Cold Steel SK-5 Recon Scout Knife

Since its founding days in 1980, Cold Steel is dedicated to providing outdoor survival enthusiasts the strongest, sharpest knives that offers the best level of ease when in use yet serves for their purpose.

Cold steel is popular with just about every knife type you can think of, but they excel with their fixed blade knife line and the SK-5 Recon is no different.

After more than 30 years, the company still continues to provide such knives in such trusted make taking every inch of technology to further quality of every model they produce.  They have a strong customer loyalty and with their dedication to quality, it’s easy to see why.

Aside from the fact that Cold Steel has effectively upheld their values and vision as a company by incorporating knife making technologies to provide the best knives to date, they continually innovate new models to make sure their dedicated customers’ needs, demands and preferences in survival knives are met.

Among the most loved releases and introduction by Cold Steel include:

  1. Tri-Ad Lock System which is the world’s most outstanding folding knife mechanism system
  2.  San Mai III unique blade steel
  3. Checked Kraton Handles, and
  4. American Tanto point blade styles

Then again, Cold Steel does not stop at anything just to provide survival knives that are most trust-worthy even in the worst field settings. A good example of this is the Recon Scout which is the smaller version of Cold Steel’s famous Trail Master.

The Cold Steel Recon Scout is a large, heavy duty, knife with a very versatile blade shape that is specifically designed to withstand the most extreme abuse in the most extreme conditions. This is combined with a handle design that is specifically constructed to absorb the shock generated when chopping trees.

Therefore, since it was designed to be a dedicated outdoor survival knife, the Recon Scout features an overall length of 12 1/2″ with a clip point blade shape measuring 7 1/2″ in length. In addition, this knife is made from 5/16″ thick steel that is available in your choice of either SK-5 high carbon steel or VG-1 San Mai III stainless steel; each of which has different properties. (Please note: since the VG-1 San Mai III version has a retail cost of $393.74 vs. a retail cost of $199.99 for the SK-5 version, in this article I am going to focus on the less expensive version).

This knife also features a flat ground bevel, a deeply checkered Kray-Ex grip with short, double, quillions made from a single metal oval and full tang construction. The knife also includes an extremely well designed Secure-Ex sheath. In fact, Cold Steel says

“these very popular, time tested, knives have been in our line for many years and are ideal for just about any mission. Made out of SK-5 High Carbon Steel, they are precision ground, heat-treated and Mar Tempered in our state of the art factory in Taiwan to rival the strength, toughness and edge retention of our famous Japanese swords. Check out their absolute superior fit, finish and above all sharpness and then put them to work and we are sure you’ll agree they are an incredible bargain”.

Concerning my opinion of this knife as an outdoor survival tool, in my previous article on the Cold Steel SK-5 Trail Master, I made my fondness for the clip point Bowie blade shape clear for this particular purpose since I believe it to be the most versatile blade shape I have used in the field to date (I have yet to try a fixed blade spear point shape.)

Also, I tend to have a particular fondness for long, slim, Bowie style blades and thus, the Cold Steel Trail Master REALLY trips my trigger! Thus, not only is the Recon Scout a very pretty and gracefully designed knife, it displays excellent craftsmanship in both the choice of materials and its construction. (However, it is my understanding that there are a considerable number of counterfeiters out there who produce and market fake versions of Cold Steel knives. So, always buy your Cold Steel knife from a reputable dealer.)

The SK-5 steel (a Japanese equivalent of American 1080 steel) used in this version of the Recon Scout, and hardened to 57-58 RC, is somewhat similar to the AUS 8. FYI, 1080 steel is a high carbon steel with a Carbon content of 0.81% and with a Manganese content of 0.75% as the only other component.

The carbon content and lean alloy make this a shallow hardening steel with a quenched hardness between RC 60 to 64 depending on exact carbon content. This combination of factors makes this steel one of the toughest steels available because, when quenched properly, it produces a near saturated lathe Martensite with no excess Carbides, avoiding the brittleness of higher carbon materials.

Therefore, this steel is particularly well-suited to applications where strength and impact resistance is valued above all other considerations and will produce blades of almost legendary toughness. 

However, according to the Cold Steel web site and as per quenched by Cold Steel, SK-5 steel has a Rockwell hardness near RC 57-58 and produces a mixture of carbon rich Martensite with some small un-dissolved carbides and the excess carbide increases abrasion resistance and allows the steel to achieve an ideal balance of very good blade toughness with superior edge holding ability.

In addition, the 7 1/2″ blade length (which is two inches shorter than the Trail Master) combined with the very thick 5/16″ spine and the flat ground bevel along with the long, straight edge and very small ricasso make this blade design an excellent choice for both light chopping tasks and fine carving tasks.

The sweep at the tip of the blade is also very well designed with just enough belly to make it an efficient skinning tool in situations where a smaller knife is not available.

Last, the deeply checkered Kray-Ex handle material is very comfortable to hold, provides a positive grip when wet and absorbs shock with chopping with the knife. This knife also has a Sevure-Ex (Kydex) sheath which, like the handle material, is impervious to water and is very tough.

In fact, my only complaint with this knife is actually a very small issue in that Cold Steel incorporated a brass quillion instead of stainless steel one and, while it is true that brass will not rust, it will tarnish. So, unless it has a very high tin content (brass is made from alloying copper and tin,) you will have to polish it often to keep it from turning green.

Therefore, for those of you who prefer a slightly shorter blade than the 9 1/2” blade found on the Cold Steel Trail Master Trail Master, the 7 1/2” blade on the Recon Scout in an excellent alternative. Like many EDC models, it also features a really tough steel and a shock absorbing, non-slip, handle material that is impervious to water, cracking, chipping and abrasion like that in the . Consequently, this knife is an excellent choice for a hard working survival knife and it is somewhat more controllable than its longer Trail Master cousin.

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Cold Steel SK-5 Recon Scout Knife

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