Posts in the knife reviews category
There are many reasons why you need good quality knives, whether it be in your kitchen, workplace or for a crafting hobby. The array of different blade types out there can be completely overwhelming and it can be hard to work out which type is best and which will suit your needs most appropriately. The two most common and popular types of blade are stainless steel and carbon blades, but what’s the difference? Which one should you choose?
The physical difference between the blades
Before analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each type of blade, it’s important to know exactly what a stainless steel blade is and what a carbon blade is. Both stainless steel and carbon blades are in fact composed of steel and other metals but their makeup is slightly different. Carbon blades tend to be made mainly of steel solely composed of iron and carbon whereas stainless steel blades are made of steel which is composed of iron and chromium, along with a very small quantity of carbon. This is the basic difference between the two types of blades but this doesn’t tell you which one may be best for your requirements. There are a few other differences between the two types of blade that we can discuss in more detail.
Stainless steel blades
Let’s look at stainless steel blades. The main feature and 'pro' of choosing stainless steel blades is the ease of maintenance. Obviously, all steel can rust but stainless steel is much less likely to when kept in normal conditions and maintained well. Equally, because stainless steel blades are less likely to rust they have increased longevity in any environment! You may find that good quality stainless steel blades will cost more than carbon blades of the same quality.
The big downfall with stainless steel blades is their hard, rigid nature which can make them difficult to sharpen effectively. Some of the more exclusive and famous brands of chef’s knife use stainless steel blades for all of their products as they claim they remain extremely sharp with fantastic edge retention and in most instances, outperform carbon blades. There are many cheap, low quality stainless steels on the market which are no good for anything so try to avoid this at all costs.
Now, let’s look at carbon blades. There are many great features to carbon blades which make them a popular choice for rough usage and instances where more durable blade is required. As well as being more durable and tougher than stainless steel, carbon blades are also easier to sharpen. The use of carbon blades is recommended due to their ability to achieve and maintain a good sharp edge over a long period of time. Carbon blades, however, contain no chromium which makes them extremely susceptible to corrosion and general rust.
Many of the manufacturers are aware of this and so apply a range of different coatings and sealants to their blades before selling them; however this is something you should be aware of. For ideal maintenance of a carbon blade, you need to keep them dry, away from all sources of moisture and oiled to combat any chance of rust. A carbon blade is ideal for a wide range of purposes, whether you need to cut some materials to construct a leather sofa bed or simply need to have a reliable knife on hand when required.
So which of these two blades is the one for you?
There you have it: a thorough outline of the differences between carbon and stainless steel blades. If you’re looking for a blade to do rough work, wood carving or hobbies which require a strong, durable blade, choose carbon. If you’re looking for a blade which is easy to use and easy to keep in top condition, choose stainless steel. With developments in the market you can also get a range of different blade types and preferred at the moment as high carbon stainless steel blades which combine the best bits of both of the different types. There's a whole world of blade options out there, so make sure you take a look at all of the possibilities before settling on your final choice of blade.
We have a many different bali-song knives at ESKNIVES. One of my favorites is the twist butterfly, designed by Darrel Ralph. We call it the Shanker Forest. M-Tech calls it "The Twist". If you can get your hands on a Twist, then snatch it up as fast as you can. They have become very hard to find. At this writing we still have a few left.
This Balisong speaks for itself! The Twist is the what other Balisong's Aspire to be! All Handcrafted, unique all steel Custom Design by famous knife maker Darrel Ralph
One of the things that make this knife so outstanding is how this knife can be customized to your liking. If you don't like the latches on the right side you can switch it over to the left. The knife is constructed with Torx screws so any owner can easily adjust the knife. Since the knife can be easily disassembled, cleaning it is a breeze. “The Twist” butterfly series is manufactured by M-Tech Xtreme. It has a smooth operation that has very little side to side action give unlike many of the less expensive butterfly knives. This particular knife is Medium Weight and Solid. Doing Tricks with this butterfly are easier than with most bali-songs. It is a great butterfly with two tang studs that keep the handles from banging together and makes for a tighter lock and reduced blade wear.
Your choice of color is black or silver. The blade is 440C stainless steel with a razor sharp edge.
Remember to LOCKTIGHT Those Screws. It will make your Bali-song "Twist" last longer and turn your knife into a Keeper!
Tanto blades; what are they and where did they come from? I thought I would share a little history on this specialized blade. It may be true or it may not. This is legend and lore that I am sure has some smatterings of the truth.
During the ancient Chinese dynasties, swords would be broken in battle. Swords were an expensive commodity, they required precious resources and took a lot of effort to produce. After battles it became custom for warriors to take these broken parts of their swords and forge them into custom knives and short swords. This is how tanto blades were born.
The tanto knives have a designed that gives them both strength and a sharp point. The tanto can out perform the sheepsfoot and the drop point end in a fight and on the battlefield. Cutting surface area is sacrificed to gain tip strength. The tanto point is thin enough to puncture and stab with the thickness to withstand the toughest use. The tanto point is hollow ground with a spine that narrows down to a very thin cutting edge.
