Cheap Knives

There are cheap knives and there are bad knives. I will talk a little about both. Cheap knives are not necessarily bad. There are some real bargains out there, as well as things to avoid.

Spyderco Tenacious

This is a fantastic knife for under $50. It has a big brother (the persistence) as well as some smaller siblings, but the Tenacious hits the target for most people. If you want a bargain alternative to the Military, the Persistence is your knife. With the Tenacious you get G10 handles, reversible clip, and 8CR13MoV steel. The steel is fine, essentially the same thing as AUS-8. Some people are put off that these knives are made in China. If so, pony up the money and buy a US made Spyderco. The quality on these knives is excellent and my hat is off to the Chinese people who make them.

Honestly, for the money, these are the best knives available in the world today, and the Tenacious is the best of them.

Beware of counterfeit Tenacious. I was told that the Tenacious knives being sold at Walmart are "second class" even though being made by Spyderco, but have not confirmed this rumor. There are lots of counterfeit Spydercos from all kinds of sources.

Ontario RAT-2

This is a superb small knife! (it has a bigger brother, the RAT-1). I bought my RAT-2 for $30. It is a stud opening knife made from AUS-8 steel. The handles are nylon, not G10, but tough and entirely serviceable. Easy to sharpen and good material for the price. I measure a 3 inch blade. It weights 2.77 ounces. An ideal EDC knife for everyday simple chores. 2.77 ounces. People say, "why don't you use G10", "why not better steel"? Well, you can have all that, but not for $30. This is a fine knife just as it is.

Ontario RAT-1

After being highly pleased with the RAT-2, I also bought the bigger brother, the RAT-1 for a similar price amazingly enough. It is a great knife and a fine bargain, but lacks the charm of the RAT-2. A workhorse knife that you won't hesitate to use, but I stop short of calling it a "beater" because it is just too good for that.

This is a big knife, a full size folder. I measure a 3.5 inch blade. Alongside my Spyderco Paramilitary 2 it is just a tiny bit longer and a good deal thicker. Heavier too:

The biggest thing I dislike about the RAT-1 is the thumb stud. It just doesn't work with my hand. By contrast the Paramilitary is like magic. Once the RAT-1 is open though, it is built like a tank, has a fine blade, and is an undeniably useful knife. Well made too (in Taiwan!).

BAD knives

It is good (maybe) to own some crappy knives so you can appreciate the good ones!

I gave a couple of the Kershaw Emerson knives a try, and they didn't make the cut. I sent one back, because the liner lock was just plain unreliable and dangerous. The other (a CQC-7K) I am keeping with some reservations. It is safe, and the "wave" featue is unique.

I have a horrible "Smith and Wesson" branded folder made by Taylor Cutlery. This might well be the worst knife on the planet. Avoid any knife with "Smith and Wesson" or "Winchester" on it. Somehow they got the rights to use the Smith and Wesson name to sell these awful knives. It is made from 440 steel (not 440C mind you). It is a liner lock knife. Mine is dangerous and won't lock up reliably. I keep hoping to loose it or for someone to steal it.

Why own one of these when you can buy a Tenacious or a RAT?

Feedback? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Knife Info / tom@mmto.org