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Review: SRM Knives 9201

I have a confession to make. I like cheap knives. I’m not talking about “gas station knives” (though I like those too, if I am honest) or knives that are cheap for the sake of being cheap. I’m talking about the thrill of finding knives that are cheap but that actually offer compelling reasons to like them. It’s one of the reasons I spend so much of my money on knives that cost around $30 to review here but…

Today, we aren’t talking about a $30 knife. We’re talking about a knife that costs closer to $20 but still manages to offer some features that set it apart from anything you’ll find at that one sketchy knife table at every flea market. We’re talking about the SRM Knives 9201 – specifically the version with polymer scales.


  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Closed Length: 4.55″
  • Overall Length: 8.09″
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV (stainless)
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Blade Shape: Clip Point
  • Handle Material: FRN
  • Locking Mechanism: Ambi-Lock
  • Pocket Clip: Reversible Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 3.4 oz

Observations from Use

This is the most affordable version of the SRM 920X series. It costs under $22 shipped to your door. While nothing about this knife screams premium, it manages to make a compelling case for itself with workaday features that make it a very useful… and dare I say… likable tool.

I want to start with some things that genuinely surprised me about this knife in a good way. First, the knife came greased – not packed with grease like some cheap knives (though there was a lot) but with grease that was applied purposefully to the pivot. This knife clearly passed through human hands before going into the shipping container bound for American shores. Additionally, I took it apart and found surprisingly thick bronze washers and blue tread locking compound applied to all the screws. It also arrived very sharp due to the near MIRROR POLISHED EDGE… impressive and surprising for $22.

The blade steel, 8Cr13MOV, is nothing to write home about but it is similar to AUS8 which sharpens easily and polishes well (easy to maintain on a strop). SRM has done the steel some favors here with a very tall flat grind and thin, polished edge so it cuts very well. They clearly put some effort into getting the edge, the most important part of a knife, as right as it could be. They also give you a lot of edge to work with thanks to the 3.5″ length and great piercing thanks to the large clip that tapers down to a needle-like point. It’s chocked full of slicey, pokey goodness.

The experience of using and carrying reminds me a lot of the Spyderco Endura. It is relatively large but slim and lightweight. And, like the Endura it has FRN scales. The FRN feels/sounds a little cheap at first but they do seem to have decent glass content (very crunchy when you touch them with a soldering iron) and they offer really excellent grip thanks to the embossed SRM logo pattern. As much as it would be easy to take shots at these plastic scales, they are well executed.

The SRM 9201 is very easy to flick open thanks to the smooth action (after cleaning out some of that aforementioned grease) and well-designed opening hole. Its very fidgety and easy to access.

The biggest draw for me when I added this to my cart was the crossbar lock. We are unaccustomed to seeing proven, hard-use, finger-safe locks like this at this price point and I wanted to see if was decent. This lock is better than decent. Mine locks up perfectly and has passed multiple spine whack “tests”. A lock like this and at this price is impressive.

Not everything is coming up roses for this knife though. The blade centering on mine is off and I can’t correct it despite trying. I also wish the omega springs in the lock were just a bit more stout but the provided springs work well enough. The blade coating marks up easily and likely won’t last. And, like I already said, the FRN scales feel cheap even though I don’t think they actually are that cheap (makes you appreciate how companies like Spyderco make FRN feel premium). Fortunately, a lot of these gripes can be overcome by selecting a different version of this knife with different scale material or a lack of blade coating… and SRM offers several.

Wrap Up

If you read around the internet a bit, you’ll find that the SRM 920X series is a bit of a cult classic among cheap knife enthusiasts and I can see why. It is a knife nerd’s knife at a big box store price.

This knife is very slim and lightweight for its size. Its easy to carry and boasts a strong lock. It’s an aggressive cutter and will be easy to keep that way thanks to great cutting geometry. There is a lot to like here for around $20. This is a knife that isn’t just cheap. It fights for a spot in your pocket by offering actual value and personality.

I purchased my SRM 9201 on Amazon. The blue FRN scale version with a coated blade is not currently available but the selection changes frequently. You may want to shop around a bit as there are many versions of this knife at various price points: SRM 9201 on Amazon.com

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