Sharpening can be a little difficult due to it's shape. With some practice and care it can be done. There are two angles to sharpening this blade. The long straight cutting edge needs a different angle than the smaller part of the blade that curves up. The junction of these two angles is where you have to be careful. If you use the straight cutting edge angle on the upward curve angle you will ruin the edge on the upward curve. Be cautious. If you don't feel confident you can always find a professional to sharpen it for you. Hardware stores and knife shows are good place to look for the professionals.
Last weekend I was up in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area visiting my Son for Labor day. Sunday we decided to go to one of the local flea markets. I found myself at a Flea Market, right off Interstate 65. They had both outside and inside booths. I like to browse through flea markets every once in a while to see what the local knife dealers are offering their customers.
While walking around the outside dealers I found one knife dealer. I took a glance at his table and breezed past him. He did not seem to have much, mostly low end china knives. I did not spend anytime at his booth. I knew there were three or four larger dealers inside. I was more interested in what they had to offer.
As I was making my way to the inside market and my son came up to me and asked me if I had noticed the Microtechs and Benchmades at the knife dealers booth I had just passed. He informed me they were selling these high quality USA made knives for $8.00 and he believed they were copies.
I went back to the booth to have a good look at his knives. And sure enough he had Benchmades, Microtechs, Bokers and Cold Steel knives for sale at $8.00 and $10.00. I had heard of Columbia River Counterfeit knives out of China but I have never seen one except for pictures on the internet. The counterfeit Columbia Rivers looked good and by their pictures are hard to differentiate from the originals.
I picked up a few of these so called high end knives and wondered how any one could sell them for the crazy price of $8.00. But once I got them in my hand I could tell why they were $8.00 because these knives were low end china knives and they were very easy to spot as counterfeit. The knives were very light and made of cheap materials. They had logos but they were a little off from the authentic logos. They looked like the original logos at a glance but when you looked closely at them it was easy to tell they were not original designs. The logos were crooked and were just a cheap decal. The metal was some low grade of stainless, definitely not 440 or 420 or the more expensive aus-8 that most USA knife manufactures use.
Looking at the boxes, you could see that they were close to the boxes the authentic knives came in but with a little closer examination the flaws could be seen. Very thin cardboard had the markings again, way off from the original boxes.
I did not talk with the dealer. But after looking at the counterfeits I decided to take a few pictures with my phone. I wanted my readers and my customers to get a look at what these counterfeit knives look like. The pictures are not very good but you at least get an idea of what to look for.
At extremely sharp we do not sell counterfeits. Nor will we. We do have a few, what I call wanna be's, but they are clearly described. You know what you are buying. They resemble the knife they were designed from but have no marking of the original manufacturer. The key is that they resemble the knives they are modeled after. We do not present them as the knives. That would be dishonest. Our knives are exactly as they are described. No more and no less.
A good example of this would be our K9 spring loaded knives. They resemble an older Smith & Wesson model. Smith and Wesson has not made that model for over 10 years. This is a popular style tactical knife so when I can find them I offer them to my customers. But the difference between us and the counterfeiter is that I let the buyer know what they are. They come in a unmarked box and have no Smith & Wesson markings.
Nobody wants to get ripped off. It can be prevented. There are things to look for when shopping for high end knives. Always pick up the knife and examine the knife thoroughly. Look for blemishes or any defects on the knife. Next, look at the weight of the knife and the blade action. When you are holding the knife it should feel like you are holding something. Opening the blade should be quick and smooth. There should be no drag or resistance. A little flick of the wrist and the blade should open with ease. Look at the metal and the material of the handles. They should be top quality. The knife emblems should never be crooked and never a decal. Logos are professionally etched onto blades. Do a little research and you will be able to tell the difference between an authentic emblem and a fake. When you are familiar with them they are easy to spot.
When walking through the Flea Market, or shopping online, remember the buyer needs to beware. There are some good deals out there but first do your research. Know your product and don’t buy on a whim. Find legitimate dealers and legitimate deals. Ask the dealer about the knife you are interested in. See how much they know about the knife and the manufacturer of the knife.
Remember, you will Never find a $200.00 knife for $8.00. That is just not ever going to happen. You need always have to be careful when purchasing knives and if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
Let's talk about Columbia River Knives.
Columbia River came on the knife scene in the middle 90's, founded by Rod Bremer. They are known as CRKT or called Cricket knives by many of their fans. When they hit the knife market they set the market on fire. Knives made in Taiwan that compete with the quality of knives made in the US at a fraction of the cost. Crkt Knives captured a good sized section of the upper end knife market. They were one of the reasons that Benchmade, Kershaw, and Gerber started China lines, so they could compete. Today all US based knife companies have knives made in China and Taiwan.
Today, I wanted to review the CRKT Cascade. This model has been retired by Columbia River and is a great knife for camping, hunting and the outdoors.
The Cascade is designed by Jim Hammond. He has many designs manufactured by Columbia River. He is world famous for his innovative designs. Jim lives close to Huntsville, Alabama. When ESKnives ("The Cool Store") had our store in Huntsville Jim would visit us with all his latest models.
