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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)


Large bowie style knife with nylon sheath.

PROS
Comes scarey sharp out of the box. Combined with its weight makes it a formidable piece of steel.
Beautiful feel in your hand. Well balanced for such a large knife.
Strongest blade your likely to find on the planet. 7.5mm of layered steel.
Grip is as good as i've ever used. Feels secure even with very sweaty hands on ahot day. Seems durable but i wouldn't let your dog chew on it or anything.
Tacticaly its an intimidating weapon. Anyone who'll fight you while your holding one of these bad boys has to either extreamly desperate or a nutjob. Good reach & would create devastating wounds.
Ideal for bushcrafts. With its sharpness and weight rough carving, limb lopping and general making of stuff is a pleasure. You could build a log cabin with this knife.

CONS
Heavy. Carrying the thing around is a chore. I only wore it on belt for one walk, before strapping it to my pack. Even then its weight is too much compared to what else is available. A old fixed blade i can treat rough and a folding saw have replaced it in my pack.
Expensive. I bought it for AU$650 on special and i've heard of people spending up to AU$900 for it. While its an amazing knife, you could achieve pretty much the same tasks with a lot cheaper kit.
While the blade its self is as tough as you're gonna get the edge is still susceptable to nicks and such especially considering the rough treatment a knife like this is gonna cop. Don't believe the Coldsteel demo videos showing the Trailmaster repeatedly stabbing a car bonnet without any apparent ill effects. I took 0.5mm off the tip when i slipped while sharpening it. This could of course happen with any knife though.
Tactically its weight is a real problem. Swinging the thing is sort of like swinging a hatchet. Unles you're a man mountain its going to slow you down.
The sheath supplied is a real disappointment. While well made and retains the knife well its a poor design. It moves around easily on you belt and the leg strap was essentialy a piece of string thats attached to a horizontal flat o ring. The only use i can think of for this ring is perhaps for under arm concealed carry, but again this isn't a fighting knife so that strikes me as odd.
The thumb stud is accessable but emits a loud click whenever you undo it. You cant draw this knife silently.

CONCLUSION
This one of the toughest sharpest knife i ever had the pleasure of handling, but i think it struggles to be a practical knife. Anything you could do with a Trailmaster you could do with cheaper and lighter kit.
With a custom sheath it could be an heirloom quality bit of cutlery, but if its not gonna be used then whats the point.

I'd be interested to see if anyone else has owned a Trailmaster and what their opinion of this famous knife.
 

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Winter is coming.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A review update...

I've been taking the Trailmaster out into the field again and have found its niche. I've recently been getting into a lot of 'bushcraft' and the Trailmaster is brilliant in this application. It chops thumb sized twigs in one go, takes apart arm sized trunks with ease and is great for splitting logs. I baton away on the thing to my hearts content and know its not gonna damage the blade. I've drilled, chopped, chiseled, sliced, planed and split with this big knife and it hasn't missed a beat.

Starting to love this knife!
 

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Just picked one up. Very Impressed. After a few passes with a fine stone, it's hair popping sharp! Holds an edge fairly well, even after batoning.
 

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How would you sharpen a knife like this in the field? I know it utilizes a convex edge, so that requires either a belt sharpener or some sand paper on top of a mouse pad. But...what if you have none of those available?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
How would you sharpen a knife like this in the field? I know it utilizes a convex edge, so that requires either a belt sharpener or some sand paper on top of a mouse pad. But...what if you have none of those available?
I've found a real razor edge isn't required for most tasks in the field and with heavy chopping can be bad for the knife. Even with a knife this strong if the blade is too finely sharpened it can be chipped when chopping dead hardwood.

I found myself babying this knife for a long time cause of the amount I paid for it. I only sharpened it at home and meticulously cared for it with oil and so forth.

Eventually i figured that i had better just use it or it was a waste of cash, so now it gets sharpened roughly with just a small stone. I'll never get back that factory edge, but it does everything it needs too without it so thats fine.
 

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Would you say that the San Mai version is worth getting over the SK-5 high carbon steel one? Also, from your experience, does your San Mai Trailmaster scratch easily? The outer sandwiching layer is made of 420J steel, a soft metal, that I read scratched very easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've no experience with the SK-5 version so I cant give you an opinion on that I'm afraid.

My Trailmaster has scratches all over it now so i'd say yes it does scratch easily. One particularly ugly one down one side where I slipped with a sharpening steel. Still works fine though.
 

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I have one of the Trailmaster carbon steel units and love it. Only thing is I must always keep an eye on it to keep it clean and dry. Have had it over 10 yrs and not a spot of rust.
 

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I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but I was wondering if anyone knew how to remove the brand name markings from the blade? I was looking to engrave the blade, but the "san mai" and "cold steel" are right in the way.

Thanks!
 

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I have a SK-5 version of the Trail Master and love it. The knife has served me well for many years. The only negative comment I might offer is about San Mai III. Again mine is the SK-5 version and I've never had any problems. Yet I hear that San Mai III blades are notorious for chipping? Anyone else heard that and/or know from expereience? I wanted a new Master Hunter from CS, yet balked after learning that CS went to San Mai III with those and read some TERRIBLE reviews.
 

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The chipping issue with the San Mai is a bit over-exaggerated. Yes, it can chip if used to hit rocks, nails, and other hard objects. San Mai III steel (VG-1 sandwiched with 420J2) is high quality stainless steel, but has its limits. This is not the steel you would want for an edged weapons battle. With a high carbon knife, its differences are that the edge would roll rather than chip. Regardless, a rolled edge or chipped edge = sharpening time. Damage is the result of any sharp edge contacting an unintended object. Also, understand that VG-1 is a harder steel than most high carbon steels, thus keeping its edge longer. I have a Trailmaster in San Mai and love it. It is made to be heavily used, but not abused.
 

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I'm giving my buddy my trailmaster, sk5, as his Alaskan present... I'm keeping the kukri. He has a kukri from years ago, both swear by them. For slash 'n smash the kukri has the TM beat.
 

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The San MAi III edge is way thick and poor performing... Try the cheaper Trailmaster, but the handle will still be way too thin to transfer force.

All these knives here weight about the same...: The San Mai III edge here was improved, as from the box it would have been even worse...



Gaston
 
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