Why should I pay $25 to $400 for folding knife you ask? I can find one that looks just like the name brand one I want but for $8.95 at the swap Messerworkshop or on the internet?
The answer is the same for all things: You get what you pay for. Secondly, if all you want is a knife for opening letters, packaged food products or to look cool on your desk, a cheap might do just fine. However, if you actually intend to use the knife as a utility tool, I strongly advise you to avoid buying a cheap knock off knife because it will break very easily, and the steel is often brittle or has a very low Rockwell hardness rating. Sharpening is also more difficult and the blade will not hold a sharp edge very long.
Another point to consider is the reliability factor. If you bought the knife for the wilderness, self defense or as an emergency tool, you want to have confidence in the strength of the locking mechanism, blade steel and general integrity of the construction. You do not want the knife blade snapping in half or popping right off the handles because of some minor lateral pressure if the blade gets stuck in some wood or other matter.
I had a few of these cheap knock off knives and they are junk. They are weakly made with poor quality steels. I go to gun shows a lot and frequently see a table full of knives advertised as “Any Knife $5 or $10”. The knives’ look as if the vendor simply dumped them out of a cardboard box. They are scratched up and the parts do not go together well there are gaps between parts that should be a tight fit. There is a reason the knife is only $5 or $10.
Think about this….. the knife was made in some foreign country then shipped over to a warehouse in the U.S. where some distributor bought them and sold them to retail knife vendors. Factor in the cost of materials, construction costs, shipping costs, warehouse costs, distributor costs and finally the retail markup and your $10 or $15 dollar knife actually has about $2 in material and construction value in it. So……. When you buy the $5, $10 or $15 knife remember that when you get into trouble you are only willing to spend about $2 to safely get out if it. Just something to think about.
I know the temptation is great to not spend a lot of money, but you do not really have to spend a lot of money to get a quality knife. Cynscorion Products offers a large selection of basic black two to three inch blade tactical folding knives that can be purchased from Cold Steel or CRKT for example for as little as $29 to $45. You do not have to spend $100 to $300 for the status symbol upper end semi custom designer folding knives. Some of the best knife values can be found in the Cold Steel Voyager or Gunsite series and the CRKT M-16 series. These are very strong, high quality and popular folding knives. I own several myself. My favorite carry knives are the CRKT M-1 and M-16.
Sheaths are another area to be aware of. Some fixed blade manufacturers sell knives with sheaths as a complete package. Some unscrupulous sellers may separate the knife from the sheath and then charge extra for the sheath. Check the manufacturer’s web site or call them and ask about the knife you are interested in. Does it come with any accessories? Cheap sheaths can also be dangerous. Look out for fabric sheaths without a protective lining. Think about this. Do you really want shoving a sharp knife into an unprotected fabric holder strapped to your waist or thigh? Try to get a good Kydex or similar material sheath.
The quality manufactures also warranty their knives’ against defects and will usually replace their knives very quickly when mailed in. Try returning your cheap Chinese made swap meet knife after it breaks.
Tests have been done on these cheap knives to see how much lateral and downward force is necessary to break the blade or lock. These knives always break with surprisingly little force. Remember, ……they were made to LOOK like the real thing, ……NOT WORK LIKE OR LAST LIKE the real name brand knife. Just like a knock off Rolex or Montblanc pen, the point is to LOOK like the original, and thats what you are only paying for ….. Looks. And some knock offs can’t even look that good.
You also need to be aware of some sellers trying to pass off cheap knock off knives as the real thing. If you are shopping for a quality knife and come across a potentially great deal slow down and look at the details. Check the following:
1. If you can, go to the manufactures web site of the knife you are interested in and down load all of the information on the specific knife. Check the specifications for construction materials, length, width, weight, colors, and blade types and down load any pictures of the blade and the point where the blade meets the handle. Study the information and take it with you when you shop to compare them to the physical knife.