The Columbia River Cascade is a tough tactical full sized folder (5.12" closed, 8.5" open) that affords great comfort and some interesting features. This knife has what CRKT call a "90Â° hitch" in the lock back mechanism. This hitch system stops the blades slightly at the 90 Â° closing and opening arch. This helps the user to have more control over the blade and avoiding accidental cuts. Having one hand myself, I understand how great this feature is for one handed opening and closing in low light environments and situations where you are not looking at the knife when you are operating it.
The Cascade has an Aus 6M bead blasted blade, with a non reflective oxide finish, that is partially serrated. The partially ground blade has a drop point end. The blade itself is thick at 1/8" wide. There are jimping grooves (traction grooves) at the top of the blade formed for your thumb. Using the jimping groove while gripping your knife gives you precision control and less slippage.
The 5-1/2" handles are constructed of a soft, rubberized Kraton over a polycarbonate frame with a deep finger grip similar to the Hammond Cruiser which gives this knife a real solid, yet comfortable grip when in your hand. When you grip this knife the finger grooves conform right to your hand. When you hold the Cascade you will notice that the pommel is hard. This hard pommel can be used for hammering and crushing.
On the handle of the knife there is a removable stainless steel pocket clip that is black Teflon plated. This clip can be moved to either side for right hand or left hand carry. With the clip it is a point down carry. If you prefer a more traditional belt carry, the Cascade comes with a black molded closed cell foam Cordura nylon carry sheath with a horizontal or vertical carry.
One drawback to the Cascade is that it is large and kinda heavy. It may be too much weight for utlra light backpackers and climbers. But all in all I talk a lot about survival and theCascade will perform in any survival situation.
The switchblade (aka automatic, spring loaded) knife has been around since the mid 18th century. By 1890 because of new mass production techniques switchblades became readily available at lower costs. After WWII American soldiers returning home from Europe brought home switchblades that would become known as the Italian stiletto switchblade. These Italian stilettos used a new style blade, a slender bayonet blade with a single ground dagger edge that had an opposing false edge, designed primarily as an offensive weapon which was optimized for thrusting rather than cutting. Many of these blades had no cutting edge, made only for fighting. Switchblades became very popular.
In the early 1950's switchblades became associated with gangs and violence. Jack Pollack wrote a newspaper article calling switchblades a menace with deadly consequences. He wrote the switchblade was Designed for violence, deadly as a revolver - that’s the switchblade, the toy youngsters all over the country are taking up as a fad. He urged for new laws that would address these Italian Styled knives. It became a popular belief that carrying a switchblade and gang warfare were one and the same.
It’s only a short step from carrying a switchblade to gang warfare. By 1954,New York passed the first law banning the sale and distribution of switchblade knives. New York hoped this law would reduce gang violence.
Then came the movies. Hollywood became fixated with switchblades. Movies like Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story and High school delinquents lead to the public becoming aware of switchblades. The common belief that switchblades caused gang violence began to sweep the nation. In 1958 Congress passed the Switchblade Knife Act.
There were two problems with this act. The first problem was that the act did not distinguish between different types of switchblades. There were many switchblades that were designed for utility use and general purpose use. Ask any electrician or plumber how handy a switchblade can be when one hand is busy. But the new law banned all switchblades even those not used by criminals. Stilettos without a spring were legal. Nothing stopped the gangs from carrying legal stilettos. With the flick of the wrist the blade of a legal stiletto snaps out as fast as any spring loaded knife and was legal. The second issue was that gang members had no problems turning to baseball bats and guns to settle their issues over territory. The switchblade knife act failed. The law was ineffective but the public was able to take a small sigh of relief.
There are a few loopholes to the law. If you are a civil employee, in the military, a police officer, or a fire fighter you can legally own a switchblade. If you are missing an arm, like myself, you can legally own a switchblade. As with so many laws the loopholes make no sense. There are recent studies that have been unable to make any connections between crime and automatic knives. We can by Guns but not spring loaded knives.The second amendment does not mention knives. Laws are not always logical, but they are still laws.
However there is good news. While switchblades remain illegal in the U.S., in 2009 the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill focused on spring assisted knives and decided that the 1958 act did not apply to spring-assist, assisted-opening knives, or knives with springs that require physical force applied to the blade that assist in opening the knife. Spring assist knives are legal in all 50 states.
Types of Spring Assist Knives
What is the difference between a switchblade and a spring assist knife? They have a similar function but their slight differences are important. A switchblade, opens its blade from the handle automatically with the press of a button, a lever, or a switch that is mounted in the knife handle. A spring-assist blade uses a lever or switch that is mounted on the blade or connected to the blade with a direct mechanical linkage. Manual pressure has to be put on this lever. The pressure overcomes spring pressure designed to keep the blade closed, which in turn causes the blade to partially emerge from the handle. Just Push the blade out around 10% and the spring takes over, rapidly forcing the blade into an open and locked position. When observing both a switch blade and a spring assist knife I defy you to be able to tell which one is faster.
When thinking about purchasing a switchblade you may want to consider purchasing a spring assist knife. They look and feel just like a switchblade, they function as well as a switchblade and there no legal hassles owning a spring assist knife.