Blades and Knives

Cold Steel SRK Survival Rescue Escape Knife

Cold Steel SRK knife on Kydex sheath

Cold steel has been one of the leaders in the knife industry producing all manner of cutlery ranging from affordable to extravagantly high-end. The all time favorite is the Cold Steel SRK—Survival Rescue Knife. It features a simple clip point design and class leading strength which quickly made the SRK one of the most sought after survival knives of all time. I own and have heavily used one of the original Carbon V steel SRK knives. Unfortunately the old famed Carbon V steel has been discontinued however the new AUS8 SRK version provides similar performance with a few upgrades over my old version.

Cold Steel SRK knife on Kydex sheath
The Survival Rescue Knife delivers one of the most well though out 6-inch blade survival knives available.

By Major Pandemic

Fit, Feel, & Features

Like all Cold Steel knives the SRK delivers outstanding fit and finish from the handle to the blade to the Kydex sheath. The perfect weight, handy size, and balance of the useful clip point SRK blade are the features which have made the SRK so popular over the years. On the update of the SRK, Cold Steel updated the handle grip and slightly changed the overall dimensions of the knife over the original to provide a little extra room in the finger choil area in front of the handle finger guard. The old SRK was epoxy coated, the new version has a much more durable Teflon coating to protect the upgraded AUS8 blade from the elements.

Steel: AUS 8A Stainless Steel Blade: 6″ Handle: 4 3/4″ Overall: 10 3/4″ Thick: 3/16″ Weight: 8.2oz. Sheath: Secure-Ex $124.99

Cold Steel hit the mark perfectly with the SRK design however the old cardboard/nylon sheath left something to be desired. The new SRK features a Kydex which provides tremendous flexibility for carry and assures secure and safe retention. The sheath has a design I prefer which has plenty of holes along the edges for securing other items or lashing to a pack. Those same holes can be used to attach and secure the sheath via Tek-Locs or other Chicago Screw attached carry systems such as the included belt loop. The nylon belt loop provides for easy belt attachment and removal without removing your belt which is another nice feature. The great utility of the SRK knife itself with the sheath system make this not only a great knife to use, but an easy knife to carry as well.

Handles of the old and new version of the SRK knife
The old Carbon V rubberized Kray-ex handle was just a bit larger than the new version.


I actually am a big fan of AUS8 steel, it holds and takes a very sharp edge and does not require a diamond hone to do maintain like the hard crucible steels. The Carbon V steel is a bit easier to resharpen, however the AUS8 do not have a rust issues like the Carbon V. In a time when there are so many funky knife blade designs, this no nonsense steel and versatile clip blade shape works well for a variety of tasks and can take a beating.

Final Thoughts

Need more justification for the SRK – the Cold Steel SRK is actually the standard issues knife for SEAL BUDS training. My old SRK was my first real high quality sheath knife. Sure I owned others however Cold Steel’s famous razor sharp edge and edge holding made it perform unlike any other knife I had owned back them.

My testing including a number of camp and bush craft type chores which my old SRK has seen and performed perfectly time and time again. Some of the sap and other goo that ends up on the blade used to cause some rust. The new SRK’s stainless AUS8 Steel seemed to be significantly less sensitive to neglect. Today I am happy to see that the SRK lives on in this new and improved version that is better than the original and still remains one of the best Survival Knife buys on the market.

Where does Cold Steel’s SRK rank on your top survival knife list? Share your answer in the comment section.

Gas maskMajor Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. To be honest, if it wasn’t advertised as AUS-8A steel, I wouldn’t even really notice the difference. My SRK is as tough as nails and I maintain that heat treat impacts the durability of a knife far more than steel choice.

    My 2c

  2. Great knife but missing the full-tang butt hammer included with many competitors. A survival knife should include that small detail

  3. I own over a dozen knives, only three of which are fixed blade, an old Kabar combat knife and a couple filet knives. I have Kershaws, Gerbers, Bokers, the aforemementioned Kabar, Cold Steel, Buck, an old Camilus pocket knife, as well as a couple custom knives. My favorite knife is a Cold Steel American Lawman folding knife. I have one of the newer ones with blade made from Carpenter cts xhp alloy (stainless) with dlc coating as opposed to the older ones that used AUS8a. Good people can argue the merits of both, or any other kind of blade material for that matter. To me the proof is in the pudding. It’s not a cheap knife, but neither will it break the bank. Suggested retail, depending on handle material, is around $150, but deals are routinely available at well under $100 on many of the knife sites. Just a good, rugged folder that will take a beating and cut just about anything.

  4. I didn’t read all of the blog for one simple reason: the blade is made of Stainless Steel. Now that is great if you want a blade that doesn’t rust, but I have found that SS blades take several hours to initially sharpen if you sharpen your knives the old fashioned way, i.e. with a stone…and you can put big money on a bet that this knife and every other that you purchase will come with an edge, but not the edge that you need! Once sharpened it will ‘hold’ the edge for a good long time, but what happens if you, accidentally, hit something that dulls the edge or, horrors, nicks it? Yup, you are back to square one. This is why I buy all of my knives with a high carbon steel blade. They sharpen more easily and still hold an edge and will take just as much abuse as a SS.

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