The Doug Ritter RSK® Mk3 fixed blade is a direct descendant from the very successful RSK® Mk1 folder. The RSK® Mk3 is a medium-sized lightweight fixed blade with premium steel designed for practical survival, hunting and everyday utility use. The 4.5 inch (11.43 cm) CPM S30V blade is a bit over an inch longer than the full-size RSK® Mk1 folder, but is otherwise similar to that well-received design in many respects.
Doug's aim was to produce a practical utility, survival and hunting fixed blade with a superior level of performance at a price that would be, if not cheap, at least affordable, just like the original RSK® Mk1. "Good value" is what he strives for, in a fixed blade knife that you could bet your life on™.
The RSK® Mk3 has proven adept at all the normal survival camp and hunting chores, such as making survival shelters, splitting wood for fires, skinning game and the like. It is just the right size, a perfect compromise in size and weight between a typical folder carried for wilderness use, such as my RSK® Mk1, and a larger and much heavier fixed blade.
The blade profile is an adaptation of the traditional drop point that Doug prefers with a wide chord that carries plenty of metal to the tip for strength. Despite using thicker steel than the RSK® Mk1, 0.140 inch (3.56 mm), the wide chord and high grind allowed us to keep virtually the same edge geometry that so many have found to make for such a great slicer. The thicker steel provides added strength and rigidity, but it isn't so thick that it favors brute strength over everyday functionality.
There is enough belly to the blade, a wee bit more than the folder, so that it is adequate to use for dressing game, but not so much that it interferes with overall utility. The edge profile is very close to that of the RSK® Mk1 folder that has proven so popular with hunters and guides in Canada and Alaska where it has dressed out lots of moose, elk, caribou and the like.
Blade steel is the same superior Crucible CPM S30V high-carbon stainless steel used in the RSK® Mk1 folder. It has lived up to the hype of superior edge-holding, toughness and corrosion resistance compared to other stainless cutlery steels. The blade is hardened to Rc 58-60 where it keeps an edge extremely well while retaining sufficient toughness for the sorts of use this blade will see.
This knife will stand up to quite hard normal outdoors and survival use, including batoning to split wood, but it is not a "sharpened prybar" style knife, like a Becker, ESSE, Busse, or Doug's own RSK® Mk2. In exchange, this knife is quite a bit lighter for its length, only 5.7 ounces (161.6 g). Lighter weight means it is more likely to be carried, which in turn means is is more likely to be there when you need it. For pilots especially, weight is always a consideration, but anyone carrying a load any distance may appreciate a lighterweight tool. If you are interested in a big, heavy brute of a knife, this knife is not for you.
Blade (and tang) finish is Doug's strikingly beautiful, but very practical "stonewashed" tumbled finish that also serves to seal the metal's pores for added corrosion protection and strength. The result is a subdued finish, but one that is smooth and just barely lustrous. The finishing media and process was designed expressly for Doug to get the exclusive finish quality he desired. As many RSK® Mk3 users have discovered, this finish holds up very well and doesn't show minor scratches much at all. It's the perfect finish for a practical using knife.
Blade Material CPM S30V hardened to 58-60 HRC
Blade Length 4.5 in. (11.43 cm)
Blade Thickness 0.140 in. (3.56 mm)
Blade Shape Wide-Chord Drop Point
Blade Grind High Flat grind with 30º inclusive edge, 7º bevel
Overall Length 9.1 in. (23.1 cm)
Handle Thickness 0.67 in. (17 mm) max
Weight 5.7 oz. (161.6 g)
Tang Style Full, extends past handle material at rear, lanyard hole
Handle Material Black G10 Composite
Sheath Multi-carry Ballistic Nylon w/ molded ABS Liner
The ergonomic handle shape is evolved from the RSK® Mk1 handle with a slightly longer effective grip length and a bit wider to fill the hand better. Without the restrictions dictated by a folder's mechanical requirements, there is a true half guard, which eliminates the necessity for many of the other gripping artifices that help make the Griptilian folder so easy to hold onto, but which aren't necessary with the RSK® Mk3. A thumb ramp with eased light jimping (ridges) is integrated into the tang at the forward part of the handle and the jimping is carried forward on the spine for added control. The thumb ramp eases over onto the spine, eliminating any abrupt change that might be uncomfortable under hard use.
There is no "bird's beak" or abrupt drop at the aft end of the handle as that tends to limit the size hand that would find this mid-sized knife comfortable. Someone with very large hands will still be able to use this knife with a full grip. There is enough downward curve and swell to the handle to ensure a good grip when pulling on the knife, even in slippery conditions.
The ergonomic sculpted black G-10 aircraft grade composite handles are three-dimensionally CNC machined with very shallow vertical ridges for a secure grip. The contours follow that of the Griptilian handle for the most part, but without the checkering. The multiple layers of the woven G-10 composite are very apparent with the three-dimensional machining and provides a touch of class to this otherwise very utilitarian knife.
The full tang extends slightly past the end of the handle in case you need to hammer on it for added penetration, providing some protection for the scales. A lanyard hole sized to accept parachute cord is included. The handle scales are each attached with a pair of black coated Torx-head machine screws into press-fit brass tang inserts.
Balance is neutral, which is exactly what you want with this size knife. It will never be a chopper, it's not large enough or heavy enough, so no need to carry extra weight forward.
The sheath is black ballistic nylon, tactical style, with an ambidextrous molded plastic insert. The Doug Ritter logo is embroidered on the face in dark gray thread for a subtle tone-on-tone effect. The retention strap has a snap closure and a reinforced thumb break for quick and easy release.
The front (left side) of the blade is laser-etched with the Doug Ritter mark and S30V. The reverse is laser etched with the Benchmade USA logo and model number.
The Doug Ritter RSK® Mk3 is made in the USA and is covered by Benchmade's Limited Lifetime Warranty and their exclusive Lifesharp® Service. The sheath is made in China.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Doug Ritter RSK® Knife goes to support the non-profit Equipped To Survive Foundation.
More details can be found at Doug's web site.