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Thread: Review Cold Steel San MaiIII Trail Master

  1. #1
    wave man Guest
    San mai trail master review

    I have never done a review on my favorite knife, so I will rectify this now, This is my Cold Steel san mai III Trail Master. I bought this knife for myself for my 40th birthday, and payed AU$340(including post from America).

    Lynn Thompson (founder and CEO of Cold Steel Knives) developed the trail master to rectify some of the short failings that he perceived in "traditional styled Bowie's", mainly the handle materials. So he developed the trail master (with a drop point, false back edge which is different to the clip or spear points that usually define the traditional bowie) with a kryton handle. Today you can get the trail master in 2 blade metals, SK-5 high carbon steel, or for a bit more money the san mai III laminated stainless steel (core is VG-1 with the outer layers being 420J stainless steel) Hardening on the san mai is 60-61 RC.

    blade length 9 1/2" or 24cm

    blade thickness 5/16" or 7mm

    full convex grind profile on san mai TM

    stainless steel fittings(double guard and lanyard hole)

    supplied with a cordura sheath with Chris reeves weaved paracord leg strap (I added a cobra weaved leg strap and paracord lanyard as well). I have made no other mod's, the trail master doesn't need them.

    (The KnifeCenter trail master review)


    (Cold Steel trail master product test)


    (I love the 1000 cuts on 1" hemp rope and the 50 degree bend test, fantastic performance)

    sheath/belt set up


    right side view


    left side view


    trail master logo


    laminated line


    5/16" spine


    lanyard looped up and knife ready to go


    The trail master IMHO is the premiere "wilderness bowie", a single knife you can carry out in the bush and know you can place you life on its ability to perform without failure.

    Mine came shaving sharp from the factory. Honestly you couldn't go wrong buying a trail master, they are a paragon "modern style" bowie.

  2. #2
    SOLIDUS Guest
    Outstanding review. I've always liked the Bowie styled knives, but for the most part found them unpractical and more or less a "show off" piece then an actual tool. Your review has put the style of knives in a new light for me.

  3. #3
    wave man Guest
    Solidus thanks mate, and if you look you can get a SK-5 trail master for under $200(including post), a fantastic price for what you receive in the mail, the TM is a briliant knife, and like you have pointed out is a "usable bowie" design, rather then the traditional bowie(which in all honesty was designed for fighting, rather then wilderness self reliance) There are other options to the TM, the Svord Von Tempsky Bowie comes to mind, it is a brute, designed to be abused, but IMHO doesn't have the finesse that my san maiIII trail master has.......

  4. #4
    Maine Russian Guest
    The Cold Steel SK-5 Trailmaster High Carbon can be had at Amazon for $156.99USD.

    From they have it for $143.95USD and the San Mai III for $289.95USD

  5. #5
    wave man Guest
    at those prices I would go with the san mai, a SMIII TM for under $300 is an outstanding price. Three hundred dollars is a lot of money for a knife, but IMHO the trail master is well worth it.

    here is a long time poster on the Cold Steel forum(GrinderMC) chopping with a san mai trail master.


    and another cs forumite chopping


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