2. Look the knife itself very closely. How closely depends on good a deal the seller is offering. Read the writing on the blade. Look for mis-spellings, inconsistent type face, and quality of imprinting. Look for blade steel type and county of manufacture. Compare the knife to your downloaded pictures and information.
3. Next check the box and instruction/owners booklet that comes with the knife. All the name brand manufactures provide a booklet on their warranty maintenance and safety. If the seller says there is no box or instruction booklet start to wonder and look very closely at the knife. Also is the knife being sold as new or used? A used knife may not come with the box or instruction manual.
4. Internet sales of cheap knives is to be avoided at all costs. You cannot physically hold the knife. The seller may provide out of focus pictures, or not completely describe the knife. Then there is the old, “I don’t know much about these. I am just selling it for a friend” excuse. Also look for the following phrases: “Cold Steel like” “CRKT like”, “CRKT style”, “SOG Style” or similar phrases. A knife is either a Cold Steel knife or not.
5. Lastly, listen to you inner voice. Do you feel uneasy or confident that the knife is genuine? And if you are in a store always get a written receipt that specifically identifies the knife name and model and find out the return policy.
Nothing is for sure. But buying a knife that generally sells for $49 dollars for $25 dollars should be a warning sign that something is potentially fishy.
Now back to the title of our story. Guess what happens after your cheap knock off knife breaks? Hopefully not after you get back from the hospital after the lock fails and cuts your fingers. You buy another knife! If the knife was only cheaply made then you could buy a dozen and throw them away when they break, but then your spending the same or more money for a quality knife and you do not need to worry about your fingers not mention that there is also a manufacturer who will replace you knife if it breaks and you did not abuse it.
Oh yes, please do not use you knife as a pry bar; it is a cutting tool not a screwdriver, pry bar, or hammer. That’s how almost all knives break and the manufacturers know it.
Buy a Multi-Tool if you need a knife/screwdriver/mini pry bar/pier tool.
So….. the moral of the story is you can’t buy a Ferrari for the price of a Chevy Cavalier or a Rolex or for $40. That isn’t reality. So do not expect to buy a good quality 2 or 3 inch folding knife for $16.
Now that I have explained why you should not buy a cheap knock off knife it’s time to give you a little information on buying a quality knife.
Whether you are buying your first quality folding knife or your 20th knife, it is an exciting experience but one also not an easy one. With the number of knives out there, its hard to know which one to select. I hope this brief discussion helps you.
Quality knives whether Tactical Folders or Fixed Blade combat / hunting knives can be expensive and you can quickly spend a lot of money. Whether you intend to just buy one or more knives you need to think through your knife purchase. Some people buy an every day knives, a dress knife, a go to the shooting range knife, a hunting knife and then just some more knives because they looked cool. This is fine as long as you can afford it. You need to decide if you are just going to buy one or two general purpose knives or start a collection and think about how you build that collection.
Before you decide to buy a knife or begin a collection think about what you will use the knife(s) for, and how any particular knife will fit into a larger collection. I am not telling you to not buy multiple knives, just to buy wisely so that you minimize the number of knives you will throw in a drawer to gather dust or give away.
When I initially became interested in knives, I started down this road, but fortunately caught myself before I got too far and started to ask myself why do I need this knife? I usually answered myself with….because it’s better than the last knife or it does “whatever” better then the last one. I soon realized that the knives I bought in the past were for the wrong reasons. I just bought them because they were in front of me and looked good. So…..Where is this going?
Before you decide to buy a knife or begin a collection think about what you will use the knife(s) for, and how any particular knife will fit into a larger collection. I am not telling you not to buy multiple knives, just to buy wisely to minimize the number of knives you will throw in a drawer to gather dust.
Key Knife Features to Consider
Buy the best quality you can. (duh!) All of the knives I sell are from high quality manufacturers. They are knives I would buy and own myself. In fact, I do own a few from some of these brands and will probably buy some more. So if you select a knife I sell you will at least buy a quality knife and take care of point one.
Fixed or Folding blade:
First determine the intended use of the knife. A knife for hunti