The Cold Steel SRK is a fixed-blade Survival/Rescue Knife that has been a staple in the Cold Steel catalog for a decade. It is the company’s go-to mid-tier survival/utility knife, and selected as the standard issue US Navy Seal team members going through Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal (BUD/S) training.

Cold Steel SRK Review

Cold Steel SRK Review
Cold Steel SRK Review

The Cold Steel SRK has an overall length of 10.75”, a 6” blade, closed handle length of 4.75”, and the knife weighs 8.2 ounces. I believe the sheath on this knife is 4 ounces, bringing the overall carry weight up to a very respectable 12 ounces. The sheath is black secure ex-belt.

It comes with a hollow grind plain edge clip point satin finish VG10 San Mai III stainless steel blade, with the handle material composed of Kranton. It has enough cutting edge of 5.625” with a blade stock thickness of a respectable 0.19”.

Summary of Cold Steel SRK Specifications:

First Impressions of Cold Steel SRK

Unboxing of Cold Steel SRK
Unboxing of Cold Steel SRK

The Cold Steel SRK came in a clampack tight-fitting plastic wrapping with the Cold Steel logo and knife specifications on it. You have to be very careful when opening up this kind of packaging, as you can slice yourself while opening it shabbily. For this reason, I am not impressed by this packaging. Simply placing the knife inside a safe box would have sufficed.

But once you take the knife out, you can notice the black-coated blade with a thin clip point with visible grind lines. You can also see the two slabs on San Mai laminated around the VG10 from the well-defined hollow grind lines. The brand’s logo is etched at the front of the blade, with the model at the back side.

You can also see how thick and beefy the blade is. It is 5mm thick, yet it lacked factory edge right out of the box.

The kraton handle on the other hand, felt very smooth, comfortable, textured, and grippy. It covered the entire length of the hand. If you grip it too tightly, you can feel the bounce. That is what gives it its shock-resistant trait. You can use this knife in combat.

The cutting edge seemed really sharp and long out of the box. You can probably do some damage punching holes with the tip of this knife.

The sheath was very durable, with enough belt loops and a solid strap. You can remove the nylon belt loops, but you would have more advantage if you keep them on.

The Blade of Cold Steel SRK

Cold Steel SRK Blade
Cold Steel SRK Blade

The Cold Steel SRK features a classic clip point blade with a hollow grind that starts two-thirds of the way up the blade, and adds a swedge to form a fine tip. The blade comes with a black coating, although it comes off easily under pressure. But it protects the finish and reduces lines until it does come off.

The Blade of Cold Steel SRK (2)
The Blade of Cold Steel SRK (2)

The 6” long blade is not too long or too short for a survival knife, but a bit too thick. You cannot perform any detail tasks or make precise cuts with a blade thickness of 0.19”. But it is still sharp and tough enough for batoning wood.

The San Mai III is Cold Steel’s propriety laminated stainless steel featuring VG1 core. It combines the exceptional properties of VG10 with a San Mai construction for added durability and aesthetic appeal. It results in a blade that is strong and flexible with excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness.

Laminated San Mai knife steel with VG10 core steel chemical composition:

You can also see on the blade where the VG10 grind lines meet with the San Mai slabs on either side. The satin finish scratches easily, so it is not so very well done.

The Handle of Cold Steel SRK

Cold Steel SRK Handle
Cold Steel SRK Handle

The tang of SRK is encased in thick kraton handle. Kraton is a high-density rubber commonly used in survival and rescue knives. The handle at 4.75” feels large enough in the hand and is 1” wide, which makes it thick enough for a fuller grip. It also comes with a lanyard hole that you can use to tie a lanyard as large as 550 cord to increase the length. It is also heavily textured to provide a secure grip.

The Handle of Cold Steel SRK
The Handle of Cold Steel SRK

There is also a finger guard, or quillon, that keeps the finger in place and from sliding onto the blade. The rubber on this handle is a good choice because it is shock-absorbent. The handle is straight forward without creating any hot spots. The texturing strikes a good balance between practical use with bare hands and with gloves. It is also sweat and dirt absorbent, which is an additional plus point. That means that the ergonomics on this handle are ideal for tactical use.

However, if you baton the knife on wood, it may loosen up around the blade from the spine. But it is still flexible enough and will not give way under pressure. Some people inject epoxy into the handle if that happens as it helps a little.

The handle is also soft, so if you do grip it tightly, it would not pinch you. But the straightforward handle does not provide any bends or curvature for your fingers and knuckles. Some people prefer it, while others say that the finger curves further elevate a firmer grip.

The Sheath of Cold Steel SRK

The Sheath of Cold Steel SRK
The Sheath of Cold Steel SRK

The sheath of Cold Steel SRK is made from hard plastic and is very durable. The long holes around the sides of the sheath allow you to wash it with multiple ways of attachment. You can use it to attach to your belt, backpack, or vehicle, etc.

