as its not leather. However, I much prefer a hard plastic sheath because it will never rust the blade and it fits the SRK securely inside it so it won’t drop out.


It is easy to see why the SRK has remained in Cold Steel’s lineup for such a long time. This knife is simple, rugged, and versatile. While it doesn’t excel at anything, it does a decent job with pretty much everything. If you need one relatively lightweight knife to handle tasks from food prep and carving, to light chopping and batoning, the SRK has you covered for well under $100. I am not a fan of how the handle loosened up after use, and I am sure some will not be impressed with the selection of AUS8 steel, but I am a big fan of the sheath and generally see merit in this compact offering from Cold Steel. I recommend you to buy this wonderful survival knife.

Cold Steel SRK San Mai III Survival Knife

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