The belt loop is made from nylon and is removable by two Phillips head screws. When you slide the knife inside the sheath, it fits perfectly without wiggling, and the blade remains secure, meaning it will not pinch through the sheath. Moreover, the knife locks into place. So if the handle strap is not closed, the knife would not slide out. It will remain secure inside. But there is a downside to it: you cannot draw the blade out without its edge rubbing against the tip of the sheath. Although it is thick enough for safety, it does impact the knife’s sharpness.

The nylon is a better choice than leather because it does not absorb moisture, and is easy to wash. The belt loop is also reversible for left or right carry, and is sturdy and lightweight at 3.8 oz. It is ringed with rivets of para cord. There are also wider slots to weave through straps and belts. The retention on it is also excellent.

Field Test of Cold Steel SRK

A reviewer used the knife for over five years, and recommends it for carving, batoning, and light chopping. The black coating wears off with consistent usage, and has a swedge that improves the tip, making it fine and reasonably good.

However, it takes time to sharpen the blade, considering the hollow grind the blade stock thickness. The wooden slices also get stuck in the grind and have to be removed before continuing. But the blade worked sharply with many tasks.

Field Test of Cold Steel SRK
Field Test of Cold Steel SRK
Field Test of Cold Steel SRK

However, consistent batoning does sway the handle from the blade a bit. We also sliced and chopped piece of dry wooden sticks, and the action was done remarkably. Not only did it feel comfortable in the hand, but also accomplished the task speedily.

The sheath was very comfortable to carry. It looped onto the belt easily, but did feel like you are carrying weight. You can also strap it onto the backpack when traveling, and that made it really easy to retrieve whenever you needed it. Sliding the knife out of the sheath was not a one-handed job though, because the blade really locks itself inside. You have to hold the sheath with one hand and the handle with the other to pull it out. However, it does not require much force, so it is still safer.

Pros & Cons of Cold Steel SRK


  • Black coating protects the blade and reduces glare

  • Texturized rubber handle provides a good grip

  • Can be used as a chopper

  • Can be used to baton wood

  • Tough built


  • A bit uncomfortable in the hand

  • Black coating vs. food prep

  • Blade is too thick for detail work

  • Blade sharpening is time-consuming


Cold Steel SRK vs SRK-C Compact

The Cold Steel SRK-C is the compact version of the SRK with a 5” blade instead of 6” with an overall length of 9.5” and a handle length of 4.5”. It is made for those who want a low-profile fixed-blade knife. It weighs 5.10 ounces and costs less than the regular SRK.

The compact version of SRK is easier to carry, and can carry out the same tasks as the SRK, but at this size, it is better to get a folding knife than a fixed-blade. The large SRK has a fuller handle than the compact one. That is because the compact knife’s handle is smaller and less wider than the SRK. Its handle thickness is only 0.68”.

But the blade stock thickness of the SRK-C is lesser at 0.16”, which is better than the 0.19” on the SRK. Its blade is also sharper in comparison, and comes with a black finish. Its sheath material is secure-ex as opposed to the hard plastic and nylon on the SRK. It grips the knife better.

Cold Steel SRK vs SRK 3V

The SRK 3V is a newer version of the SRK that features CPM 3V blade, known for its toughness and edge retention. The main difference between the two knives is the blade material. If you are looking for a knife that can handle heavy-duty tasks and has excellent edge retention, the Cold Steel SRK 3V is a great option. However, if you prefer a knife with a different blade material, the original Cold Steel SRK is still a solid choice.

Conclusion – Cold Steel SRK

The Cold Steel SRK review showed more pros than cons. The VG10 blade with laminate San Mai III proved to be promising, but lacked the factory edge due to the thicker blade at 0.19”. Although, it had enough edge retention, toughness, and hardness. The clip point is good for its edge holding and punching through materials.

The kraton handle is shock-absorbent, bouncy, and ergonomically strong. However, it lacked knuckle bends for a firmer grip. However, it would prove to be good during combat, and can endure batoning.

The sheath is easy to strap on to belt loops and backpacks. It locks the blade securely in place, but that may impact the knife’s edge, and requires two hands to pull it out. But the holes on either side of it makes it easy to wash and strap on to different holds. The nylon loops are removable by a Phillips screw easily. The knife also comes with a lanyard hole that you can use to secure to a 55 para cord.

When compared to the SRK-C, the SRK is a larger knife with a thicker blade stock. As compared to the SRK 3V, the major difference was that of the blade material. However, all are good tactical knives.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Cold Steel SRK is a fixed-blade mid-tier knife for tactical, rescue and survival purposes.

Yes, the SRK is both a survival and rescue knife made for the US Navy Seal team members going through Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal (BUD/S) training.

The SRK features a CG10 laminate San Mai III blade with a satin finish, clip point, plain edge and hollow grind.

At just $89.10, the SRK is worth an investment. It offers excellent ergonomics, tactical use, and comes with a sheath.